Custom T-Shirts: How to Save Money Without Sacrificing Quality

Everyone seems focused on saving comme des garcons t shirt money in this economy, and that philosophy extends to custom screen printing as well. Here are some time-tested tips that will ensure you get the best bang for your buck.

Gymshark Essential Oversized T-Shirt - Black | Gymshark

Fewer colors cost less. Screen printers use separate screens to print each color in your design. Each color is applied during a separate production run. So, a four color design will have 4X the screen creation expenses and 4X the production time. Think through your design carefully to see if you can create an attractive design in just one or two colors. In effect, your t-shirt color is also part of the design, so you may be able to “drop out” to use the background color effectively.

T-Shirt type and quality. You can probably save a bit of money by going with a 50/50 blend instead of 100% cotton. Using light-weight cotton, such as 4.9 oz. vs. the standard 6.1 oz. will cost less and be cooler, too. This is a matter of personal taste, so make sure you like the selected weight.

T-Shirt Color. All t-shirt manufacturers charge more for dark colors and black. A white t-shirt is always a little bit cheaper. You’ll need to consider if a white t-shirt works with your logo or design.

Number of sides printed. Will it be acceptable if your design is only in the front of the shirt? T-shirts with both front and back designs have twice the production time.

Good quality artwork. It may be quicker to give your screen printer last year’s t-shirt as a sample instead of looking for the original computer artwork. But, it is time consuming to recreate artwork or to clean it up. Screen printers will typically charge from $40 to $75 an hour just to enhance your artwork, so it is worth the effort to find someone in your organization to prepare the artwork. Not only will good artwork save you money, but it increases the probability your organization will be happy with the final product. Make sure your artist prepares the design using a vector art program such as Adobe Illustrator or Coreldraw. Programs such as Microsoft Publisher or Powerpoint don’t work-the artwork will need to be recreated since those programs aren’t vector and therefore don’t hold the detail when enlarged for printing.

Know before you go. Changing the design too late in the process can result in added artwork preparation expenses, or put your custom t-shirt project at risk to miss the production schedule. Make sure you have group design agreement before production starts. Ideally, you should do this before you even go to the screen printer. Get group signoff in writing!

Order a few extra t-shirts.There’s always someone who wants a t-shirt and wasn’t on your original list. Order a couple extra in different sizes so you aren’t faced with paying for a new production run for just a couple of shirts.

Don’t BYOT. You might think you can save money by “BYOT” or “Bring Your Own Tees.” It may be tempting if you see some sale t-shirts at a discount store. However, as a bulk buyer of t-shirts, your screen printer can probably provide you with a lower price. Plus, the screen printing process results in some spoilage as presses are set up for test prints. Let your screen printer worry about buying the correct amount, and let them pay for any test shirts.

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