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The Fine Print: Let's talk about tees!

Examples of T-shirt Printing Methods

Print Methods Header

Ever wonder how a particular t-shirt printing method is performed or the reasons behind choosing a certain print method for specific designs? Here is a breakdown of apparel decoration techniques we offer and the occasions of use.

Screen Print with Under Base

Screen printing is the go-to print method for many reasons. It’s affordable and in most cases, will last the life of the apparel product. It’s most advantageous when printing a simple, single spot color design on a large amount of t-shirts. Screen printing works on all types of apparel materials including cotton and poly blends. The color is more vibrant than other print methods but it can feel heavy on the material. Adding a white under base to the design increases the layers of ink but helps to maintain the brightness of the colors.

3 Color Screen Print

Simulated Process

This is a high end printing process for complex designs that are not able to be reproduced using traditional spot color applications of ink. Usually halftones or any type of tonal design like photography-like images can be produced using simulated process printing.

Simulated Process Example

Four Color Process

This is the oldest form of decorating apparel using a similar method as an ink jet printer by blending the four process colors of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black to create the full spectrum of colors. Four color process printing works best on white or light colored garments.

Four Color Process Example

Halftone Photo Print

The use of halftones is an excellent way to simulate shadow and gradients without increasing cost by using a single color instead of multiple colors. Halftones are made up of tiny dots. The bigger the dots, the more saturated the color appears. Smaller dots are used for “lighter” areas of the design. These dots blur together when viewed from a short distance to create the illusion of tones, depth, and shadow to emulate photography quality imagery.

Halftone Photo Example

Discharge Water Base Print

Discharge water base printing is desirable because of the soft feel of the print. Instead of lying on top of the fabric like plastisol inks, the discharge process actually removes the dye color of the shirt and reveals either the natural color of the cloth used to make the garment or replaces the color of the garment when mixed with another color.

Discharge Water Base Example

Digital Printing

This method of printing revolutionized the apparel printing industry by making it economical to print a single t-shirt or other garment for a customer. Instead of applying ink through the use of screens on a press, the image is transferred much like a home printer with the ink being injected directly into the fabric then cured with a heat press. It’s also a very economical choice when looking for full color photography reproduction on garments.

Digital Print Example

Full Color Digital Transfers

These are ideal for full color image reproduction that can be applied to almost any type of material including performance wear, spandex, and even nylon. It is sometimes used to replace the embroidery method if the image contains a lot of fine detail. The images are adhered with the application of heat and pressure onto the garment.

Digital Transfers Example

Glow-in-the-Dark Printing

The go to method for specialty low light graphic impact on apparel for glow runs or other night time events. Glow-in-the-dark inks must be exposed to a light source to charge the glow-in-the-dark ink. Longer exposure to light will brighten and extend the life of the glow effect.

Glow-in-the-Dark Example

High Gloss Clear Ink

Great for subtle tone on tone effects particularly on black garments or can be used as a “top coat” over spot colors for a high gloss finish.

High Gloss Example

Glitter Transfers

Glitter transfers for apparel offer high impact for any design that needs razzle dazzle and brilliance. Glitter should not be used for designs that require a lot of fine detail because the design is cut out of a solid sheet of glitter material that requires the excess to be peeled away. Color choices are limited to what is available by manufacturer.

Glitter Transfers

Metallic Ink Prints

Metallic ink printing offers an eye catching effect for custom designs on t-shirts and other apparel. Choose from shimmer and regular metallic for different looks.

Metallic Ink Example

Crystalina Prints

Crystalina ink is usually added as a second coat on top of regular plastisol ink colors to add a shimmery sparkle to the design and adds an element of texture. The color of the ink is diffused by the top coat so a bright red will be muted as seen in the example.

Crystalina Example

Puffy Prints

Puffy printing offers a retro puffed up look to any custom design on apparel. An additive is mixed in with the ink which is activated when heat is applied.

Puffy Print Example

Sugar Printing

Sugar print effects are the result of applying a wet adhesive to an apparel piece and then pressing the wet print into a bed of sugar glitter. Since the sugar glitter is on top of the design special care should be used when washing.

Sugar Print Example

Interested in trying out something other than traditional screen printing or digital printing? Contact us at the phone number above or start a chat with one of our customer representatives below.

Discharge Printing Custom T-shirts for a Soft Hand and Fresh Style

Discharge Printing

Discharge printing is a method where the ink application actually removes the pigment in a shirt similar to bleach but in much more controlled way. Nothing like the bleaching videos you’ve seen on YouTube where the lines are not crisp and are typically done freehand.

The desaturation of the t-shirt fabric is executed by a special discharge ink with an activation agent and the application of heat to cure it. Some fabric colors can be problematic such as the infamous color red. Red is the bane of most screen printers and a testing of the fabric beforehand will be the deciding factor on whether the product can be used.

What makes discharge print so desirable is the soft feel of the print. It’s very different from traditional plastisol ink which has a considerable structured feel. Discharge ink is water based and contrasts from plastisol because it sinks into the garment removing the original color of the fabric instead of being laid down on top of the fabric. It’s basically re-dying the fabric so it works best on darker garments. Discharge print is also very desirable because it’s fashionable.

Discharge Print Example

Discharge printing does not work really well on certain colors like royal blue, Kelly green, and purple. Instead of discharging down to a whitish color, you will get a lighter hue of the original color. Some manufacturer’s products work better than others for these colors.

For a great discharge print, you need to print on 100% cotton t-shirts. Cotton poly blends are not ideal since the discharge process will not react with polyester fabric. You cannot remove the color in plastics which is what polyester consists of. However, if you’re good with a very vintage look and muted colors in your design, cotton poly blends can be used but no two shirts will look exactly alike. Some heathered blends will accept discharge well and are consistent with the soft hand and vintage look that make discharge so enticing.

Colors can be used in discharge printing through the addition of pigment to the ink; however color matching such as Pantone Color Matching cannot be done due to the exact precision expected from PMS colors due to the nature of the process.

Discharge Ink Printing

Don’t expect a crisp white color from discharge since the color revealed during the process is the natural color of cotton which is an organic look. Fans of discharge print consider this part of the attraction.

Discharge printing in multiple colors is done by printing the darkest colors first then layering the lighter colors on top with a wet-on-wet technique. Since discharge ink doesn’t actually begin to appear until heat is applied, the screen printer will need to depend on years of experience and confidence in his or hers ability to know if the outcome will look right.

A final note, this printing process will absolutely require washing the garment before wear to get rid of the smell and residue left by discharge printing procedures.

Are you interested in trying this fashionable print application for your custom t-shirt order? Hit chat below or give us a call at the phone number above for your custom quote!

Custom Printed Safety Vests and Tees

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If you have an organization with employees performing duties that can sometimes be considered hazardous you know the importance of high visibility safety apparel. In fact, since there are many laws governing the health and safety of employees, you may have a bigger need for safety wear than ever before. Since OSHA requires employers to supply safety apparel, as a business you might as well take advantage of these requirements and use the opportunity for some business branding!

Custom printed safety vests and tees can function in the capacity of protecting your employees in dangerous situation and also become an avenue to advertise your business to passersby. The public can understand more clearly what projects your company is capable of undertaking through your logo and tagline on the safety apparel they are wearing. Visibly demonstrating the kind of work you do with your employees wearing your logoed apparel creates an advertising package that’s hard to beat through other forms of advertising.

Safety Orange Vest

For example, you might have a contract to do road repair but with branded workwear, the public can understand your specialty is asphalt repair. This kind of exposure can lead to new business if someone has a private drive that needs a specialist’s attention. Anymore, the need for safety vests is becoming more prevalent for all types of businesses such as event management, construction, and heavy transport.

Safety Vest Review

Printed safety vests will protect your employees and comply with safety regulations but will also create a structured appearance for your employees. A cohesive look for your crew creates unification and cohesion and of course the ever important element of branding for your company.

Safety Yellow Vest

The safety vest product we carry is 100% polyester oxford with 2-in. wide 3M™ reflective taping on front and back in compliance with ANSI/ISEA 107 standards. It comes in both Safety Yellow and Safety Orange with room for custom printing on the back. The bright colors and reflective taping are to make sure your workers are highly visible during the daylight hours and also when visibility is poor in lower light situations.

A safety vest can easily be worn over the workers personal clothing or company provided uniform or it can be worn in conjunction with other customizable safety apparel such as Safety Green or Safety Orange tees for even more protection in dangerous environments.

Safety Orange Vest with Logo

Due the high visibility of safety wear, which is the nature of the garment, it’s an ideal opportunity for branding. The only restrictions when printing on a safety vest is there can be no printing on the reflective areas. However, there is ample space to include your company logo and other information you would want to the public to see.

It makes a lot of sense to use safety vests to promote your business as they are a required piece of apparel for your workers to do their job so they will be worn and seen.

Not all hazardous jobs will require a safety vest but do require apparel in the safety colors of green or orange. For those needs we carry Gildan products including t-shirts and sweatshirts. It’s important to note that due to the fabric composition of the color Safety Green, these only come in cotton-polyester blends and require the screen printing method of print and thus the smallest order will need to consist of 6 tees or sweatshirts.

OSHA compliant Safety Orange tees are represented with Hanes products including the Hanes Tagless Tee and for sweatshirts, we offer the Hanes ComfortBlend EcoSmart Crew 7.8oz Sweatshirt . Both of these products come in Safety Green as well.

The need for custom safety vests and tees has grown considerably since there are industry positions which require it from government legislation. But there are many situations when they can be useful in making your employees feel safe. Hazardous working environments like event traffic management would benefit by wearing branded safety color apparel and can cut down on the chaos event attendees might feel during the parking portion of their visit when their directed by someone wearing highly visible and officially branded garments.

Some job conditions make it beneficial for your workers to see each other such as in factories, forestry work, commercial fishing, and mining operations. High visibility of other coworkers can reduce the potential for jobsite accidents. Industries where work is not performed in the public eye can still benefit from branded employee apparel as advertising because your workers run typical errands on their way home after work such as grocery shopping and getting gas.

With all the potential for improved safety, compliance with regulations, and the bonus of company branding, custom printed safety vests and safety t-shirts and apparel should be in your company’s advertising budget.

The Allure of Wearing Custom T-shirts

Business t-shirts

Have your ever been in a crowd and noticed someone with a t-shirt that has a seemingly random phrase or symbol printed on it but it means something to you? A phrase like “Bush Life” will probably not mean anything to your average Joe on the street but if you’re a fan of the video game Fortnight, you’ll recognize it. It might make you laugh and want to catch the wearer’s eye, or it might even start a conversation between two fans of the game. That’s the allure of wearing custom t-shirts.

T-shirts can open doors and becomes a source of introductions, recognition of commonalities, and can even be the gateway to new business partnerships. The person wearing the Fortnight t-shirt while showing off his exuberance for the game has also become an unknowing promotor of the game. Even if someone doesn’t recognize the reference, it still might be the catalyst for someone to ask the question, “What is bush life?” And it’s all done for free.

Word-of-mouth advertising is known to be one of the most powerful and persuasive forms of advertising. People who know people that support a brand or idea are far more susceptible to influence than if the advertiser approached that person of their own accord.

Custom t-shirts for advertising your business – Whether you have a start-up business or have well established business, promoting your business with t-shirts is one of the lowest costs investments per unit when it comes to advertising. As a source of advertising, a t-shirt will outlive many comparable forms of promotion that require an ongoing monthly budget. That form of advertising simply goes away once you quit paying.

The longevity of a t-shirt for business promotion lasts as long as the life of the shirt, which could be many years if you choose to print on a high quality t-shirt product like Next Level, Hanes, or Bella+Canvas. The quality of the print will also determine how long the t-shirt is worn. There is no reason other than unreliable printing that would reduce the life of the t-shirt. Plastisol ink prints should last the life of the shirt and is the most common form of screen printing on t-shirts.

T-shirts can even be the source of an economic boom. Take for example the story of the smiley face tee. Sure we love the idea of Forrest Gump being the unwitting creator of the t-shirt design from the scene in the movie of the same name.


But the actual source was a graphic designer contracted to come up with a design that would boost the morale for the employees of a languishing insurance company in the 1960’s. That smiley face design has made millions for a company called, of course, The Smiley Company.

How to use t-shirts for business promotions - While the story of the Smiley Company is a particularly successful one, you can apply some of the principles that led to its success to your own company. Whether you’re big or small, you can start using t-shirts for promotions by giving them away. That’s right, Give. Them. Away. The insurance company that first commissioned the design gave them to their employees. They proved so popular they ordered more in the thousands.

That led to recognition of the company to this day and paved the way to ageless fandom where we still see people wearing the tees, even as an ironic or vintage statement. The band Nirvana has a famous tee that could be called an ironic tribute to the original tee with a punk edge.

Bakery business t-shirts

Free tees are always an acceptable gift for employees and customers. And unlike a gift card or edibles, will have a lasting impression. Every time the recipient of the tee comes across it in their closet or drawers, it’s a mental trigger to remember your brand.

What should you put on a shirt? – The ways you can design a t-shirt are endless. For brand engagement and recognition though, you need a slogan, a joke, or even a hashtag to call your very own. Your brand’s identity should be conveyed through your t-shirt design.

One excellent example of a business t-shirt design that catches the eyes and imagination of people who see it are the designs featured by the restaurant Oregano’s. They use powerful and funny slogans that borrow from pop-culture and trendy movements. Examples like “Legalize Marinara,” and “Practice Safe Sauce” are not only memorable but they convey the light- hearted and vivacious atmosphere you’re likely to experience at one of their Italian restaurant “joints.” These designs succeed at conveying an image of the brand.

Even if you have a new business and don’t have the kind of branding bigger companies have, you can partake in cross promotion with event promoters looking for sponsorships. In fact, your logo inclusion on a t-shirt as an event sponsor is typically one of the cheapest entry points of sponsorship.

If you have the type of business that lends itself well to manning a booth at one of these events, having your own branded t-shirts on-hand as a giveaway is great way to keep the spirit of your interaction going after the event is over. This works particularly well if your branded identity coincides with the content of the festival or event.

Is your business one of the fan variety? - If you have a big following on Instagram or Facebook, this is a perfect opportunity to offer giveaways to build a feeling of exclusivity. Having the t-shirt of a business that has a cult following will be point of pride for recipient and they’ll be far more likely to wear it frequently as it cultivates the sense of distinction amongst their peers. The exclusive factor could even turn into a source of revenue if you offer free giveaways and people who want them are not chosen as the winner of the giveaway. They could contact you and offer to buy the tee instead.

Custom business t-shirts offer up a way for you to communicate well beyond the limitations of traditional advertising. It is a source of promotion that lasts longer than other forms and gives people a tangible object to remember you by. Interested in getting started on your own word-of-mouth advertising? Check out our pricing in the link above or talk to one of our customer delight representatives to get things in motion with the chat button below!

Are you Ready to Launch your own T-shirt Brand?

Start a t-shirt brand

You would be hard pressed to find a way to open your own business with the really low entry threshold that comes with a custom t-shirt brand. T-shirts are a staple of the American wardrobe. Finding an audience that is interested in purchasing t-shirts isn’t the hard part. It’s finding the right audience for your design ideas!

Beyond your own specific t-shirt brand style, people are highly interested in personalized t-shirts. We should know, we’ve printed millions over the course of more than a decade. T-shirts are an easy and low cost way to bring together people from all walks of life including military, students, churches, and other organizations.

Because of the inherent bonding quality t-shirts offer, the business of t-shirt design and printing has exploded to meet the demand and make the most of the trend. And in turn, the competition is challenging and requires any t-shirt brand to really stretch the imagination to compete and stand out in an ocean of rival T-shirt designers.

The personal experience of building your own business can be incredibly rewarding. Obviously having a successful business can make a huge impact on other facets of your life like your economic standing in the world. Typically to have a successful business you need to have a passion for what you’re doing. So if you’re not 100% on board with t-shirt design, rethink what you’re doing here.

How can passion help you build a t-shirt brand? Someone who feels passionate about what they do will be able to do the things that take a little longer, are more risky, and are harder to accomplish. Passion will drive you to see things in a positive light and this positivity will propel you down courses you might not be willing to chance if you felt differently.

Personal reflection will be the most important deciding factor to evaluate whether you’re really ready to launch your own t-shirt brand. Here are some practical steps to take once you’re ready to go down this career path.

Develop a business plan – Taking this step will set you far apart from the herd of day traders that are attracted to the t-shirt business. This is the blueprint upon which you can grow. As your business progresses you’ll be able to make smart forecasting decisions and be nimble when your objectives change. In the beginning, consider it like a checklist of things that need to happen and what research needs to be completed.

Choosing products – Your t-shirt designs will be a huge part of your t-shirt brand’s success or failure but what you may not have considered is the influence the kind of t-shirt product will have on your chances for success. There are tons of t-shirt products to choose from. Understanding what is popular amongst certain demographics will help to determine what you choose.

Some demographics are totally fashion conscience and will react best to trendy, well-known t-shirt manufacturers like Bella+Canvas and Next Level. Tri-blends and heathered fabrics are also well received by this segment.

Other t-shirt qualities to keep in mind when choosing a product are how they are manufactured. T-shirts can be either side seamed or tubular. Side seamed tees will appear more fitted and flattering to the body. The counterpart to side seamed is tubular. Since they require less sewing, they are less expensive but will have a more boxy appearance. How a garment is hemmed can impact the longevity of the garment and certainly can impact how the quality of your t-shirt brand is perceived. Quality hemming will lie flat on both the inside and outside of a garment.

Before you commit to a large run of t-shirts for your brand you should always insist upon seeing a sample of the product and doing an inspection for signs of quality. If the hems are bubbling or appear loose, this will likely be indicative of the t-shirt product as a whole.

Your t-shirt printer should be able to source just about any type of product you want to use. Using print-on-demand printers often restricts your creativity and quality control because you have to use the products they offer on their site. The convenience of not having to deal with inventory is countered with little to no opportunity for customization for you as the budding t-shirt brand business. That’s why we recommend going with a t-shirt printer like since we can not only offer a wide variety of products but offer expert advice on products of all kinds. Think of us as a partner instead of a t-shirt printer.

Testing your design- Learning what types of designs resonate with your potential customers won’t necessarily require that you have them custom printed. Mockups can go a long way when testing the market. If you’re just starting out, superimposing the design on a picture of a flat blank t-shirt is the easiest way to achieve this. If you have Photoshop skills you can take it much farther by manipulating shadows and product colors to make the picture seem more realistic.

Without getting too caught up in details, post your t-shirt design idea on social channels to see what kind of reaction you get. This is one of the easiest ways to test the sales potential of a design. Don’t give up if you fail and fail again with your t-shirt designs. While you think people should love them, you never know what makes people tick and what is relatable to them. When you do find a design that has mass appeal you can work on expanding the concept and think of ways to replicate the design elements that made it popular to begin with but with a new twist. This is basically creating a style that uniquely defines your design approach and thus creating a true t-shirt brand.