3 Main Types of Apparel Decoration & How They Affect Your Gear

July 27, 2020


Without custom decoration, sports apparel is just clothing. Generic. Uninteresting. Not exactly the image you want to project on or off the field. So, one of the most important decisions you’ll need to make as you select uniforms and spirit wear for your players and fans is how you want to brand those items. Custom decoration transforms "plain" into "pride".

Pride and quality go hand-in-hand

Not all decoration is the same, because not all methods produce the same quality results. Some are simply inferior, but even the most desirable techniques are designed for different purposes. Here at SquadLocker, we use three types of imprinting, to ensure every customer gets exactly the look they want for every uniform or spirit wear item. You can see and feel the quality of our custom decorated products.


Most garments and accessories can be printed, but not all printing is created equal. Here at SquadLocker, we use a high-end technique that produces crisp graphics that are much more detailed than you might imagine, while allowing the fabric to remain flexible and comfortable. This is an affordable option that won’t compromise brand quality.

We also use this printing process when we personalize uniforms with player names and numbers.


This is a more precise form of printing, in which heated dye is literally infused with the fabric’s fibers rather than being printed on the surface. It is sometimes referred to as digital printing. This method allows the artwork to retain its crisp look even when the garment is stretched. Sublimation works beautifully with simple or very detailed graphics. It is best-suited for polyester fabrics (commonly used now for high-performance athletic and athleisure wear) and for lighter color fabrics.


We all know what embroidery looks like, but few people know what it entails. For each design, a machine literally stitches colored thread into place on a fabric background. While we can use multiple colors, the process itself makes embroidery best-suited for simpler designs that don’t include intricate patterns and tiny lettering or other details. Embroidery is also best for smaller areas, rather than large surfaces such as the full front of a jersey or sweatshirt.

This style of decoration offers advantages over printing and sublimation, as we can use it on items with hardware or curved surfaces such as hats and bags and on textured fabrics such as fleece and stadium blankets. We use only the strongest, most lustrous embroidery yarns, so your decoration will be both gorgeous and long-lasting, without fading over time despite many washings.


It is important to note that, while all of these decoration methods can reproduce a vast array of colors, the specific shades of color can vary depending on the process. So the red in your logo, for example, might look a bit different when printed or sublimated or embroidered. This is true for custom apparel from any provider.


A perfect logo, no matter what

Achieving decoration perfection starts with the artwork. We always examine every customer’s logo up front, to be sure it will reproduce to our (and your) superior standards. If we recommend minor alternations to ensure top-notch results, our art department will work with you to accomplish that. For embroidery, we may need to create a simpler version of your logo, so that it looks clean and legible.

'Whoa! Change our logo? No way!' We understand your concern, and our design team would never do anything to sacrifice the integrity of your logo. Many schools and organizations have very strict branding requirements, and your logo is the centerpiece. One of our users faced the same situation when she began building a custom apparel store for her growing Christian school. She loved the high-quality look of embroidery but faced push-back from her school’s marketing department, who was wary of updating logos.

“Our marketing department didn’t want anybody touching our logos,” she says, “because they had had negative experiences in the past.” But she was willing to give it a try. The result? After seeing what SquadLocker could do, the school's marketing department happily embraced allowing our designers adjust each of their logos. SquadLocker updated the logos originally designed for printing to produce exceptional embroidered results at no extra cost. Plus, our user looked like an all-star for finding a solution to her school’s apparel woes.

We provide logo services for free because we promise – and deliver -- pro-quality custom decoration and will work with you to get your artwork up to par.


Which type of imprinting is best?

You don’t have to figure this out for yourself. As you add items to your store, you can click on the button to the right within the store builder or your store to see whether printing or embroidery will be most appropriate for each item. And we’re always here to help in person, to advise you, and to help make you and your organization look great!


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