As a pet grooming professional, your attire speaks volumes about your brand, professionalism and personal style. Whether you’re looking to enhance brand recognition, foster team unity or simply express your creativity, customizing your grooming smocks opens up a world of possibilities. From classic embroidery to modern techniques like screen printing and heat transfer vinyl, there are numerous ways to transform ordinary smocks into personalized masterpieces. 

In this blog, we’ll explore the benefits of customizations, offer tips on choosing the best designs and patterns and provide step-by-step guides for various DIY customization methods. Let’s dive in and discover how you can elevate your grooming experience through personalized apparel!  

The Benefits of Customizing your Grooming Apparel 

Customizing your grooming apparel can offer numerous advantages. Our Retro Stylist Wear smocks are easily personalized and durable, making them perfect for showcasing your brand. By displaying text and logo, you turn your attire into a walking advertisement, increasing brand recognition among clients and potential customers. For pet salon owners, allowing staff to customize their smock promotes individuality while maintaining a professional and cohesive appearance. Whether showcasing personal style or featuring the salon’s branding, customized pet grooming smocks enhance professionalism and team unity, making them a great benefit to the individual groomer or grooming business. 

How to Choose the Best Designs or Patterns 

When you’re contemplating a customized design or pattern for your smock, it’s crucial to consider several key factors. First and foremost, establishing a clear vision for your design is crucial for achieving a cohesive and aesthetically pleasing final product. Take the time to visualize how different elements will come together and complement each other. The vision serves as a guiding framework throughout the design process, maintaining consistency and coherence. 

Assess the complexity of the design and whether you possess the necessary skills and time to execute it effectively. A design that is too intricate might require advanced techniques and more time to complete. It’s essential to strike a balance that aligns with your capabilities and schedule. When this happens, it’s smart to turn to professionals to create the design or pattern you desire. 



Regarding color selection, aim for hues that complement the smock’s existing colors without blending in too much. Avoid selecting colors that clash or create excessive contrast, as this can disrupt the overall harmony of the garment. Instead, opt for shades that go well with the smock’s palette and that help to enhance the visual appeal. 



Placement plays a significant role in the overall design’s impact. Consider the size and positioning of the design or pattern to ensure it enhances rather than overwhelms the smock. A well-placed design can be a great focal point that advertises yourself and/or your business. 


Text Font 

When choosing a font for text elements, prioritize clarity and visibility. Ensure that the font is easily readable from a distance to prevent confusion to any possible clients. Whether it’s a logo, slogan or any other text, it’s important to make sure to get your message across clearly. 


Where to Get Inspiration 

To gather inspiration and explore creative ideas, platforms like Pinterest, Etsy, Instagram and TikTok can be valuable resources. Browse through a variety of designs and patterns to spark your creativity and discover unique approaches that resonate with your vision. From these sites you can also sometimes purchase prints or download free designs that creative people have made. 


DIY Ways to Customize a Grooming Smock 



Embroidery, an enduring craft, provides a charming way to add a personal touch to clothing and accessories. Custom embroidery involves stitching designs or text onto fabric items using a needle and thread, allowing for endless possibilities in personalization. With embroidery, you can effortlessly tailor a range of styles and aesthetics to your pet grooming jacket. 


Here is a step-by-step guide to embroidering a pet grooming smock yourself: 

  1. Gather Materials: Collect the necessary materials including the pet grooming smock, embroidery hoop, thread, needles, design or pattern example, fabric marker or chalk and scissors. 
  2. Prepare Smock: Wash and iron the smock to ensure a clean and smooth surface for embroidering. Lay the smock flat on the stable surface. 
  3. Prepare Design: Transfer the chosen design or text onto the smock using a fabric marker or chalk. You can trace the design/text using a stencil for precision, or you can do it freehand. 
  4. Prepare Embroidery Hoop: Place the embroidery hoop over the area of the smock where you will be embroidering the design. Ensure that the fabric is taut within the hoop to prevent puckering. 
  5. Thread Needle: Thread the embroidery needle with the desired color of embroidery thread. You can use a single strand or multiple strands of thread depending on the thickness and look you want to achieve. 
  6. Begin Embroidering: Start embroidering the design by following the traced lines on the smock. Use basic embroidery stitches such as backstitch, satin stitch or French knot to fill in the design or text and add texture. 
  7. Work Carefully: Take your time and work carefully to have neat and even stitches. Pay attention to detail and maintain consistent tension on the thread accordingly as you progress through the design. 
  8. Change Colors: If your design or text requires multiple colors, change the embroidery thread accordingly as you progress through the design. 
  9. Finish Off: Once you have completed the embroidery, secure the thread on the backside of the smock with a knot. Trim any excess thread with scissors. 
  10. Final Touches: Remove the embroidery hoop and inspect the finished project for any loose threads or imperfections. Make any necessary adjustments for a clean and polished final result. 



Screen Printing

Screen printing is a method that involves pushing ink through a mesh screen onto a surface to create a design. By making specific areas of the screen impermeable to ink, a stencil is created, preventing ink from passing through those areas. The ink that does pass through the screen forms the printed image on the surface. This technique is ideal for larger images or text as it may not showcase tiny details as effectively as other printing methods. 

To perform screen printing at home, you’ll be required to have several essential materials. These include a wooden screen printing frame equipped with a mesh screen, hinge clamps to securely hold the screen in place during printing and photo emulsion - a light-sensitive colloid commonly used in film-base photography. Other items needed include fabric printing ink, an exposure unit or light source to cure the emulsion, a screen printing squeegee for applying ink and an iron and ironing board for heat-setting the printed design. To prepare your stencil, you’ll also need an X-acto knife or precision knife, a pencil and poster board, thin cardboard or transparency paper for drawing on. 

After you have bought the kit or gathered the supplies, the next step is to create the stencil for screen printing.


If you are drawing by hand: 

  • Begin by selecting a sturdy material such as the poster board or thin cardboard or transparency paper. Sketch your design onto the material using a pencil. 
  • Utilize an X-acto knife or precision knife to carefully cut out the areas of your logo or text that you want to be inked onto your grooming smock. 
  • Keep in mind that screen printing only allows for one color to be printed at a time, so opt for high contrast images like black and white for optimal results. 
  • For multiple colors, create separate stencils for each color and layer them after the ink has dried. 


If you are using Photoshop: 

  • Import your image and convert it to a basic two-tone outline. Adjust the image’s threshold to achieve the desired level of contrast. Print the image. 
  • Cut out your design to create the stencil, ensuring that the areas you cut away will remain un-inked on the final print. 


Once you have prepared your image or text, you can continue the screen printing process. Here is a step-by-step guide to screen-printing at home: 

  1. Coat your silk screen with a thin layer of photo emulsion: Pour a line of emulsion along a side of the screen and use the squeegee to spread a thin line along the entire screen. Do this in a dark room to prevent the emulsion from hardening. 
  2. Let the emulsion dry in a dark place. 
  3. Set up an “exposure area”: You’ll need to expose the emulsion to direct, strong light to prepare it. Each emulsion has different requirements concerning time, watts and distances so be sure to read the instructions before setting up your light. 
  4. Place your screen under the light in the exposure area.
  5. Put your stencil backwards on the middle of the screen: The screen should be emulsion side up. You must place your design or text stencil down in reverse to get the right image. Don’t adjust your screen, light or stencil once it is placed and set.
  6. Turn the light on for the recommended time: Follow the instructions on your emulsion bottle. 
  7. Rinse off the emulsion with cold water: Use a shower, faucet or house to spray off the screen, focusing on your image. After rinsing, the water will remove the unhardened emulsion around your design, revealing the outline of your stencil. Continue spraying until your image becomes clearly visible. Allow the screen to dry thoroughly before proceeding to the next step. 
  8. Line your screen above the smock you’re printing on: The mesh should be touching the smock. 
  9. Squeegee ink over design: Apply a thin layer of ink directly above your design. With firm pressure, use the squeegee to drag over the design, making sure the entire stencil is coated in ink. The intensity of the image will deepen with increased pressure applied throughout the process. 
  10. Slowly pull off your screen: Leave the smock to dry. 
  11. Heat set design or text using an iron. 

 screen printing on Retro Smock


Bedazzling is a delightful method for personalizing or embellishing an object with a touch of sparkle using sequins, beads and rhinestones. Originating in the 1970s, the first Bedazzler became popular throughout the 90s and early 2000s. Even today, this technique remains a wonderful way to infuse your grooming smock with personality. 

To embark on your bedazzling adventure at home, you’ll need a few essential items. First, you’ll require a reliable and strong glue adhesive to securely attach your chosen embellishments. A jewel setter can be helpful for accurately placing sequins, beads and rhinestones with precision. Additionally, you’ll want to gather the fun and colorful embellishments you want to use. Purchase these items individually or buy a bedazzler kit. Another option is to pull out your bedazzler from your childhood or teenage years out of storage. 

Ensure that you allow ample time and exercise patience when executing your chosen design. Rushing through the process can compromise the accuracy and precision of your bedazzling technique. Take your take to achieve your vision with care and attention to detail, allowing each element to be carefully placed for the best results. 


Here is a step-by-step guide to bedazzling at home: 

  1. Plan out your design: You will be working with strong adhesives so fixing a mistake won’t be possible. 
  2. Purchase or select the rhinestones, beads or sequins you plan on using. 
  3. Apply the glue adhesive to the area you want to decorate: Work in small patches to prevent the glue from drying out too fast. 
  4. Place embellishments on fabric: Pick up the rhinestones, beads or sequins by hand or with a jewel tweezer or jewel setter and gently place in the desired spot on top of the adhesive. 
  5. Wait for the glue to set.
  6. Clean up any residue. 


Using a Cricut Machine 

A Cricut is a smart cutting machine designed to draw and cut various materials for a wide range of craft projects. It can precisely cut materials such as paper, vinyl, and, with compatible cutting blades, balsa wood, fabrics, leather and cork. The machine has been utilized to customize items like drinkware, home decor, coasters and grooming smocks. 

Imagine a Cricut machine as akin to a printer, but instead of printing an image onto paper, it precisely cuts shapes out of materials like paper or vinyl. Inside the Cricut machine, there’s a small blade mounted on a carriage that moves around to cut the chosen design. The fine-point blade functions like a miniature X-acto knife, capable of cutting intricate shapes with precision. 

Materials you need to use for customizing a pet grooming jacket are the Cricut machine, Cricut LightGrip Cutting Mat, Cricut Easy Press or household iron and a folded towel to protect your work space. You also need a set of precision tools that include a weeder, spatula, scraper, scissors and tweezers. The Cricut Maker 3 and the Cricut Joy are two machines that work well for both large and small designs. 


Cutting heat transfer vinyl with a Cricut machine is a straightforward process. 
  1. Gather your heat transfer vinyl, cutting mat, weeding tool and log into the Cricut Design Space. You can upload your own SVG or JPG, search for images within the software or create your design inside the software using the available shapes and fonts. Adjust the chosen design to fit your project, check the color synchronization and click “make it” to proceed to the preview screen.
  2. Remember to mirror your design by selecting the “mirror” option. This step is crucial for correct transfer onto your project. Connect Design Space to your Cricut machine and select the material. For Cricut Makers, choose heat transfer vinyl from the menu. If you have a Cricut Explore, use the HTV setting on the machine’s dial. 
  3. Place the heat transfer vinyl on your cutting mat with the shiny side facing down. Smooth out any wrinkles or bubbles using a brayer or your fingers. Then insert the cutting mat into the Cricut machine. Press the up and down button on the machine and then hit the “C” button to start cutting. Allow the machine to complete the cutting process.
  4. Once the cutting is complete, release the cutting mat from the machine. Use the weeding hook to remove the excess vinyl that’s not part of your design. 


Now that you have your heat vinyl design all ready, you can transfer it to your grooming smock. 

  1. Position the vinyl design on the smock with the shiny side up (the plastic carrier sheet facing up). 
  2. Apply head to the vinyl design following the instructions in the Cricut Heat Transfer Guide. 
  3. Flip the smock over and apply heat to the back of the design. 
  4. Allow the shirt to cool, then carefully peel off the plastic transfer sheet. 


Cricut machines can also be utilized to draw. Here is an example of a design drawn onto a dog bandana using a Cricut. 


What To Do If You Are Not Creative 

Customizing a dog grooming smock can be a daunting task, especially for those who don’t find joy in creative or detailed work. However, there are alternative avenues for those seeking personalized grooming attire without the hassle of DIY customization.  

One option is to seek professional help through online platforms such as Etsy, Instagram, Facebook or TikTok. These sites offer a wide range of artisans and craftspeople who specialize in custom work. You can browse through listings, pictures or videos to find creatives who offer personalization services tailored to your preferences. 

Additionally, consider reaching out to screen printing or t-shirt printing companies in your town. These businesses specialize in custom printing and may be able to create personalized grooming smocks featuring your preferred logo and/or text. This is an especially great option if you have many smocks to customize. 


Embrace Personalized Grooming Apparel 

Personalizing your grooming apparel offers a multitude of benefits from enhancing brand recognition to promoting team unity and individuality. Whether you choose to embroider intricate designs, screen print bold graphics, bedazzle with sparkling embellishments or utilize the precision of a Cricut machine, there are endless creative possibilities to explore.

While DIY customization may not be everyone’s forte, seeking professional assistance from skilled artisans or printing companies can streamline the process and ensure personalized identity. Embrace the opportunity to elevate your grooming experience with customized apparel that not only showcases your creativity but also enhances your professional presence in the pet grooming industry. 


Does Retro Stylist Wear Customize Smocks?

Retro Stylist Wear does not provide smock customization services, but we love seeing how our customers personalize their smocks! Tag us on social so the world can see your creativity!

Please note that articles of clothing can not be returned once altered. Please ensure the apparel fits properly and you are satisfied with your purchase before altering items in any way. It's recommended to test out an alteration on a similar item of the same fabric material before altering your Retro Stylist Wear smock. We recommend altering apparel that is 100% polyester fabric and cannot guarantee the success of DIY customizations on stretchy grooming smock fabric.


Elli Bultemeier NCMG, CPAe, PTI 2592