How to Choose a Screen Printer for your clothing line

Employee first day

Selecting a screen printer to handle your clothing line can often be a tough decision. You want a good price, but you also want good quality. Should you go local so you can see the shop and preview your shirts being printed? Or can you chance going through a printer in another state to get a better deal?

Usually the best way to find a good printer is through the recommendation of someone who’s used them before. If you don’t have that, this article should help you ask the right questions and know what to beware of when doing your research.

Screen Printing machine for T-shirts

Avoid companies who can’t print more than 6 colors per design

Much of the screen printing industry is still operating out of garages and small shops. If a screen printer can only do 4-6 colors, they either only have manual presses (which usually have more inconsistencies printed over the course of a run than an automatic due to differences in pressure) or they have a very small automatic press.

Look for companies with in-house art departments.

Companies who invest in an in-house art department are the ones that are producing films/screen on site and generally have more overall familiarity with the entire production process. They also probably have been successful enough to afford artists to begin with and likely have a strong commitment to quality art and results. Plus, if there’s a mistake on one of the films, or a screen needs to be re-shot, they can do it immediately instead of waiting on an external partner.

Screen Printing Art Work

Make sure the company will provide jpg/pdf proofs prior to printing.

Even though you may send quality art to the screen printer, there’s frequently pre-press changes they need to make to your work before it’s ready to go. This is where a lot of mistakes are made. Receiving a proof from their end allows you to double check sizing, colors and confirm everything is still correct.

Look for companies who have actual photos of shirts they’ve printed on their site.

It’s one thing to see examples of the designs a company has printed, but quite another to see photos of actual shirts they’ve printed. Especially if you’re considering a non-local printer, this may be your best opportunity to evaluate their quality before trusting them with your own design.

distressed logo

Find companies who are passionately committed to quality control.

There’s a lot that can happen to a shirt, even in the best run shop. Shirts are generally hand loaded onto the press, and sometimes prints can wind up a little off-center or poorly aligned. Blowouts (where ink comes through the screen when it shouldn’t) happen all the time, and sometimes in the middle of an otherwise perfect run. These can be minor (outside of the design where they can be “blown out” after printing) or major (white dots that show up on the red part of your print); good shops will make it so you never even see them.

Look for companies who have capabilities targeted towards designer prints.

Printers who can handle over-sized prints, don’t blink when you say the words “halftones” or “pantone color matching”, offer foil, and have a wide range of specialty inks like glitter, puff and gel have clearly printed more than local school and church shirts.

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Brian Beardsley

DTG Supervisor

Brian Beardsley has been with Northwest Custom Apparel since 2018. He is our DTG Supervisor. Brian loves that he gets to work with high-tech machines in a fun atmosphere. He has a bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design. He said, “I always wanted to create visually interesting assets in a variety of mediums”. In his free time, he enjoys building and painting models, playing video games, designing, and playing his guitar.


Nika Lao


Nika Lao is very knowledgeable in how the business is ran because she began as an Embroidery Machine Operator and has worked hard to become the excellent and personable saleswoman she is today. She enjoys the stress-free environment and the many chances to connect with her co-workers over potlucks, BBQs, and bowling parties. Nika is a proud sister of two highly successful brothers and can boast mastering three languages herself: Khmer, Thai, and English. She is an avid camper, enjoys going to farmer markets, and loves cooking.


Taylar Hanson


Taylar Hanson is a highly acclaimed Saleswoman at Northwest Custom Apparel. She has a BA in Apparel, Merchandising, Design, and Textiles from Washington State University. “Go Cougs!” The best part of Taylar’s job is getting to work with longtime customers who trust us to do the best work and take care of their needs. She is passionate about appreciating nature, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.


Steve Deland

Art Director

Steve Deland has been our amazing Artist since 2017. He loves working at Northwest Custom Apparel because he appreciates the goal-oriented, progressive-thinking management style. He is most passionate about his art, which includes scroll saw woodwork, and his five grandchildren.



Ruth Nhoung

Production Manager

Ruth Nhoung is our Production Manager and Northwest Custom Apparel is lucky to have her. Thanks to her vast knowledge of machine embroidery and dedication to creating a comfortable and supportive work environment, the production plant runs smoothly and customers are pleased with our work. She is a loving mother and grandmother and enjoys spending quality time with her siblings. She says, “I love everything about Northwest Custom Apparel: the people, the atmosphere, the work, and the customers. I love what I do and I embrace all of NWCA’s core values”.


Erik Mickelson


Erik Mickelson’s position as Manager is more than a job, it’s a passion. It’s always fun and exciting because he enjoys marketing, computers, and coming up with innovative ideas to help NWCA grow. He majored in accounting and finance at Washington State University, graduating in 1996, and returned to school to obtain his Master of Business from WGU, graduating in 2016. Erik continually strives to advance his education through podcasts, audiobooks, and industry tradeshows. He is married to a remarkable and caring wife named Wendy, a Registered Nurse, with whom he shares his many hobbies and a love for the outdoors.



Jim Mickelson


Jim Mickelson, after a successful career with a major oil company, founded Northwest Embroidery in 1977. This was the first commercial embroidery in the Pacific Northwest. Over the years, Jim has become the guru of embroidery never refusing to answer a question or offer advice to his fellow embroiders. Jim and his wife Leeanna raised four wonderful children who went on to successful business careers.