T-Shirt Buyers Guide
T-Shirts became popular in the Unites Stated when they were issued by the US Navy during the
Spanish American War. They were designed to be worn under a uniform allowing sailors to remove
their uniform jacket in hot conditions, only soiling a single garment. By the mid 1930's the
tshirt became the choice of clothing for farming and ranch chores. It finally achieved status as a stand
alone garment after Marlin Brando wore one in the movie "A Streetcar Named Desire". By the 1950's
tshirts was getting professionally decorated using a variety of techniques.
The first specification you will be presented with is the weight of the tshirt fabric. This
refers to the weight of one yard of tshirt fabric. The higher the weight,
the thicker the tshirt material. Common weights for tshirt fabric are 5.1, 5.5 and
6.1 ounces with the 5.5 ounce being the most popular. Which one is better? The answer
will depend on the use of the tshirt. Lightweight tshirt materials are commonly used
in some of the more fashionable tshirt styles and they work well in that application. In
rugged use environment such as a construction jobsite, you will find that a heavyweight
tshirt will be more durable but might be hot in warmer climates.
T-shirt weight is only part of the answer to the question of which is better. The blend
of fabric is also a very important part of a tshirt. While 100% cotton
tees are very common, many manufacturers blend the cotton with polyester to make it
stain resistant, breathable, and less prone to shrinkage. In general,
more polyester content produces greater breathability, stain and wrinkle resistance. Blended
tshirts also tend to be a bit cheaper than 100% cotton.
Fit & Fashion
When it comes to the concept of fit in the tshirt world, two general categories emerge. For
purposes of this discussion lets call them Fashion Tees
and Traditional Tees
Fashion tees are cut in a manner that allows the clothing designer to enhance certain physical features
of the wearer. Standard tshirts (often unisex) are designed to fit a variety of people comfortably with and still look good.
This is an often overlooked consideration when choosing custom tshirts for business or an event. A decorated
tshirt is of no use if the recipient can not find a size that fits them well...unfortunately, many of the
more fashionable tshirts fall into this category.
A recent trend in the design of tshirts is the addition of different types of cotton the the blend.
Two of most popular cotton threads in use today are combed cotton and organic cotton. The carding process
used to make combed cotton produces a soft fabric with few loose fibers on the fabric surface. Organic cotton
and blends of organic cotton are produced in an environmentally friendly manner which yields an excellent cotton
fabric with only a slight increase in cost.
T-Shirt Decoration Methods
There are four decoration methods that are commonly used on tshirts: screen printing, iron on transfers, DTG
printing, and embroidery. Each method has advantages and disadvantages:
produces designs by depositing ink on the surface of the fabric
through a synthetic fabric screen. The result is a logo that you can feel on top of the
fabric and that over time will crack and peel as the garment wears out. The process has
a practical limit to the number of colors that can be reproduced in the logo, typically no more than six.
Setup costs are fairly high so you need to order at least 12 units to make screen printing practical.
Hear Applied transfers
are a thin plastic film that has the desired logo printed on it. The film
is attached to the fabric by heating it at application time. As with silk screened logo's, it can
be felt on top of the fabric and will crack, peel, and pucker as the fabric wears. Depending on the quality
of the material used the puckering can become unsightly. We only recommend heat applied decoration for team
athletic names and numbers.
also called "digital printing" or "direct to garment printing" is a recent addition
to the our decoration toolbox. It digitally deposits ink on the tshirt fabric the same way your ink jet
printer prints on paper. It can reproduce stunning full color images on cotton and some polyester fabrics. The
inks used are water based and non-toxic. Since it uses digital
technology there is no machine setup required which allows a single item to be produced at a reasonable price.
The downside to DTG technology is that inks are expensive and the machines are slow compared to
silk sceening or heat transfers.
is an excellent decoration process that provides a great looking finished product. It wears
well and looks very professional when compared with any of the available printing methods. The design options can be limiting
since the design must be reproduced with threads rather than ink. Small details such as lettering can be difficult
to reproduce and you are limited to between 9 and 15 colors in the design. Even with the limitations, the
results are so outstanding many customers prefer embroidery to any of the other printing methods. More information
is available in our free online guide: How To buy Embroidery.