Fifth Column have been printing t-shirts in London for decades now and we thought we’d share some of the lessons we’ve learned over the years. There are a lot of things to consider when it comes to bespoke printed merchandise, but we all want the same outcome. A great quality product, professionally printed, that tells your story in the most effective way. An article of clothing which people treasure as soon as they set eyes on it. So, if you’re thinking about printing t- shirts, tops tips for great custom tees should help.
The t-shirt has become synonymous with personalised clothing. We print and embroider a wide variety of apparel these days. Everything from hoodies and jackets to hats and tote bags and plenty more besides. But the humble t-shirt remains a top choice when we’re picking products to decorate. They’re relatively inexpensive and extremely flexible. The shape of the shirt offers a great blank space for your design. Plus, t shirts are available in every colour and size imaginable. It’s a doddle to match shades and create comprehensive size selections. And the same design printed on several different colours produces a bigger range without incurring much extra cost.
Getting Perfect Printed T-Shirts
Creating fantastic custom printed t-shirts can be an enjoyable and richly rewarding experience, providing you have a good grip on a few basic things. Let’s take a look at some of the stuff you need to consider when starting out.
The Purpose of the Project
It might seem obvious, but you need a clear idea of the purpose of your printing project. The things which spell success when the production work is done and the boxes of newly printed garments have been delivered.
The final objective needs to be the first thing on your mind. Who is going to wear the products, what will make those wearers want to give a five-star rating and in turn make you feel like you’ve done a brilliant job.
There are a number of reasons for printing t-shirts. They could be the main focus of your business – custom branded merchandise for retail. Maybe they’re promotional items made to support and develop your primary activity. Perhaps this season’s staff uniform needs a new approach and printed t-shirts are an ideal solution. A combination of the above or something entirely different, the purpose will ultimately be vital in determining how you proceed.
How Many and How Much?
The numbers, everything always seems to be about the numbers. They’re crucial in most commercial enterprises and printing custom merchandise is no different. Knowing how many finished garments you need and setting a budget are unavoidable and it’s better to be thinking about it early on, rather than regretting it later in the day. The quantity of t-shirts being printed will influence your choice of blank product, the most appropriate form of printing, and the sort of design you choose. If you are selling the products, overall cost per garment makes the difference between profit and loss. If it’s a promo item, the cost may decide whether the marketing manager keeps their job.
We often see instances where things have gone awry. For example, a customer is trying to print a 10 colour design on a small amount of tees and it works out too expensive. The design has been created without the budget being properly planned and the project becomes unaffordable. There are many other scenarios where the process runs into problems, but don’t despair, these type of difficulties can be avoided. If you’re starting out, we recommend trying to keep it as simple as possible.
And ask for advice. We are here to help at this early stage. If you aren’t sure about what can be achieved within your budget then please feel free to get in touch with our sales team.
Getting the Design Right
What actually gets printed on to your tees is massively important. It may be straightforward, a company logo that you already have, or pre-supplied sponsor artwork. Some companies, such as our friends over at the Beavertown Brewery, are lucky enough to have gifted in-house designers. Great design is an integral part of their business and reflected in their branded merchandise.
Not everyone will be so fortunate. You may need to find a third party to help with this aspect or employ the services of a freelance graphic artist. Don’t be discouraged, getting your t-shirt design right can be a whole load of fun. If you do have difficulty, a good printing firm will always be able to help. We know, we’ve been printing t-shirts since 1977 and can usually find the right answer.
What Type of Printing?
The type of printing best suited to your project depends on a number of factors and will affect your final costs. Screen printing is often the lowest cost option, particularly if you are printing t-shirts in larger volumes. The number of colours in the artwork and how many places on the shirt need to be printed will also be relevant.
The other option is DTG (Direct to Garment) printing. A more recent garment printing innovation, this technique is usually reserved for small print runs, especially where intricate visuals with a lot of colours are involved. It can produce some spectacular results, but may be more expensive in certain circumstances.
Choosing the Perfect Blank Tee
Nowadays, there are a lot of blank t-shirts on the market. They’re specifically manufactured for printing and personalisation. Choosing the perfect fit for your venture needs to take into account price, suitability for the intended printing process and your specific requirements. Quality, weight, style, colour and size ranges all need to be in the mix. Plus, any ethical considerations that are important to you and your customers such as sustainability and environmental concerns.
For some excellent examples, take a look at our Catalogues page.
Consider the Finishing Touches
You’re nearly there. You know what you’re aiming for, have nailed down the budget and got a killer design. The decision about printing method is done and dusted and the plain t-shirts identified and sourced. You can almost feel the freshness of that unique piece of clothing on your back.
What about the finishing touches that can turn a quality custom t-shirt into a stunning, stand out branded garment with what some people would say a more premium finish. Removing existing labels and relabelling with custom tags or neck print. Swing tags and tickets? Garment finishing shouldn’t be overlooked.
Find your Printing Partner
Choosing a printing company can be tricky. It’s a partnership and, like any good partnership, it needs to work for everyone involved. It might be the first and only time you buy printed t-shirts or it might be the start of a long and fruitful relationship. Either way, what matters is that you get an excellent product and pay a fair price for it.
We obviously think we’re a sound choice, but whoever you settle on, make sure they love what they do and care about their customers. Look at their history. How long have they been around? You don’t last in the custom print business unless you consistently hit the mark. Look at their values. Get acquainted. Email them, speak to them. Genuine folk are hard to find, but it’s worth the effort.