Apr 112013


Screen printing is a technique that applies ink to a garment through a woven mesh that has a stencil of a logo or design on it, whereas embroidery applies a design with thread. Screen printing is typically lower in cost than embroidery. Screen printed shirts can commonly be found in gift shops, with a design printed on the front or back or both sides of the garment.

Screen printed designs can be applied to a shirt or other garment in either a full color image such as replicating a photo or by spot colors where the design is made up of just a few discrete colors. The full color process is quite expensive and typically reserved for special applications. Common applications for company employees, special events, charities, family reunions and so on are done with spot colors.

Steps in the process:

  • 1. Provide a copy of the logo or design(s) and specify the location(s) to be printed.
  • 2. Determine the number of colors of ink in the design(s) and pick the colors of ink
  • 3. Choose the garments(apparel), color of garments and the total quantity.
  • 4. Create the artwork and proof
  • 5. Create the screens – also known as the “Set-up” process
  • 6. Obtain the apparel
  • 7. Select the ink color(s) or if needed mix them
  • 8. Install the screens onto the printing machine
  • 9. Do the printing
  • 10. Dry the garment
  • 11. Fold, pack, and ship the order


  • 1. Supply your logo or design. You may want to have one design applied to the front or the back of a T-shirt. Or you may want different designs to be applied to different locations on the shirt. If you simply want text such as “Hansen Family Reunion July 2013” for example, we can generate that for you. For more complex designs you will need to supply the completed artwork in a jpg or pdf format and eventually in a vector format such as an .eps or Illustrator output or .pdf vector file. If you do not have a logo and cannot create one yourself, you may want to contact a graphic artist to design one for you. A graphic artist will be familiar with all the file formats needed.
  • 2. Determine the colors of ink to be used on your design. The more colors of ink you use the higher the printing cost. Also if you print light colored ink such as white or light pink on a dark garment, that is more costly than printing a dark color like black on a light colored shirt. Typically each design will be treated like a nearly separate order since most of the steps will need to be repeated. As an example if you want a print on the front and the back, we will first print all of the fronts and then print all of the backs.
  • 3. Choose the color, style, sizes and quantities of the apparel. If you want to have a design printed on different colored shirts, say 36 black shirts and 36 yellow shirts and you wish to use different colors of ink for these two applications, it will be necessary to change the ink color when switching from black shirts to yellow shirts.
  • 4. The “set-up” process involves doing several things all involving turning your logo/design into to screens.
    • a. We first have to insure that the digital files we have are vector files. These files allow the design to be scaled to the appropriate size without losing resolution. This also also allows for multiple colors to be printed.
    • b. We will create a “proof” which shows your design superimposed onto the garment. This is emailed to you for approval.
    • c. We will then “separate” your design into its various “ink” colors. If your design has 3 ink colors we will create 3 separate stencils, one for each color. We will then print these separately on a transparent film in the exact size needed for the final printing.
    • d. In the next step we create the screens. This involves applying a light sensitive photo emulsion to a screen. The screen is a wood or metal frame with a woven material such as polyester stretched tight over the top of the frame. Prior to the advent of polyester, silk was a common material for the screens. This is where you get the term silk screening from. The clear film with the stencil of the design is perfectly aligned onto the screen and temporarily attached to the screen. All of the work associated with preparing the screens must be done in a dark room, much the same as if you were developing film.
    • e. The screen with the light sensitive coating attached stencil is placed on a light table. A special light source is used to expose all of the light sensitive emulsion except for those portions covered by the stencil.
    • f. Next the screen is spray washed to remove all the unexposed emulsion. The portion of the screen covered by the stencil will be unexposed and will wash out, leaving the image of the stencil open and now able to allow ink to pass through. Have a look at this video to see the process:
    • g. If multiple colors are called for, then a separate screen is similarly created for each color. The following image is an example of a single color print on the back and a two-color print on the front of a shirt.


  • 5. The next step is to mix up or obtain the correct ink required for each screen. This can be either a standard color like white or black or one of a number of common pre-mixed ink colors. The color can also be a special color shade picked from a Pantone chart, which is a large pallet of industry standard colors. These are much like the color cards you find at your local home store when selecting wall paint. The Pantone colors are identified with a PMS#, which specifies the formula we use to mix up the proper ink color.
  • 6. The next step is to set-up the automatic printing machine. This involves installing each screen into a clamp and then adjusting the X-Y and rotational registration of the screen very precisely using registration marks that were printed onto the film we generated in step # 4c. Each separate color of ink calls for its specific screen to be installed into a separate station and registered in exactly the same fashion. If your print called for 3 different colors of ink, for example a tree trunk with brown ink, the leaves with green ink and text below calling for black ink there are 3 screens and stations. Each has to be aligned precisely so that when the green leaves are printed onto the brown branches, they appear to be attached properly.
  • 7. Start the presses! The printing can now begin. Most modern machines are automatic. After the screens are in position, the operator will apply a generous portion of ink onto each screen, being careful to apply the correct color onto each screen. The operator will then install one garment at a time, typically a T-shirt, onto a “platen” which is a flat plate that holds the shirt secure while the ink is applied. Typically a special “sticky” spray is first sprayed onto the platen to help hold the garment in place. The placement of the garment onto the platen is not as critical as the screen alignment process is but is important to insure that the placement of the print is in the correct location; not too high or low, not rotated on the shirt, and so on. When the press starts up it will rotate the platen to the first station and stop. The machine will move the screen down and contact the shirt. A large squeegee, which is part of the machine, then moves across the screen, dragging ink with it and thus forcing the ink down through the open pores of the screen and onto the shirt. When this is finished, the machine lifts the screen up and off of the shirt and then the platen is rotated to the second station. The process is repeated at the second station with the second screen being rotated down and into contact with the shirt and the second color of ink is squeegeed onto the shirt. As the first station is applying the first color of ink, the operator will install a second shirt onto a second platen so that there will be a continuous flow of shirts and each station is active at all times. The video below shows a multi-head automatic press cranking out shirts. These machines can produce hundreds of printed shirts per hour, once they are set-up.
  • 8. The next to last step is drying. Most common inks are dried with heat to speed up the process and to “fix” or cure the ink so that it will remain on the shirt through multiple washings. Most companies will employ a conveyor belt dryer that slowly runs the shirts under a heat source and out the other side dry. This is similar to the devices used in many fast food restaurants to heat sandwiches.
  • 9. The last step is to count, fold, and pack the shirts for shipment.
Apr 022013

When most of us hear the word embroidery we think of a logo or some other design that is placed on clothing or other accessory with thread. There are many aspects to the process that we will explore here. We will cover some of the basic questions you will most certainly run into when placing an order for your own embroidery project. We will explore what this process is, how long it has been around and some of the many fun things that can be done with it.

What is embroidery? There are two basic ways to decorate apparel: Screen Printing is the use of ink to imprint a design and Embroidery is the use of thread to imprint a design. Embroidery will commonly involve something to do with a company, event or sports team. In most cases embroidery is a bit more high end than screen printing is which is why you will see it used in the way it is.

Embroidery is the application of yarn or thread onto a piece of fabric with a needle. It used to all be done by hand but these days almost all embroidery is done by a computerized sewing machine. Of course if you see your grandmother making a quilt or sewing a design onto clothing by hand that is still known as embroidery.

The history of embroidery dates back over 5,000 years ago to China. Tracing its root to that part of the world and then spreading throughout Europe and then the Americas. Early embroidery was very ornate and would often be reserved for the very wealthy or royalty in the form of decorated gowns and robes. Embroidery can involve the sewing of beads, sequins, or other similar items in conjunction with the thread and pattern being sewn. Much like art and music, embroidery techniques and designs can vary greatly from region to region. There are several types of stitching within embroidery such as running stitch, back stitch, satin stitch, stem stitch, tailor’s buttonhole stitch, and whip stitching. These are things you will not need to know when you place an order with an embroidery shop.

Getting your order ready. There are a few things you will need to know to get your embroidery order ready to pass along to the shop or business that is going to do the work. It is very important to keep in mind that being prepared with a few basic things can give your embroiderer a head start in giving you good results. When you ask a shop “How much does embroidery cost?” the questions we must ask are how many do you need and how complex is your design or logo? (We will use the term logo and design interchangeably). Embroidery pricing is based on how many items you order and something called stitch count. The stitch count is the total number of stitches in your design. You don’t need to know the stitch count but it is good to know that is one of the drivers behind the price. The stitch count in many ways is related to how large and how complex your logo is. Typically the number of colors of thread does not affect the price. The larger and more complex the logo, the higher the cost. The other factor is the quantity of items in your order. The higher the quantity the lower the per piece price.

Almost everyone will have a product ID for each item available to be sewn. This can be found on a website or in a printed catalog. Having all the product IDs, apparel colors, quantities and sizes will help both you and the shop. Also please have your logo ready to send. Our embroidery operations do not create logos so having a PDF or JPG or similar version of your logo will speed the process along. If you want a simple text only design like “Joe’s Bar and Grill,” we can create that for you. Once the logo is provided we can estimate the stitch count and give you a quote. After you approve the quote, we will give your logo to an expert technician who will “digitize” or “set-up” the logo into a digital format that is used to control the computerized embroidery machines. The digitizing process is critical to a good result and must be done by experts to achieve the desired result. The file they generate is typically a “.dst” (not .jpg or .pdf). If you already have this file we can use that directly and you will not need to pay the set-up fee.

Lastly make sure you communicate everything very clearly to your embroidery shop. This includes specifying the thread colors, the location of your logo (most common location is the wearer’s left chest), size of your logo, as well as the delivery date, and other questions you have. If you have an event it is very important for the shop to know that so they can get things done on time.

A typical modern embroidery machine may consist of a single sewing head or multiple sewing heads that work in unison. The video shows 12 embroidery heads sewing the same logo on 12 caps at one time.

We hope this guide helps you and please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions or if we have missed anything.

Mar 192013

It is inevitable that at some point you will make a mistake on a customer’s order and have a choice; fix the issue and save the customer or dig in your heels and lose that customer. What some decorators (especially newer ones) may miss is that this may be more of an opportunity than anything else. It may cost you a little bit on the front end but fixing a problem can often turn out to be lucrative in the long run. Your customer may have much more buying power than you are aware or be well connected with potential referrals. It also speaks a lot to your integrity, ability to adapt, be agile and show you actually care. Just imagine you are the customer and how you would feel. The best case is to avoid a mistake in the first place.

Here are some things to help in that area:

  • Make sure you have trusted suppliers/vendors for your products that can deliver the correct goods to your shop in a timely fashion.
  • Make sure you have a good understanding of what your customer is looking for.
  • Provide complete and thorough bids/contracts with every order you do no matter how straight forward the job may look.
  • Get all your internal scheduling, work orders and all other details in place to ensure timely deliver. It is best to under-promise and over-deliver on lead times.
  • Provide accurate proofs of each job you do – PDF proof work very well for both screen print and embroidery via email or in person screen or sew out press checks for in-person proofs.

Remember if an issue does come up let your customer have their say and explain their position and no matter who is at fault do your best to rectify the situation. This might mean a full redo of the order at no-cost, partial credit or credit towards a future order.

Mar 112013

We occasionally get questions from customers about which products will stain from sweating and which ones will not. The answer to that question is not related to specific products but to a number of other things. This is not caused by defective or low quality apparel, it is usually caused by outside factors such as sunlight, perspiration, and humidity; even lotions and body fragrances. We also forgot to mention that if you spill your food on your shirt, oops but we are not talking about that kind of stain. This type of discoloration is more common in the summer months and especially so for people who work outside and in hotter and more humid areas of the country. I have seen it happen to office workers who live in hot and humid climates as well construction workers in dry heat. Some contributing factors are even the water in the area that it is washed in and the body chemistry, which can even be affected by the food you eat. It has the potential to happen to any color, brand or blend, but generally to darker or red based colors such as burgundy, blueberry and lilac. The general way to avoid this is to choose white or another un-dyed color such as ash or natural or use 100% polyester.

One of the best best you can have if you have concern or have experienced this type of staining is to buy a better t-shirt and anymore the go to option is an perfect moisture wicking t-shirt which in most cases will now have an anti-microbial (no more stink) element to it. These type of fabrics are available in many different styles.

Nov 162010

Getting Gift Cards for special occasions is really nothing new. What is new is instead of the gift card being branded for use at a specific store it is increasingly common to get what is known as a cash gift card. This is a gift card that is from Visa, MasterCard, or American Express. This allows you to use these virtually anywhere, and now of course online. When using one of these cash cards online you may run into a small issue, we sort that out.

Upon getting to the checkout of an e-commerce website you will have the opportunity to enter a shipping address and a billing address. The billing address must match the address that the issuing bank has on file for the card or your transaction will be rejected. How will you know what the billing address is for the gift card? The quick answer is you don’t. The best thing to do when you want to use one of these cards online is to call the customer service number on the back of the card and ask them to apply a billing address to the card. It is probably easiest to give them your shipping address. Once the changes take effect you can use the address you have given in the billing address section upon checkout online.

Aug 162010

Outlet Shirts is please to announce that as of today, August 16th 2010, we are now accepting Discover card for web and phone orders. If you have any questions please feel free to contact customer service and sales.

-Your dedicated team at outletshirts.com

Apr 152010

Over the last few years, the word green has become an all-too-popular buzzword that gets thrown around without much discretion or accountability. Specifically in the world of industry, it’s somewhat counter-intuitive to be considered green while thriving on production and consumption; however, there are some companies, big and small, that are doing great things and taking big strides toward participating in the movement.

1. Bank of America
A bank is typically considered the epitome of Old Business but Bank of America is no doubt doing their part in offering a necessary service while always considering the wellness of the Earth. Even as business increases dramatically, they boast a 32% reduction in paper use and a number of internal practices that earn them a green star; an internal recycling program that recycles 30,000 tons of paper per year, an employee incentive package that gives $3,000 cash back for buying a hybrid car, a new building that uses the heat from the groundwater to heat the building during the winter and other eco-upgrades that will power the facility while using half the electricity of its counterpart.

Bank of America

2. 7 Planet

Spawned in the Great Northwest and centered on the concept of Mindful Commerce, 7 Planet is the first chain of green general stores. Their niche is simple; they believe that one should only consume when they are in need and when pressed, one should purchase the most mindful product available to them. Having done the research and believing in their cause wholeheartedly, they offer a collection of general organic and green products from handpicked suppliers that all follow strict environmental guidelines and ultimately share in the 7 Planet mission for Mindful Commerce.

3. University of Colorado-Boulder

The students at the University of Colorado-Boulder deserve recognition because of their 40-year history as a notable soldier in the green movement. Independently organized, funded and operated by the students alone, the University’s Campus Environmental Center has an abundance of programs in place that aim to reduce the school’s strain on Mother Nature. Between boasting 1 bike for every 3 students, and the fact that their football games are zero-waste events (everything is recycled or composted), it is no wonder they’ve earned the Sierra Club’s top ranking for Cool Schools.

CU Boulder Logo

4. Hewlett-Packard
As one of the major tech companies in the world, it’s a difficult task to balance your role as a supplier, as well as, an environmentally conscious entity. However, Newsweek named Hewlett-Packard the number one ‘green’ company amongst America’s top 500 largest corporations because of its efforts toward a reduction of GHG emissions associated with its supply chain and its elimination of toxic substances from its products. HP’s perfect rating was the cumulative result of their Environmental Impact Score, Green Policies & Performance Score and their Reputation Survey that considered a wide variety of environmental factors.


5. Figlio Restaurant
Although the larger corporations seem to get more praise and/or attention for changing their ways and going green, the owners of Figlio, a restaurant in Ohio, have proven that small businesses can turn green into green. This Danis family restaurant started small with an internal recycling program and installing energy saving light bulbs but eventually grew into a bit more expansive vision by buying local produce to limit their dealings with long-distance suppliers that burn more fuel in their shipping operations. In addition, they’ve purchased clean energy credits that will offset the GHG emissions from their business by transitioning to a wind/solar powered energy program.

Figlio Restaurant

6. Starbucks
You would think that a company vending paper cups on every possible street corner carried little regard for the environment; however, Starbucks Coffee is in surprisingly good graces when it comes to being green. No it’s not a ‘green’ company but it certainly holds itself accountable through its partnerships with many environmental groups such as Conservation International and The Earthwatch Institute that might normally be naysayers toward this type of corporation. Between emphasizing maximum efficiency in its global supply chain to reduce its emissions and the fact that they save roughly 78,000 trees per year by using recycled paper, Starbucks is a corporate giant that is refreshingly mindful of its ecological impact.

Starbucks Logo

7. Nanosolar
There is a lot of talk about companies that are utilizing green technologies but even nobler are the companies that are creating green technologies and services – providing an option that would not exist otherwise. Nanosolar, for example, deserves praise for its progress in making solar power a viable and affordable alternative to electricity produced by coal and natural gas by way of innovation. They are able to apply a microscopic layer of solar cells onto surfaces; avoiding the use of silicon and offering comparable energy output at a fraction of the price.

Nanosolar Logo

8. Harbec Plastics
Owner and founder Robert Bechtold was hip to the green-game before it was ever even brought to the mainstream. Long ago he tried to find investment for his company to transition into more sustainable practices but was continually denied funds because it wasn’t considered necessary. These days, in a more eco-friendly era, Harbec Plastics makes tools and molds in New York in a facility powered by wind and natural gas turbines and humming with hybrid cars and trucks for daily operations. In all, these modern advancements that were originally denied have reduced the company’s annual carbon dioxide emissions by 750,000 pounds.

Harbec Plastics

9. Ecodrycleaner
Leave it to the folks in Portland, OR to take a rather mundane standard practice and refine it for the environment’s sake. Though you may have thought that the dry cleaning industry had gone as far as it could go, the Ecodryleaner model uses sustainable practices from the ground up as they refuse to use toxic solvents of any kind and employ highly efficient cleaning equipment that recycles solution in an effort to reduce waste. In addition to the eco-friendly chemicals that propel their business, they have also opted to run their facilities with the ultra clean power of the wind.

Eco Drycleaners Logo

This article is brought to you by Outlet Shirts; a company that strives to be green and glorify the movement by offering organic and recycled products and holding their suppliers to a commitment to the environment a wholesale supplier of Port Authority clothing

Oct 072009

Outlet Shirts is pleased to offer our Apparel and Accessories catalog with custom covers specifically for use in marketing your business.  We’ll imprint our catalogs with your company logo and contact information for a presentation that’s tailored and professional.  The catalog showcases nearly 1200 Outlet Shirts products.  This includes over 300 new styles in this nearly 600-page, full color catalog.

  • Catalog includes all 1200+ of our products.
  • 1 Case Minimum (12 Catalogs)
  • Year Round Imprinting
  • Unpriced

Catalogs are available for $30 per case.  This includes printing and shipping to anywhere U.S. (Hawaii, AK and Puerto Rico extra).

Steps to get your custom catalogs:

  1. Review the art size requirements below.
  2. Email catalog artwork to orders@outletshirts.com (Artwork must be in .tif or .eps format).
  3. Call customer service at 866-715-8646 to place your order.
  4. We will email you an art proof to approve.
  5. Your custom catalogs will ship in about 4-5 weeks.  We will let you know once they do.
Catalog Front CatalogBackLg
Jun 082009

There is a wonderful thing happening in our country these days and no matter which side of the isle you stand, you should care. This wondrous event is related to all the attention and talk about going Green. Whether you agree or disagree with the existence of Global Warming, there is certainly no harm in saving the environment and reducing our dependence on foreign oil. One way to do your part is by no longer using plastic or paper shopping bags. Your alternative is to turn to reusable shopping Totes. There has been quite a lot going on within this debate for the last few years.

According to Rolling Stone Magazine the world consumes 1 Million plastic bags every minute. (Estimated cost to retailers is more than 5 billion). And in 1999, 14 million trees were cut to produce nearly 10 billion paper grocery bags used by Americans in a single year. And both of these items take a very long time, if ever to fully biodegrade.

Many European countries may levy a charge for having your groceries bagged in plastic and some U.S. cities and states are following suit. Click HERE to have a look. Plastic Bag Bans Spreading Across The United States. It is a time to keep paying attention to reusable shopping totes.

Reusable shopping tote bags are still in fairly new for many people and there is a lot you can do with them other than sell them. If you think about it, just as with most decorated apparel and other accessories there are countless groups that love to show their identity with a logo or slogan. So why not do that at the supermarket, where you may already be showing off your favorite teams colors. As a decorator you may even consider approaching the actual stores to address the reasons they should be selling shopping totes. For one they may know of the impending doom to our old way of carrying groceries. Secondly it would seem like a great idea to put their own branding on the totes. This will give them much more exposure than plastic or paper because once you bring a tote home and remove all your items, they are immediately headed for the trash can. With the number of Americans that already love to show off their favorite team, vacation spot, musician, or faith on a t-shirt – why not push the next thing in promotional marketing Totes?

Terry Cloth

 Totes and Towels  Comments Off
Jun 082009

Terry cloth, also know as terry, is a fabric with loops that can absorb more water than a traditional cloth. There are many types of terry cloth in the market today. These range in size, strength, touch, and fabric used in the cloth. Most terry cloth is used in the form of towels. Some of the best towels come from Turkey. There are seemingly endless products within the terry family. These products may include: Grommeted Golf Towels, Rally Towels, Beach Towels, and Bath Robes.

Towels are a woven fabric made of Cotton or a Cotton-Polyester (Cotton-Poly) blend and are a usually loop or pile pattern. Special looms called Dobby Looms are used to weave the fabric into the finished product. Modern looms are fully computerized and make the job much easier than it was in the past.

Early in the history of Terry cloth nearly everything was made by hand. Due to the time it took to make this cloth towels were usually reserved for the wealthy. Towels were generally smaller and most were hand and facial towels. These were made of natural woven fibers. The make-up of these natural fibers made this early cloth much less comfortable to the touch than what you will find today. By the end of the nineteenth century, weaving became automated and the terry cloth industry was changed forever.

After the mechanizing of looms we started to see a greater variety of materials being used and a greater market for towels because they were less expensive. This also created a large market for Bath Towels for the first time. Like most textile cloth throughout the manufacturing process everything is bleached a bright white before it is dyed its final color. This is almost always done to the fabric in large rolls or yards before any weaving or other alteration takes place. Terry cloth is woven on a dobby loom, which means that it has two steps or processes. The first one is referred to as the ground warp and forms the body of the towel or cloth. The second one is called the pile warp, which forms it forms the terry loop or pile.

Terry cloth of any type does not lend itself well to screen printing. The primary reason for this is due to the rugged and tough surface of the cloth, as well as the repeated punishment from hot machine washing and use. In order to get a good print it is best to work with a fairly flat surface, which terry cloth is not. When we do see printed terry, it is often a single color print for something such as a sporting event. A printed Rally towel works well because they are usually not used for very long and are inexpensive. Embroidery is the solution for decorating any terry cloth. The same reasons that make it unsuitable for screen printing are responsible for making it a great fabric for embroidery or monogramming. The fabric is generally so tough that it does not require an embroidery stabilizer like backing. Furthermore if you are hosting an event in which you would like a nice gift or promotional product, the embroidered towel will be a hit. Not only will you get a long life span from an embroidered terry cloth item, but its cost relative to embroidered shirts makes it an attractive item.

There are many types of terry cloth and many more uses for it. While we mostly think of the terry cloth as a bath towel there are dozens of terry cloth products for all types of uses and you should not have any trouble find your terry solution.