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my team deserves a t-shirt that doesn't suck.
December 5, 2011 11:22 AM   Subscribe

You are not my t-shirt vendor, but please give me some advice on printing my (very special snowflake of a) t-shirt.

I would like to print this four-color design on a black t-shirt. This will be a very short run; I will need twelve shirts of varying sizes.

Print quality and durability are the most important considerations. This is not for profit, so cost is much less of an issue. I've bought crappy insta-fade t-shirts from Cafepress in the past and I don't want anything like that.

I have some great flex-printed tees from Spreadshirt and would love to use that process, but alas, the illo is too detailed.

So, my two questions:

1) What t-shirt printing process should I look for?

2) Can you recommend a vendor that uses that process? Super bonus points if it's in the Seattle area. I like shopping local!
posted by Sauce Trough to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Sorry I can't see your image from work but printing on black is the most difficult option especially with multiple colors in the silk screen process which prints directly to the fabric. But when it is done correctly by-far the best quality. That is why most people opt for the iron-on process that prints it on an adhesive that is then adhered to the fabric. For quick and easy (and should be cheaper) option go with the iron-on. Perhaps they have perfected it since I have been in the business but they used to be susceptible to peeling and very heavy application.
posted by JXBeach at 11:30 AM on December 5, 2011


On a black t-shirt that'll be a three-color design (gray, white, blue). You're going to want it silkscreened. If you're willing to work with Portland folk I can recommend a printer here.
posted by milk white peacock at 11:34 AM on December 5, 2011


JXBeach's concern is alleviated with a technique called "flashing," where they screen a white silhouette of the whole design (or at least the parts that aren't the same color as the shirt) before screening the colors. It'll cost a little extra. However, you'll probably want to flash the whole design and actually print the black color so that it remains a single design and not a ton of little islands of gray.
posted by rhizome at 12:02 PM on December 5, 2011


this is not going to be cost-effective for you to do only 12 shirts if you are wanting to go with a tee-shirt printer (and not an individual with a silkscreen setup) where minimums are usually upwards of 100 to be cost-effective. each color will require a film to be for each of the silk screens. each color will also require set up and cleaning of the machine. this looks like a four color job, and most likely a fifth bc, yes, you will want the flash when you are printing on a black tee.

if i were you, i'd try to find an individual who has their own silk screen studio and they would probably charge a LOT less.
posted by violetk at 1:19 PM on December 5, 2011


I had a t-shirt made by CustomInk.com. Photo quality print on black. Just one t-shirt. No minimum.

It looked amazing.

Durabiltiy? So far it's been washed three times with no fade. It probably won't last forever, but I've been incredibly happy with it. It's not local but... y'know... it's local to somewhere.. DC I think.

They will do 12 shirts for 17 bucks each.
posted by midmarch snowman at 3:16 PM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


My brother makes t-shirts, and in their office they have racks and racks of sample shirts from all different manufacturers and of varying types. I believe he recommends ringspun cotton.
posted by gjc at 7:55 PM on December 5, 2011


There is a form of silk screen printing called discharge printing. Essentially, a special ink is printed that removes the dye in the shirt when it's heat cured. One can print over it with regular inks and get a much softer feel rather than the heavy feel of printing a white plastisol ink first.
I worked for about 15 years in various silk screening shops and this method was by far the best for designs on dark fabrics. So, look for a screen printer that does discharge printing. If cost really isn't an issue it's the best technique for what you want.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 8:41 PM on December 5, 2011


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