Custom Clothing - FAQ

Have a question about how we work? Here you will find the questions we are asked most often.

General Enquiries:

Q: Do you have a set-up fee?
Q: Do you have a minimum order quantity?
Q: What garments can you supply?
Q: What file format do you require to set up new designs?
Q: How much will my design cost to embroider?
Q: I don't have a logo yet. Can you design one for me?
Q: I would like to have a boat embroidered. What do you require?
Q: Do you have a price list for the garments in your catalogue?
Q: I am trying to organise a large group order. Do you have any advice?
Q: Can I supply my own garments for you to embroider?
Q: How long will my order take?
Q: I only need two or three garments; can I place my order a few days before I need them?
Q: Can I get samples of garments you have in stock?
Q: Can I get samples of garments you don’t keep in stock?
Q: What is embroidery?
Q: Are any garments not suitable for embroidery?
Q: Where do embroideries normally go on garments?
Q: What are transfers?
Q: What is direct-to-garment printing (DTG)?
Q: How can I pay for my order?
Q: Can I pay for my order using a gift token?
Q: Can you accept payments from each individual person getting clothing in our order?
Q: Can my order be delivered to me?
Q: How much does delivery cost?

Up Helly Aa enquiries

Q: Do you have any general tips for placing an Up Helly Aa merchandise / embroidered costume order?
Q: How do we go about having our squad's suits embroidered?
Q: When do we need to have our squad order in by?
Q: What types of garments are usually offered as merchandise?
Q: Can we have our goods ready for our squad photos?
Q: How big can you embroider designs for banners?
Q: Do we have to provide material for Up Helly Aa banners?
Q: Can you sew up our Up Helly Aa banners for us after they are embroidered?
Q: Can squad members order garments after the main order has been put in / after Up Helly Aa?
Q: Do you have any general tips for placing a regular squad order?


General enquiries

Q: Do you have a set-up fee?
A: We have no set-up fee! You only pay for what embroideries and garments you receive.

Q: Do you have a minimum order quantity?
A: We have no minimum order quantity; however, we can process orders more efficiently if you can batch them into larger quantities – so you will wait less time per garment if you can submit an order with as many garments at once as you can.

Q: What garments can you supply?
A: We can supply a very wide range of garments to suit nearly every occasion. To view the selection available, feel free to collect a catalogue from us in-store, or you can view our online catalogue here.

Q: What file format do you require to set up new designs?
A: We prefer scaleable vector formats such as .pdf, .ai, .eps or .svg. However, if this is not possible we accept pretty much all common image file formats. If you have multiple versions of the same design, send us everything you have and we will pick the most convenient one for us to use.

Q: How much will my design cost to embroider?
A: It is very difficult to predict how much a design will cost until we have digitised it, as we price each embroidery by how long the design takes to sew on our embroidery machines. This can vary a great deal depending on the scale of the embroidery, and the type of stitching we use to construct the embroidery. In general, things that tend to increase price are:

  • Big filled-in areas of colour
  • Long stitches due to very thick outlines or very large lettering (which the machine slows down to sew)
  • Long strings of text, especially when at a large size (such as on banners)
  • A large number of colours that the machine has to stop to swap between.

We also have to charge extra for some embroideries due to extra digitising and embroidering considerations. These include:

  • Own garments not supplied by us, including both “normal clothing” as well as kirtles, cloaks, princess dresses, etc. at Up Helly Aa time.
  • Banners, which are sewn in two halves to accommodate their large size.

Keep in mind that we test all designs and show you samples before going ahead, and we can provide quotes for any of the embroideries after they have been digitised.

Q: I don't have a logo yet. Can you design one for me?
A: For simple text-only designs for one-off garments, that's no problem at all - send through the text you'd like and we can help you select a font that will get your message across.

If you are a new company who needs a logo designed, we highly recommend you have a design set up by professional designers, who will take into account any signage, letterheads, or any other branding material that you require, and will also be able to set up multiple versions of a logo with colour schemes to suit different coloured backgrounds. We are much better at digitising designs that have already been set up in this way.

If you don't have a design yet, please inform your designer that you wish to have your logo embroidered or printed, and they will take this into account by making sure none of the design elements are too small to be legible when done in these mediums. Also, please make sure your logo will work on the colour of clothes you would like - often designs are set up to work on white paper for letterheads and signage, but don't work nearly as well on dark garments, for example.

If you'd like our recommendation for a designer, we can highly recommend Artmachine (Shetland).

Q: I would like to have a boat embroidered. What do you require?
A: We do a lot of boats! If you are looking to get a boat embroidered, we have a few preferences for the image you provide:

  • We prefer photos of the port side of the boat – this is so that when we sew it on the left side of a garment the boat will appear to be sailing “inwards” towards the middle of the garment, rather than “outwards” off the edge.
  • We prefer photos taken at sea or away from piers. This is because when a boat is lying against a pier, thing like other boats’ masts, aerials, lampposts, etc., often appear behind the boat in question, and it can be very difficult for ourselves to know which pieces are or aren’t attached to the boat in question.
  • We prefer an original digital photograph. We sometimes have issues where printouts or screenshots of an image reduce the quality making it harder to see the details we need to include.
  • This is more personal preference, but we think the best looking embroideries result from photos of the boat that are foreshortened slightly, rather than completely side-on.
  • If it is not obvious from the photograph you provide, please let us know the name and the number for the boat, or any other text you would like to include with the design.
  • If you would like us to match any particular style of writing or font (such as on a nameplate), provide pictures of this as well.

Q: Do you have a price list for the garments in your catalogue?
A: Not as such, no – the prices for our garments vary throughout the year, and there's a lot of garments available. If you require any prices, send us an email with a list of the garment codes you’d like prices for, and we will send you back a quote (including details of the cost of embroidery if we have digitised your design).

Q: I am trying to organise a large group order. Do you have any advice?
A: Organising large group orders can be surprisingly complicated, especially when individual members are in disagreement about what sort of garments the whole group should wear. Clothing is a very personal thing, and so it can be difficult to get everyone to agree. We have the following advice to make sure your order goes as smoothly as possible:

  • Plan ahead – place your order as early as you possibly can. This will allow more time for anyone in your group who forgot to get their garments added to the order, or to plan alternative garments if anything happens to be out of stock.
  • Be meticulous – problems can crop up if you assume that all garments are available in all sizes and colours. Every brand and style of garment has a different range of variations available. If anyone in your group requires particularly small or large sizes, make sure that the garments you have selected are available in all the sizes you require. Also, ladies and children’s variants of garments may have a more limited variety of colours compared to unisex garments.
  • Brands are sized differently – every brand has slightly different definitions of what a particular size is. If you are in doubt about the size of a garment, refer to the size guide provided next to the garment’s description.
  • Get a quote – there are no prices listed in the catalogue, however we are very happy to provide a quote for any garments you are interested in – get in contact with us.
  • Make a shortlist – when organising clothing for a group of people it can be difficult to get everyone to agree on garments. It is often much easier for one person to pick a shortlist of items, before letting a group choose between two or three items instead of having everyone pick random garments from the whole catalogue.
  • Vote – when asking people to select garments, instead of asking “Which of these is your favourite?” ask, “Which of these would you be OK with?” Tell people they can vote as many times as they want. Conducting a vote this way stops a small minority of people winning a vote for garments that the majority of the group are unhappy with.
  • Double-check spelling – once applied to a garment – be it embroidery, transfers or prints – it doesn’t come off again! Make sure that all spellings are checked (especially names) before submitting your order.
  • Fill out the form – if you have received a catalogue, please use the order sheet included inside the back cover and fill out as many details as you can on both sides of the sheet. Please separate any clothing that will receive different embroideries, transfers or prints onto different rows. Please use the notes column to mark down anything specific that needs further explanation, for example, any names or initials and their corresponding sizes. More order sheets are available from us if required. If you do not have an order sheet, please organise your order into a clear format and send it to us in an email. Clear formatting reduces the chances that a mistake may be made in ordering your garments.

Q: Can I supply my own garments for you to embroider?
A: Yes, however, there are a few disadvantages to this:

  • The garments in our catalogue have been selected for their suitability for embroidery. Many garments obtained elsewhere are impossible to fit embroidery frames into due to seams or inside pockets – we need to see each garment and confirm they are suitable on a case-by-case basis.
  • We have to charge double our normal price for embroidering onto your own garments, compared to ones we supply to make the service worthwhile.
  • If anything goes wrong with any embroidery that we apply to your garments (including, but not limited to: machine faults, incorrect embroideries applied, sewn through pockets, garments sewn shut, etc), we can’t replace garments or reimburse you for the garment that is damaged. Any embroidery onto your own garments are applied entirely at your own risk. While we take every care to avoid this happening, accidents do occur on occasion. Clothing supplied by us will be replaced free of charge in the event of such accidents.

Q: How long will my order take?
A: This is very difficult to predict, as our workload swings up and down depending on what events are approaching, and our job queue gets rearranged to meet as many deadlines as we reasonably can. If you have a deadline, let us know and we will make every effort to have it ready by then if we reasonably can. To avoid disappointment, please place your order as early as possible.

Q: I only need two or three garments; can I place my order a few days before I need them?
A: Please don’t – if everyone does this we get all our orders within the last week, and this makes our lives a lot more complicated! This becomes especially difficult if the logo has not been digitised before an order is placed. When we are able to do so, we can sometimes process orders in a short amount of time, however our ability to do this relies on the goodwill of our customers, so if you have an event that's been planned well in advance you have no excuse! To avoid disappointment, please order as early as possible.

Q: Can I get samples of garments you have in stock?
A: Yes, you are welcome to take out garments on loan to try for sizing for any of the items we keep in stock.

Q: Can I get samples of garments you don’t keep in stock?
A: We can order up single garments for you, however these are non-returnable, as we do not have the room to keep these extra garments in the shop, and our suppliers do not accept returns for non-faulty garments.

Q: What is embroidery?
A: Embroidery is where designs are stitched into a garment using coloured thread to create an image. We set up the embroidery designs on our computers using embroidery software, and then load the design into embroidery machines. The garments you'd like are mounted into frames that are then attached to the machine. The machine can move the frame foward, backward, left and right, and the needle moves up and down to sew each stitch. In this way, it can draw out the design that has been set up.

Embroideries have a textured finish and invoke a professional look.

Q: Are any garments not suitable for embroidery?
A: Yes, namely ordinary t-shirts – these are often unsuitable to embroider as the type of material (known as cotton jersey) is very thin and our embroidery machines tend to put holes in them, so we don’t embroider onto these. Polo shirts made from a different fabric weave (called piqué) are a good alternative if you want an embroidered logo. If you’d particularly like t-shirts, we can apply vinyl transfers (in either single or multi-colour), or in many cases, they can be printed using our direct-to-garment printer. For more information about these services, please get in touch with us.

Q: Where do embroideries normally go on garments?
A: The most common placement for an embroidered logo is on the left breast. We can, however, place embroideries anywhere it is possible to insert the embroidery frame, so the right breast, sleeves and many other placements are possible. For transfers we commonly do large designs across the front or the back of garments as well.

Q: What are transfers?
A: Transfers are pieces of coloured vinyl that are cut out into specific shapes to create the design you are looking for. We set up designs on our computer to define the shapes that need to be cut out, then we cut out the shapes from rolls of transfer film using a computerised transfer cutter. The cut transfers are then "weeded" - this is where the excess vinyl that is not required in the design is removed, which is done by hand using small pointed tools called "weeders". The design is then placed onto the garment in the correct place and applied using a heat press.

We do two different types of transfers - the first is the single colour transfer, where the vinyl sheet that the design is cut from is a single colour. This is used for designs where only one colour is required, such as for simple text or 1-colour designs. The other type is multi-colour - this is where the vinyl sheet is white, and is printed with ink and cut using the same machine such that printed sections can contain any combination of colours, and can still be cut out into accurate shapes.

Transfers are a good way to apply designs with well-defined outlines over large areas.

Q: What is direct-to-garment printing (DTG)?
A: Direct-to-garment printing (DTG) is a relatively new method of garment printing where the garment has ink directly applied to it in a very similar way to how a normal desktop printer works for printing paper. The garment is ironed using a heat press to make it as flat as possible, and is then mounted onto a platen on the printer. The design is loaded into the front of the printer and will slide the garment in, print on the ink using an inkjet (sometimes applying multiple layers of ink) before sliding the garment out again. The garment with the printed design is then put in the heat press again to cure the ink.

One of the advantages of DTG is it can print very small details that would be impossible to reproduce using transfers. It can also produce gradients between the design and the fabric (in some cases) which is impossible to do with the hard edge of a transfer.

There are four styles of DTG prints we can do:

  • Light Colour - prints coloured ink onto a light coloured background. This is a very fast and cost-effective way to print your design, but cannot work on dark coloured backgrounds (except in special cases)
  • Dark Colour - prints either one or two layers of white ink onto all printed areas, followed by coloured ink on top of this. This requires garments to be pre-treated, which takes longer and thus is more expensive.
  • Black Colour - very similar to dark colour, but this leaves holes in the print where there are black parts of the design. This only works with black garments.
  • White only - allows for white ink to be used without colour, which is perfect for entirely white designs.

Q: How can I pay for my order?
A: You can pay at the LHD Shop counter by cash, card or cheque. Alternatively, if you have a credit account with LHD Marine Supplies, or with prior agreement, we can send out an invoice to you – if you require an invoice please speak to our office on 01595 692882.

Q: Can I pay for my order using a gift token?
A: Yes - any gift token issued by LHD Marine Supplies is valid to pay for your orders here.

Q: Can you accept payments from each individual person getting clothing in our order?
A: Due to the high amount of administration involved we can only issue a single bill for an order, so you will have to organise the collection of payments from your team members for their individual goods.
However, if you can supply a list of which people have ordered which goods, we can give you a breakdown of each person’s amount to pay. We can also bag up each of your person's goods into individual bags to aid in giving out the items – let us know if you would like us to provide either of these services.

Q: Can my order be delivered to me?
A: Yes - as long as you have an address (anywhere on the planet), we can deliver your order to you. Delivery costs vary depending where in the world you are.

Q: How much does delivery cost?
A: This depends on the size, weight and value of your order, and whether you are in the UK or elsewhere - for an estimate, please let us know what you plan to order, and where you need the order sent to and we will get back to you. We normally use Royal Mail to deliver orders.

Up Helly Aa enquiries

Q: Do you have any general tips for placing an Jarl's Squad merchandise / embroidered costume order?
A: Yes we do:

  • If you are the Guizer Jarl, get somebody else to organise a merchandise clothing order. Being the Guizer Jarl is complicated enough as it is without having to deal with organising merchandise for the whole squad as well. We recommend that you delegate this job to someone who is organised and meticulous so they can deal with selecting the types and colours of garments to offer, collecting orders, chasing up late orders, collecting payments, etc.
  • We do not recommend offering the whole catalogue’s range of garments to squad members, as this makes collecting orders incredibly complicated with the huge variety of stock available. Instead, have someone produce a shortlist of items to pick from – 1 polo shirt, 1 hoodie, 1 jacket, etc., and then collect orders of these garments only.
  • When selecting colours of garments, please keep in mind the colours in the design. For example, if your logo is entirely silver, grey garments will not allow the logo to show up very well.
  • If your design has a textured finish when done in other mediums (for example, scales on dragons in metalwork), please let us know, as in some cases we can apply patterns to sections of the embroidery to give them an extra dimension of intricacy. Because we only see whatever the squad shows us, we often end up seeing other items on Up Helly Aa day and think, “If only we’d known we could have done that better!”

Q: How do we go about having our squad's suits embroidered?
A: If you are embroidering kirtles, cloaks or dresses, it is much easier if we can get the plain fabric to embroider before the garment is sewn. This makes framing the material much easier, and if an accident occurs during embroidery (which does happen on rare occasions) it avoids wasting the time of the dressmaker who might otherwise have to remake a full new garment.

Q: When do we need to have our squad order in by?
A: For banners, cloaks, kirtles or dresses, we’d need to hear from you:

  • by September for Lerwick
  • two months before for all other Up Helly Aas.

For merchandise or other clothing from our catalogue, we need to have a complete order:

  • before Christmas for Lerwick
  • at least 3 weeks before all other Up Helly Aas.

This allows time for the gathering of enough orders from our customers to have goods sent up from our suppliers, the arrangement of alternate garments if anything happens to be out of stock / unsuitable, and allows a chance for people who missed the order deadline to have time to get garments before the day (we can’t guarantee this, but extra time helps).
The Up Helly Aa season is a particularly busy time for us, so to avoid disappointment, please place your order as early as possible.

Q: What types of garments are usually offered as merchandise?
A: The most common types of garments offered to squad members are polo shirts, hoodies, fleeces, softshell jackets and cuffed beanies (aka "toorie keps"). Dress shirts, sweatshirts and knitwear are also often selected for musicians, bus drivers and photographers. This is not to say that other garments aren’t perfectly suitable for embroidery, these just tend to be the most popular.

Q: Can we have our goods ready for our squad photos?
A: As long as you come in in plenty of time, that shouldn’t be a problem – let us know when your photos are and we will try our best to accommodate.

Q: How big can you embroider designs for banners?
A: The maximum embroidery area for banners is 350x350mm. Using the sophisticated technology of our embroidery machines we can sew the design in two halves and match the design up in the middle almost stitch-perfect. The piece of fabric you provide must be larger than this to be able to fit our embroidery frame into - please come in and talk to us before providing the material.

Embroideries larger than this are in some cases possible for designs composed of multiple separate pieces, but we don’t recommend this – banners tend to catch the wind, and the larger they are made the harder they are to walk with in poor weather.

Q: Do we have to provide material for Up Helly Aa banners?
A: Not necessarily – we keep a small selection of colours of badge twill and felt which can be used for making banners, although we think that it often looks best if your banners match the materials used in your suits. We recommend you have a look at what we have in-person to make sure the colours are suitable for you.

Q: Can you sew up our Up Helly Aa banners for us after they are embroidered?
A: No, we do not have the equipment needed to do so. You must source someone else to sew your banners for you.

Q: Can squad members order garments after the main order has been put in / after Up Helly Aa?
A: Yes. Our normal procedure is to get the squad to organise and combine individual orders before Up Helly Aa day, and then afterward individual orders can be placed with us directly.

Q: Do you have any general tips for placing a regular squad order?
A: Yes:

  • Don't forget to get garments for your fiddle box carriers! We have found over the years that these crucial members of your squad are commonly forgotten about, and we often have to make hoodies for them at the very last minute.
  • If you want to have your squad number on your garments, please come in and discuss what you need before the mass meeting, as otherwise we have all the squads placing their orders within a very short time, all with a short deadline. When we have to set up the whole design for each of these squads this compounds the problem. It is much easier if we have an idea of the design which we can set up in advance with a placeholder number, and then once you recieve your squad number we can substitue this in very quickly.