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-   -   Sell T-shirts 101 Chapter '1' (https://www.t-shirtforums.com/general-t-shirt-selling-discussion/t208.html)

toonsign May 17th, 2005 04:34 PM

Sell T-shirts 101 Chapter '1'

Looks like there may be some interest so I'll give it a try to see if this information may help.

The first part gave you a few basics so let's get down to some real stuff. This section will deal only with the actual printing part of things. If you can, visit websites which will also give you some free basics about using heat transfers. Go to Ebay and type in sublimation or heat transfers and see if there is any information available which you may be able to use BEFORE you spend any money.

So you've decided to print your own t-shirts and sell them yourself. Whether you sell them in Ebay, on contract, by web or other means, this deals only with the actual printing section. Ink, heat presses, printers, etc... will hopefully be cover adequately here for you.

Print them yourself....what are transfers and what do I need?

Using just garments such as t-shirts, sweatshirts, aprons, etc., there are basically two (2) kinds of heat transfers you can print at home.

The first is sublimation ink heat transfers. These heat transfers are printed with sublimation ink on heat transfer paper that is designed for such an ink. When printed, the actual colors of the transfer are very dull and dark. Using a heat press at (approximately 400 degrees F), you heat press the sub transfer onto the t-shirt using medium pressure for 30-50 seconds...depending on the brand of ink you are using. The heat and pressure from the heat press turn the sub ink into a 'vapor' or 'gas'. This pressure from the heat press then forces the 'gas' INTO the actual fibers of the fabric. When done, you open the heat press SLOWLY (to let the air in), remove the transfer and you are done.

You CANNOT use any sublimation ink heat transfer on 100% cotton! The sub ink 'gas' will adhere/absorb into any man-made fabric such as polyester, lycra, nylon, etc... It will washout on the first wash, on natural fibers such as cotton, linen ,wool, denim, etc!!!!!!

All sub transfers are transparent, that is, the color of the shirt MUST be lighter than the color of the ink. If you have a black shirt, the design will heat press but you will NOT be able to see it as the color of the shirt (black) is DARKER than the heat transfer. If your shirt is white, then ALL colors will show. If your shirt is a pastel or light color such as Light Blue, then the ink colors usually will mix with the color of the fabric and you will have tints. EX: Your shirt is light blue and you have a red rose in your transfer. The red in the rose will mix in with the blue of the shirt and you usually end up with a rose that is purple or has a purple tint. Rule of thumb is: look at your artwork and look at the colors to see what shades you can expect when using a pastel color shirt.

If you are using a birch/ash colored shirt, chances are you will have no problems in your colors BUT you cannot print, in your transfer, any white. There is no white sublimation ink as it will not work on any colored fabrics.

The second type of heat transfer you can print at home is called either Archival or Pigmented ink heat transfers. These heat transfers are printed using a pigmented ink and an inkjet printer. Epson DuraBrite, Magic Mix and a few other inks are commonly used and are resistant to fading, bleeding, etc... Using any other ink, especially HP, Canon ,etc... inks is not recommended as these are/may be either water based or dye inks and MAY run when first washed.

Using Pigmented ink heat transfers, you CAN print on just about all fabrics such as 100% cotton, denim, 50/50, etc... You cannot print on lycra, satin, nylon, etc. as the transfer will NOT stick.

To use the pigmented heat transfers, print your transfer onto heat transfer paper designed for this type of ink. Use 325-350 degrees F for 5-15 seconds in your heat press with medium to firm pressure.... depending on the transfer paper manufacturer and ink directions. When done, open the heat press, remove the transfer and you are done.

Using pigmented transfers, you will have a 'hand'. The hand is a bit soft and the 'stiffness' will washout on the first wash. Using the above inks, your image will NOT washout or run when washed.

As with sublimation transfers, your shirt color must be lighter than your ink color.

What about blackshirts? To do black shirts, you use the pigmented inks with an opaque heat transfer paper. You do NOT print your transfer in reverse! You print directly onto the opaque transfer, trim the unwanted areas of the opaque transfer away, separate the opaque transfer from the backing, heat press at 350 F for 15-20 seconds. Opaque transfers WILL feel stiff and generally do not last a long time. Our opaque transfers generally last for about 30-50 washings and then show signs of wear and splitting. For darks, it is recommended that you keep your design small (heart size).

Now the meat. What to use?

Printers - It is REALLY recommended that you use an Epson printer. The reason for doing so is, the pigmented and sublimation ink cartridges that are available are for the Epson line of printers only. As the Epson printers use NO HEAT to actually print, this makes the printer very desireable for heat transfer printing. For 8.5x14" heat transfers, any of the C series printers do nicely. For larger size prints (11x17" and 13x19"), the Epson 1280, 3000, 1520 and a few other models are recommended.

I use an Epson 1280, CX5200, C82 and the old Stylus 600's. Reliable and all inks, all types are available.

Heat press VS your home iron. Use a heat press!!!!!!!!!! To properly heat press ANY type transfer (sub, soft hand, opaque, screenprinted, litho, puff, etc...) you MUST create a certain amount of pressure, and heat over the entire transfer, for a specified time. A home iron CANNOT do this!!!

What size heat press? How much does it cost? The recommended size heat press is a 15x15", flat heat press. Prices run about $400 to $1200. Check Ebay. Cap presses run $300+. Remember, if you spend your hard earned money on a no name brand and a press that is too small (12x12" as an example), you will find that you will HAVE to get a bigger press later. Spend the money to get the right press...you will find that it will pay for itself in less than a year.

Whenever you actually print your transfers and you mess one up, do NOT throw it away! Write on that transfer what kind of ink, type of transfer paper, and what you did wrong. Save it. If you mess up a shirt, do the same and do not throw it away. Save it. You will be building a reference library and as time goes by, when you see something you did wrong, simply go into your reference library and see what you did to fix the problem.

Before I close I would like to add a few words about sublimation inks. Sublimation inks are best used on products such as ceramic tiles, dry erase boards, jewelry, ornaments, mousepads, etc.... These products are coated so they can accept the sublimation dye. If the products are uncoated, you WILL get no image. The best shirt for subbing is the new type shirts from Hanes called Softlink and from Brookline. These shirts generally run $4.50 + each. Colors are white but I understand that other colors are coming.

Sublimation Inks - At one time, there were a multitude of high quality ink manufacturers which had very competative pricing. A cart ran about $50 a color. However, a company in SC called Sawgrass Systems claimed to have the patent on small format ink inkjet sublimation technology and after a court case, their patent was upheld. ALL small format inkjet printers MUST USE sub ink that is officially licensed by SG. The cost for the cart generally runs about $100+...depending on the supplier, $150 per color. This makes waste for you, very costly...makes that t-shirt very expensive.

As explained in the Dye & Specialty Printers Association website, this is what is now happening. Sub printers are either doing hard products (tiles, etc...) or have completely stopped using sub transfers (we have).

For shirts, fabrics, caps ,etc... using a pigmented ink heat transfer allows the use of very high quality white t-shirts, which cost 99 cents each (Hanes, Gildan ,etc...) Cost to make one t-shirt, using pigmented inks, under $2.00 each. Cost to use a sub transfer.... starting under $5.00 each.

Well, didn't mean to ramble on but I hope this information helps a bit. You are most welcome to post your comments or e-mail me directly if you have any questions. Your comments here will assure me that the information is being looked at and, depending on the number of requests/comments, I should like to continue.


tea shert May 21st, 2005 09:49 PM

Re: Sell T-shirts 101 Chapter '1'
Its Not Rambling, It Is Useful Info Thanks !


crafty2lady June 30th, 2005 09:55 PM

Re: Sell T-shirts 101 Chapter '1'
Wonderful information, just what I needed.

Thank you, Crafty2lady

FatHamsterGirl July 1st, 2005 09:28 AM

Re: Sell T-shirts 101 Chapter '1'
Great info. :) thanks!

triplebtees July 1st, 2005 04:25 PM

Re: Sell T-shirts 101 Chapter '1'
WOW! That is a very good reference

cameo November 30th, 2005 08:16 PM

Re: Sell T-shirts 101 Chapter '1'
I printed it out just to save me some problems, thanks!

Larry B. January 27th, 2006 11:25 AM

to Fred at Toonsign
Thanks Fred, just the kind of info I was looking for. Thanks for taking the time. I have found an Epson 1280 on E-bay, may make a bid on it. I would also like to what what kind of graphic program to use, I am also confused about inputing art sources into my computer. I have a Canon color scanner, Corel Draw 8.0 and a Kodak 5. meg. digital camera. Thanks a million! Larry B.

deenastee April 4th, 2006 03:38 PM

Re: Sell T-shirts 101 Chapter '1'
awesome post,i really appreciate all the great help here.Im trying to get into heat transfer t shirts.but ive never done it before i got the graphics down pretty good.now i need the to learn the whole transfer process.from all the great info i got here,i think i can do it.i got a list of things im gonna buy

1. epson 1280 printer
2. hix 15x15 swingman press
3. magic mix pigment base ink
4. transjet2 transfer paper
5. 100% cotton t's
6. bulk ink system

i got a few questions on ink

1. is the cart that comes with the 1280 dye or pigment
2. what is the best bulk ink system to use?and can i use it with magic mix ink? is getting one off of ebay a good idea? anything specific i should look for when buying one.
3. is there anything else i need on my purchase list?

i know these are a lot of questions,but i wanna make sure i know what im doing.purchasing all this equipment is a big investment for me.
i really appreciate any comments,thanx for all the help

minoj April 8th, 2006 04:51 AM

Re: Sell T-shirts 101 Chapter '1'
Hi Fred. Information like this is priceless to someone new to the business,like I am. Please post as much information as often as you can. Much appreciated,

suzieh April 8th, 2006 07:28 PM

Re: Sell T-shirts 101 Chapter '1'
Fred that is incredible you took the time to post. Thank you.

I might add that Cindy Brown of personalizedsupplies.com
(TLM Supply House) has a book called "I Make That"

There are also several books, dvds and videos on silkscreening.

Another process is cut vinyl using a cutter (plotter) and special vinyl
(thermoflex, thermo-film, etc.) for heatpressing.
Some examples and information are at stahls.com

kahseong April 15th, 2006 09:31 PM

Re: Sell T-shirts 101 Chapter '1'
wonderful piece of info! thanks bro!

Buechee April 16th, 2006 06:38 PM

Re: Sell T-shirts 101 Chapter '1'
very usefull.

ladybbug1 April 16th, 2006 08:52 PM

Re: Sell T-shirts 101 Chapter '1'
Great Information that I really needed. Thanks!

flygirl29 June 7th, 2006 12:06 PM

Re: Sell T-shirts 101 Chapter '1'
Thansk for the info Fred! It's extremely helpful, just one question tho. If I have the art work but don't want to put print it on the transfer myself, what type of business is out there that can take the art work and create the transfers for me?

joemeca June 7th, 2006 12:21 PM

Re: Sell T-shirts 101 Chapter '1'
this is what im talking about! thanks for the contribution. a great read.

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