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The Fine Print: Let's talk about tees!

The Definitive Guide to T-Shirts

T-shirt Fit Guide

T-shirts are our go to article of clothing for everything from lounging around the house to speaking in front of thousands gathered for a start-up convention. There’s hardly a comparison for a piece of clothing that is so versatile and widely accepted not to mention comfortable! Within this guide we’re going to attempt to cover all types of tees to help you narrow down the best options as far as purpose, fit, and comfort.

First let’s take a look at the back story of our most beloved piece of clothing. T-shirts started being manufactured way back in the late 1800’s as a replacement for buttoned and collared shirts for bachelors with no sewing skills. Sailors in the Navy then started cutting their union suits in two to wear the top portion all the time. When these men returned to Civilian life they were not keen on giving up the comfort they were used to so the t-shirt spread its way into the mainstream society. So beyond thanking our military for service in protecting our country and interests, you can also be thankful for the t-shirt. The military was also one of the first to commence the decoration of t-shirts with printed imagery.

How t-shirts are defined is typically by their neckline since they have no real collar, just hems. You have crewnecks and v-necks but there are also long-sleeved variations of these. Additionally you have types of t-shirts that are defined by their material content like 50/50 or polyblends and specialty t-shirts known as performance wear. How do you figure out which is best for you?

Crew necks were aptly named, again hearkening back to the Navy days when oarsmen who wore these were known as the “crew.” Crewnecks feature a ribbed raised neckline in a circular shape and are especially flattering on people with long necks and thinner builds. If you really prefer a v-neck but have a long neck, there are some options for v-necks that have a shortened v-shape.

V-necks can be worn by anyone but the extremely deep v-neck should be avoided because it’s a fashion phase and you’re going to regret those Instagram pictures in a year or two. Not to mention, you have less room for a t-shirt design!

Crewneck T-Shirt
V-Neck T-Shirt

How should a t-shirt fit? In almost any case, a t-shirt should lightly hug your body. The t-shirt tent is not a good look on anybody. The exception of course if you’re wearing an oversized t-shirt around the house to lounge in or do work. Then of course you can wear a tent t-shirt.

For most people sleeves will also define whether you’re wearing a well-fitting or ill-fitting tee. Too much flare in the sleeves and you’ll look like cadet from a space voyage show, too tight…well too tight just not alright. If you have muscles, wearing a bicep strangler isn’t going to make you look beefier but it might make you look like you’re trying too hard. Generally a sleeve should fall around midbicep and lightly hug your arm, the same as the rest of the tee. If you have a t-shirt that fits you in an odd way or you have an unusual shape, sometimes getting them professionally altered could be the answer, especially if you love the t-shirt design.

If you’re a little on the fluffy side, we recommend still wearing a t-shirt that only has a few inches of give on either side. If you’re uncomfortable with this, you could add layers like a light cardigan to offset attention to areas you’re not confident with. But stick with the slight body hug if you do this.

The length of a t-shirt varies depending on gender. Men should always wear t-shirts that rest about mid crotch level. If the hem of the t-shirt rests higher than that you may leave yourself vulnerable to exposing your stomach which should be avoided in professional settings. If you’re a very tall person, resist the temptation to wear oversized tees in an attempt to make up for length. Our Hanes Beef T offers selections for extra tall people in checkout. Women have a little more versatility in this arena but the same recommendation goes for professional settings.

The weight of a t-shirt is an important aspect to consider. We all like to be comfortable when wearing a t-shirt so the concept of thin material is often attractive especially in the summer. However nipple protrusions are never acceptable especially at work for both men and women. Fortunately, we don’t carry any t-shirt product that would land you in hot water at work. If you prefer a heavier t-shirt, our Hanes Beefy T will ensure you’re in full compliance whether at work or at play.

As far as colors are concerned, we have found that our most popular colors are shades of blue, white, shades of gray, and black. These colors should be a staple in your wardrobe because they can easily gp with lots of different outfits. This is particularly true for grey, it’s considered neutral and can be worn with almost any other color or pattern.

What to wear with a t-shirt? Just about anything! T-shirts are great with khakis, jeans, corduroys, shorts, skirts, leggings, under blazers, sweaters, and jackets. You can dress them up or down with accessories like scarves, shawls, hats, and jewelry. It’s not weird to wear heels with a t-shirt ensemble and they look just as good with sneakers, sandals, boots, and dress shoes.

The Most Happening Places to Celebrate 4th of July within the U.S.A.

4th of July Eagle

This 4th of July, 2017, millions will celebrate a long weekend, and more importantly, the established independence of American Colonies from Great Britain. On the 2nd day of July, the Continental Congress approved a motion put forth by Richard Henry Lee, a delegate from Virginia to separate from the English rule. It wasn’t officially adopted until the 4th of July and that’s why we celebrate that day. However founding father John Adams did not approve of the date since he thought it should have been celebrated on the 2nd and subsequently refused to attend gatherings on July 4th in protest.

Yearly celebrations continued but the war of 1812, where we once again we’re fighting against the British, brought forth a newfound earnest in remembering the date. As hard as it is to believe, the date wasn’t made a national holiday until 1941 and even later than that, federal employees we’re given the day off. Happily the sentiment made its way into regular businesses and it’s now extremely common for employers to offer the day off. But just how do most Americans celebrate Independence Day?

When you think about the 4th of July, picnics, barbecues, water sports, and fireworks are all common themes. Founding father John Adams envisioned grand celebrations right after the motion was approved and documented in a letter to his wife his expectations for the activities, “Pomp and Parade…Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other.” And that’s exactly what happens to this day. Although the general themes for 4th of July celebrations follow the same pattern, some regional differences make their way into 4th of July festivities.

Since we print and ship custom t-shirts across the U.S. (and 4th of July family gatherings are often cause to order custom t-shirts,) we’re featuring some of the most splendid and interesting 4th of July bashes by region.

If celebrating in Florida, the Key Lime Festival takes place over the course of the 4th of July weekend. It’s the biggest festival of its kind and draws foodies from all over. The festival concludes with a spectacular fireworks show over the Casa Marina Resort. Being that Florida borders the Atlantic Ocean, the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix Festival makes a big splash around the holiday as well. And being home to Walt Disney World, of course the happiest place on Earth is going to host some major 4th of July events.

In Washing D.C., you’re sure to see the most astounding display of fireworks in the region not to mention the pomp and circumstance of military parades along with PBS’s annual show, “A Capitol Fourth.”

New York City of course has one of the most dazzling fireworks events in the country put on by Macy’s Department Store. The fireworks are dispatched from barges in the East River. Nathan’s Hot Dog business originated on Coney Island, so every 4th of July, the company hosts a hot dog eating contest for professional and amateur power eaters. We love New Yorker’s and they must love us too as we send quite a few custom t-shirts to the city and surrounding Burroughs.

Nashville is the place to go if you covet great music to accentuate your 4th of July fireworks dispay. Not only does the city feature one of the largest, each year the accompanying musicians range from country to symphonic.

New Orleans features a top ranking fireworks display called Dueling Barges parked in the Mighty Mississippi River. Of course in New Orleans you’re going to find some of the finest BBQ along with the possibility of viewing the fireworks show from an authentic paddlewheeler ship, The Creole Queen.

Houston is big player in the competition for the most over the top 4th of July extravaganza in the country drawing major league musical talent and fireworks with its annual Freedom Over Texas celebration. Houston is also one of our favorite cities because they love our custom t-shirt printing and great prices and we love them right back. Happy 4th of July Houston!

Columbus, Ohio features a show called Red, White, and Boom and uses an impressive 48,750 pounds of fireworks. It’s the largest show of its kind in the Midwest and draws massive crowds.

Boston is home to one of the more famous 4th of July celebrations known as Boston Pops. Its fame garners being featured on television networks across the country. Not only do attendees get serenaded by the music of the Boston Pops, the fireworks are commenced by a military jet fly over!

St. Louis has been hosting America’s Biggest Birthday Party for 136 years. A nationally recognized event that draws over 400,000 people each year, the celebration always has big name entertainment, military flyovers, and of course, an exceptional fireworks display at the end of the evening.

For anyone of these events, wearing custom t-shirts that convey your own sense of patriotism is popular. Families often have matching t-shirts that proclaim heritage or unity with the family by including the family name within the t-shirt design. Vacationers will often commemorate their visitation with vacation themed t-shirt designs. Wherever you’re spending this 4th of July, custom t-shirts are a brilliant way to make the occasion special. Customizing t-shirts and having them delivered to your door is just as easy purchasing mass produced t-shirts at box stores, but the t-shirt you design will be uniquely your own.

Need some inspiration to get started? Check out these 4th of July themed t-shirt designs to get your creativity going!

Overcoming Challenges Introduced with Custom Printing Fitness Apparel

custom printed fitness apparel

Fitness apparel continues to gain commercial popularity as American fashion standards relax and demand more options for comfort over rigid structure. Plenty of people wear fitness apparel even if they are not avid athletes. It’s fashionable to be seen as athletic and competitive. Another attraction to this type of apparel are the properties that can actually help in terms of comfort when physically exercising or working an outdoor job such as construction.

Fitness apparel is not just about how form fitting it is. Many examples of sportswear are marketed as such because the materials used in the construction have been altered with specialized treatments to have a desirable impact. Examples are moisture wicking, water-proofing, or even higher tech innovations like membranes that transport water through electroosmotic pumping of moisture, the concept from Hydro_Bot.

Fitness apparel is most commonly made from man-made fibers like Spandex, polyester, and rayon instead of organic materials like cotton, linen, silk, and wool. Synthetic fibers must go through a battery of syntheses to compile into the cloth’s final form while organic fibers require far less processing before being woven into cloth.

The processing of synthetic fibers is where it gets tricky, the composition is likely to consist of multiple types of fibers and this amalgamation can be a nightmare for printing. When accepting an order requested to be printed upon a material we’re not familiar with, we’ll do a series of test prints to assess if it’s feasible to fulfill the job.

While this operation is laborious and sometimes costly, it’s necessary to ensure the final print will look as the client is expecting and stand up over time without material colors bleeding into the print, peeling, or otherwise resulting in a subpar completed product.

Synthetic garments are particularly subject to frailties exposed by the application of heat which is necessary to cure ink in the application of the garment’s decoration. Heat can cause all types of problems as it impacts the structural integrity of the fabric. This can include turning stitching brittle, warping the fabric, color bleeding, and even melting if the heat isn’t carefully controlled.

Fitness apparel would hardly be called such if it wasn’t form fitting. To be form fitting, stretchiness is critical. Stretchiness causes issues in printing because expansion and contraction of a printed design can cause the decoration to crack. To combat this there are two schools of thought in the print industry. Print the garment in a stretched state or print with application of ink that’s been mixed with an additive to modify the ink’s composition.

Heat pressed vinyl is a prevalent solution since the vinyl itself offers stretch, but the complexity of the customer’s design also dictates whether this is a viable alternative. It’s typically fine for names and numbers which is quite common for custom fitness apparel orders but becomes problematic if it’s a 4 color intricate design with lots of detail.

The trend for custom team sports apparel frequently demands multiple placements of art around the garment beyond the traditional chest placement. These placements can include the back, sleeves, side, left chest, nape, and even the lower back or hem area. These alternative placements can be achieved in a variety of ways like heat transfers, traditional screen printing with customized platens specific to the job, and customized equipment. Since multiple placements require varying methods of decoration application, the costs associated are more than your typical screen print order.

Some specialty fitness apparel will feature unusual placements for stitching the garment together. Printing over seams is never an easy task because the seams interrupt the smooth application of ink to the fabric. There are a variety of ways to approach this. If you’re looking for a side print, a performance product constructed in a tubular fashion will be ideal since it has no seams other than the sleeves, collar, and hem. If your fitness apparel of choice has side seams, there is the possibility of imperfection in the print. We try to counterbalance this unevenness through the use of specially constructed trenches for the seams that lift up the fabric on both sides of the seam as much as possible to create an even surface. Some seams are tougher than others by virtue of how they are sewn. For example, a collar is constructed using more material than the bottom hem.

The best custom fitness apparel printers will require a test period and test products before committing to an unusual custom screen print job. As a customer, be aware that these tests can be costly and require a longer turnaround time than our customary 10-days. The product has to be shipped, analyzed, printed, and heat cured to conclude on the best print method for the product and the design requested.

As a society, we’re just starting to explore how science can influence textile production. At the University of California San Diego, they’ve created the basis for a material that not only allows heat to pass through the textile but actually passes the secondary source of heat from skin, infrared radiation. The invention could keep the wearer 4 degrees cooler than they normally would be cutting down on the consumption of electricity for air condition.

Material scientists at the the University of Massachusetts at Amherst are working on the application of electricity to textiles. Their hope is that one day they will be able to harness friction from movement into electricity that powers light or other electronics. Imagine going jogging at night and your performance jogging jacket is lighting the way for you!

With these types of discoveries and application of technology to clothing, the printed apparel industry will have to keep pace developing methods to further customize apparel in the future.

Artist or Designer? The Difference in the Custom T-Shirt Business

design a shirt

Do you consider yourself an artist or a designer when you approach an idea for new custom t-shirts? What’s the difference? An artist is someone who creates art for the sake of beauty, emotion, reaction, and aesthetics. A designer creates with the intent of fulfilling the vision from whoever has enlisted their services for design.

An artist creates for themselves which is not necessarily to be viewed as selfish, but rather they create because they must, it’s in the blood. The direction in which they take their art is defined by something that comes from within and is usually very personal. A designer is typically given direction, or expected to stay within the confines of some sort of structure. That structure might be defined by the vibe of a brand, corporate colors, and other specific s for brand identity or the message the patron is trying to convey through the designers finished work.

Starting out in the t-shirt design business, you may consider yourself either an artist or a designer. If you are successful, you’re likely to become both as new opportunities are presented. There are wildly successful t-shirt design artists that don’t have to bend to indulge clients. Shepard Fairey is perhaps one of the best known, but his success is certainly one of talent but also a good helping of being in the right place at the right time, with the right messaging. Not everyone is going to have this kind of lighting strike momentum in their career.

Obviously you’ve considering the custom t-shirt business because you’re creative, have vision, and believe in your own ideas. To design a shirt that will resonate with a large enough audience to become profit making is another story. Self-expression through your t-shirt design will be some part of your final product even if it’s created in the mode of being a designer.

What are the tenants of a successful artist? It is drive, passion, and of course talent. Money is probably not your biggest motivation but of course you’d like to be able to make a living by doing what you love. If you’re like many budding t-shirt artists you might be amazed and appalled by what the fashion industry considers t-shirt design. It seems as if established fashion designers can throw anything on a t-shirt and sell it for $80 or more and people fall all over their selves to buy it. This type of “design” is typically to make a political or social statement and they have the branding power to command a high price tag. Their fans want to be seen as trend setting and in the know.

These are the people that have made it and to some degree may be seen to rest on their laurels. But what got them there? True passion for creating art and designing is critical. If you want to get into t-shirt design because it’s an easy way to make money, you’re dead wrong. Without the passion for artistic design, you’re soon going to fall flat and so will your designs. The world only needs so many quippy slogans on a t-shirt. True artistic appeal comes from being able to pick the right font combinations, the right color combinations, playing on an idea thoughtfully combining messages to blend cohesively within the design.

Some artistic abilities can be learned and perfected through practice and repletion but a true eye for design is something you either have or do not. If you don’t have it, you probably don’t have a passion for creating art.

Continuously working and improving upon your craft is going to be essential. Surrounding yourself with similarly passionate people in the design world is a key to keeping up your energy and drive to improve upon your own design abilities. If you don’t currently have a circle of people like this in your life you can take illustration classes, go to Meetup’s for designers, or branch out to other groups of artists like film makers, musicians, even writers. Finding inspiration doesn’t always have to be black and white. A lot of creative mediums overlap and you may find applying some concepts of alternative creative mediums to t-shirt designing invigorating.

Having confidence is yourself is an admirable quality but humility can open lots of doors. When looking to align yourself within a community of artists to share ideas and get inspiration, or perhaps even mentorship from really successful artists, make sure your tenacity doesn’t become a turn-off to making valuable connections.

An appetite for success is coupled with a really strong work ethic. To be any type of designer, let alone a t-shirt designer in an overwhelmingly competitive market, you’re going to need to work at it really hard. Likely that’s going to mean a lot of free work that you do just to get your designs out there. You’re going to need the capability, creativity, and tons of designs to do this.

Breaking into t-shirt design for businesses and brands will require a portfolio. How do you build a professional t-shirt design portfolio when just starting out? You can try to offer your services for free or dirt cheap. With the popularity of t-shirt design contests this might be harder than you think. Plus there are artists that do design work for free already on sites like Design Crowd. But this isn’t the death of passionate artistry. The lucky thing is not every business owner knows about these types of web sites and if you approach someone in person rather than being a random person on the web, you have a far better chance of developing a relationship that could result in referrals and repeat business.

What types of businesses or entities could use a t-shirt designer? Schools always need new designs for a variety of reasons like athletic teams, school council, prom, graduation, clubs, plays, and musical events. If you find that you get the boot from larger schools, try approaching smaller businesses like summer camps, dance and ballet schools.

Breweries are a great business type to approach especially for a really creative challenge. Craft beer breweries especially are looking for designs that are very unique. Churches frequently require t-shirt designs as do gyms, mom and pop restaurants, sororities, and fraternities.

Building your portfolio is going to require an online presence which translates into your own website. Don’t simply depend on Instagram being your portfolio. Never solely depend on any free resource to house your portfolio. Make sure you store your pictures and designs of your work in your own files in case something happens to make accessing your account impossible.

When you begin to have success you may find yourself in the position of recommending a custom t-shirt screen printer to fulfill an order. While recommending a friend that needs the work is a nice thing to do, you don’t want that recommendation to reflect poorly on you after all your hard work. If you have any doubts on their ability to fulfill an order to the client’s expectation, sourcing the perfect t-shirt product, and executing the print flawlessly and affordably, you should look to experts with decades of experience in the custom apparel printing business. Design A Shirt can fulfill any size order from a single t-shirt for a test print to orders that require thousands of pieces. Not only can we print large and small orders, we’re also experts in a variety of print methods that may be required to fulfill the end product including four color process, discharge, spot color printing, and digital printing, all at affordable prices including free 10-day delivery.

How to Judge the Quality of T-shirt Products for Custom T-shirt Printing

If you’re like a lot of people you probably don’t pay a great deal of attention to the actual construction and fabric content of a t-shirt. Rather you rely on how it feels, looks, and wears over time. There’s quite a lot of science behind the construction of fabric which dictates the cost, how long it will hold up, and the probability that you’ll want to wear it again and again over time.

The cost of a garment is often dictated by factors other than the quality of the fabric. This may include the popularity of the brand. T-shirts that are marketed by designers have been known to fetch hundreds of dollars simply because the item is branded with their name, but an equivalent quality t-shirt could be purchased at a department store for $10.

If you’re a fashion conscious consumer, there will be no substitute for famous name brands, but if you’re looking to discern high quality t-shirt garments over poorer choices we’ll identify the key characteristics for the purpose of making decisions when having custom t-shirts printed.

The base component of a t-shirt is of course the fabric. Construction of the actual garment is an integral factor in quality but without a high quality foundation, which is the fabric, expert stitching isn’t going to mean a lot.

high quality t-shirt products

In terms of cotton t-shirts, the denseness of the weave is a quality signal. Loosely woven material requires less material and thus costs the manufacturer less to produce. Cotton that can be tightly woven typically consists of yarn made from longer fibers. The length of these fibers determine how smoothly the yarn can be spun, shorter fibers are more difficult because they have a tendency to poke out akimbo.

The thickness of a t-shirt isn’t always a sign of quality. Some very fine materials can be quite high quality and generally feel much better. Pilling is a hallmark of poor quality t-shirts. If you’re looking to do a high volume run of custom t-shirts, we recommend you order samples of the t-shirt products you’re considering. If there is the start of pilling on any sample, this is a warning sign that the product will not hold up well over time and likely look cheap in no time.

100% cotton tees are definitely a favorite amongst screen printers, that’s because the prints on this fabric look great and the printed design will hold up perfectly over time. Some performance wear and poly-blends are problematic because of the processes synthetic material is subjected to in order to achieve a certain color or performance property such as moisture wicking.

Preshrunk t-shirts are essential for fit over time. Although it’s likely that even pre-shrunk t-shirts will still experience a small amount of additional shrinkage, this can be minimized by washing in cold water and avoided the dryer altogether. The weight of the wet garment hung up will help prevent most shrinkage. Pre-shrunk t-shirts are not actually washed and dried. The process of pre-shrinking cotton material is called sanforizing. The material is actually conditioned by being steamed, and stretch by warp and waft, and then shrunk so the material is in a state where it will be less likely to react naturally to regular wash and wear.

Pre-shrunk cotton t-shirts are wildly popular because there is less likelihood of a tragic laundry incident. A pre-shrunk t-shirt is not likely to be rendered unwearable if you happen to wash it once or twice in hot water. High quality pre-shrunk t-shirts also make it possible to re-shape the tee if such an accident should occur. Although the FTC doesn’t require manufacturers to label pre-shrunk t-shirts as such, many will do so anyway because of the confidence it inspires in consumers.

Federal guidelines do require the content or content blend be clearly defined so you can make a judgment call even without a sample product to examine in person. If a t-shirt isn’t labeled, not only is it illegal, it’s likely to be made from subpar materials or blends regardless of retail price.

Have you ever noticed that one of your t-shirts looks like a shar pei dog coming out of the dryer while other tees come out smooth? This is a signifier of quality. Cotton t-shirts that wrinkle very easily do so because the weave of the material is looser. Densely woven materials allow for less movement of fibers when being subjected to moisture and heat. Over time, some wrinkles can become semi-permanent like the dreaded hem flip on cheap tees. An easy test when examining a t-shirt product is to clench the fabric for a minute in your fist. The warmth from your hand and the natural humidity can simulate the conditions of washing and drying. If the material holds the wrinkles from your grasp well, it’s likely to be a cheaper material. If the wrinkles smooth out, you’re looking at a higher quality product.

Lastly the way in which a garment is sewn together reveals its quality and the life expectancy of the garment. There is essentially two ways a t-shirt is constructed, either a tubular construction or side seams. While tubular is ideal for certain custom prints like side prints, some have a preference for side seams because the t-shirt drapes better.

Bulging, mismatching, or puckering seams are a red flag for t-shirt quality. If a t-shirt is constructed with visible seams on the collar where the shoulders meet, the collar was added after construction and is likely a lower end product.

T-shirt hems must be stitched loosely enough to withstand stretching of the fabric but no so loose as to show gaps at a casual glance. Certainly there are mistakes during manufacturing but if it appears to be sloppily sewn all around, the product should be avoided.

While quality is highly subjective and compromise often is the result of the cost involved, we hope this tutorial with help when evaluating t-shirt products for your next custom t-shirt order.