What is a crappy shirt?
You know what a crappy shirt is.
It’s the shirt you got at that fundraiser thing you volunteered at. You never wear it.
It’s the shirt that you get and you think, “oh I can wash the car with this…”
It’s the shirt that is in a drawer, at the back of the drawer, and you never get it out. It’s all the way in the back because it’s slowly worked its way back there as you wore every other t-shirt you have, but not that one. Not ever that one.
The printing is lousy. It feels gross. What did they print this thing with, thick plastic?
A stack of what we consider very much not crappy shirts
It’s that ink. That’s a big part of the problem.
In the industry, we call really heavy plastic prints on shirts “bulletproof prints”, because they seem so thick they could stop a small round.
It’s totally unnecessary, but a lot of printers print like that still.
Traditional screen printing ink is a type of plastic.
Now, this plastic type of ink (called Plastisol) isn’t always bad. Not at all. You can do a lot of awesome printing with it, and it’s really the best ink for some certain situations, but a lot of printers use thick plastic ink without working to make it softer on the shirt.
They lay down too much ink on the shirt. Even if the design is huge. You feel like you’re going to fall forward when you wear a shirt like that, like the weight of that print is pulling you off center.
Oh and the peeling! The cracking!
Shirt prints don’t have to peel or crack ever. They shouldn’t.
What makes them peel or crack is improperly curing the shirt after it’s printed. Because after you screen print a shirt, you send it through a conveyor belt oven where the ink on the shirt hits a certain temperature for a certain amount of time, and then the print is nicely cured and won’t crack or peel.
You can take a properly done t-shirt and bury it, and the print will outlast the shirt itself.
So you’ve got printers out there charging you good money to print too much thick ink on your shirt and then they don’t even cure it properly, so now you’ve got a crappy print that will not last, either.
Instead of getting a heavy plastic print, white discharge ink can be used to do a soft but bright white print on dark fabrics. This V-neck was printed on a Bella shirt, a very nice but still very affordable brand of blank shirt.
Many higher end blank shirts don’t cost much more at all than a low end blank shirt. You can expect to spend just a dollar more for a substantially better shirt than a basic, uncomfortable shirt.
Those crappy shirts that you own, the ones you never bother wearing, they’re not on nice soft cotton, are they?
No, the shirts are crappy too.
Because someone wanted to save a bit of money on those promo shirts, so they got the cheapest, boxiest blank shirts they could.
That cut doesn’t look good on your figure. It wouldn’t look good on anyone! It’s like a car cover. Weird and big and rectangular.
The neck is tight. You feel like you’re being choked.
There are a couple ways to loom cotton: Ring-spun and regular.
Ring-spun makes the shirt real nice. Regular… not so much. Regular gives you a cheaper shirt that feels crappy.
Cheap shirts aren't a good deal.
You're not saving money, you're wasting it.
Because the shirts don't get worn. They don't get seen.
With online marketing, people calculate "CPM" or "Cost Per Thousand Impressions." It's often how ad rates are calculated.
What's the cost per thousand impressions for a shirt?
If someone loves your promo shirt, and wears it once a month, to the grocery store, to the gym, to the bar, wherever, how many people see that shirt? That shirt which is basically a walking billboard? Probably quite a few. Perhaps quantifiably "a ton" over the lifetime of the shirt.
And what about a crappy shirt? How often does that get worn? Rarely, if ever...
Doing a one color print on a heather shirt produces a high-fashion result in a very affordable way
The alternative to a crappy shirt is a not-crappy shirt!
And that comes down to two simple things:
- Better shirts
- Better printing
On the buyer end, when you’re ordering in bulk from a screen printer, a quality shirt with a better print may just be a dollar or two more per shirt.
Or it could work out to be about the same as what you’ve paid before, because some shops that do crappy work are as expensive as shops who do quality work more affordably.
So don’t assume that nicer shirts are going to break your budget. A good screen printer can work with you to get you awesome shirts at a reasonable price.
Adding a second ink color can make your design pop more without making the overall project too complex
Instead of getting a regularly loomed cotton shirt, you spend a tiny bit more on a ring-spun cotton shirt, and you’ve already stepped up your shirt game a lot right there.
Or you get a nicer brand with a better cut. Even the cheaper brands often have nicer styles that are only marginally more, with a better and more flattering modern cut.
Not a fan of 100% cotton shirts, or just want something different? Tri-blend shirts are super popular, and there are a lot of 50/50 or 60/40 blends that are super nice now. And still affordable!
And guys, don’t expect women to wear a unisex shirt style. You’ll get a much better reception if you give women shirts that were actually designed for them.
A good printer will use softeners to make the plastic print nicer.
Or simply lay down less ink by using different screens and techniques.
Besides the ways you can make plastic ink nicer and softer, there’s also discharge ink (which we specialize in), which removes and replaces the shirt’s color, so you get an incredibly soft print that is actually part of the shirt.
Discharge ink often prints faster than traditional ink, so it can actually make a multi-color project more affordable in some cases! So a nicer ink for cheaper.
So that’s the key to ordering non-crappy shirts: Make sure the shop can provide nicer shirts and print them with nicer inks. That’s simple enough, right?
Discharge ink removes and replaces the shirt’s color, as seen in this photo where the red is super soft because it’s embedded into the black shirt, not sitting on top of the shirt
Vacord focuses on quality results for your custom shirt needs
At Vacord Screen Printing, we’ve been a pioneer of discharge screen printing since 2008.
We’ve printed hundreds of thousands of shirts for companies, churches, band, non-profits, and so on.
We work hand-in-hand with customers to make sure they’re getting the best quality result for their project.
It’s like a white glove service (but at a normal price).
You deserve awesome shirts, and we’re here to provide them for you.
Want to talk about your project? Use the form below, or poke around our site to learn more.
Start a conversation. Let us know what questions you may have, or what your project would be like.
Not sure of all your details? That’s fine. We can figure things out together and give you advice on how to get the best results for your specific needs.
Use this contact form or email us at email@example.com.
We look forward to working with you.
We'll review your info and figure out prices and best approaches for your specific needs
We'll email you back within a business day with answers or pricing
We work with you to discuss the best approach for your order
When you're ready to go, we'll invoice you and start the printing! (two week turnaround is standard)