image of embroidered beanies with and without knockdown stitching

How Cold Weather Logowear Can Expose Your Embroidery Shop’s Priorities


The image above shows different beanies embroidered with the logo of one of our clients.  If you were the client, which one would you prefer?

When most people think of workwear embroidery, they usually think in terms of embroidered caps, shirts, and jackets.  Caps, shirts, and jackets are a relatively easy medium with which to work.  Most embroidery shops with decent digitizers and commercial-grade equipment should be able to make a logo look pretty good on a shirt.  But what about when the weather gets cold?  We recently had a couple of orders that reminded us how cold weather apparel orders can reveal an embroidery shop’s priorities.

Here are two major considerations about embroidering cold weather apparel like fleece vests, fleece jackets, and beanies:

  1. How does fabric nap impact logo embroidery?
  2. Does your embroidery shop care?

Let’s take those one at a time.

How does fabric nap impact logo embroidery (and what is nap anyway)?

Beyond the primary notion as a quick siesta, Merriam-Webster defines nap as “a hairy or downy surface (as on a fabric).”  In terms of fabrics and the challenges they present, think back to a time when you assembled a shelving unit or desk.  Did you perhaps drop any screws onto the floor?  If your floor was smooth or had a thin, dense carpet, it probably was easy to spot that screw.  But if you dropped the screw into thick, shag carpeting, it probably was very difficult to see the screw.  In fact, your vacuum cleaner may have found it before you ever did, right?

You may think of fabrics in the same way.  Some are very thin and smooth.  Some are “furry.”  Some are stretchy.  Some are thick enough that they push back.  Acrylic beanies, like the ones in the photo, push back.

To embroider acrylic beanies with a crisp, attractive design, the embroidery shop needs to consider stitching a base under the design.  Without the base stitching, you can see that the beanie is stretched and pushed between the various parts of the design, with the result being an uneven, puckered look.  The addition of a a stitched base under the design serves two purposes:

  1. to stabilize the stretchy fabric, and
  2. to knock down the pile of the fabric — essentially thinning the beanie,

The result is that the embroidered logo looks crisp and neat.

What about a fleece jacket with thick nap?  Picture Frankenstein’s monster.  Do you recall the sutures that are usually featured in those images?  Now picture what would happen if Frankenstein’s monster suddenly grew hair all over and became Bigfoot.  How visible would those sutures be?  The same issue applies to embroidery on material with a thick nap.  Any sort of thin design or thin font is likely to get lost in the nap of the material, becoming essentially invisible.  The work got done, but the outcome is not what you imagined.

On to the second question….

Does your embroidery shop care?

So your embroidery shop has a decision to make.  The decision is whether to add the stabilizer “knockdown” stitching.  Adding the base layer adds about 2,000 – 4,000 stitches to the design.  So what’s the problem?  That adds 2-6 minutes per item, which probably means 1-2 fewer beanies produced per hour per machine, which means a lower profit margin.  On the other hand, adding the base layer creates a better outcome for the customer,…which means that the shop’s operating decision is impacting your corporate branding.

So what can you, the customer, so about this?  Three things:

  1. Educate yourself about how embroidery shops can cut corners.
  2. Choose an shop that understands and respects how embroidery fits into overall corporate branding (and that values long-term relationships with clients).
  3. Communicate clearly to your embroidery shop your brands needs in terms of both images and values.

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