Entering the fiber and textile craft world is exciting, but it can also be a bit daunting for beginners.
Hearing the terms being passed around, you might be confused with the differences between techniques and methods used in similar ways.
What’s the difference between embroidery and vinyl? Embroidery and vinyl are both applied to fabric, but they are done differently, look distinct, and involve different materials. Embroidery is applied using a sewing needle and made of threadwork. Vinyl uses a printed image or cutout of a special material; it requires heat and pressure.
They are both used to decorate textiles, but they are quite different, and understanding their differences will help you decide which is right for you to use. Read on to learn the ins and outs of embroidery and vinyl, and the differences between the two!
What Is Embroidery?
Embroidery involves stitching a design into fabric using a needle and thread, usually with multiple thread colors.
The embroiderer designs the shapes and colors involved, almost like “drawing” or “painting” with needle and thread. The threads are raised from the surface of the fabric, which draws attention to the design. There are embroidery machines that can be used for larger designs and commercial uses.
You can get quite creative with embroidery, as it is limited only to your own design abilities. You can also sew with beads, small sequins and gems, or buttons to incorporate extra decoration and texture into the design.
Embroidery is often used to create clean, professional looks on clothing and the designs do not diminish with time unless snagged. (The thread can fade in color with time, but this is true of all textiles. Embroidery thread is not likely to fade any faster than the textile it decorates.)
It is also used to created designs and logos on thicker fabric, such as on polo shirts. The designs are long-lasting and durable but do cost more than vinyl printing.
Not all designs are suitable to be embroidered for commercial or repeat “professional” looks. For more complicated designs, and more intricate color schemes, it might be better to use vinyl to get as close to the design as possible.
But for artistic and individual uses, embroidery is a great choice.
Care Instructions For Embroidery
You do need to be gentle when cleaning embroidered items. It is recommended to hand-wash and air-dry any embroidered items.
If you do machine wash embroidered items, you should turn them inside out to protect the embroidery from any abrasions. Avoid placing these garments in the washer with items that have metal hardware like zippers.
The fabric needs to be washed gently to prevent shrinkage, which could alter the look of the embroidery. To avoid the thread color bleeding into the fabric, you could wash it in cold water first and then rinse the item in cool water if you notice any bleeding.
What Is Vinyl?
Vinyl is popularly used for promotional and advertising uses.
Vinyl is applied using a combination of heat and pressure, which transfers the custom design onto a piece of fabric. A machine is used to cut the vinyl into different shapes, designs and letters, and those are then laid in a heat press against the fabric and transferred onto it.
It is often used as a low-cost form of branding or decorating an item of clothing, especially in professional contexts.
It can often hold more detailed pictures and artwork than embroidery (except professional hand embroidery). Vinyl also allows makes it easy to use brighter colors.
While it allows for more versatility, vinyl is not as resilient as embroidery, and will not last as long. Instead of being sewn into the fabric, the heat and pressure helps to bond the vinyl. It likely won’t hold up long or well. However, it can easily create an exact replica of the design you want and accommodate for a wide range of shades and colors.
Care Instructions For Vinyl
Heat vinyl garments should be turned inside out when being washed in the washing machine. You should set the washer onto the coldest setting and only use a mild detergent. Do not use bleach when washing vinyl garments, as this could damage the printing.
The garments can be dried at a normal temperature setting on household machines, and do not need too much care when being dried, but make sure to not have the items dry cleaned.
Vinyl does not last as long as embroidery does. Taking extra care when washing vinyl garments does help it last longer.
Is Vinyl or Embroidery Better?
Embroidery is considered a better option for apparel, but it is more expensive. Vinyl is better suited for promotional items, as it is cheaper, and it can be used by home crafters and small businesses for not only clothing but tumblers and décor as well.
What is the Best Material to Use For Embroidery?
The best material to use for embroidery would be any woven fabric, whether it’s machine or hand-done. This fabric holds the shape of the embroidery well and allows it to last long.
Aida cloth (which is a natural mesh used for cross stitch), muslin, canvas, and linen are all great options for embroidery fabric. Embroidery is popular for polo shirts as it is the right material to hold the stitches.
Knits, whether machine or hand-made, are more difficult to embroider.
Does Screen Printing Fade?
If done properly, screen printing should not fade. It should not crack or peel. It is a long-lasting option and you can be quite creative with the designs you come up with!