- Unisex - Men's
- Women's Shirts
- Embroidered Styles
Screen printing is a popular way to print designs on t shirts and other garments, but it's important to wash them correctly in order to maintain the quality of the print. Everyone has their favorite shirt, with the best design. We want your custom printed shirts to look amazing for many years to come.
We field hundreds of calls from new customer every day. Many of these calls are general questions about shirt quality, durability and screen printing. In this article we hope to cover the most common questions and concerns you might have. We will explain everything you need to know about how to wash and dry your printed shirts.
Here are the topics we will cover: washing and drying, shrinkage, ink cracking, color fading, and more. So whether you're the one wearing the screen printed t shirts or the one who designed it, make sure you read this article before handing them out or throwing the printed tees in the wash!
You've created a masterpiece. Let's make sure to wash and care for it, to keep it looking great!
Follow these simple steps when washing and drying your screen printed t shirts so you can keep wearing them over and over.
Turn Inside Out
Wash in Cold Water (avoid hot water)
Choose the washing machine's gentle cycle.
Avoid bleach (especially chlorine bleach), fabric softener and stain removers.
Hang Dry if possible (or tumble dry on lowest heat setting)
One of the most common questions we get asked is about shrinkage. This greatly depends on the fabric blend.
T Shirts that are made of 100% Preshrunk Cotton, will shrink. The preshrinking process that is done during shirt manufacturing minimizes shrinkage. Acceptable shrinkage for 100% Preshrunk Cotton Printed Shirts is 5-7%.
T Shirts that are made of 50% Preshrunk Cotton /50% Polyester, will shrink less than 100% cotton. Acceptable shrinkage is 3-5%
T Shirts that are made of 100% Polyester, often called Performance, Moisture Wicking or Dri-Fit will not shrink.
If you do not want your screen printed t shirt to shrink. Wash in cold water and hang dry. Always turn your shirt inside out to protect the screen printed design.
This is a common misconception. People think that the screen printed shirts will breakdown completely during laundry.
This is not true! The shirt and the printed imagery are specifically designed to withstand regular and repeated laundering. This is not something you should worry about.
This is another common misconception. If your garment was professionally printed with high quality plastisol inks or inks intended for printing on garments; your design will not wash away.
Plastisol inks are the most commonly used inks for screen printing on garments. They are specifically designed to be durable and withstand repeated washings.
The inks are cured (or heat-set) during the screen printing process, which means the image is bonded to the t shirt fabric.
As long as you follow the washing instructions, your screen printed t shirt will last for 100 washes.
At Bolt Printing, we have systems and processes in place so this won't happen. But if you are working with another screen printer, make sure they use high quality inks that are designed for garment printing.
This is a common question, especially for darker garments. The short answer is: yes, all garments will eventually fade. But with proper care, you can significantly slow down the fading process when washing screen printed shirts.
To help prevent fading, always wash your garment inside out in cold water. This will protect the garment's color from fades caused by sun exposure and other environmental factors.
In addition, avoid using bleach or fabric softeners as these can also cause colors to fade. Finally, hang drying (or tumble drying on low heat) will also help keep your garment looking new for longer.
By following these simple washing instructions, you can prolong the life of your screen printed shirt and keep it looking its best.
This is usually a result of incorrect wash instructions. Following these simple wash instructions will help prevent your printed design from cracking or peeling.
Here's our recommendation to wash your screen printed shirt:
Always wash your screen printed t shirts inside out. This will protect the printed design from abrasion.
Wash in cold water. Hot water can cause the ink to crack.
Avoid using fabric softener, stain removers or bleach. These chemicals can break down the ink over time and cause it to crack or peel.
If you must use a dryer, tumble dry on the lowest setting. A hot dryer can cause the ink to crack and ruin screen printed garments.
No. We do not recommend using bleach (especially chlorine bleach) on any of our screen printed garments. Bleach may discolor the shirt and degrade the printed design.
No. We do not recommend using a fabric softener on any screen printed tshirts. Fabric softeners can break down the fabric threads.
Using stain removers on your printed shirts is also not recommended. Stain removers might discolor the garment and might break down the printed ink on your tees.
The custom shirt should not bleed when you wash screen printed shirts.
If you have selected a garment dyed shirt; it requires special care. Garment-dyed goods should ALWAYS BE WASHED SEPARATELY BEFORE WEARING to avoid bleeding issues.
Due to the nature of the dyeing process pigment dyed shades, loose pigments may remain on the surface of the garments even after the first wash. These can rub off onto other garments in your wash cycle
The white ink printed on your tees should not change color. Although it can occur if the shirts were not printed properly. We have systematic processes in place to prevent this from happening.
This is called Dye Migration; when the dye color of the screen printed garment absorbs into the screen printing ink. This is more likely to happen with 100% polyester garments or garment dyed colors in the red color family (red, charcoal or purple).
The only way to completely prevent dye migration is to use a barrier layer between the ink and the shirt. If you are working with a reputable printer, they will take measures to prevent migration. These include using inks that have been specifically formulated to resist dye migration and properly handling of the shirt during printing and packaging.
We are a hands-on company and stand behind the custom printed and embroidered products that we sell. Everything is done in-our-building including customer service, artwork preparation and the actual screen printing of your shirts. We are available, dependable and reliable we are passionate about helping our customers and our work.
If you have other questions that we might have missed let us know. You can always reach us via phone or live chat during regular business hours or use the contact form.
We are here to guide and help you when you are ready to order your custom screen printed shirts.
Stick to the basics. Solid 100% Cotton printed t-shirts that do not call out "ring-spun" will not be as soft but will be more affordable. Shirts made with this type of fabric are the most commonly used for basic custom printed cotton t-shirts because of the lower cost. (Check out our Best Deals category)
Keeping your t-shirt design simple will make your brand more memorable and identifiable. The simpler your clothing logo design is, the more you will save when you are ready to purchase your custom printed t shirts.
Print Location is something else to keep in mind. It's creative to have different logo designs in various locations of the shirt like a sleeve print but remember that a screen print in one location, like the front chest will be the most cost effective.
Shirt color, print colors and order quantity are huge drivers of cost. White color t-shirt is the most inexpensive. And a one color print will cost you much less than a multi-color screen print. So keeping it simple will not only build your brand, it's a money saving hack.
At Bolt Printing, we are more than just t-shirt printers, we are passionate team members focused on quality and lower cost. Saving you the extra dollar, and making you look good while doing it.
A major driver of cost with embroidery is the stitch count of your design. Unlike with screen printing that calculates cost by print colors.
What does this mean?
Each custom embroidery design is communicated to our embroidery machines via an electronic file that guides each needle with a precise location, pattern and thread color that is to be used for each element of the design.
This program is a computerized mapping of coordinates for each and every element in the custom embroidered design. The process of converting a design to this program is called digitizing.
Digitizing is the first and most important step in the custom embroidery design process. Great digitizing will ensure that the image is mapped properly and efficiently; therefore it means it will sew well during production and look great when finished.
What is a stitch count and how is it determined?
A stitch count is a precise measurement of thread usage required for custom embroidery of a specific image.
Stitch count is determined after an image is converted into an electronic format that can be read by an embroidery machine.
How does stitch count effect my custom embroidery prices?
All prices shown on our site, include a 5000 (5k) stitched embroidery image.
Once the custom embroidery design is converted to the electronic format; the total amount of thread usage is determined.
The total thread usage tells us how long it will take to embroider each design; essentially it equates to the labor and raw materials cost.
A higher stitch count will definitely increase your cost; because our costs have increased as well.
We will ALWAYS notify you when the stitch count is higher. Informing you of the additional cost to proceed.
Can I guesstimate my stitch count?
Depending on how in-depth you want to get; the answer is yes.
Quick & Easy Way (but not 100% accurate)
Using the dimensions of your logo, use this formula:
Example: logo is 3" wide by 2" high.
3 x 2 = 6
x2 (width x height)
6 x 2 = 12
approx. 12k stitches
Benefits of using this method:
(2) Fairly simple
(3) Most often will overestimate the stitch count.
(4) If the stitch count is overestimated; you come in under budget :)
Downside of using this method:
(1) It is not accurate.
What is Screen Printing?
Screen printing (also known as silk screening), is a popular printing process that pushes ink through a mesh screen to print your graphic design on a flat surface. Examples are screen print t-shirts and screen printed canvas tote bags.
Plastisol ink for screen printing is commonly used because it produces vibrant, bold colors that are difficult to replicate with other printing techniques such as digital printing. At Bolt Printing, we refer to screen printing as "traditional" printing.
Behind The Scenes at Bolt Printing
So what happens after we receive your high quality art files? Custom-made screens for the screen printing process begins. Here is a step by step process:
ART SEPARATION - the design is separated into layers by the number of print colors in the design.
CREATE A FILM POSITIVE - each layer is converted to black color and printed onto a transparent positive film for screen print.
PREPARE MESH SCREENS with photosensitive chemicals - This is one of the most important parts of what we do as printing experts here at Bolt Printing. The film is now placed onto a mesh screen, cleaned with a degreaser and then coated with emulsion. The light sensitive emulsion is exposed using UV light that burns the image onto the screen thus creating stencil. After the screen is exposed, it is rinsed off and fully dried.
SCREEN PRINTING - note that one screen is used for each color to be printed. For the colors to line up correctly, it is important that the screens line up (or registered). Ink is added to the screen and pushed through evenly with a squeegee onto the t-shirt. When there is a multi-colored screen, we often "flash" dry between layers of color to prevent bleeding.
Garment Choice: Finding the Best Fit for Your Design Needs
There's a bewildering array of fabric and t shirt style options out there. Finding the right fabric option that works best for your t-shirt design ideas can be a little daunting. Before you choose a style of garment to print, think about what your end goal is. Knowing what the end goal is will help you find your top choice garment for each project.
Options To Consider
Are you purchasing shirts as a promotion or a give-away?
Are you purchasing uniforms for a business or a school?
Do you have a unique design, and want to resell the shirts?
Is staying cool in warm temperatures important?
What is the activity level of the person wearing the garment?
Knowing the what, who and why details helps narrow down your potential fabric options and makes finding the right choice garments for your project simpler. Here is a brief description showing which fabric and style options work best for each application and why.
Right Choice Garments and Fabric Choices
Some fabric options are definitely better suited for t shirt design and printing applications. Some materials are easier to print on and do a better job of displaying your logo, message or graphic design. Making the right decision is the first important step to get your new uniform, t-shirt line or customized gift just right.
100% Cotton T-shirts that do not call out "ring-spun" are generally knitted with fabric using an "open end" o "carded" yarn. T-Shirts made with this type of yarn will have a lower cost and will be less soft. Shirts made with this type of fabric are the most common variety used for basic custom printed cotton t-shirts because of the lower cost.
Preshrunk: Does not mean that the garment will not shrink. It means that the fabric was compacted to reduce shrinkage, twisting and torquing when laundered. All major mills make garments to accommodate shrinkage expected that will occur during the recommended care instructions on the label.
Ring-Spun Cotton means the fabric was knitted with ring-spun yarn. Ring-spun yarn is made by a spinning technique that stretches the yarn between the spindles. T-shirts made with ring-spun yarn are softer, more expensive and create an ideal platform for screen printing.
Combed Ring-Spun Cotton a step up from ring spun yarn as combed ring spun cotton. It means that cotton fibers are spun then combed through to remove impurities while ensuring it stays soft to the touch. Fewer impurities means a smoother surface to print on. These are also softer, lighter and on the more expensive end. This type of fabric is usually used on retail style shirts.
50/50 Blends are made with fabric that is knitted with a yarn that is half 100% cotton and half polyester. The result is a fabric that will feel a bit lighter. Some customers feel this fabric is more breathable and feels a bit softer. This was the original T-Shirt fabric and at one time the most popular selling style due to cost. However, as the customer demand has moved to 100% cotton; prices can be a bit higher. T-shirts are used as uniforms for community sports leagues/teams, small businesses such as landscaping companies, construction companies, trade service companies or restaurants prefer this fabric as uniforms (polo shirt with design logo or custom shirts) because it is simple to care and is less prone to wrinkling.
Tri-Blend is exactly what it sounds like, a fabric birthed from the blend of three different types of thread. This ingenious material has the durability of polyester, the comfort of cotton printed shirts, and the drape of rayon. In an effort to offer higher-quality, super-soft, well-fitting tees, manufacturers began offering tri-blend as a way of doing just that. This material will be even softer, lighter and comfortable than combed Ring spun Cotton shirts and is more expensive.
Performance Fabric refers to any fabric that is designed to wick moisture away from the body. These are 100% polyester and are mostly used as athletic shirts. Easy care and no need to iron. 100% polyester shirts won't shrink and are mostly silky texture. They do require a specific method of printing and are more commonly used as an active shirt, both for indoor and outdoor use. Perfect for high intensity activities, this shirts will keep your body dry longer than regular cotton printed and DryBlend shirts. Also on the more expensive end this type of fabric is not usually picked as a give away shirt.
Once you pick the right material you may also look up for the cut of the shirt. Basic cotton printed t-shirts such as BD54, 5000, BD55 and 8000 will be most of the time on the boxy side. These will run true to size and some styles are a bit over-sized to accommodate the shrinkage which can be up to 5% on a 100% cotton t-shirts.
Choose the best fabric and surface texture for your next custom printing or embroidery project.
Rules To Live By:
Smooth, flat surfaces are ideal for screen-printing.
Textured, thicker fabrics are ideal for custom embroidery.
Fabrics fall into two main categories:
Knit Fabrics are made of yarn that is looped continuously producing a braided look.
Knit fabrics are more stretchy.
Woven Fabrics are created on a loom made by interlacing two or more threads at right angles, like a basket weave. Woven fabrics are not stretchy and have little give.
a knitted fabric = basic t-shirt material.
variations: content, weight, thread count and yarn type.
T-Shirts, Polo Shirts & Tank Tops are often made with Jersey Fabric
100% Cotton: knitted with 100% cotton yarn
Best Selling in this category.
Garments are expected to shrink; they are roomier to accommodate shrinkage (even when the label says pre-shrunk).
Ideal Embellishment: Screen printing
Embroidery is okay on a heavier dark garment.
100% Ring-spun Cotton
Lightweight: 4.8 oz or less
Heavyweight: 5.3-5.6 oz
Super Heavyweight: 6.1 oz
What are the shirts for?
Are these work shirts? If so then the next questions would be if the employees are constantly moving, if they are outdoors or indoors and what's the dress code of the work place. Shirts made of polyester or polyester blend are a good fabric choice for any one who moves a lot or works outside. This type of fabric will be more breathable than 100% cotton printed shirts and feel lighter in the heat.
If you are not so concerned about the heat but comfort is still number 1 priority, you may go with a ring-spun cotton printed shirt that will keep your employees comfortable at all times.
For give-away and gifts, the basic cotton t-shirts are most of the time the go-to fabric since it will keep the cost low. With that you can order a bulkier amount of shirts to be distributed and spend less money if ordering a different type of material.
For those who are selling the shirts or starting a new t-shirt line, it's all about comfort and looking nice. The retail styles will be all that. Super soft and light fabric with a retail cut that will make the shirts more fitted. Either ring-spun cotton or tri-blends will have a similar cut. The main difference is on the weight of the shirts and how soft they are (tri-blends are softer and lighter) and also on the cost of each item.
Pick A Color. Any Color
Now that you have a closer idea of what type of shirt to pick, it's time to pick a color and start designing your printed t shirts.
For your next custom printed t-shirt project; there is a crazy amount of
shirt colors to choose from. With the addition of print color(s) the color combination outcomes are truly endless.
Without a doubt, you can design a cool t-shirt that is truly unique and one-of-a-kind.
If you are struggling to make the final decision or want to stay mainstream; here is a list of top selling colors by season:
Top Selling Shirt Colors Year Round:
By far the top selling shirt colors are black, white, red, royal blue and athletic gray (also called heather gray, sport gray or athletic heather).
Top Selling Shirt Colors in Spring and Summer:
Top Selling Garment Colors in Fall & Winter:
In fall and winter deep, rich colors in all color families: dark gray, cardinals or maroons, navy and dark greens; are on-trend.