Dress Shirt Embroidery

DRESS SHIRT TIPS Successful digitizing and embroidery

WHEN TO CHOOSE EMBROIDERY

The “business casual” environment that led to relaxed dress codes for the workplace starting in the 90’s has changed the way America shows up for work. Jeans and sweatshirts are not unusual. However, the pendulum appears to be swinging back toward a more polished, upscale appearance in business apparel, especially since confidence in corporations has slipped recently with the trade scandals and folding dot-coms. With this change, the dress shirt, a traditional “dress for success” item in a man’s closet, is enjoying a resurgence of popularity. It tops the charts when a professional image is important. The addition of an embroidered logo provides upscale corporate identity and with a little forethought can add style and interest as well.

The classic dress shirt is a long-sleeved, front-button shirt with tails. It is available in some luxurious fabrics and fun colors today. However, it is best to think “conservative” when a shirt is to include an embroidered logo or design. Collar styles include: Straight, Spread or British Spread, Button-down, Curved, Tab and Banded. Your choice of style may depend on your customer’s preferences, but the best bet is to stick with a straight collar (the standard for business today) and a solid, basic color. Long sleeves with button cuffs complete the look and provide more creative opportunities for embroidery. For hotel uniforms or other functional work wear that will be worn in hot, humid climates, short sleeves, of course, are the logical choice.

LOCATION

Left and Right Chest – A company logo is normally embroidered on the left chest pocket of a dress shirt. Personalization, such as an employee name, is embroidered on the right. Keep designs small enough to fit comfortably in the space provided. Smaller is better, especially on a shirt pocket. (Be aware that as the logo or design is reduced in size, text size will be reduced and may become too small to digitize properly. Re-designing the logo may be necessary to keep text no less than 3/16″ or ¼” in height.)

Collar – The left front of the collar presents a stylish opportunity to add a unique design or message on a dress shirt. It is being used by private schools today to embellish children’s uniforms when sweaters and vests can potentially conceal a left chest application.

Back – Beneath the collar (in the yoke area) can add variety to design placement. One consideration for this area is to avoid designs that could be irritating for the wearer due to backing included on the inside of the garment. Certain designs that require heavy backing may not be advisable.

Cuff – A tone-on-tone logo or stylized initials on a shirt cuff can provide another subtle, classy form of corporate identity.

FABRIC

When we think of a dress shirt fabric, we generally think of woven cotton (such as that found in an oxford shirt) or a cotton polyester blend. However, dress shirts also come in blends of polyester and cotton twill (common for industrial and commercial work wear), silk, the newer micro fiber fabrics and a polyester/rayon that looks and drapes like silk (this fabric was introduced in women’s shirts and has recently been incorporated into men’s shirts). Some dress shirts worn by industrial and commercial work staff are being produced in wickable fabrics with a high synthetic fabric content. Wickable fabrics originated in clothing designed for extreme sporting events like mountain climbing and has moved into the shirts designed for work wear. The fabric transfers moisture from the skin to the outside of the   cloth  where it can evaporate. This feature helps the wearer to maintain a more even body temperature, thus reducing discomfort and improving performance. The key here is to select fabric that will support the function and image your customer is looking for. Thinner fabrics may cost less, but they don’t maintain their fit and shape as well as higher quality fabrics You will pay a bit more for a quality fabric, but it will also last longer and provide a polished, professional appearance that keeps your customers coming back for more.

THREAD

With its vibrant colors and high sheen, the preferred choice of thread for dress shirts that will make their appearance in the boardroom or sales office is rayon. Keep in mind that a cooler temperature with color-safe bleach will be needed to safeguard its color and sheen.

When shirts will be washed frequently in hot water or with large amounts of chlorine bleach (as for staff at a restaurant or hotel), the best choice, with its strength and resistance to fading, is polyester.

DESIGN ELEMENTS

For industrial or commercial uniforms, the trend is moving away from the use of name tags and patches toward embroidering direct on the fabric. The result is a less clinical, more personalized, professional image. One thing to keep in mind, however, is when shirts are acquired offshore, they may have pocket placements angled incorrectly or offset to left or right. Lining up a logo is difficult in such a case. We suggest ordering a shirt sample from an offshore vendor prior to placing your order. Hold off showing a catalog image of the shirt to your customer, if at all possible, until you receive an actual sample. If you find yourself in a situation where shirts have been delivered with pockets misaligned or offset, find an embroiderer who will work with you to compensate for the misalignment by modifying the angle or placement of the embroidery.

Letter size is always an important consideration when creating a design for the embroidery process. Script or serif fonts are not advisable for small text. For best results, use capitalized letters in a sans serif font such as Arial. The minimum letter heights listed below are for sans serif, block letters, sewn in a satin stitch.

Suggested minimum Letter Height by Fabric:

Pique, Terry  cloth , Fleece ….. 1/ 4″

Twill, Most other fabrics …… 3/16″

MARKETING IDEAS

When the protocol for business attire relaxed, the door opened for new and creative ways to embellish promotional business apparel. Take advantage of that opportunity by thinking outside the box with creative solutions to a company’s identification challenges. In cooler temperatures where sweaters and vests are a mainstay during the winter months, you could suggest a coordinating shirt and sweater or vest combination. A stylish version of the company logo can be added to the left front collar of a dress shirt and a standard left chest version embroidered on the sweater or vest. This ensures a visual display of the corporate logo with or without the sweater or vest.

Another idea is to add a vendor logo to a secondary location, such as beneath the back collar, on the cuff or upper sleeve (on a short-sleeved shirt). A company may be able to attain coop dollars to help fund the cost of a company shirt with this arrangement. A shirt retailer, for example, could have the logo of a primary shirt provider embroidered on their staff’s sleeve or cuff and their own logo embroidered on the left chest pocket.