Digital artwork used for screen printing can be categorized in two types - raster and vector. In this article, we’ll define both file types, go over some vocabulary, and show how you can differentiate the two.
Topics: screen printing
Digital printing has some similarities, but is a bit different than screen print or embroidery in terms of file prep. Here's some suggestions to submit your file so that your end print looks like you want it to.
- Use RGB color settings.
- Illustrator files with fonts converted to outlines are recommended.
- High res Photoshop files are also acceptable (150 dpi or higher at print size)
- Be sure to eliminate any stray pixels in Photoshop.
- White areas should be set to R 254, B 254, G 254
- Black areas should be set to R 0, B 0, G 0
- For smooth grey printing, use even numbers - i.e. R 60, G 60, B 60
Some colors don’t print digitally as well as others. Avoid bright, cyan type blues as well as purples and magentas. These colors tend to look muddy when printed.
Keep in mind that DTG printing is limited to 100% cotton garments. Garments with any kind of “coating” - such as stain-resistant aprons - should be avoided. In some cases we can print on 100% polyester - white only.
Be sure to wash the garment or t-shirt prior to wearing. You may notice a slight discoloation of the garment around the printed image due to pre-treating. This is a normal part of the printing process and will disappear after the first wash.
If you’re new to DTG, but want to get some tees printed up, be sure to have a conversation with your rep or an artist about what to expect. It’s best to have this discussion relating to the actual piece of art you’ll be printing.
Topics: digital printing
All-over printing does encompass the entire surface area of a shirt, however, the are three different approaches a printer might take based on the desired print and style of art. Each approach varies in complexity and price, so please be sure to consult with a sales insider before you finalize your design.
Topics: custom t-shirts
Growing consciousness surrounding the health of our planet and ourselves has had an obvious impact on the fashion and apparel industry.Organic cotton, wool, silk, and hemp are all readily available for garment manufacturing, as well as material made from sustainable sources such asbamboo, soy, tencel, and POP recycled plastic. The custom decoration industry has naturally followed suit by offering these same materials in the form of t-shirts, polos, totes, and other apparel items for screen printing and embroidery.
Screen printing or embroidering on sustainable and organic fabrics is just the start. Custom apparel companies are refining their products and processes. For example, plastisol Pantone® matching ink systems that are phthalate free have replaced the inks that were laden with potentially harmful plastics. Creative re-purposing and re-cycling of misprinted garments is another way to eliminate the senseless wasting of perfectly good apparel and keeping them out of landfills.
Eco-consciousness with apparel doesn’t have to end with the purchase of a thoughtfully produced garment. In fact, a large part of a garment’s impact on the environment comes from washing and drying, so it’s important that we keep a green mind as we care for the apparel.
Consumers are paying more and more attention to the impact of the product they use on the environment. In fact, you probably couldn’t go a single day without the three little letters “eco” crossing your path. Textile manufacturers, screen printers, custom decorators, and designers are all trying to provide non-caustic solutions for their consumers. This focus brings bamboo into question.
For quite some time, bamboo has been heralded as an eco-friendly fabric and for good reason. The plant itself is one of the fastest growing in the world - up to 45” per 24 hours. Bamboo can be selectively harvested every year after 7 years - that’s compared to at least 30 years for trees. Bamboo also regenerates on it’s own, without planting, helps migrate water and can survive long periods without. Bamboo is also known for it’s anti-fungal and anti-microbial qualities. Sounds like a utopian plant, right? It’s not quite that cut and dry.
The question of whether or not bamboo is actually environmentally friendly comes up when you look at the process used to manufacture it into a fabric. In 2009, the Federal Trade Commission issued a customer alert that fabrics claiming to be bamboo were actually rayon, and that the process to make the fabric used toxic chemicals that release pollutants into the air. The FTC claimed that it was the process used to make the silky fabric that was caustic, whether bamboo was the source or not. In 2010, the FTC issued warning letters to 78 retailers, including some pretty big names, stating that they were breaking the law by mislabeling garments as eco-friendly and bamboo, when they were actually rayon.
These allegations may have been true, but not all bamboo fabric is converted to rayon. Bamboo is not the silky smooth feeling garment you may have associated it with when it first became available; there is genuine bamboo fabric on the market. There is also information available from the Bureau of Consumer Protection to assist retailers in making sure that they textiles are labeled properly to avoid misconception.
Truly eco-friendly bamboo fabric is made from nano-particles of bamboo-charcoal. The process involves selecting 4-5 year old bamboo and dry heating it until it becomes bamboo charcoal. The bamboo charcoal is then made into fine nano-particles, which are then added to a number of substrates including cotton, polyester, or nylon fiber. The fiber is drawn into yarn and woven into fabric. The amount of bamboo charcoal eco fabric can vary from product to product. The amount of nano-particles incorporated in a fabric determines the degree of anti-microbial and anti-fungal qualities associated with the end fabric.
If you're anything like me, you want your favorite t-shirts to last a very, very long time. This sentiment applies to all clothes, actually. Whether it’s your everyday work clothes, favorite jeans or newly purchased fleece, the money you put into your clothing can last significantly longer than you might imagine.
I used to hand wash all my screen-printed tees. No joke. You can imagine how time consuming that ended up being. You definitely don't have to hand wash all your apparel for longevity, or purchase fancy detergent; but there are some things you can do to help give your clothes the longest life possible.
Carlos Ballesteros joined the Sharprint team almost three years ago. We lucked out, for sure. He's an incredible production manager, and has brought so much more than kick butt numbers.
There are a number of considerations to make when outfitting a restaurant with uniforms or apparel—some more obvious than others. A little planning and forethought can end up saving you money in the long run by making sure you are selecting the right pieces for the right people to represent the restaurant in the right way.
First things first. If the restaurant apparel you are going to purchase is for uniforms, make sure you know the laws. That’s right. Uniform laws. The U/S Department of Labor’s (DOL) Fair Labor Standards Act has rules regarding employee restaurant uniforms. If an employer requires a specific type and style of clothing to be worn by an employee, like a a tuxedo shirt, the DOL considers it a uniform. If the employer gives only basic guidelines for work apparel, like black pants and white shirt, it is not considered a uniform.
If a uniform is required for minimum wage employees, the employer is responsible for providing and maintaining the uniforms. Employers can ask such an employee to purchase the uniform before beginning work, but he or she must be reimbursed no later than the next regular payday. Workers earning cash wages above minimum wage can be asked to purchase their uniform as long as the purchase does not bring them below minimum wage.
The following is an excerpt from Sharprint's popular guide "Creating a Remarkable Uniform Program: What to Expect from a Uniform Provider". For more expert tips on creating a remarkable uniform program for your business, be sure to check out the full guide.
For businesses operating a customer-facing workforce, an employee’s uniform is often the first and most frequent interaction a customer can have with a brand. Since a brand’s identity is the anchor for customer perception about a company, a positive experience associated with a product or service and a brand will lead to satisfied customers and repeat business.
Topics: custom uniforms
Based on a survey of over 1000 responses conducted by Boston Consulting Group in September 2012, national economics and patriotism are deciding factors for apparel purchases. American job creation and quality standards attributed to American craftsmanship are revealed as the top two reasons consumers are seeking out American made apparel. A lighter carbon footprint is a pro for the American manufacturing camp regarding environmental impact. It seems American apparel manufacturing is a win for the country all around–consumers, entrepreneurs, retailers and factories, so why isn’t American manufacturing of apparel making a bigger comeback?
The economic downturn occurring over the past decade spurred an exodus from domestic manufacturing to keep production costs as low as possible. Allen Edmonds—a Wisconsin based shoe-maker— CEO, Paul Grangaard explains, “Domestic labor costs are harder to manage than ever, due to the combination of wages, 401(k) contributions, and ever-increasing healthcare costs.” The move from domestic to foreign manufacturing, or vice versa, is costly, requires careful strategic planning and doesn’t happen overnight. It is understandable that many businesses are hesitant to do so when consumers are just beginning to show a commitment to purchasing American made products. Is the demand for American made products simply a reflection of the current economic climate? Frank Clegg Leatherworks has been in business since 1970, and Frank’s experience justifies the hesitation to return to domestic manufacturing. “I’ve seen this trend come and go three or four times now, but it was the gradual move to making stuff abroad that had me near closing. I have a lot of friends who used to be in the industry too, but most of them are out of business now...Right now people want made in America because of the economy, but marketing is a big element of it also. When the economy is strong, people stop paying so much attention to where the things they buy are made.”
The overall pros and cons may be fairly simple to list out, but determining whether it is really smarter to manufacture in America or abroad is not as cut and dry. Robert Talbott president, Bob Corliss, explains that on the surface it’s less expensive to manufacture in Asia, but it’s more of a management challenge. “You have to commit to a certain number of finished goods well in advance, provide capital up front, and rely on someone with whom you don’t have supply-chain visibility every single day. Is going overseas cheaper from an input perspective of dollars and cents? Yes, but when you look at it from an output point of view, does being made in the U.S. have added pull? I think the answer is yes. Our overall direction is to come back.” It’s worth noting that Robert Talbott outsources certain items to factories in Canada, Europe and Asia. Much of its line is manufactured in its Monterery, CA factory, which is operating under capacity.
While Robert Talbott manufactures Robert Talbott products, entrepreneurs and start up apparel businesses are challenged to find enough American manufacturing capacity to meet the demand for their product, let alone grow a business. There are not a lot of apparel manufacturers left in the United States since the exodus to foreign manufacturing over the past decade and the ones that exist are booked solid. For example, Randolph Ashton, founder of Collared Greens in 2008, has a fixed amount of production time with his polo shirt maker based in South Carolina. “And once we tap that we’re out of luck for the remainder of the year,” states Ashton. For some brands, like Collared Greens, production outside of America is not even an option. American made is part of their mission and is the foundation of the company’s identity. The ability to manufacture in the U.S. can determine the success or failure of a brand.
This lack of production capacity is part of the ripple effect caused by America’s shift to foreign manufacturing. The steady loss of manufacturing jobs in the U.S. lead workers to acquire other, more marketable skills. Since there was little demand for the apparel industry skill set, the workforce has not replenished. A good example of this is Ike Behar, who has experienced a 20% growth in its custom shirt program, with a Miami factory staffed by aging workers—many nearing retirement. Company president, Alan Behar, explains, “It’s harder and harder to manufacture in the U.S. because of the workforce. The skill set for the needle arts for the next generation doesn’t exist. You need people who know how to function as tailors, seamstresses, to operate sophisticated sewing machines, and to cut by hand.”
One solution to the lack of skilled workers is developing skill specific training programs. H.Freeman, based in Maryland, may be America’s oldest tailored clothing facility dating back to 1885. Representative Ralph Brummet touches on the secret to H.Freeman’s longevity, “We have a strong training program and we’ve set up a school.” However, a training program can be a challenge in itself. Lotuff Leather is a factory that currently has 10 workers able to make 50 leather bags per week—not enough to meet demand. For now, co-owner Joe Lotuff and his partner are cutting all the leather themselves while training apprentices in the craft. The potential for loss is great with inexperience, “...imagine having a neophyte cut 300 feet of beautiful leather and none of it is usable because there’s a flaw on every piece.” Finding the right fit is crucial to delivering the American craftsmanship that has become legendary, “With so many people out of work, when you place an ad you can imagine all the types of applicants you get. We look at 10 people and hire one if we’re lucky, and he may or may not last.”
Speed-to-market flexibility makes another strong case for building up American manufacturing capability, especially for younger fashion brands and entrepreneurs. Agave Denim founder, Jeff Shafer, talks about the importance of manufacturing in Los Angeles in relation to the fast-moving women’s contemporary market. “I can see something and technically ship it 60 days from now, so I can respond to trends and consumer preferences and not have to make a nine-month, up front commitment.” He goes on to make another great point, “Also, I know what the value of my dollar is nine months from now, but not in China.”
It seems that real success in American manufacturing can only occur if it is supported culturally inside and among companies and their communities. Brett Schenck of Hart Schaffner Marx (another company that dates to the 1880s and still supports 1300 employees across two Chicago-area factories) says, “Made in America may have become cool and hip these past few years, but for us, it’s always been cool: it’s our entire culture.” Tony Sapienza of J.A. Apparel (New Bedford, Massachusetts) admits that their 530 workers are getting older, but says they have no trouble recruiting younger workers locally. They’ve established a training school in the factory to teach tailoring skills, and thus younger people are coming into the business. Other brands have also requested production at their facility based on increased retailer interest in American made. By accommodating businesses that could be deemed competitors, J.A. Apparel is supporting American manufacturing in a big way. At Southwick, John Martynec relates that there are 15 different languages spoken on his factory floor, and that they teach not only tailoring skills but also English as a second language. “It’s part of our Brooks Brothers culture. It’s about creating good citizens and promoting the American dream.”
Success in American manufacturing is a responsibility of the consumer as well. Jason Schott, chief operating officer for Schott NYC (celebrating its 100th year anniversary this year) explains the distinction between the heritage Americana fashion trend and the true concept of made in America, “The Americana trend started with legitimate heritage brands, but lately some have stolen the heritage identity by simply reinventing brands that existed a hundred years ago. It may be heritage-inspired product, but it’s not made in this country.” The distinction is sorting out brands that provide real jobs in real American factories and the ones that are heritage in name only.
Menswear retailing magazine, MR (January 2013 issue) was a great source in writing this article. Also visit MRketplace.com for more on American manufacturing and fashion.