So, you’re ready to make your own shirt. Whether it’s for an event, a team, or a gift for yourself, you want to make sure you are choosing the right custom t-shirt printer for your creation – because nothing is more disappointing than coming home to a box with a stiff, oddly-colored, incorrectly printed t-shirt.
Here are six tips to help you choose the right custom t-shirt printer for your organization, brand or gift:
1. Do your research
Avoid the common mistake of going with the first custom t-shirt printer you find online. Much like the many t-shirt brands, when it comes to printers, one size does not fit all. You may find a platform that seems flexible, cheap, and has a fast turnaround time – until you are halfway through designing your shirt and realize they don’t have the t-shirt fit you want, or that there is a 100-shirt order minimum and you only need 20.
As you are researching, keep the following thoughts in mind to help you find the best fit for your project:
2. Start with the right product
Ask yourself the seemingly obvious question: what is this t-shirt for?
Are you trying to build brand awareness? If so, you want to create something your audience is going to love to wear. It should be a soft tee that fits well and has a design your target market is excited about.
Will the shirts be worn during a fundraising 5K? If so, think about the style and the fit. Your tee should have a lighter, airier feel as it is worn while people are moving.
Are you creating a gift for someone? If so, you want it to be gift-worthy. Consider the brand of tee your printer uses, or the options they have available. You want something that will last, but also be comfortable to wear.
All these questions are answered with the right product – the best possible product. Yes, there are shirts out there that cost just a few dollars each at wholesale value, but that shows in the lack of quality. Think about the experience you want your employees, your customers, your friends or your family to have when they receive the final product from you.
There are dozens of t-shirt brands out there. Some of the most popular include Hanes and Gildan, but they often don’t offer the same quality as brands like Bella x Canvas or Alternative, which are brands we use. Quality can be difficult to determine online because you can’t feel the shirts for yourself, but if you have questions about a brand, your printer should be happy to help answer them. You can also research the brands online if you want to read reviews before committing to a shirt brand. The available color options you will have for your t-shirts also depend on the brand you select.
3. Ask about the design process
Many custom t-shirt printer services leave the design up to you with impersonal online builders that use clip-art and other pre-designed imagery. For something unique and brand-focused, you may instead opt to work with a professional designer. Whatever the case, you want to know about the design process before you get started. If you work hands-on with a designer, how many revisions are you allowed to have? If you design the shirt yourself with one of those design building tools, do you get to see what it will look like through a proof or mockup before you make your purchase?
No matter what your t-shirt is used for, we highly recommend working with an actual designer who can bring your vision to life. Even if you think you know exactly what you want, it’s always better for the final product if you have a real person listening to your idea, vision, and ultimate goals.
If the company you connect with does have a graphic designer available for you to work with, ask to see samples of past work! This will give you the best idea if it’s the right designer for what you are looking to accomplish.
4. Don't go with the cheapest option
If a deal seems to good to be true, you already know that it is. We’ve mentioned it already, but here’s the truth: a cheap product or printing company will deliver cheap results. The cheaper cost often indicates a lack of printing experience, the use of materials that won’t last, poor customer service, or all the above.
If you are looking into a custom t-shirt printer, you are about to make an investment. T-shirts do not have to be expensive to be of good quality, but they will not be the best reflection of you or your business if you go with the cheapest possible option. If you are going to spend the time and money on creating custom t-shirts, it is worth the few extra dollars per shirt to hire the right printer, select the right t-shirt brand, and get the right help in creating a solid design.
5. Understand the different printing methods
There are two professional methods of printing t-shirts: screen printing and digital printing. These methods each result in shirts that look and feel different. Prior to investing in shirts for your organization, business or gift, it’s valuable to understand these differences and the kind of product each method produces.
Screen printing is by far the most popular method of producing custom t-shirts. Once your design is finalized, a screen – like a stencil – is developed for it. This screen is used to transfer ink to the t-shirt in layers. The more colors involved in the design, the more expensive the process will be, as each layer requires its own screen.
While screen printing places layers of ink on top of a shirt, sublimination fuses your design with the fibers of the shirt. There is no “raised” feeling when you run your hand over the shirt after the design is placed. Sublimination cannot be done on any shirt, however; it is a method that works best on light-colored tees of a specific cotton/polyester blend.
If you aren’t sure which printing method is right for your project, reach out to us! We are always happy to answer any questions you might have.
6. Check the return policy
When it comes to custom t-shirts, printers tend to have varying policies on returns. Ask about the return policy before hitting the “buy” button. At The Happily Ever After, we offer returns on defective products when it comes to custom shirt orders. We require all designs to be approved by you before we ever begin printing, so you don’t have to worry whether the final graphic will be to your liking – you will know before the shirts hit your doorstep that the design is one you love.
The best custom t-shirt printers all have a few factors in common: excellent customer service, a wide range of high-quality product options, and graphic designers on staff that can help you bring your shirt to life. Whether you’re looking for t-shirts for an organization, fundraiser, event or gift, The Happily Ever After offers the one-on-one customer experience to bring them to life.
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