Decorating 101


Decorating can be an overwhelming process, but at Linchpin Marketing Solutions we're here to help. Below is a list of the various types of decorating and imprinting methods used on promotional products and apparel.   For additional information on apparel decorating, click on The ABC's of Garment Decorating-PPAI Publication by Dane Clement.


 Method  Explanation

 Common Uses

 Sample Pictures and/or Videos
Applique Two versions of applique exist - direct applied, which used fabric and/or embellishments and stitching to create an image typically on textiles or leather; or, a design created using fabric and/or embellishments created in a patch and glued or stitched to textiles or leather. To achieve multi-color dimensional design on textiles and fabrics.


(Courtesy of Vantage Apparel)

Digital Printing Images that are created using a multi-color printer that are applied directly to a product. Paper, fabric and plastics that require four-color process images.  
Embossing & Debossing A decorating method that results in raised or indented dimensional design using pressure or a combination of pressure and heat; may be combined with foil or screen print Once used primarily on paper, leather or vinyl, this process can now be used on textiles.  
Embroidery Text or image created/digitized using thread or yarn. Designs are typically applied to apparel but may include bags and textiles.


(Courtesy of Advantage Apparel)


Sometimes also referred to a etching-designs are "cut" into the surface of the product -- typically used on metal but may be used on glass or wood. Typically used on jewelry, watches, trophies and awards.  

Heat Transfer

An image which is developed in reverse and uses a printed image on paper, which is then applied with heat directly to substrate, typically a multi-color design. Low cost multi-color method used for small orders.



(Courtesy of Vantage Apparel)

Hot Stamping

A decoration method which typically uses metallic or color foils, reverse dies and heat to duplicate text or design. Used on leather, vinyl and paper.  

Laser Etching and/or Engraving

A newer technology that uses computerized design processes to add images or text to the surface of product. Used on metal, glass, wood and apparel.

(Courtesy of Vantage Apparel) 

Pad Printing

A direct print process similar to screen printing, which utilizes a pliable rubber "head" to print directly on uneven, imperfect or round surfaces or products. Used on golf balls, foam products and fine metals.  

Screen Printing

Uses reverse artwork and mesh screens developed for each color to apply direct color printing to a variety of substrates. used on plastics, vinyl and apparel products.


(Courtesy of Vantage Apparel) 


Similar to heat transfer, sublimation used multi-color reverse printed sheet (usually printed on a desktop or large format printer), which is applied using heat.  Used on textiles, neoprene and some ceramics - suitable for apparel, bags, mugs, coasters and some over-sized items such as umbrellas and beach towels.


(Courtesy of Terry Town)

Decorating T-Shirts


(Courtesy of Fruit of the Loom® and JERZEES® Activewear brands)