2013 October 2

varsity hoodieChoosing a hoodie for yourself is tough enough – zipped or unzipped, loose fit or skin-tight, pouch or no pouch …? Choosing for a group or team is even more difficult.

Here’s our guide to the best way to choose a hoodie.

Before you begin:

1.    Obtain the right information – get those involved to make basic measurements (waist, hip, chest, neck and arm length) and supply them to you, so you can be sure that the hoodie you choose has the right range of sizes.
2.    If you’re buying for a club or society, check the rules – some places have strict limits on what you can and can’t do.
3.    Check the budget – the more colours you have printed or embroidered, the more hoodies will cost.

Now start your choice process:

1.    Make a shortlist of colours – neutral is best unless you’re sure everyone in the group will be happy with pink or banana yellow!
2.    See if you can try on garments from that manufacturer – each company varies and it helps a lot with sizing to know if they run big or small, relaxed or tailored.
3.    Ask your printer for samples if you’re not sure what you’re doing.
Ale-House-T-Shirt-Fail4.    Check, check and double check and then get somebody else to check – think about how your hoodie will look in different situations … it’s so easy to have an epic fail!
5.    Make a shortlist of your final colours and designs – no more than three, preferably just two.
6.    Invite those involved to vote. Go with the majority even if you think they are wrong – it’s more important that people are comfortable and confident than that they have a stunning hoodie … you will probably get your way next time, if they are happy this time.
7.    Place your order. Wait impatiently for it to arrive.
8.    Look great in your new hoodies!

2013 September 27

AWDis_Girlie_Cool_TShirt_25_156It’s a strange paradox that individuality is one often best defined by uniformity! From the 1950s when teenagers began to rebel by dressing differently to their parents (and identically to each other) individual preferences, feelings, views and allegiances tend to be demonstrated by a uniform, whether it’s khaki and shiny boots or black PVC and safety pins.

Printed, personalised T-shirts have become a feature of daily life because they allow the individual to express their personality or views, whilst demonstrating how they fit into larger groups or societies. Hen and stag parties find the printed T-shirt or baseball cap to be a completely vital element of the celebrations as do fun runners and those undertaking events for charitable causes.

But businesses are seeing the value of the individual/uniform paradox too. While uniforms create a sense of unity and allow customers to identify employees easily, they can also foster a sense of corporate thinking with anonymity being the shield behind which uncaring ‘customer service’ and lacklustre treatment can lurk unchecked. After all, ‘all staff look the same’.

But a uniform which identifies the individual whilst locating them in the group is the ideal solution. Boldly printed T-shirts work for fun and young organisations, whilst elegant embroidered polo shirts or even cotton shirts can make a superb impression whilst still being easy to launder.

Corporate branding helps create a team identity whilst giving a professional focus to your business as a whole. It reinforces the image of your company and makes it more memorable and it shapes the way your staff operate because it determines the way they are seen by others.

Whether you choose printing or embroidery it’s a cost effective way to celebrate your big event or get your business into a good position.

2013 July 13

Fruit_Of_The_Loom_Slim_Fit_TShirt_25_3312013 may, or may not, be the 100 year anniversary of the T-shirt. Nobody knows exactly when this classic casual garment was ‘invented’ although in 1913 the US Navy ordered ‘light undershirts’ for every sailor to wear under their bell-bottomed uniforms and the T-shirt, as a name, arrived.

However, as is so often the case, it seems the USA may have been importing, and renaming, an older European invention. Many European soldiers, particularly British army recruits stationed in India and Burma, wore ‘undershirts’ when they were off duty, and these undershirts were virtually identical to the plain white T-shirt that is ubiquitous today.

One reason the plain white T-shirt has been back in the news is the effect of The Great Gatsby, starring Leonardo di Caprio. The film is based on the novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, who was the first writer to coin the term ‘T shirt’ in his 1920s novel, This Side of Paradise. At the same time, Rene Lacoste, the French tennis player, brought the polo shirt to high prominence with his many wins, and his chosen tennis apparel. Casual was king.

The craze for tanning, the increased casualness in clothing generally, and the arrival of Hollywood stars like James Dean who was the icon of the new cool casual fashions, all brought T-shirts into public prominence.

It wasn’t until the 1950s that printed T-shirts really got off the ground, and then they took the T-shirt world completely. Today it is predicted that every person in the world has at least two T-shirts, and that the average developed world consumer has a dozen.

And the average developed world consumer may be about to buy one more, especially if he is male and a bit chunky – Andrew Dunn of Nottingham University has discovered that a large black T on the front of a white T-shirt gives the impression you are slimmer than you are! The degree of attraction corresponds to the width of the T and whilst a wide T in the classic position can increase a man’s health and physical appeal in a photo by around 12% over the same man wearing a blank shirt, an upside down T of the same size decreases health and physical appeal by … 12%!

2011 June 27

The UK sportswear industry is already worth over £4 billion, and that’s set to grow dramatically in the next year as the Olympics fan our love of sport fashion.

Fashion designers are working with fitness companies to create new high fashion, high performance clothing that looks as good as it feels: Adidas, Puma and Reebok have all collaborated with top designers and Nike is currently working with recycled polyester to create something called power mesh which will improve performance and recovery in athletes.

To meet the needs of modern sports stars, who are as likely to be skateboarding as taking part in classical sports – clothing needs to be flexible and stylish, to create an indentifiable personal style and to offer maximum performance. As an example, snowboarders have been matching sleeveless fleeces made of high performance fabric with personalised polo-shirts to create an individual look that is immediately recognisable in the half-pipe and at the après-ski concert.

Hooded jackets have always been popular with boxers but now they are appearing on capoeira stars too, and also feature in the wardrobe of DJs mixing at festivals this summer.

2009 September 28

yellow teeFor a lot of people, T-shirts are a form of communication and what you wear can be as effective in expressing your lifestyle as your conversation, the places you visit and the music you like.

But the value of the printed T-shirt goes much further than that. In Australia, a young man who had been unemployed as a graphic designer for over a year was hired after the CEO of a design company saw him wearing a T-shirt he’d designed himself, on the street. There are many ways of promoting yourself, your business or your belief system through printed clothing and it can be as effective as taking out an advert in your local paper!

If you or one of your friends is a talented artist but struggles to get exhibitions or commissions, a short run of their most attractive or striking design, printed on a T-shirt, can draw public attention as well as validating their talent and making them feel that they are valued. If you are the artist, why not try to get half a dozen of your paintings, sculptures, photographs etc printed on T-shirts, and wear them to public events – many people find it difficult to promote themselves but if you’re wearing your art on your chest, it can be much easier to find a way to open the conversation about your work and maybe even make a sale or win a commission.

T-shirt printing is a cost-effective way to test the waters if you want to move into the creative industries. You don’t have to rent a shop and hire staff so the risk can be reduced. You can simply set up a cottage business selling your T-shirts on etsy or Folksy to build up a following. If you’re a naturally artistic person you’ll probably find it easy to choose the right images and T-shirt blanks to give the best impression, but it’s still worth listening to your T-shirt printer because they often have long experience in what actually works on fabric, and what doesn’t

Bands and musicians in particular benefit from having a teeshirt that promotes their name and music and allows their fans to show their loyalty to the next chart-topper.

Athletes can also show their aims and successes on teeshirts. If you’re running the London marathon or aiming to sail round the world, get some T-shirts printed with strong attractive images and a short text on the back of the tee, or underneath, saying what you are going to do – it’s a great way to pick up support and funding.

2009 January 20

As technology makes it easier than ever for those of a creative persuasion to commit their fantastic ideas to paper (or rather to the computer monitor) those with a penchant for design and a passion for fashion have a wonderful opportunity to enter the t-shirt design industry. With design software and t shirt production growing ever more sophisticated and accessible, young aspiring designers are finding that they do not have to be snapped up by a large fashion label for their designs to be found on the front of a trendy tee. Design business can be a part-time venture for a bit of extra cash or even a hobby where the money isn’t particularly important to you as long as your designs are out there and enjoyed. Of course it can also serve as a full-time career and a primary means of income.


If you are just starting out there are probably many questions you have, and there are probably some that you might not even have thought to ask! Hopefully this three-part article will serve as a handy starting point for all those who wish to begin the exciting journey towards starting their own t shirt design company. Before anything else it might be a good idea to familiarise yourself with some of the jargon used by those in the industry, The A-Z of T-Shirt Printing is a good place to find out the meaning of some of the more technical terms used in this article.

Part 1: Types of T shirt Printing – Which Method is Best for You?

So you’ve got your design all sketched out and are wondering which type of t shirt printing method will suit your emerging business best. There are several ways of printing a design onto a t shirt and all should be considered as you formulate your business strategy. Each has its benefits and drawbacks – there is no ‘best’ method, so tailoring the technique to your business is very important. There are five main options:

  • Heat Transfer Printing


Arguably the most popular choice for small businesses. This involves taking a high resolution image and printing the image onto commercial quality transfer paper. One can print multi-coloured images in most formats including BMP,TIF, GIF, AI and JPEG. Once the image is on the transfer paper it is then taken and applied using a commercial heat press to the t-shirt. Transfer printing can handle any coloured design on white t shirts but might fall down when attempting colours on a darker tone – for example trying to transfer a yellow icon onto a navy blue t shirt will often result in an undesirable greenish tint. The quality of the image produced is directly related to the quality of the image supplied so it is important to design a quality image.

It is ideal for small quantities.
It is fast.
It requires relatively small machinery.

It isn’t as lasting as other methods.
It has a tendency to crack more often.
It struggles to deal with certain colours on darker garments.

Best for: Those designers just starting out.

  • Vinyl Transfers

Vinyl transfers are perfect for colour layering and producing high quality final prints. The process involves embellishing a garment through cutting out a logo or design from a specific vinyl sheet. The design is then imprinted on the garment through heat pressing. This method is best used for single or small-print t shirts For a free video on the vinyl transfer technique click Here. The cost here is fairly high, with a matching quality. Note that if you’re interested in the vinyl manufacturing option, you will need an actual vinyl cutter which can be expensive to obtain. A good cutter is absolutely paramount to your success in the vinyl market and a company such as Roland will provide a large range of cutters, of which we recommend one with an 8 inch range, which should fulfil your basic needs. A video on how to cut vinyl can be found Here.


It provides a very high quality product.
It is perfect for lettering and distinct contrasting colours.

It is fairly expensive.
It is not suitable for mass production.

Best for: The dedicated designer who does not mind sacrificing some extra money for a higher quality product.

  • Sublimation

Sublimation works by dissipating ink through heating, which improves output when compared to the more traditional heat transfer printing method. This machinery only really works with lightly coloured synthetic materials though (such as polyester and acrylic) as the ink will struggle to permeate anything else. T-shirts printed through sublimation feel very different to those produced under the other two methods due to the fact the toners used are applied below the surface of the substrate. For a free video showing how to create a designed t shirt through sublimation, click Here.

It allows extremely fine control of primary colour ratios.
It enables you to obtain a good quality picture even with relatively low printer resolution.

It is fairly specialised.
Limited availability of the necessary synthetic clothing.

Best for: Those who have a supply of synthetic clothing to hand and wish to concentrate exclusively in this area.

  • Screen Printing

Screen printing is the traditional method of transferring colour to a t-shirt or polo shirt by applying colour with ink. In order to screen print an item the design has to be separated into the component colours (nowadays handled by a vectored design program) and then each colour has a separate screen produced using light reactive chemicals. The ink can then be screen printed onto the t shirts directly or via transfer paper and a heat press. Screen printing is ideal for large quantities of printed garments but can be expensive for smaller orders requiring more than one colour.

It is excellent for large quantity orders of your design.
It provides very good quality tees.
It can deal with complex multicoloured designs.

It is very expensive to buy and run.
It is not economical for small orders.
It requires screens to be set up.
It is not economical for simple designs.
It require a large space to operate.

Best for: The successful independent t-shirt designer who needs to expand.

  • DTG Printing

DTG (Direct To Garment) printing is the modern way to put a complex multi-layered and multi-patterned design on any colour t shirt. It utilises a fully digital printing method that offers far superior quality in comparison to full colour transfer printing. Rather than transferring a design via paper a DTG printing machines prints directly onto the garment, resulting in a fantastically high quality print and maximum detail.

It handles both large and small quantities adeptly.
It provides superb quality for both simple and intricate designs.
It dispenses with screens.

It requires a massive initial outlay.
It has a small limitation in speed.
It requires regular maintenance.

Best for: Those with a rich uncle.

So now you have decided on the best method for printing designs your attention must be focussed on how best to transfer your painstakingly created design onto a t-shirt, and indeed where the best place to acquire said tee is. Part 2 will address both of these major concerns.

2007 November 29


Fashion house Lacoste has just unveiled its latest collection – designed by Michael Young. This is the second of the ‘LACOSTE Holiday’ Collector’s Series, which is a process that the brand uses to get a designer from outside the fashion world to reinterpret its iconic polo shirt (and, not entirely incidentally, to present challenges its production methods).

Michael Young has been amongst the most successful and influential designers of his generation.  You’ve never heard of him?  Well his furniture collection, designed for a Tokyo store was purchased the Design Museum London and was said to have created ‘a new formal language’ in design.

So what has he done for Lacoste – well it’s a polo shirt with a crocodile skin pattern (no surprises there) that travels up the front and around the back of the shirt, but instead of a silk-screen printing process, the heat-activated ink has been applied directly to the cotton and then ‘baked’ causing it to blister and become thick, plastic fake croc skin itself. Lovely.  There is also a limited edition called the PLASTIC POLO +, where the croc skin print has been covered with a metallic leaf film and pressed with a hot iron, giving a distressed, vintage look and feel.  The collection is packaged in a re-sealable metallic black plastic tray that can be re-used as a serving platter!

And if that isn’t to your taste, the hot colours for polos in the Christmas run up are said to be dark grey, lime green and pink!

Lacoste fashion show photograph by ksquare, used under a creative commons attribution licence. 

2007 August 15

Mayer House Business Media Limited is set to launch the inaugural trade show which they hope will raise the standard of shows aimed “specifically for the UK garment supply, decoration and equipment industry”. Entitled ‘Printwear UK’ the show has been confirmed for 17-18 February 2008 at Cranmore Park. The announcement follows the successful launch of their industry magazine ‘Printwear Today’, whose immediate and resounding popularity “proves emphatically that the market for garment decorators has been, and is continuing to grow” according to Managing Director Nick Carpenter.

Printwear Today will host the exhibition and raising its own profile in the process, proving that their ambitions to become the leading garment decoration publication are not unfounded. The show will provide an opportunity to showcase garments, decoration applications, equipment and consumables. But the focus of the show is said to be new and innovative products, meaning that if successful this could well become the most important annual event for all garment decorators in the UK, and possibly even abroad.

A great deal of thought has gone into providing the ideal venue for the event, free parking is provided and Mayer House are very concious of the high prices associated with such events, often a turn-off for potential attendees. Carpenter states that there was a need for “a venue that appeals to both exhibitors and visitors alike. A venue that provides exhibitors, unrivalled value for money and gives visitors a much needed break from high costs associated with attending other venues in the area”.

Mayer House will no doubt be hoping their show becomes as successful as the annual FESPA convention (seen below) which has become the industry byword for a show on printing techniques.


An advertising campaign will be initiated to raise awareness of the show throughout the industry, comprising of trade press announcements, online campaigning and direct mail promotions, so this will certainly not be the last you hear of Printwear UK. It seems that the effort is barely warranted however, within a few weeks of marketing the event over 50% is already booked and reserved – so if you want to set up a stall and gain exposure, or keep up with all of the latest innovations in the industry, you had better book now before tickets are unavailable.

2007 July 30

If you are truly passionate about screen printing and it is an area you wish to become involved in then this may be just the course for you. Recently I posted a video which explained how to do your own screen printing, but I understand that using the equipment whilst struggling to follow a video on a nearby computer might be difficult!

If you wish to become familiar with the basics, expand upon your existing skills, discuss ideas with a professional or just meet like minded hobbyists then make sure you visit Farncombe Estate when they hold their screen printing course on the 3-5 October 2008.


Hosted by Alicia Merret, an award winning designer whose work has been displayed internationally, the course is aimed at beginners and will teach how to screen-print text on cotton fabrics using acrylic paints through special screens made from computer lettering and other sources of text. You will also get the chance to “experiment with ideas and designs, and start making textile pieces incorporating words and script, using fabric collage, fusing, and fabric piecing techniques”.

If you are planning to attend be sure to enquire as to availability, as no doubt places will be scarce! You must also remember that although screens, paints, printing tools and equipment will be provided you must bring your own fabrics to print on and some other items, a full list of which can be found Here.

2007 July 18

I came across this video which shows how you can screenprint your very own t-shirt.

Although the guys add sound and light effects this is only really recommended for people who have some prior experience. If you are a beginner and you want to follow their lead then the latter stages can be easily ignored.


2007 July 6

There were three separate articles in this months ‘Printwear Today’ all documenting the Austrian screen-printing company MHM’s continued rapid expansion.

Founded only 27 years ago and now with dealers in 24 countries MHM has quickly established itself as the leading manufacturer of award-winning modern, efficient and easy to use screen printing equipment. Continuing its plans to grow in the UK, MHM has recently moved its sales office to new quarters in Derby, in preparation for further expansion plans. MHM has also recently revamped its online capabilities, with a new-look website enabling potential and existing customers to obtain advice and see their screen-printing equipment in action thanks to updated video feeds. Equipment specifications and brochures are now available as downloadable content and they are the first screen printing manufacturer to actually provide software updates for their products via their website, these can be instantly accessed by any purchaser of a machine and are easy to implement.

But perhaps the best indicator of MHM’s plans for dominance of the market is the hotly anticipated new digital textile printer that John Potter, of MHM Direct, promises will “revolutionise the industry”. Set to be introduced in January 2008 all that has been revealed of the system is that it has been developed with “one of the largest ink suppliers in the world”, it has been produced with high production capability in mind and that first test prints have been highly successful.


MHM no doubt hopes that the new system will be as well recieved as the Synchroprint 4000 AC

The innovative new system, which is fully patent protected and necessitated the production of speciality ink, is so powerful that Potter fully expects it to “reverse the trend of printed garment work going off shore”. Good times are in store for British screen printers it seems, we’ll keep you posted if any more details come to light.