Nobody wants to pay more than they have to for something. Whether searching for a service or purchasing a product, cost is a big part of the final decision. Finding the best value for money is both common sense and good business practice. Getting t-shirts printed is no different from anything else, in that regard. We thought it would be helpful to put together a short list – some t-shirt printing tips and how to keep the cost down on your next customisation project.
It’s worth noting that cost and quality aren’t mutually exclusive. Cheap t-shirt printing is not how we promote ourselves, but Fifth Column have always believed that competitive pricing and high levels of quality and service are a winning formula. There are a lot of factors involved in creating the best custom t-shirts and finding the right combination is what ensures a great finished product. And it also impacts the price.
T-Shirt Printing Tips – Basic Costs.
Colour – the colour of your blank tee will have a direct bearing on the overall cost of the job. In short, choosing to print on a white t-shirt can save money. White shirts tend to be cheaper and printing darker coloured clothing also requires a base layer print. Naturally, the additional process incurs additional cost. If your concept will work on a white tee, that’s a great start on keeping the cost down.
Locations – it might sound obvious, but the more places on the shirt that you want printed will increase the final price. In many ways, this is something you need to consider when formulating the initial artwork. Keeping that simple will help keep the cost down. Is having print in multiple locations an integral part of the design or can the brief be fulfilled with a single location?
Extras – ask yourself if garment finishing is vital to the project and, if it is, factor in extra cost. Things like label removal and relabelling (fabric label or neck print), poly-bagging and the addition of stickers and swing tags will add to the bill. You might want to refer to brand architecture with this aspect – how you want your brand to be perceived by customers and what best meets their expectations.
Volume – as with most things in life, ordering more can work out cheaper for individual item cost. The set-up for a small print run will often be very similar to that with bulk wholesale t-shirt printing. Plus there is sometimes a possibility of discount on the blank apparel when ordering greater volumes from the supplier. A good printer will always try to find savings on set-up and administration and pass that on to you.
T-Shirt Printing Tips – Decoration Costs.
Any list of t-shirt printing tips on how to keep the cost down needs to include the types of decoration. If you’re going to customise a t-shirt, there are basically three options. Screen printing, DTG (Direct to Garment) printing and embroidery.
Screen Printing – the most important thing you need to remember with screen printing is this: one colour = one screen. Therefore, fewer colours will reduce the number of screens and reduce cost. One (often-missed) nuance of this is the consistency of the colours. Identify your brand colours (the Pantone Matching System is great for this) and use those in your artwork and design. Many of the best-selling t-shirts utilise one or two basic colours printed onto the blank shirt. That’s no accident. Keeping stuff simple keeps the cost down and can have more visual impact. That said, simplicity is an art. It sells and is easier to produce, but it’s sometimes difficult to achieve.
DTG Printing – you’re best thinking about this for very small print runs and designs which are photographic in nature. By that, we mean intricate detail and a lot of colours and shades which are crucial to what you want to achieve. Direct to garment printing has come a long way. However, it still has limitations for business and carries in-built expense. Bulk printing continues to be best handled with screen printing. DTG is an area we’re expanding to meet demand, but in terms of cost, the hard truth is that it’s more expensive. That may change. Right now, depending on design, it may not be the cheapest option.
Embroidery – it’s worth mentioning embroidery because it can be a good customisation option for small, simple designs. Something like a logo or badge, for example. The stitch count is what ultimately dictates the cost of an embroidered design, but you have to also remember that the weight and quality of the base t-shirt has to be right. The tee needs to be suitable for embroidery to be successful – made of cotton which is heavy enough to avoid puckering when stitched.
T-Shirt Printing – Blank Shirt Costs.
As already mentioned, the colour of the blank t-shirts and the number being printed are important considerations. However, there are also other aspects to consider with the base shirts. Things which might not at first seem like savings when you’re trying to keep the cost down, but will have a bearing on the success of your venture. Sometimes, it pays to think in broader terms, beyond the initial outlay.
Quality – there is a lot of truth in the old adage that you get what you pay for. Skimping on quality may seem like an easy way to save money at the outset. It can prove expensive in the long run. Saving some cash can be counter-productive if your design looks great but customers don’t like the feel of the garment on which it’s printed. And, being brutally honest, better quality t-shirts get better print results.
Fit – how the base garments fit is extremely important. The choice on this will be determined by your target market. There’s not much point finding a mega-deal on some super slim-fitting tees when you intend selling them to folk who prefer a regular, roomier cut to their tops. Make the right call with fit because it can be crucial to your overall profit.
Sizes – not unlike the fit of your t-shirt, the size range you offer needs to suit your intended audience. Unisex styles can be a winner because blank clothing manufacturers commonly factor flexibility of use into their sizing. It’s also worth noting that ordering the right distribution of sizes can represent a big saving – having a hundred ‘Larges’ left on the shelf can easily negate any economies on printing.
There’s one last thing to include on this list of t-shirts printing tips, how to keep the cost down. Pick a printing and embroidery firm with a solid record and a reputation for fairness. People who are passionate about what they do and genuinely care. Once you’ve done that, talk to them and get everyone on the same page. In the end, the best t-shirt printing is a product of understanding, expertise and good communication.