Feb 062014
 

Companies or individuals looking to capture people’s attention may want to do so with clothing that makes a colorful impression. T-shirts that are created with bright, vibrant full-printed photos can be eye-catching and attention grabbing.

Full-printed garments, especially t-shirts, are made possible with a printing process known as dye sublimation printing. Dye sublimation printing, or dye sublimation for short, allows full photographic images to be printed or transferred to a t-shirt or other garment. Some in the shirt printing industry call this process ‘all around printing.’

The following is a look at the process that is used during dye sublimation printing and why it is becoming a popular choice for t-shirts.

What is Dye Sublimation Printing?

Dye sublimation printing is a complex printing process that essentially takes a photographic image and transfers it to the entire shirt. The image often takes up the whole shirt, as opposed to a smaller logo or design located above the shirt pocket.

The process for dye sublimation printing is fairly time consuming. The desired photo, image, or artwork must first be taken and printed onto specialty paper. This is done using a special printer that will print the image onto large sheets of paper.

Once the images or artwork have been transferred to the specialty paper, they will then be transferred to the t-shirts. Transferring the images and artwork to the t-shirt requires the use of a special pressure machine called a heat transfer press. These presses reach the extremely high temperatures that are required to help transfer the images onto the t-shirts. This is typically 375-380 degrees Fahrenheit.

This is a heat press:heat press

How is an Image Transferred from Paper to the T-Shirt?

Images are transferred with a heat press as seen above. The extremely high temperatures these machines reach that will convert the dye on the paper into a gas. Once the dye is converted to a gas, it can be transferred to the t-shirt. The shirt will be placed on the botton with the sublimation printed transfer paper on top. The gas will instantly ‘bond’ with the fibers of the fabric resulting in the transferred image. At this point the design will very likely last as long as the shirt itself.

Why is Dye Sublimation Printing Becoming So Popular?

Dye sublimation printing has been around for a number of years, but it wasn’t until recently that it started to become popular. There are a number of reasons why it has increased in popularity.

Some of the reasons for dye sublimation printing’s popularity include:

  • No two images are alike, each t-shirt is considered unique as the process is never the same
  • Garments are soft, as the dye is absorbed by the fabric and does not sit on top of it
  • Bright, vibrant colors and images can be transferred to t-shirts
  • Details will not be lost during transfer of the images to the shirts

Understanding what dye sublimation printing is and why it is popular can help you determine if it is the right choice for your t-shirt printing needs. Check out our Sublimate Tees for him and her made especially this type of printing.

Apr 182013
 

We will take a look at this widely used but often misunderstood fiber known as Polyester. Polyester is a very strong, synthetic fiber that is used in many different applications. We will also show you one of our favorite moisture management polyester t-shirts and gave an update on the process of turning this fiber into a modern, high performance fabric.

Polyester is a non-natural fiber that can be used to create a similarly interesting non-natural fabric. Believe it or not, polyester is made from crude oil; it is a type of plastic that is melted and spun into a fiber. If you weave almost any fiber in the right way you can turn it into a usable fabric. You can find polyester in a multitude of everyday products such as furniture, rope, seat belts, bedding, tee shirts, blankets, fleece and many other types of clothing.

This amazing material was the brainchild of two Dupont Engineers, which should not come as a surprise, knowing the inventive history of that remarkable company. The first of the world changing fibers and inventions was widely noted as Nylon, but Polyester and others were right there within a few years of the Nylon introduction. Until about ten years ago, many were correct in their criticism of polyester clothing and were correct to avoid it for many applications. It did not breathe, was uncomfortable, itchy, and could be melted easily with a hot iron; the list of complaints went on and on. There are still to this day, many traditional old school designers that say, “avoid this dreaded fabric” at all cost. Many of these arguments stem from the fact that for hundreds years cotton and other natural fibers were much softer, easier to dye, generally easier to work with and in turn, more suitable for clothing and apparel.

But now, polyester fabrics have been revolutionized into what many call a modern engineered-fabric and the go-to item for many uses. This awesome synthetic fabric is changing the apparel world with plenty of examples to prove this point. It is a very soft, wrinkle resistant, durable, fabric that will retain color well. Another interesting feature is that it dries out very quickly if it becomes wet from water or sweat.

Before moving forward have a look at this great video of polyester fiber being woven into fabric: How It’s Made – Polyester fabric.

A great example of a brand that is now a household name and has been important in the polyester revival is Under Armour. It is said that the founder of the company came up with the moisture management base layer while playing football. He was apparently wearing a cotton t-shirt under his football pads and after practice he had noticed how soaked with sweat the shirt was and decided to weigh it. To his surprise the t-shirt weighed in at a few pounds and it would stay that way for a long time, as it did not dry out very easily. This is where the idea of the polyester base layer was born. By many accounts this has fundamental changed the use of synthetic fibers in clothing and apparel, most specifically in athletics. Among the common terms you will hear used to describe these types of products are Dry-FIT, Dry Zone and Dri-Mesh.

One of our favorite polyester products is the moisture-wicking Sport-Tek Competitor Tee, ST350. This tee is also available in long sleeve (ST350LS), youth (YST350) and ladies styles (LST350). It is perfect for team sports, charity runs and a whole host of other uses. Since it’s introduction it has been one of our most popular products.

ST350_blog-300x264

There are lot of other very good products that have adopted these moisture wicking characteristics; polo shirts, golf shirts, camp shirts, and the like, both men’s and ladies. Here is one more look at a very interesting use of polyester, the recycling of plastic bottles to be turned into clothing such as sweatshirts and fleece jackets.

Jun 082009
 

This is the first in a series of articles relating to the history of the t-shirt in the United States. The first manufacturers, trends and how all that has led us to today’s modern tee.

The t-shirt as we know it first came to the USA during World War I. This was the result of US soldiers taking notice of the lightweight cotton undershirts European soldiers were wearing, while the US soldiers were sweating it out in wool uniforms. Mostly worn under a soldier’s uniform it did not take long until they became an external garment. Worn primarily by navy men for the first thirty years of the 20th century, they became standard issue for all military servicemen in World War II. T-shirts issued during the WWII were white, thus presenting a problem to the Marines who realized that the color made them an easy target. The Marines were not about to give up their t-shirts so they came up with a clever way to disguise them. The Marines used coffee grounds to dye their t-shirts in the battlefield, and were later issued sage-green shirts. Once the war was over they brought them home and the t-shirt was here to stay.

The t-shirts worn in the early 20th century (i.e. 1913-1938) were weighing in at around 1.5 – 2 ounces. Today’s t-shirts can weigh up to 6.1 ounces, but most will fall in around 5.5 ounces. Early champions of the t-shirt movement included Hanes T-Shirts, Fruit of the Loom and Sears Roebuck. Fruit of the Loom did not start to knit t-shirts until around 1938. These early versions were rather rough and uncomfortable compared to what we you can get today. In 1938 Sears introduced a t-shirt for 24 cents and were marketing this shirt as an outer garment or under shirt. The t-shirts produced by these companies were basically replicas of early military issued shirts and had a wider neck and shorter sleeve than today’s full cut shirt. They were also much tighter fitting and this style lasted into the sixties.

Around 1955 with celebrities, Marlon Brando, Elvis, and James Dean being seen in a t-shirt and jeans the youth of America started to scoop-up t-shirts. It was about this time that the t-shirt was no longer considered simply a navy t-shirt but a mainstream product and one that was selling fast. It was also around this time that the t-shirt style began to resemble what we know today. The neck of the shirt became tighter, next the overall length longer, but the shorter sleeve remained for a time. This can be attributed to the fact that the t-shirt was considered a man’s garment. Modern day t-shirts have no end to the number of styles available. You will find all different styles and cuts for men, women, children, and even infants. Blank t-shirts, screen printed, heat transferred, embroidered, airbrushed, tye-dyed, there truly is no end to what can be done with this amazing clothing item. From 500 million shirts sold in 1985 to well over a billion in 2005 the t-shirt is a big part of our world.

This topic will be continued.

Jun 082009
 

The number of websites selling t-shirts can be overwhelming. In this article I will address some of the issues related to buying wholesale t-shirts. Here are some things that you should not do, and things that I would recommend. As well as guidelines that you should use to chose the correct supplier.

First of all I think we need to establish what type of clothing you are looking for.

There are 2 questions that when answered will tell you quite a bit about the type of company you are looking for:

  1. The shirts you are looking for, are they printed or blank? If printed, are you looking for a particular design or are you looking for someone to do the printing for you?
  2. If the shirts are blank, then are you willing to buy in bulk? When starting a clothing company, having shirts printed or outfitting an existing group, you should buy in bulk. This is commonsense but the more you buy the better the price you should get.

Some companies will automatically give better prices according to the dollar amount purchased, or the quantity purchased. In my opinion I believe that a company who allows the dollar amount to affect the discount is the better option. This is because you can reach the discount threshold on a number of different products, and are not forced to buy a large number of one product when it is not needed. OutletShirts discounts are based on the purchase amount not product amount. Either way if the company does not offer discounts then there is no benefit to buying in bulk, and you should keep looking.

There are also the brick and mortar stores that you could buy from. The pros and cons of these stores are about the same for any industry. You can go in and see the product. Feel it, try it on and of course go home with it the same day. The biggest downfall to these stores is that in most cases the overhead associated with a physical showroom prevents them from offering the kind of prices that you can find online. They have to make their lease or mortgage payment, pay their employees and stock their shelves. When you add advertising and utilities, it is almost impossible with them to compete with online stores.

I have heard some people talking about the great price on t-shirts they saw at one of those big-box retailers. They have the same brick and mortar problems — Overhead. The prices were about $5-7 per shirt. This is about $3 more per piece than we charge. If you are trying to outfit a group of 100 the choice is an easy one to make.

What about shipping? In many cases this is the deciding factor, and to a lot of people is a big reason why they will not shop online, second only to security. I would agree with these people. The problem is that many people keep their shipping prices hidden until the checkout process. Look for FREE SHIPPING. It does not have to be free on every order but there should be a breaking point. If I am going to spend $400 with a company I want to get my stuff shipped for free. This is not an unreasonable request. Some clothing suppliers do not offer free shipping ever. The problem is that they get free shipping from the manufacturer or supplier if the order is over a specified dollar value. Why are they not passing that on to you? I will let you answer that question. Offering good prices and then charging OutletShirts offers free shipping on orders over $100. This does not apply to orders that we screen print or embroider. This is because we have to ship the order 2 times. We have to ship it to our custom clothing department, so it can be altered, and then to you when it is done. We will not charge you for both of the shipping charges.

On orders over $100 or orders where expedited shipping has been paid for is on average 2 days for 90% of the United States. Alaska and Hawaii are usually slower and may require an additional charge. Due to import and export laws we have chosen not to offer international shipping.

If you are going to have your clothing screen printed or embroidered, here are some suggestions. We can provide the service for you however we have a two-week turn around period. If you need your apparel before 2 weeks I would recommend buying from an online supplier, and taking the clothing to a local company who has a schedule that is open enough to accommodate your deadline. You can usually get a better price from an online store than a screen printing and embroidery shop. Some of these companies will not allow you to supply your own apparel, but in my experience most do not care. There will not be a delay when buying from us. We can ship directly to the company you have chosen to do the work.

Be careful when ordering. Online wholesalers typically do not operate a traditional store, and even if they do chances are you did not walk in to buy your merchandise. So returns and exchanges and not handled in a brick and mortar fashion. Make sure that you are happy with the size, color, quantity and model before placing your order. Or you will be subjected to a restocking fee and return shipping costs.

In conclusion buying from an online clothing wholesaler will save you money. You may not get to see the actual shirts or try them on. However if you are buying a brand that you are familiar with the only concern is size and color. Shipping time and cost should be carefully considered. Try to get free shipping where you can. Remember to look for SSL (“https://”) so that you know your credit card details are safe. And look for friendly toll free customer support.