A guide to selecting the best decorating method for your design.

 FIRST know the limitations of embroidery by understanding the level of detail in your design, and SECOND know the type of garment you are decorating. These will determine the best method of decoration for your design: direct embroidery, embroidered patch, or woven patch.

1. How detailed is your design?

As mentioned in our blog Embroidery Basics, “The smallest stitch is about 2 – 3 millimeters across, or roughly the thickness of a penny, and the longest stitch is about 7 millimeters, so, thickness of a pencil.” Consider that embroidery’s highest resolution is your computer’s lowest resolution.

If your design is simple, minimal text with a basic font and icon like the designs below, direct embroidery should work just fine.

If your design has a serif font, small text, or a detailed icon, like the designs below, you must consider what type or types of garments (discussed later in this post) you are decorating. The designs below were best produced as a 2″ wide embroidered patch because it is intricate enough it may not sew out on anything other than a tee or hoodie.

If your design has multiple lines of text, 5+ colors, has intricate artistic detail, or was originally intended for a full t-shirt or poster design, a woven patch is best. No loss of artistic integrity and as a patch it can be applied to almost any garment.

2. What type of garments are you decorating? 

This is a very important consideration when deciding between direct embroidery, embroidered patches, or woven patches.

Flats: “Flats” are most easily embroidered and have the least conflicts. Flats are shirts, pants, jackets, towels, blankets, aprons, bandanas, etc. and refers to the shape of hoop used to attach the garment to the machine. See image below. These loosely knit or woven fabrics produce the best results, and a direct embroidery on these can easily be replicated hundreds of times.

Hats: “Hats” specifically refers to baseball type caps with a bill and must be embroidered on a hat hoop. See image below. Some hats are problematic: hats with thick buckram — the plastic-like backing that gives the front of the hat shape and structure; unstructured “Dad” hats; and 6-panel hats with seams in the front.

Everything else: Beanies, backpacks, fanny packs, sweatbands, or anything out of the ordinary must be assessed in person and we often must try a sample to see if it can be done. Beanies pose a specific embroidery problem due to the multiple layers of stretchy and loosely knit material. ALL embroideries WILL lose some detail when done on beanies.


It is good to keep in mind that, even if your logo is simple enough for direct embroidery, patches can be applied to nearly everything and can be sold separately to your customers. Understand your garments and know how to gauge which decoration is best for you: direct embroidery, embroidered patches, or woven patches. 

Why work with The Foundry over other shops?

  1. Ability: Our 4,000 sqft shop is full of top of the line equipment and experienced operators. With garment printing, embroidery, patches, sewing and printed vinyl all in one place we are the one business relationship for all your private label needs.
  2. Creativity: Our staff is passionate about apparel, art and trends both current and classic. This passion drives a know-how in our design and application approach to creating custom apparel. We help take your ideas and put them into a format that is both compatible with and unique to your intentions.
  3. Resourcefulness: We always promote the scenario where quality and affordability meet. There are multiple ways to execute any custom apparel project and you can count on us to plan around the best results for a practical value while maintaining our quality first credo. The Foundry’s extensive in-house resources makes for as little 3rd party vendor involvement as possible.
  4. Accountability: We hold ourselves accountable to the quality of product and customer experience. We encourage our customers to share their thoughts to help us meet our commitments and deliver elevated results. Understanding the customers expectations, meeting them and managing concerns is what makes us Seattle’s one stop shop for quality custom apparel.
  5. Convenience: It is our job to know the process and be able to convey that information to the customer for their assurance. Our invoicing system outlines all of the garment and print information. We provide detailed mockups for every project with live approval and payment links. As well as due date and shipment tracking all from a single invoice view. This makes staying in know about your project easy and streamlined. We can ship to anywhere in the country or you can pick up from our location in South Seattle.

If you are looking to create the best custom garments and a value rich relationship look no further than The Foundry Print Shop Seattle.

Our Service Area Includes: Seattle | Olympia | Spokane | Bellevue | Everett | Bellingham | Tacoma | Vancouver | Whitefish | Portland | Tri-Cities
Dandee Fleming
Dandee Fleming
2021-01-29
I’ve had shirts, hoodies, bags and hats (screens, embroidery and patches) all made at the The Foundry. I love that they are a local Seattle company and that I can drive over and pick up my products right at the shop if I want to. Quick turn around and great prices. I recommend them for all your product needs.
Dune Butler
Dune Butler
2021-01-19
Super great print shop. They were able to steer us in the direction of making a product that would work with the right design. The end results are quality, stitched beanies, one of our finest pieces of merch yet.
john logic
john logic
2021-01-18
Look no further - my business has used shirts and promo items for a couple decades and The Foundry is as professional as they come. It's a relief to know you're dealing with a full staff with modern equipment - 2 auto-presses and sophisticated embroidery machines. The Crash Course on their website is an invaluable tool to prep you for what to expect; scroll down and check it out, it will save everyone time and money. Keep it up!
Jordan Bradley
Jordan Bradley
2020-12-29
Worked with Clint and The Foundry a couple times now for special order projects. They're always responsive, very quick to get projects and mock ups made, and do awesome work. Will definitely be using them again for any embroidery needs we have!
Sara McCabe
Sara McCabe
2020-12-29
We have worked with the Foundry on several different headware options for our brewery. The owners are very responsive, super knowledgeable about the products and can help with finding the best product for your needs. The quality of embroidering and stitching is on point. We are always happy to support this local business!