Embroidery VS Screen Printing – What is Better For your Apparel?

A Competitive Guide Showing Difference w.r.t Price, Quality & Flexibility. Comparative Study Is Equally Beneficial for Any Personal Home Based Projects, Start Up or for a Growing Business

Children and teenagers love to have a print of their favorite superheroes or animated characters on their shirts. Many people like to wear shirts and jackets with various flags and monograms engraved on them. These fascinating patterns, beautiful floral designs, and images that exhibit a lively touch are either made by embroidery or screen printing. 

But wait, if we have 2 options for the same thing then what should we choose? this question doesn’t have a one-line answer as both are equally good and have huge differences. To keep this complex decision, easier I’ll try to explain each of them briefly and then do a qualitative and quantitive analysis on them. I’ll also give some real-life examples to use with small tidbits that will help you, throughout your life. Let’s start by defining each of them first.

Embroidery Vs Screen Printing - Comparison by home sewing expert
Embroidery VS Screen Printing - What is Better For your Apparel? 3

What is Screen Printing?

In Screen Printing, we make pictures or graphics on the shirt by pushing colors from the mesh screen. The basic things that you need for screen printing are a screen, a squeegee, and a photo emulsion color. Please refer to our article about how to do screen printing to know more details.

Tidbit: Stencil or mesh screen is an impenetrable and water-tight substance like a paper or fabric with pierced designs and lettering to pass the ink to print on the fabric or shirt.

We place this stencil (Mesh Screen) above the cloth, at our desired location, and then pour screen paint ink. This allows the color to be applied only to the desired area. Screen Printing reduces production time significantly with a low cost that produces the bulk of printed fabrics. It can be easily applied to stuff like polyester, silk, and cotton.

Most modern t-shirts are screen printed as it allows us to turn a dull wardrobe into attractive outfits. It enables us to make designer t-shirts, animated kids’ clothing, and other customized dresses. They are easy to make and readily available in the market. 

What is Embroidery?

Embroidery Involves needles and thread to produce distinct patterns and designs for decorating the fabric. Usually, Yarn of beautiful colors is used to sew the design. It brings a natural feel and allows us to enjoy authentic artwork of monograms or logos on the clothes. 

Embroidery methods have changed over time. Hand embroidery was time taking process. In modern days, digital embroidery has evolved from old hand embroidery to contemporary embroidery that combines artistic touch and technology in the form of computerized machine embroidery.

When You see the embroidery work on shirts, caps, and many other products like towels, etc, don’t think that it’s done by hand, it’s all done by machines now. We would be discussing Embroidery with the machine, otherwise, the time difference would be too much to compete

Competitive Analysis Between Embroidery & Screen Printing (2024 Update)

Both techniques have vast histories and massive importance in today’s clothing and textile industry. I compared both of these techniques by myself and devised a comparison based on various factors involved in both of these methods. My niece was turning 11 on August 2021. The whole family thought of wishing her birthday by wearing shirts with the text “Happy Birthday Amy” and her picture printed on them.

This responsibility came on my shoulder. Only due to that today I am able to share my personal findings of both of the methods. So Let’s dig deep to unwrap different elements of these special procedures.

1. Comparative Cost Estimate

In such parties, budget is the prime issue, so I thoroughly analyzed the cost of both options. Let me share my findings.

Screen printing requires some accessories (photo emulsion paint, ink, etc) which would cost around 30$. There would be some investment of time in making the screen and you might screw the process to add another 30$ for the risk. that makes a total of 30$ and you’ll create around 50 shirts easily.

On the other hand, embroidery only costs a thread So it’ll cost around 40$ for a decent pair of threads. you can create around 50 shirts easily by that thread.


So my conclusion was that for small and non-complex projects like mine, screen printing would be quite expensive, not forgetting the manual labor required in creating the screen. Embroidery on the opposite is quite easy due to manual tasks and would easily print the name and draw a small image.

Although I would pick embroidery if I only decide on the upfront cost. you shouldn’t forget the one-time cost of the machine. In my view, Screen printing is pretty expensive for small projects but very suitable for bulk projects. as once the screen is completed it would only cost 15$ for 50 shirts,

In addition to that, screen printing only requires the one-time cost of electricity but an embroidery machine requires a lot more for continuous running.

2. Durability & Quality of End Design  

Everyone looks for dependability and durability of designs and patterns on the apparel with acceptable quality. The only bottleneck they face is the cost. But sometimes you only pay a little extra and get an unbelievable quality upgrade. something like this also gets applied here.

Screen printing is all about doing paint via ink from a mesh screen. Now the fabric gets stretched, washed, and worn. any outfit with ink would get greatly affected by such action. on average a screen printed design would last 5-6 washes or you can say 2-3 months at max.

Embroidery on the other hand provides beautiful thread work with efficient sturdiness. The quality is dependent on the stitch and thread. The computerized embroidery machines ensure the stitch quality of the finished designs. Modern machines sew the thread into the fabric that remains near to forever on the shirts and pants. Talking about thread, any fine thread won’t lose its color even after years of wash. The overall feel and look of the design also show royalty and speaks of quality.


Unlike embroidery, screen printing provides more cost-effective printed shirts and boxers shorts but lacks durability, quality, and sturdiness. The top print usually fades away because the dryer does not solidify the colors due to immense production pressure. In my view, screen-printed shirts are only meant to be used only for some special occasions as they don’t last long

3. Variety & Versatility Though Out Printing  

In embroidery, we can quickly change the designs as they have computerized units (LED) for customization. There are built-in designs and online tools for creating custom designs and images. it all adds to the diversity of printing. It enables us to print new designs on each shirt and jacket. Change of thread color for the colorful image is quite easy from an embroidery machine. making them versatile in terms of designs.

In contrast to embroidery, screen printing can print even on wood, making the printing versatile in terms of material. Many people choose screen printing because of its discrete mechanism that is not bound to only clothes and stuff, but it can go to cotton, plastic, glass, and many other materials. But the main issue is the cost, that you have to bear when you are dealing with colorful designs as getting the required color mixture and printing them


Although Embroidery Provides a lot of versatility but still lacks variety due to the limitation of available fonts. It’s also sometimes hard for a newbie to get a hold of the digital features of the machine. But at the same time, these digital features allows you to embroider complex multicolor images on clothes which can be quite expensive and hectic with screen printing

4. Supplies and Equipment 

The other important aspect that I always consider is the availability of supplies and equipment that could be used in process of printing. Embroidery is one such task that needs many supplies. these supplies can be expensive or cheap, as a large variety of them is available in the market. most common supply includes.

  • Stabilizers 
  • Needles
  • Embroidery thread
  • Hoops
  • Fine machine (around 500$)

Most of the above-given supplies come with the machine. so buying a decent embroidery machine would be sufficient. Even if there is a need for specific accessories (like a specific needle), they are readily available on the market.  

Screen Printing on the other hand is the sequence of colors and shades, so it doesn’t require thread, needle, or some machine. The main component of this task is just ink and a mesh screen. Below is a continued list of the supplies needed for printing.

  • Film & dip tanks
  • Washout booths and Screens 
  • Photon Emulsion paint
  • Drying rack and other essential components (like a squeegee).
  • Great skills with above listed hardware tools.


Learning a new skill is quite cumbersome. the bottleneck in screenprinting is the creation of a mesh screen. everything is supposed to be done manually in that process, which might demand a lot of creative handcrafting skills. a minor disturbance in the film creating process can easily ruin your film and then you would be required to recreate the screen. A lot of things would be needed to be bought again. A lot of extra space is required for these tools and everything would be messy in the end

So my bet is on spending a few bucks on an embroidery machine, so you have a small neat, and clean working area. where you can easily generate your required stuff

5. Application For Usage

Buying a golden chain, just because you can buy it is considered dumb. You should always know, what is the appropriate use of your tools. Embroidery is most commonly used for hard fabric as it can easily pierce thought that and the design is imprinted forever on the fabric. If we do embroidery on the low-quality fabric it’ll most probably pucker. if a Design is large, embroidery would still be a no go as these machines have limited area for embroidering

Screen Print on other hand can’t stay on hard fabric, especially on woolen clothes. They are ideally used for T-shirts and thing stretchy plain garments. Again, you can try it on other clothes, but it won’t be durable enough to hold for even one wash.


Bottom line is to use an Embroidery Machine for printing school logos on kids’ uniforms, Branding your shirts with your logo, and sometimes for durable impressions on garments. But if the design is large you should shift towards screen printing. similarly, if the hood or jacket is under consideration, you can go with screen printing and you don’t wash them quite often.

6. Total Required Time For Printing

Embroidery is the go-to industry. You just need to compose what you want to achieve, and the machine does the rest with acute precision and accuracy. But it does depend upon the complexity of the design which includes its size, colors, and stitch counts. The more complex the design, the more time and skills for operating the machine will demand.

If I want the skull on my shirt, it needs almost 40 thousand stitches, and my machine speed is about 1000spm. Creating that design will take about 40 minutes. It might take more time when the design’s size and color vary.

Screen Printing on other hand contains a fixed set of steps to create the design. The only time-consuming part is its beginning in which we sketch the design on screen using the washing emulsion. Getting the desired printable desing is the only phase that demands top handcrafting skills and takes considerable time and effort.

In traditional screen printing, it usually takes 40-50 minutes of a continuous effort to complete the design on a mesh screen. but it can take a couple of days to learn how to make these screens efficiently

On a modern screen printer, we already have composed design and mechanical automation for the printing process. It takes almost 15 minutes if you are an experienced person in generating a mesh screen and starting printing. The printing process is its self quite fast if the time ain’t of multi-color. like 1 minute for a single design on average


If I wanted to do bulk designing on some cloth in a short amount of time (like 10,000 Tshirt or jackets). I would defiantly insist my clients complete the project with screen printing, but if I have a dozen of Polo Shirts that want a logo to be printed on side or on the pocket, I would most probably go with Embroidery.

Wrap up

In the modern world, both embroidery and screen printing have their importance and value. Screen printing has become the spine of modern-day fashion styles and trends, due to cheap costing and fast production. On the other hand, no designing method can compete with the durability of embroidery monograms prints.

If you are looking for endurance and longevity with better quality, embroidery is your go-to option. It might take some extra time if you have an embroidery machine for home usage. but a commercial embroidery machine can be as fast as screen printing. obviously, it’ll cost huge bucks.

But if you are looking for a cost-effective solution for your desings and know that the fabric on which you are printing is not washed much, neither is it used too much, you should go for screen printing.

Btw I picked an embroidery machine for printing the design on our shirt for my niece birthday.

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