WORK+SHELTER offers a variety of options when it comes to customizing your products and designs. Whether you are looking to add your logo to our lineup of promotional products or you want an original print produced for your spring line, we’re here to make it happen.

If you need help developing your product or idea, make sure to check out the previous posts in our Designer Services blog series: How W+S Brings Your Custom Product Ideas to Life, When W+S Designer Services Are Right for You, and Where W+S Sources Our Fabrics.


Theresa VanderMeer and Karina Rosenstein reviewing print samples at one of the natural dye artisan groups that we work with at WORK+SHELTER.


Let’s start with the basics– the  difference between patterns and prints. 

It is very important to differentiate between the two because patterns and prints are not the same – printed patterns are actually very different from woven patterns.

A pattern is any repeated design or motif, such as a stripes, floral, geometric, medallion, etc. It can be woven/knit into the fabric or printed on top.

A print can be a pattern, however it is not woven into the fabric but applied to the top with dye by various methods such as digital printing or screen printing.  

The easiest way to tell the difference between the two is by flipping it over. Generally, a woven pattern will show on both sides, while a printed pattern will be clearly more saturated on the top of the fabric or may not go through to the other side at all.


A few patterned fabrics printed by one of our suppliers.


Now that you have that down, we can dive into the different customizations we offer for our promotional and designer client partners. We work directly with the mills and producers/artisans, so there’s no need for a trader or middleman, making the process straightforward + seamless.

On the back end of fabric production, you are able to customize:

  • Yarn dyed fabrics in any Pantone color

  • Woven or knit textures

  • Woven or knit fabric thickness

  • Knit patterns

    • Stripes
  • Woven patterns and types of weaves


    • Plain weave
    • Ikat
    • Chambray
    • Herringbone
    • Dobby
    • Jacquard
    • Etc.

Once fabrics have been produced you are able to customize in the following ways:

  • Resist dyeing

    • Bleach
    • Indigo

Examples of indigo resist dyed fabric from the natural dye artisan group shown above.

  • Printing

    • Digital
      • Digital print benefits:
        • No printing screens involved = no upfront cost
        • You are able to print one single item and/or a sample print
        • There are virtually no color limitations
        • The number of colors and the appearance of the print does not affect the cost of manufacturing
        • Fewer economies of scale than when screen printing – for example, digitally printing the first meter + the hundredth meter cost basically the same

Notice the watercolor effect in this print— this is only achievable through digital printing.

      • Digital print challenges
        • It’s not possible to digitally print on colored fabrics, because the threads of the fabric are already saturated with dyes, and therefore the colors generally don’t come out in the intended shade

Digital printing on natural fabric (top photos) versus white fabric (bottom photos). Colors will be darker + more saturated when printed on white fabric than on natural fabric.

Want to learn more about the digital printing process? Check out this video by HunbulTex.

    • Screen (analogue method of printing on fabric)
      • Screen print benefits:
        • Cost-effective when printing in bulk – for example, with an increase in the number of goods produced, the price of a single unit noticeably decreases
        • Screen printing works better than digital printing on brightly colored base fabrics (as seen below)

A screen printed tote for our client partners Diaspora Co., modeled by Sonam of WORK+SHELTER.

      • Screen print challenges:
        • Higher cost of entry for artwork. Each color requires the preparation of a separate screen, and at $40 per screen the cost can add up. The Diaspora Co. tote above has over 10 colors, resulting in $400 of screen costs  
        • The number of colors possible per artwork is limited – we do not recommend printing over 12 colors
        • Due to the cost of preparation of the screens, it is not suitable for printing individual pieces or small volumes
        • Artwork changes after the sampling process result in additional costs because new screens need to be made
      • Hand screen (Medium or Large Scale)

        • Placement printing for small logos and designs
        • Printed on pre-cut pattern pieces or sewn products
        • Gold foil
        • Silicone on activewear, i.e. “grip strips”

One of our main screen-printers printing a one color design on cotton canvas.

      • Auto Screen + Rotary (Medium or Large Scale)

        • Full fabric for all-over prints 
        • Rotary printing minimums are at least 1000 meters of woven fabric or 500 kgs of knit fabric

You can see the different layers of color and pattern that each rotary screen adds in this camouflage fabric. (2)

    • Block
      • Traditional shapes
      • Customized block patterns
    • For more info on the difference between printing styles, check out this article
  • Embroidery

    • Machine embroidery for logos, motifs, or additional artwork
    • Hand embroidery for very small batch simple specialty designs

An embroidery machine creating a floral motif (left). An embroidered logo on jersey athletic shorts (right).


If there’s a specific type of customization that you have in mind and aren’t seeing above, drop us a line at [email protected] or schedule a meeting with us if you’d like to chat through the process. You can also find more information on our website here.


  1. Woven Patterns,
  2. Rotary Printer,