Tips for Apparel Decorators on Embroidery Powers Plackets

From placements to stitching, follow these embellishment tips to make placket shirts part of your shop’s embroidery services

By Deborah Jones, Contributing Writer

Proper hooping technique is the key to perfect registration using a single layer of No Show stabilizer with moisture-wicking fabric.

January 26, 2021

Regardless of which fashion trends are prevalent in the market in any given year, placket shirts always remain a staple for embroiderers and apparel decorators. Named for the front opening portion of a garment, placket shirts vary in quality, style, fabrication and, of course, price.

However, if you’re familiar with the available products, you can offer embroidered shirts for every buyer and budget.

Placket styling provides a dressier look than T-shirts, while the knit fabric retains the casual comfort factor. These characteristics make this versatile embroiderable product category a staple for school uniforms, casual wear and business-identity apparel.

Placement Options

The most popular location for embroidery on placket shirts is the left chest. There are tools available to assist with proper placement, regardless of shirt size. The general rule for adult-size shirts is for the center of a standard-size logo to be about 7.5 inches down from the shoulder seam and slightly closer to the center front than to the arm opening. The right chest also sometimes is used for personalization.

Another popular embroidery location is the lower sleeve, just above the hem or band on short-sleeve styles. This location frequently is used for sponsor names for events, slogans and small logo symbols. In winter, some customers favor long-sleeve placket shirts, and embroidery can be placed on the lower end of the sleeve, just above the band.

Because most placket shirts generally are worn with at least one button left open, you can place a small logo or monogram on the inner part of the placket that would be covered if the shirt was buttoned. Collar tips are another less frequently used, but viable option.

A few years ago, the locker patch was a popular selling feature on high-end shirts. This rectangular or half-moon double layer of fabric at the back neckline is designed to protect the shirt when hung over a locker hook. It provided a nicely framed area for a website address on business-identity apparel.

Even without the double fabric layer, the area just below the back neckline is a great embroidery location. For youth teams, it’s an ideal spot for individual players’ names or numbers.

Stabilizer Selection & Hooping

Placket shirts’ fabric types and weights vary widely. From 100% cotton piqué to 100% polyester microfiber, the key factors are comfort, launderability and longevity. Hooping techniques and stabilizer selection are similar but not entirely the same between the various placket-shirt fabric types.

Basic knit fabrics used in low- to moderate-range shirts can be embroidered effectively with standard cutaway stabilizers. Depending on the design’s stitch count and detail, good results can be achieved using a light or medium-weight nonwoven.

Lighter-weight knits with more stretch can present stitching issues, even on simple designs. These fabrics can be stretched when hooping and the lightweight fabrics can shift during the high-speed embroidery process.

Experienced embroiderers who practice good hooping techniques can use the popular nylon stabilizer product with an embossed appearance. This translucent stabilizer may seem too lightweight to support a detailed, high-stitch-count design, but it provides reliable results in hoop sizes up to 6 inches. When hooped securely — gripped on all sides by the hoop — designs don’t tend to pucker the fabric and outlines will be on track.

The most difficult placket shirt fabrics — lightweight, super-stretchy, moisture-wicking materials — also are the most popular. Successful, high-quality embroidery on these technical fabrics is possible and depends on the following factors:

1. Correct Density:

Digitizing should have with gentle angles and appropriate density values. Fill-stitch areas will have proper underlay technique, tacking the unstable fabric to the stabilizer, running in the opposite direction from the top layer of fill stitches.

2. Specialty Stabilizer:

Hoop with an appropriate stabilizer, such as a specialty polypropylene cutaway or a specialty woven cutaway designed for moisture-wicking materials. These special stabilizers are the secret sauce for success with moisture-wicking fabrics.

3. Proper Hooping:

Avoid stretching the fabric while hooping and keep both hoop parts level afterward. Recessing the inner hoop lower than the outer hoop — a common practice with most knit fabrics — can slightly stretch this knit type, resulting in puckering.

4. Needle Selection:

Use extra-light ballpoint needles with a slender blade when embroidering fabrics knitted with a lightweight yarn. Remember, the size of the ball should be relative to the size of the yarn it is pushing aside.

Testing the Hooped Fabric

After hooping a knit shirt, you should perform tests to ensure the fabric is taut. The following two tests will indicate whether the fabric is too loose, which could lead to shifting during embroidery.

The Snowplow Test:

Lightly run your forefinger across the hooped shirt’s surface. The fabric shouldn’t “snowplow,” or bunch up in front of your finger.

The Lift Test:

With your thumb and forefinger, try to lift the knit fabric from the stabilizer. If the garment is hooped correctly, it should be somewhat difficult to separate the two layers.

Wear, Stitch & Sell Your Faves

Knowing how to handle any placket shirt type is a plus. Of course, you may embroider some types more easily than others, and some may be more comfortable to wear while some simply may become your favorites to sell.

Fabric type and style differences separate quality levels and price points in the placket category. Color-block styles, button colors that match the fabric and additional construction steps add to cost. These features often mimic retail styling and contribute to a higher perceived value.

You can parlay these factors into a higher profit margin if you know the talking points of your placket shirt. For example, knowing terms like “taped neck seam” and “extended tail,” and why they are benefits, goes a long way toward maximizing a product’s selling price.

Adding some long-sleeve placket styles to your sample bag can boost sales during colder months. This often-overlooked option is even dressier than its short-sleeve cousin and gives your customers a reason for a seasonal wardrobe switch.

Select your core placket offering and make plackets part of your year-round profit plan.

Deborah Jones has more than 30 years of experience in the computerized embroidery field. 

Article updated Oct. 30, 2023

Help with Hooping

Some locations on placket shirts can be tricky when it comes with hooping. Try the following tips for hooping above a pocket or at the sleeves.

Above a pocket:

Cut a piece of paper, cardstock or stabilizer to act as a hooping gauge. Place it at the top of the pocket and adjust the hoop so that the top of the gauge just touches the top of the inner hoop ring. This simple, hand-made tool regulates the distance from the top of the pocket to the logo so the placement is exactly the same each time.

Hooping a sleeve:

Marked hoops are the easiest way to hoop sleeves because they often are hooped with the sleeve only partially in the hoop. Align the bottom of the sleeve with a predetermined mark on your hoop each time and your placement will be consistent.