What Printing Methods Are Used on Hoodies?

What Printing Methods Are Used on Hoodies?

Walter WebbMar 19, '22


There are several printing methods that are used in making hoodies. Five of these methods are: 

  1. Screen Printing

  2. Direct to Garment

  3. Heat Transfer

  4. Sublimation

  5. Embroidery

Each of these methods is described in the following sections.

Screen Printing

mesh screen
mesh screen

Screen printing has been around a long time. It first appeared in China in the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD).1 The first step in the process is to create the artwork to be printed. Assuming the artwork has only one color, a stenciled design is created from the artwork. In commercial printing, the stenciled design is created on a fine mesh screen. There are several methods for creating the stencil. The garment to be printed is then placed on a smooth surface. The mesh screen is placed over the garment. Ink is then put on the mesh screen, and a squeegee is moved back and forth over the mesh. The ink transfers to the garment placing the desired image on the garment. The ink is then dried to set the image.

screen printing multiple colors
printing multiple colors

If there are multiple colors in the design, a stencil must be created for each color. The entire printing process is then repeated for each color. A digital scanner, connected to a computer, is used to scan the artwork and separate each color so that a separate stencil can be created for each color. An excellent video at Screen Printing: How It Works shows entire process from scanning the image to printing the garment.

Screen printing can create vibrate colored garments, however, there are significant setup costs because multiple stencils must be created. Generally, machines with multiple print heads will be employed. This type of printing would be suited for producing a large quantity of garments where the setup costs can be spread over all the garments produced.


Direct to Garment
DTG Printer
Direct to Garment (DTG) printing is a recent printing development compared to screen printing. DTG printing is essentially the same as an ink-jet printer that can print multiple colors on paper. Water-based ink is applied directly to the garment as seen in the figure on the right. A digital image of the desired artwork must either be scanned from a canvas, or designed on a computer in a graphic design program. The digital image is then loaded into the DTG printer prior to printing.


DTG printing does not require a stencil as screen printing does. Therefore, it is suitable for printing small quantities of a design on garments. DTG printing is also precise, allowing detailed designs to be printed. DTG images can be slightly more faded than screen printed images.

Heat Transfer

Heat Transfer Printer
Epson Inkjet Printer

Heat Transfer is a newer printing method. The desired image is first printed on a transfer paper. The ink on the paper is then transferred to the garment using heat and pressure. Standard ink-jet printers, such as the Epson printer shown on the right, can be used to print the image on the transfer paper.

Heat Transfer Press
Heat Transfer Press

After the image is printed on the transfer paper, the transfer paper is inserted into a heat press along with the garment that will get the image. The transfer paper is then pressed on the garment, and heat and pressure are applied. The ink on the transfer paper melts off the paper and transfers to the garment. 2



Sublimation is the transition of a substance directly from the solid to the gas phase, without passing through the intermediate liquid phase. A good example of sublimation is dry ice. Dry ice is solid, frozen carbon dioxide which turns directly into a gas at -109.3°F.

Digital Printer
Digital Printer
So how is sublimation put to use in printing? The first thing you need is a digital printer to produce images on a special paper. The paper is known as sublimation transfer paper. Using sublimation ink, the digital printer renders the desired image on the sublimation transfer paper. Now we’re halfway there. Next we need to place the image on the sublimation transfer paper onto the apparel.
Heat Press
The transfer is accomplished using a heat press. The transfer paper is placed upon the apparel and both are put into the heat press. Using temperatures of from 350 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, the heat press causes the sublimation ink to change state from a solid to a gas. The ink in a gaseous state bonds with material becoming embedded within it. When the heat is removed, the sublimation ink reverts from gas to solid state and is now part of the material.



Embroidery design
If a design is being created for only one hoodie, where the embroidery would be done by hand, you could create any design you desire. However, if the design will be used to produce several hoodies, an embroidery machine will be employed. Consequently, the number of needles the embroidery machine can accommodate, and the number of colors that can be used must be considered. Obviously, an experienced embroidery designer is required to ensure a quality product is produced. This does not mean that a complex design cannot be created. Modern embroidery machines can produce startling images, such as the one shown on the right. There are basically two steps that must be performed to prepare an image for an embroidery machine: 1) produce the artwork, and; 2) transfer the artwork to a file suitable for an embroidery machine. Once there is a file that contains the desired artwork, the file is transferred to an embroidering machine. Finally, the embroidery machine stitches the design into the hoodie.


If You Want Some Help

If you’ve decided you want to go ahead with creating a custom hoodie, but you want some assistance, our firm, LowSport, is here to help. LowSport has been in the fan wear business for over 30 years. We specialize in custom made fan wear and corporate fashion. LowSport specializes in high end products that utilize made to order production in their oversees factories. LowSport  has very special factory relationships that allow for very fast turn around of less than 30 days and even quicker in many cases. Our minimum orders are virtually non existent. You can contact us at our phone number: +1.914.572.1584 or email us at: glow@lowsportllc.com. 


  1. Roberts, Gordon, “History’s Influence on Screen Printing’s Future”, SCREENPRINTING, May 4, 2006, https://screenprintingmag.com/historys-influence-on-screen-printings-future/
  2. Stone, Dan, “What Is Heat-Transfer Printing?”, Techwalla, https://www.techwalla.com/articles/what-is-solvent-ink  

Related Posts:

  1. What Is Sublimation And How Does It Work?
  2. How Do You Make an Embroidered Hoodie?
  3. What Goes Into Custom Hoodie Costs?
  4. What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Different Hoodie Fabrics?

  5. Frequently Asked Questions about Creating a Custom Hoodie