What Goes Into Our Printing Process January 3, 2017 14:55
Here at Oklahoma Shirt Company we work with hundreds of people a year to help them get printed apparel, and many of them we are helping place their first order ever. Sometimes we find ourselves thinking “If this person only understood the process better it would make it so much easier for them!” So, we thought it could be helpful to share the process that goes into making your shirts once we’re past the quoting process.
Here are the 3 main steps in our printing process.
1. Art. The first step to screen printing any garment is to have print ready art. If you have art in vector format, then you send that over and we are ready to go. No extra time or extra charges! However, if you need help with your art we are happy to help there too. If you have art that we have to remake or if we create something from your description we have an “Art Fee” of $30/hour (we rarely exceed that first hour.) We will e-mail you designs that are mocked up on a t-shirt to give you an impression of what you will be receiving.
This is the time for you to give feedback on what you’re seeing - we LOVE feedback, so let us know how we can make it perfect! Once we have landed on a design for your shirt that you love, we move on to the pre-production steps.
2. Pre-Production. A surprising amount of work has to be put in before we can print your t-shirts. Firstly we have to print color separations. That means each color that will end up on printed on your shirt has to have it’s own screen, and that starts with it’s own separation.
Each of these color separations is then burned onto a separate screen in our darkroom. So if your shirts have three colors, we have to do this whole process three times - once for each screen. These screens are then placed on our presses and registered to one another to be sure the colors line up for the final product. Burning screens takes around one hour to do, and registering takes around an hour as well. The time and materials that goes into these steps shows up on your invoice as “Screen Fees” which we charge $20/screen for.
3. Production. This is the important step in printing t-shirts. This is the part where we actually print the shirts! The shirts to be printed are staged in stacks to keep everything clean and organized, and our production team loads the shirts onto a carousel that takes it around to each of the screens to get printed. Once it’s received all the printing it needs we take it off the carousel and it goes through a dryer to cure the ink. It comes off the other end and is sorted and counted and checked for printing quality and art mistakes.
You can actually watch this part of the process on our website! Under the “Custom” tab you can click on “LIVE On The Press” to see what we’re printing right at this moment!
Once production is finished you will be informed that your shirts are done you will receive an e-mail and your shirts will be ready to pick up at your convenience. We love to help new customers navigate through the process it takes to get shirts printed, but hopefully this quick overview will help you if you feel like you don’t know where to start. Each of these steps is an extremely broad overview, so if you would like to know more about some of these specifics, you may check out another one of our blog posts concerning the specifics of that area, or feel free to ask questions when you come pick up your shirts. We love to show people around our house!
How to Save on Bulk T-Shirt Orders January 3, 2017 14:51
Here at Oklahoma Shirt Company we pride ourselves on being able to facilitate large orders within a quick turnaround time. Not only is this something that generates business for us, but it also helps the consumer save money. Some of the ways that you can cut costs on bulk t-shirt orders is by keeping colors and locations low, ordering a larger quantity, using our house brand t-shirt, and having print ready art.
Our screen fees are $20/screen. That means that with every color you add to your design the more money it will cost you in the end. There are sometimes ways to achieve the given look of a design with only 1-2 colors through halftones and blending. So be sure to ask us about those options if you’re wanting to make your order more cost efficient. Also, if you want a front, back, pocket, side print, etc. that will also end up costing you more as more screens will need to be coated and burned.
Since we have a minimum order size (25 t-shirts) you can create a more budget friendly invoice by ordering in bulk. The more shirts you order the more you save. As the quantity goes up the price per garment goes down.
You can also save some cash by using our house brand t-shirt. It’s made by District and is the Young Men’s Very Important Tee (DT6000).
It’s a super soft and durable t-shirt that comes in 100% cotton (solid color) and 50% cotton 50% polyester (heathered). It’s also available in a variety of colors! This is the garment we print our Shirt of the Month designs on. Most importantly, our customers love it and have had nothing but positive feedback on this garment.
The last way you can save money by bulk ordering t-shirts is to have a print ready design file (.ai/.eps) as our art fees are $30/hr. This also speeds up the production process because our graphic designers won’t have to spend time recreating an existing design or making you something from scratch.
See the list below for occasions that ordering in bulk will save you money!
T-shirts for your business
T-shirts for church events
T-shirts for family reunions
T-shirts for sporting events
T-shirts for your school
T-shirts for your band
T-shirts for fundraising
T-shirts for your brand
How It All Started December 31, 2016 00:08There are plenty of box subscriptions out there but what sets our Shirt of the Month subscription apart from the rest is the people that it represents. We’ve been able to capture that niche market of Oklahomans that take pride in their state and can tell a story related to nearly every shirt they receive.
When we started, we designed and printed out of what was familiar along with the necessity of affordability. There were plenty of other great local companies printing Oklahoma t-shirts but we saw an opportunity to create a community through a subscription program. In late 2012, Netflix was the hottest community that people belonged to and were talking about with their friends and family. That (what use to be) $10 price point made it accessible for so many and everyone was talking about what they were watching and making suggestions for what they thought other people would like. We took that idea of an affordable community and coupled it with an idea that we thought people would want to pass along to their friends. Thus, Shirt of the Month from Oklahoma Shirt Company was born.
As our subscribership began to grow, we began getting to know our product better as well as our subscriber base and our potential customers. We started first by reaching out to a few friends in some of Oklahoma’s smaller towns. They would happily tell their friends, family, and colleagues about the designs, price point, and novelty of the subscription and we began to see these clusters of subscribers in and around several towns in Oklahoma. We also learned how to be adaptable and to listen to the needs of our customers. In February of 2014 we attended a local craft show where we were able to verbally communicate our subscription service and listened to the questions our customers had. We had so many realizations from being able to communicate face to face with our customers which is one of the main reasons we continue to attend craft shows across the state. So, we listened and then we adapted – we wanted to accommodate our customers who wanted to change sizes month to month to be able to share or gift their monthly shirt. We now provide a size change option, which has helped retention and truly allows customers to have flexibility within their subscription.
Ultimately, we attribute our growth and success to people – we value our Shirt of the Month subscribers as well as our custom business clients. We give individual attention to each of our subscribers and love hearing their stories about what their monthly shirts mean to them. Our team has doubled in size this last year and is comprised of friends that love and respect each other artistically and in a business sense. We constantly remind ourselves that we sell $10 t-shirts, both as a means to keep our vision clear of distractions and to remind ourselves to stay humble. So while we love making t-shirts with our friends and for our friends, we love making people happy even more and at the end of the day, that’s why we’re in business.
4 Steps to Getting Custom Shirt Orders Quick December 31, 2016 00:04If you’re anything like me, life can get busy and planning ahead is basically thrown out the window. We understand that sometimes you need shirts and you need them NOW because your event is coming up, your deadline is right around the corner, or that birthday is a lot sooner than you thought it was! We want to make the custom ordering process as seamless and as quick as possible for you so we can get you your shirts, design, and print them just the way you had envisioned. In order to get the ball rolling quickly, it’s always helpful for our customers to provide us with as much information as possible from the get go in order to save you time and get you your shirts even faster! So what information is key? Below a simple breakdown of all the information we may need and steps that we will need you to take throughout the process, why not just knock it all out from the get go?
Quantity and sizes. Did you know the more shirts you order the cheaper the cost per shirt will actually be? Our screen printing minimum is 25 shirts, but there are always other options as well if you need fewer shirts than that. If you know your quantity AND the sizes you need from the very beginning that takes out a whole step of the process that happens later on down the road. If you don’t know the size breakdown you need, let us help! We’ve got a lot of experience when it comes to shirts and sizing so if this is something brand new to you we’d love to help you figure out any and all questions you may have and choose the right sizing breakdown for your specific needs!
Shirt. What type of shirt are you looking for? Is there a specific brand you like? A specific material or blend? Choosing the perfect shirt is a huge part of the process. We are always open to making suggestions to what we think is a great brand for your price point, material preference, or specific needs, but if there’s something specific you have in mind, that will speed up the process tremendously and take out any questions or blanks that need to be filled in our end of things! Same goes with color. If you already know the color shirt you are picturing let us know ahead of time and we will make sure the specific brand you want is available in that color for you!
Artwork and Design. Do you already have artwork for your shirt? Do you need us to design something for you? Here at Oklahoma Shirt Company we have two incredible full time graphic artists that are devoted to creating the perfect designs for our customers or just helping customers bring their ideas to life! If you have a print ready art file in vector format, that will speed up the custom order process tremendously. If not, that’s okay! We love designing artwork, you will just need to allow us at least 48 hours to get the perfect design cranked out for you and make any changes you might see fit!
Date Needed. If you have a tight deadline, it’s best to let us know right away so we can make sure our entire team is aware and gets you your shirts in time! Deadlines can affect the art process as well as the printing process so it’s always best to let us know from the get go if you have an event where you will need your shirts!
We want your experience with us to be a seamless, fun, and quick process! We love our customers and we want to make sure we meet any and all deadlines and create a product that we’re proud of and that our customer is excited about! Communication is key in the custom screen printing process so as long as you provide us with as much information as you see fit and let us know if you ever have any questions, we will make sure to create the perfect shirts just for you!
Crazy TShirt Printing Facts: Doing What We Do Best December 30, 2016 23:43
We’ve grown a lot as a business in the past few years, and this growth has allowed us the flexibility to not only grow the amount and quality of product we produce, but it’s also allowed us to grow our skill and knowledge of the various different screen printing processes. Below are a few of the more interesting things we’ve picked up along the way.
We can print lots of different colors
Most custom screen print jobs have art that only requires 2-3 colors to reproduce, and in order to try and satisfy all our clients color needs, we bought presses that can support at most 6 and 8 colors respectively - thats a lot of colors. But even then clients sometimes provide need extremely complex art - like photorealistic designs, and for that there is another option.
We can print using a technique call 4 color process printing, or CMYK. This allows us to print on white shirts much in the same way a color printer prints on paper. Using 4 colors - Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black, and using some very specific printing methods, we can achieve a nearly unlimited number of color combinations!
We can print a ton of shirts
When we started, we had a very simple, manual setup. This meant a couple things. 1. We could only print very simple designs and 2. We couldn’t print them very fast - roughly 60 shirts an hour, or one shirt a minute. Since then, we’ve added two automatic presses and a larger manual press. When we’re running both auto presses at maximum capacity they can each print about 1000 shirts an hour, which means with all three presses running we can output over 2000 shirts an hour, which means we’ve gone from printing 1 shirt a minute to 14 shirts a minute! Thats a lot of shirts in a day!
We can print different kinds of inks
The most common kind of ink screenprinters use is called plastisol. Plastisol is a plastic based resin that when cool is liquid, but when cured at a temp of around 330F solidifies. It’s the most common because of how easy it is to use - it doesn’t go bad, it’s easy to create different colors, and because it sits on top of the fabric of the shirt, and doesn’t dye the fibers, it’s very simple to control how much plastisol you put on a shirt. The down side to plastisol is the way it feels to the touch, or it’s hand. When over applied, plastisol leaves a very thick, rough hand, and can almost feel like you’re wearing a shield. And that’s no good because no one wants to wear an uncomfortable shirt, right?
That’s where discharge inks come in. Discharge inks are pressed onto the shirt, much like plastisol ink is, but instead of simply laying on top of the shirt, discharge inks are pressed deep into the fibers of the shirt. This is because discharge inks are actually made to bleach out the dye in the shirt, returninging it to it’s natural color, while simultaneously dying the fabric the desired color. And since you’re replacing the old dye of the shirt with a new dye, and not really adding anything to the surface of the garment, discharge printing can leave an incredibly soft, smooth hand, which is super comfortable to wear.
We’ve grown, we’ve learned, and we’re excited to learn and grow even more in 2017.
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Neutral Position August 2, 2016 09:48
There are a thousand things you can change when printing a shirt, from the speed the squeegee goes across the screen, to the amount of time it takes for the platens to lower from printing height, and every one of those things can change how a shirt looks at the end of a print. With potentials of 20-30 different designs a day, you’ll be changing one or all of these things every day, so we’ve found it important to have a base point to start from each time.
The place we’ve found this to be most true is in changing from different placements on a shirt. When we go from printing a three color front to printing a tag, there a many things that have to change. The pressure of the print, the angle of the squeegee, the placement of the screen and the speed of the print can all easily make a tag print unusable. Making sure that the machine has been customized for each individual job helps to make every print a good one.
In this mindset we’ve come up with what we call the Neutral Positions. Each machine has it’s own set of neutral positions that it has to return to at the end of every job. As soon as we take the screen down we reset all of the micro-registration apertures, individual press arm pressures, screen clamp positions, print speeds, and even have a forced index dwell time of 1 second in order to slow us down and keep us focused on producing quality products every time. Having a standard of where everything is set when you start a job makes us focus on each thing being set new for every job. This insures that we set every job up for the specific print we want, and never blindly trust that the machine is ready to print from the job we printed before.
Resetting the machine to neutral each time helps us to give every job the attention that it deserves, and makes us slow down and really consider each job as it’s own entity, deserving of the time and effort it takes to make the shirt our customer wants.
Decoration Nation! July 11, 2016 08:47
T-shirts are a part of our day-to-day life. We wear them for events, sell them for fundraisers, create different garments to promote our businesses, wear them to show off our school spirit, support our favorite sports teams or musicians, wear them to exercise, or just wear them around the house for pure comfort! They are a staple in each family and company and we know that it can be a fun but overwhelming process at times to create them because of all of the options available. If you’re anything like me, you want to know what all of your possibilities are when it comes to creating your design, so here’s a run down of some of our most common options that we love to use when bringing our customer’s projects and designs to fruition!
Plastisol ink is the most common medium for screen-printing. Plastisol is typically the standard option for most shirts/garments. It is one of the most cost-effective options and has a great look and feel to it. When you see a t-shirt, whether it is for sale in a shop or handed out at an event, it is probably safe to bet that it was screen-printed with Plastisol. It’s a great option because it is available in a wide variety of colors, can be custom mixed to create the exact color you’re looking for, and it’s light weight enough to be printed on all types of garments whether it be your favorite comfy t-shirt, your dry fit tank tops, or even a koozie to keep your drink cold - the possibilities are endless. Plastisol is durable, long lasting, and inexpensive so it’s always a standard and great option for anyone looking to have their design printed!
Water based ink is often preferred by customers going for a more “vintage” look or just something more light weight. It is soft to the touch and breathable but still easy to be produced in big quantities similar to plastisol. Water based ink is a great option as well because it is long lasting and flexible and helps the design on the garment stretch and endure wear and tear while still remaining in tact and comfortable. While water-based ink typically isn’t as vibrant, because it can vary depending on the color of the garment, or as common as plastisol, it is still a great option to bring your design to life!
Vinyl is a great alternative to screen-printing when it comes to personalizing your garments. Whether you want to print individual names on the back of your shirts for a family reunion, wedding party, sporting event, etc. or get your team’s numbers on each individual shirt, vinyl is a great option and can add a great finishing touch to any garment. Vinyl is also a great alternative to embroidery. Embroidery is often used on hats, polo’s, bags, and other garments for logos and branding, however vinyl is a more cost-effective option available in a variety of colors that will really make your brand or design stand out among the crowd. Foil vinyl has become a popular option as well. Foil vinyl is available in metallic colors like gold and silver that are perfect for designs that really want to stand out, like your businesses brand or even tank tops for your next bachelorette party or event!
While this may seem overwhelming, our team is here to help you choose the best option for you and your ideas or project. There are tons of options when it comes to printing your design and we love to get to know each individual customer, their needs, and their concepts, and help them bring their design and brand to life through different mediums to create the perfect garment.
Dialing In Production July 5, 2016 12:08
Screenprinting often is an event driven industry. Every job needs to be treated like it has a due date, because most jobs do. In that, more and more shops are having to tighten up their production floor to accommodate larger orders with shorter turnaround times. Most of the inefficiencies these shops face aren’t very difficult to combat, they just require a high level of diligence every day. Here are three of the most common things screenprinters can do to make sure they can keep their presses humming.
Garments - Get your check in process dialed in. Often, garments have to travel from different warehouses in different states from across the country, which means sets of garments for one job showing up potentially different days. Have a system for your check in person to determine which jobs are ready to print and which are not, and make sure you schedule shirts to go to print after they have all arrived. Separating and staging out the days jobs also helps save time, and lets your production team know what’s going to print that day.
Ink - Having a well stocked supply cabinet at all times is crucial to getting orders out on time. Nothing is worse than having garments staged and screens set up on press only to find you don’t have enough ink to compete the production run. Keep track of what you use the most of, buy plenty of it, and always restock before you run out. A good general rule of thumb is to reorder the minute you open the last gallon.
Screens - Having screens that are burned a day in advance keeps your time and resources during the day focused on production, and in that, having the next day’s production schedule well enough in advance to have work orders and separations in time to burn screens is critical. Additionally, make sure you keep you dark room clean, and you are checking your screen for pinholes before the go to press - this will save critical production time.
There will always be inefficiencies that can be tuned up in all shops, both big and small, but addressing these three bottlenecks is a great place to start, and can drastically improve what your production team is able to accomplish.
Giving Life To The Client’s T-Shirt June 17, 2016 11:10
It is important to cater to the correct audience. You want your design to make sense to those who will be wearing the shirt. For example, when designing a shirt for a local rapper, script fonts and filigree probably won’t cut it. It’s necessary to become familiar with your audience so you can effectively design something that they will connect to. Draw inspiration from current trends and elements that are iconic to that particular audience.
When choosing a color scheme try to use colors that give a cohesive feel to the design. A good metric to go by are complimentary colors, warm colors, or opposing colors on the color wheel. Searching the web or Pinterest for color schemes is a great place to start. Save some that you like for later use.
A design principal I learned early on is “If it does’t work in black, it won’t work with color.” Start out with less instead of more. The design of shirt needs to effective with one color, often to meet the client’s needs. Employing the use of half tones is a great way to add shading and depth to any design. You can easily make a 1 color design appear to be a 2 color design by combining half tones and the color of the shirt. When using multiple colors you can take a 2 color design and easily get what appears to be a 3rd for 4th color.
Often shirt designs will only be text with no graphic elements at all. Take the time to find the right font to cater to your audience. A great typeface paired with a graphic will really pull the overall design of the shirt together. Be cautious of using too many fonts. You probably shouldn’t be using more than 3 fonts in any one shirt design. Try pairing an extra decorative font with a more simple one. No one ever complains about Helvetica.
The best part about designing a shirt is bringing the clients ideas to life and seeing how happy they are with the product. Use these helpful tips to let us make some great shirts!
Why We Love Our Tshirts June 14, 2016 09:34
When it comes to our Shirt of the Month or helping our customers make decisions in the custom printing process, fit and feel are probably the two most important deciding factors when selecting a shirt. Ultimately we want our customers to wear their shirts and grow to love them even more as time goes on so durability is also a key component in selecting a shirt.
For Shirt of the Month, we use a preshrunk and unisex cut shirt that is flattering for all body types. The material of our shirts depends on the color we choose and is either a 50/50 supersoft blend, a 90/10 semisoft blend, or a 100% ringspun soft cotton. Shirt of the Month shirts are super durable, wear true to size, and wash consistently over time. We believe that the more you can come to rely on how your shirt fits, the more you’ll keep buying our product.
The same principles are true when we help customers select shirts for their custom order. Whether it’s for an event, cause, or business, you’re going to ultimately want your design to gain more impressions – the only way to accomplish this is for your shirt to get worn multiple times. We often encourage our custom clients to use the same shirts that we use for Shirt of the Month since our subscribers (and us too!) can testify to the fit and feel of those particular shirts.
We want you to love the shirt you wear and believe that a great feeling shirt can make you feel just that – GREAT! You don’t have to settle for cheapy “giveaway” shirts. You can get an amazingly soft AND affordable tee from our Shirt of the Month club for just $10 or let us design and print custom shirts for you that works with your budget!
4 Reasons Why You Need Custom Shirts June 8, 2016 18:47
Everyone loves a T-shirt! But what is the benefit of actually getting shirts custom screen printed for your team or event? We love making awesome shirts, and we think whatever you’re involved in will be better if you partner with us in getting custom apparel. So here’s the top 4 reasons why you need custom shirts - no matter what it is that you’re doing.
1. Cost. Believe it or not, getting T-shirts printed with something custom on them is actually cheaper than going to the store and buying a pre-made shirt! If you can get something that has a personal touch it will mean more to your group/team/staff and it costs less too! That’s a double - win!
2. Unity. Wearing the same thing creates unity. That’s what team uniforms are all about! So if you’re having a family reunion, a summer camp, or a vacation, providing everyone involved with a quality screen printed T-shirt is a great way to create unity. And the bonus is that everyone has a way to commemorate the event long after!
3. Branding. You may think this point only has to do with business owners and outfitting their employees, but the effects of branding go way beyond that! If you’re a church, or any non-profit organization, a business, a team or even just a group of friends, using T-shirts to brand yourself is a great way to show the world that you’re organized and unified! Many times I’ve been wearing a shirt from an event that has passed, like a conference or festival, and it struck up a conversation with a person that missed it this time, but it makes them want to attend the next time! Using T-shirts to reinforce your brand literally creates a walking billboard for your cause!
4. FUN! Custom T-shirts make people want to be a part of what you’re doing. What happens at a sporting event when they start throwing out shirts? Everyone loses their minds!!! How many college freshmen sign up for credit cards for a cheap free shirt or a hat? How many of those cheap playoff T-shirts that the stadium hands out for free do you hold on to? There is something about a T-shirt that makes people want to be a part of something, and it always puts a smile on their face.
No matter what group or event your a part of, our team of graphic designers and screen printers can help take you to the next level! We would love to partner with you in making custom apparel for your next event!