If you've been tasked with the job of creating and ordering custom t-shirts for your sorority, sports league, or family reunion, you may be wondering where to begin. Although there are a number of custom t-shirt designers and producers, each with their own regulations, there are some basic tenets of t-shirt printing that apply equally to nearly every service provider. Read on for some of the dos and don'ts of printing a batch of t-shirts.
What type of printing services should you use?
There are several common ways to apply a design to fabric. The most time and labor-intensive is embroidery -- where the design, including all colors, is literally embroidered (generally by a high-powered sewing machine) onto the fabric.
Screen-printing is a slightly less labor-intensive way of transferring a design to fabric, and involves the use of "screens" (fine mesh stencils) to block out areas on the fabric that aren't to receive ink. Screen-printing can be used to create designs involving color changes -- however, there will need to be a different screen printed for each specific color used.
The least labor-intensive method is direct-to-fabric printing. This is frequently used in small batch orders, as the time and effort (and as a result, expense) of creating screens for just a few t-shirts may not be worth it. This printing is similar to computer printing, using a garment rather than a piece of paper to transfer a digital image. Most direct-to-fabric printed shirts are less expensive than the alternatives, but may not be as bright after multiple washes as a screen-printed shirt, and are certainly not as durable as an embroidered shirt.
Ultimately, your best option depends on your budget and the anticipated use of the shirts. If you're planning to use them for a single event, or have only a few shirts to order, direct-to-fabric printing is the clear winner. If you're purchasing team apparel, nothing stands out (and lasts through vigorous cleaning and bleaching) more than an embroidered name and number. And screen-printing is the time-tested way to achieve a high-quality and enduring image.
What fabrics are best for each printing type?
Screen-printing is the most versatile type of printing, as it can be adapted for nearly any fabric. It's difficult to keep embroidery from drooping on thin or light fabric, while direct-to-print garments made from slick or stretchy fabric may begin to crack early.
If you're using a traditional cotton or cotton-poly blend for your design, you should be able to use any one of the above methods.Share
26 April 2015
When you start shopping for a new printer, they all look the same. However, after you pick one and take it home, another story unfolds. I still remember the day I found what I thought was a great device, only to deal with jammed paper and malfunctioning print heads later. I have been working with printers for the past fifteen years, and I know how to shop for printers and care for them. On my blog, you will find everything you need to know about printing and shopping for devices, so that you can avoid undue hassles of your own.