A Complete Guide to Custom T-shirts
What is the history of the Logo T-shirt?
Believe it or not, t-shirts first began as underwear – US soldiers wore them beneath their uniform. It could have stayed that way for years if it hadn’t been for the collision of two things: World War II and photography. In the 1940’s, pictures began flooding the globe of US soldiers doing chores in plain white tees. Before you could say “personalization”, custom t-shirts began popping up everywhere. Hollywood got involved, putting actors like Marlon Brando in a personalized t-shirt in A Streetcar Named Desire. Things became really serious in 1948 when Presidential candidate Governor Thomas E. Dewey printed ‘Dew-it with Dewey’ on t-shirts for his campaign. And bam! When the 1970’s and 80’s rolled around, printed t-shirts were a full-blown craze. New production methods were created, on-the-spot printing became possible, tie-dyed patterns and Rolling Stone logo shirts flew off the shelves…
Now logo t-shirts are used for everything: school clubs, athletic teams, movie merchandise, etc. But what are they made of?
Which custom T-shirt fabric is best?
Cotton is the most common t-shirt fabric type. It’s a naturally occurring fibre harvested from plants which means that production is generally more environmentally friendly, it’s biodegradable, and has high breathability (think, less sweat and more comfort).
This is a fabric made up of both cotton and polyester fibers – usually 65% cotton and 35% polyester. Which means it has all the light characteristics of a cotton t-shirt but stays wrinkle-free.
Polyester is a man-made synthetic fibre resulting from a chemical process – imagine plastic that you can wear. It’s made at low cost, is quick drying and hardly creases, making it ideal for sport.
Triblend is made up of cotton, polyester, and rayon. Rayon was originally created as a silk substitute so, combined with cotton and polyester, it makes a breathable, cool and durable t-shirt. Plus, the stronger fibres resist ripping and fading.
What type of personalized T-shirt cotton is the best quality?
It’s true, not all cottons were created equal. Due to the variety of cotton plants, fibers and the resulting clothing vary in quality.
Carded-Open End cotton (Good)
Carded-Open End cotton is the cheapest type of cotton produced from cotton’s short fibers. It’s bulky, fuzzy, and creates a chunky knit.
Ring Spun Cotton (Better)
Ring spun cotton has become a more popular choice over recent years. It’s made by twisting and thinning the cotton strands making a strong, soft rope of cotton fibers. They’re durable and last longer than their counterparts.
Combed Ring Spun Cotton (Best)
This is generally considered the best type of cotton quality for custom t-shirts. In this combing process, raw cotton goes through a refining process to get rid of the impurities like soil and plant matter and then its ring spun. Together the processes create a premium product that makes prime printing material.
Which is the best type of printing for Personalized T-shirts?
There are lots of printing methods to consider if we’re thinking about logo t-shirts. Here are the top four most common:
Direct to garment printing
This is sometimes called digital printing because it’s printing full-color images onto garments. It’s quick, and ideal for short runs of full-color prints onto a wide range of clothing, and often works out as a cheaper way of manufacturing printed t-shirts.
How this works is a negative of the design is printed onto the screen and then placed against the shirt. Ink is then rolled over the screen and slips through onto the designed areas. Best for larger orders, this method can create highly colorful prints even on darker personalized t-shirts.
Heat transfer printing
This is more suitable for polyester t-shirts. You can either use a heat press to transfer a custom vinyl logo onto the shirt orr use specialized ink to print the design onto transfer paper to then heat press it onto the fabric. It’s a less messy, affordable method.
Dye sublimation printing
For this method, heat converts the solid dye particles into a gas (a technique known as sublimation) and then bonds them to the polymer coatings on each custom t-shirt. There is zero dry time – so no worries about smearing the ink! It is similarto a Heat Tranfers but differen in that the design beecome integrated into the fabric. Dye sublimation custom T-shirts are common with polyester fabric and often feature all over artwork designs.
The Neck Styles
Which style of Printed T-shirt is best?
Logo t-shirts come in all shapes and sizes, so it can be overwhelming. Choosing a style really is about who determining your target audience and budget. Here are your choices:
This rounded-neck is your run-of-the-mill t-shirt – the oldest t-shirt design. The one everybody has somewhere in their wardrobe. Great for layering, it looks particularly good on longer necks. Ideal for a printed t-shirt and generally the cheapest style available as it’s the most common. They are popular for charity walk runs, events and even as staff uniforms
The V-neck shape elongates the length of the neck and narrows the width of the shoulder line by accentuating vertical integrity. It’s a tactical fashion choice you can work to your advantage. These can be quite popular as band and festival merch.
Henley or Y-neck
This is characterized by its round neckline and placket (a slit down the center) a few inches long with 3-5 buttons. It’s the t-shirt to wear if you want to kick your style up a notch. Henley Logo T-shirts ten to be popular with construction and other trades.
A scoop neck has a wide neckline that drops below the usual limit. It shows off an elegant neck and collarbone but is basically a friend to all body types. Casual or formal depending on the fit – it’s a great choice. Scoop neck custom t-shirts are very popular with the ladies to think yoga studios, florists, hair salons and more.
Polo necks dress up the basic T-shirt and make it feel dressy and stylish. Hugging the neck with fold down collar, they create a striking silhouette and act as a great layering piece. Plus, you can fold up the collar to keep you nice and toasty when needed. Polo neck personalized T-shirts are often made of a jersey weave fabric and are very commonly used as restaurant, parks and recreation and landscaping staff uniforms as they are very affordable, but have a nice upscale look.
Cowl neck is a draped neckline (think a dropped polo neck). It can minimize a large bust and create a leaner appearance. Another perennial lady’s favorite, they are great for bank staff uniforms and office team recognition.
This elegant neckline is perfect for offsetting wide hips as it draws the eye to the shoulders and makes them look wider. Boat neck logo t-shirts are perfect for cheer teams, dance teams and fitness studios.
Off the shoulder
Sometimes called dropped shoulder, this style works well with a choker. Despite showing more skin, it will actually make your arms look skinnier by defining your shoulders. While not sold off, a personalized T-shirt off the shoulder neck will certainly stand out. As such, it’s one to consider to round out your band merchandise table or dance studio merch store.
The Sleeve Styles
What are the most popular custom T-shirt sleeve styles?
Short sleeves are universal in every sense of the word – men, women, young, old, large, small…everyone needs short sleeves at some point, particularly in summer.
These are a fashion weapon – tapering to nothing under the arm, it toes the line between being revealing and covering up.
Long, ¾ length, or ½ length sleeves
These are perfect for personalized t-shirts. Everyone needs one of these in their wardrobe as they’re full of practical benefits like sun protection in the summer, warmth on cool days and, when it’s really cold, layering.
A raglan sleeve is one piece of material from the collar to underarm. It creates a wider fit which is more comfortable and allows greater freedom of movement. Speaking of greater movement, this is exactly why baseball teams love printed T-shirts with raglan sleeves.
Sleeveless or tank tops
These can be life-savers: if worn under a work shirt, they can prevent sweat stains. But they’re also ideal for workout routines and concerts as they’re cool and don’t hinder movement.
The Bottom Line
Which logo T-shirt is best?
Honestly, that depends on your needs, your budget and your preferred style. We hope this deep dive into custom T-shirts fabrics, material, quality, printing, and styles gets you thinking. Still not sure? We at Zeus Merch are ready to assist, contact us today!