A Comprehensive Guide to Direct-to-Garment (DTG) Shirts and Printing Techniques

DTG Printing Techniques

Direct-to-garment (DTG) printing has revolutionized the world by offering a seamless and high-quality solution for creating personalized shirts. In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of DTG shirts, exploring the advantages, the printing process, fabric considerations, and much more.


In the ever-evolving realm of custom apparel, DTG printing & NW custom apparel has emerged as a game-changer. Unlike traditional methods, such as screen printing or heat transfer, DTG allows for a direct application of intricate designs to garments. This article aims to unravel the layers of DTG shirts, providing insights into their advantages and the fascinating world of garment customization.

Advantages of DTG Shirts

High-Quality Prints

One of the standout features of DTG shirts is the exceptional print quality they offer. The process allows for intricate details and vibrant colors, making it a preferred choice for those seeking visually stunning designs.

Versatility in Design

DTG printing opens up a world of possibilities in design. Whether it’s a complex illustration or a photo-realistic image, this method ensures that your creativity knows no bounds.

Cost-effective for Small Batches

For businesses or individuals looking to print small batches of shirts, DTG printing proves to be cost-effective. Unlike traditional methods that may require set-up fees, DTG allows for on-demand printing without compromising on quality.

How DTG Printing Works

At the heart of DTG printing is a meticulous process that transforms digital designs into wearable art. The printer directly applies water-based inks to the fabric, ensuring a soft feel and vibrant colors. The use of water-based inks also contributes to the eco-friendliness of this method.

Choosing the Right Fabric for DTG Printing

The choice of fabric plays a crucial role in the success of DTG printing. While cotton is a popular choice, blends are also suitable. Factors such as fabric color and composition must be considered to achieve optimal results.

Preparation and Pre-treatment

Prior to printing, garments undergo a pre-treatment process. This involves applying a special solution that enhances ink absorption. Proper preparation ensures that the final print adheres seamlessly to the fabric, resulting in long-lasting designs.

DTG Printing vs. Other Printing Methods

In a market filled with printing options, DTG stands out for its unique features. Unlike screen printing, which may limit color choices, or heat transfer, which can compromise comfort, DTG printing offers the best of both worlds—vibrancy and comfort.

Environmental Impact of DTG Printing

As sustainability becomes a focal point in various industries, DTG printing aligns with eco-friendly practices. Reduced water usage and the use of environmentally conscious inks contribute to a more sustainable and responsible printing process.

Common Challenges in DTG Printing

While DTG printing boasts numerous advantages, it’s not without challenges. Color matching and fading are common concerns, but with proper techniques and troubleshooting, these issues can be addressed effectively.

Maintenance of DTG Printers

To ensure the longevity of DTG printers, regular maintenance is paramount. Routine cleaning and upkeep practices can prevent issues and downtime, allowing businesses to operate smoothly.

The influence of custom apparel on fashion trends cannot be understated. DTG printing enables businesses to stay ahead of the curve, offering unique designs that resonate with evolving consumer preferences. For the enthusiasts eager to try their hand at DTG printing, there are DIY kits and machines available. A step-by-step guide empowers beginners to embark on the journey of creating their own custom shirts.

Future Innovations in DTG Technology

The future holds exciting possibilities for DTG technology. Advancements in print resolution and speed are on the horizon, promising an even more efficient and refined printing process.

Quality Assurance in DTG Printing

In a competitive market, quality assurance is paramount. Implementing stringent quality control measures ensures that each printed garment meets the highest standards, leaving customers satisfied and coming back for more.


In the dynamic landscape of garment customization, DTG shirts emerge as a frontrunner, offering unparalleled quality, versatility, and sustainability. As you embark on your journey of creating custom apparel, consider the myriad benefits that DTG printing brings to the table. The future of personalized fashion is here, and it’s vibrant, detailed, and uniquely yours.

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Antonio Massey

Production Team: Folder

Antonio Massey recently joined NWCA in June of 2022. His role on the Production Team has greatly improved our processes and productivity. Antonio is always willing to lift heavy boxes or help his co-workers during busy times. In his free time, he enjoys playing with his dog and mastering video games.


Alicia Wada

Shipping Clerk

Alicia Wada is passionate about helping her co-workers at Northwest Custom Apparel in any way that she can. She works in our Shipping and Logistics department. Alicia, who goes by Ali, has a bachelor’s degree in Applied Mathematics. She lived in Japan for ten years and recently brought her family to America in 2019. She is interested in learning crafts and textile art from around the world.


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.



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”.


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.



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.


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.


Bradley Wright


Bradley Wright has been a vital team member of NWCA since 2017. As our accountant and knower-of-all-things, Bradley is proud to work closely with his wonderful colleagues. He studied at the University of Washington. These days he dedicates his free time to his new house.


Dominic Nguyen

DTG Operator

Dominic Nguyen recently joined our Direct-To-Garment department. He says he loves the family work environment at Northwest Custom Apparel. In his free time, Dom likes to listen to music, hangout with friends, and play video games. He comes from a very big family which can be very chaotic at times, but is always exciting.


Sothea Tann

Production Team: Trimmer

Sothea Tann recently joined the Production Team in 2022. She finds Northwest Custom Apparel to be a good working environment with helpful and friendly staff. In her free time, Sothea spends quality time with her family and, overall, focuses on a peaceful and happy lifestyle.


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.


UT Tri Tran

Embroidery Machine Operator

UT Tri Tran loves Northwest Custom Apparel so much that, although she has already retired after a long career in machine embroidery operations, she is happy to return part time. She says, “I love the family style work environment and how everyone shares food, laughter, and fun on a regular basis.” In her free time she is dedicated to living a healthy and peaceful lifestyle with her friends and family.



Embroidery Machine Operator

BunsereytheavyHoeu, who goes by Theavy, won our Operator of the Year in 2021. She takes on many roles in the production team. She says, “These are not my co-workers, these are my family! I cherish all the memories we make together”. When she goes home to be with her family, she makes the most of her time with them by holding family get-togethers and even karaoke competitions.


Sreynai Meang

Embroidery Machine Operator

SreynaiMeang is a hard-working Machine Operator. She is most passionate about helping people. Sreynai, who goes by Nai, likes to exercise in her free time and talk with her family in Cambodia.


Kanha Chhorn

Embroidery Machine Operator

Kanha Chhorn has been an Embroidery Operator with Northwest Custom Apparel since 2018. She is delightful and always makes everyone smile and laugh. Kanha takes on additional tasks that allow us to exceed our customers’ expectations. In her free time, she can be found at her local temple or spending quality time with her family and friends.


Savy Som

Embroidery Machine Operator

SavySom is one of our Machine Operators who is passionate about embroidery and sewing. She enjoys working at NWCA because of its flexibility. She has two teenage sons and loves spending time with her family on the weekends.



Embroidery Machine Operator

SorphornSorm has been a Machine Operator since 2011. One of her four sisters works here as well. Her other relatives are in Cambodia. In her free time, Sorphorn studies English, listens to music, and enjoys exercising.


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.

Northwest Custom Apparel
Northwest Custom Apparel
163 Google reviews
Steve McMains
Steve McMains
Great place to do business with.
Hector Aponte
Hector Aponte
Splendid service by this team. I needed a job done in one day and without hesitation I was helped. Besides the no notice, need now accommodation, the overall quality of the job of superb.
anthony mckenna
anthony mckenna
Amazing service and quality of work.
katie latimer
katie latimer
This small business is excellent! Great turnaround times and pricing. We've completely switched over to them for our uniform needs. The embroidery looks amazing and very professional. We have gotten jackets, vests, safety vests, hats and uniform polo shirts with them. The screen prints are very resistant to numerous washes. They have been super flexible and patient with us and going through getting PO set up with our company.
Dave Lambing
Dave Lambing
I am the Quartermaster for the Tacoma Fire Buff Battalion. We use Northwest Custom Apparel to produce our uniform articles. Their work is always perfect and done is record time. I can't recommend them highly enough.
Kyle Keehnel
Kyle Keehnel
Our company has been going to NWCA for years and have always encountered friendly service and quality products.
Smokey B3ar21
Smokey B3ar21
Super friendly staff , wonderful products for our company and couldn’t be happier with them
Chuck Schilling
Chuck Schilling
Working with NWCA was like hitting the EASY button! Ten days from our initial meeting to completed shirts and we couldn't be more pleased.
Bret Lauritzen
Bret Lauritzen
Prompt service
Cassandra Johnson
Cassandra Johnson
Words can't describe how much I appreciate the outstanding customer service I received from Northwest Custom Apparel! I placed an order for two coats that I needed in one week for a Valentines' day gift and Nika made it happen! She was proactive, quickly responsive, and understanding of me needing to see different looks of our company logo. She was incredibly sweet, accommodating, and made every effort to make my order the way I wanted it. A part of me felt bad asking to see the different looks, but she reassured me it was not a problem and was on top of her game! Every staff member I interacted with when I came to their shop was very pleasant, welcoming, and attentive as well. All around great work! Will absolutely use them again and highly recommend!!! Thank you Northwest Custom Apparel!!!