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Hey guys, brand new on here - have just posted over in the introductions thread - and just looking for general advice on...well, everything really!

My question is pretty all encompassing, but pretty vague i.e. I just don't really know where to start, and I HAVE searched around these forums at length previously, on many occasions, but am so completely new to this, and following days/weeks of Google searching and worrying, am probably suffering a little from information overload at the moment, so thought I'd just post my own specific question, if that's ok :)

So, aside from making a couple of vests/customising a couple of tees a few years ago, I've never made/designed t-shirts before, but it's something I'm serious about, and also something I've looked into over the years, but have finally got to a point where I'm ready to do it. ( I have been making fine art for several years, so am not entirely new to that area of things, but this is a whole new ball game, isn't it!? )

Basically, I wish to - as a tentative starting point - buy around 15 t-shirts, and heavily customise them i.e. cutting into, sewing, embellishing, and also print/paint onto/dye them. In an ideal world - or when I gain more experience - I'd like to make from scratch, but for now, I'd like to buy from a company like AmericanApparel, as I'm wanting a fashionable-fit, quality tee. (Am also entirely overloaded with tee info, and am unsure what type/material/weight etc would best suit my needs, OR where would be best to buy, but that's another thing)
To stop this becoming a mammoth essay, I wonder if the best thing for me to do would be to upload some of my recent designs, and perhaps peeps could take a look, and give me a little direction i.e. What methods they would choose to bring the designs to life? That would be great, anyway.

Here are a couple of v rough sketches:


I have about 30 or so of these sketches, and they're all in the same sort of style. What I had in mind was that I would be sewing, adding/taking away bits of material/adding buttons/piping/straps/poppers etc, and my dyeing methods would be, for example, dip-dyeing, or overall dyeing... bleaching etc. I also want to print/hand-paint but don't know where to begin...I know I'm getting too specific now and should probably go into further detail on another thread, but the one question I'm really trying to get at, is - What really would be the best way to go about achieving what I've envisioned?
The most important elements for me are:

- In a nutshell, creating a high-quality, unique fashion garment
- Using the correct method for each individual element of the t-shirt, to achieve the best outcome
- Using the best quality tools, methods and highest skill-level I possibly can (whilst not spending TOO much money to begin with!) to achieve the overall desired effect, and, simply...to make a great t-shirt!

Cheers, Charlie
 

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Completely personal viewpoint. I think you're more talking about MAKING garments rather than printing them. Printing is quite regimented which is not what you are describing. You could print small numbers and then work on them but you might be just as well using subtle dyes and tie-dyes and batik so you could play with deep colours etc. Your pictorial design is a small part of your over-all creations. Your designs are also multi layered and contain belts so if you did print it would have to be before you made it all lumpy. I would start with pinching and dying with a multitude of dyes starting with the lightest ones first and building up colour then look at making two garments fit over each other. Go onto google and search for 't shirt wholesalers' to get the blank t shirts. Also troll fashion shops and look at how things are made and source courses in textile design where you would get some hands on tuition. If you can't sew then you need to learn and maybe also invest in an embroidery capable sewing machine. You're describing too much. You need to shrink your idea to something manageable and then get into some hands-on practical mistake making. Dyes, resists, sewing, leatherwork, buttons, retail research. Best of luck.
 

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get into some hands-on practical mistake making.
Ha ha ha! So true.

You have a lot going on there, so maybe the best approach would be to start with what interests you the most and then add as you go; Sewn/"messed-with" techniques would probably come later, since applying color to surfaces that are not flat is difficult unless you're hand-painting.

Decide on your blanks and get them ordered. The sooner the better, because cotton prices are skyrocketing, and my vendors are raising prices in July or August, so now's the time. Be alert to the quantity pricing, because sometimes 15 shirts can be more expensive that 20, depending on each manufacturer's cutoff. I mostly use Alphashirt.com, and their "case price" starts at 6 pieces for most styles. Atlantic Sportswear varies in how they discount, so scrutinize closely. Alphashirt.com has good prices on AA, but there are others; check the list to the left, titled "Preferred Vendors", and do some clicking.

Are you familiar with heat transfers? You might have some fun with those before you get yourself in real trouble with screen printing. :) You can even use a home iron on one particular brand, Everlast (also called Iron-all and IYA Light), which happens to also be great, great stuff. Very hard to tell with an unpracticed eye that it's not screen printing, and you could hold off on the expense of a heat press for a while.

You'll need a good printer for transfers, with pigment-based inks. Epson makes several, and their wide format models can give you the all-over design look you've sketched. (The Epson Workforce 1100 is available for $150 if you shop around. It's an awesome printer.)

If I were you I'd avoid getting bogged down in sewing my own shirts. There are too many quality brands out there, and there's no way it could be worth your while unless you bought in serious bulk and had a "sweat shop" installed in your garage. It's like making your own french fries when you could just go to McDonald's--you're not going to improve on what's out there unless you can get your hands on cotton spun by baby bunnies and sewn by angels with thread made from clouds.

You also have to give some thought to the end user; who you'll be selling to, and how. If you are 99% into the design aspect, maybe you should be pitching the designs and letting somebody else do the actual production. The days of literally walking into Barney's and asking to speak with the buyer and selling an armload of t-shirts may be over (a good friend of mine did that in the 90's, and made a lot of money), but you never know. :)
 

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Dear Charlie,

Great designs, but I agree that what you are trying to do is beyond the scope of simple T-shirt printing. Most people here can only give you advise on printing method or the type of jersey to use.

You are trying to make avant-garde designs in the lines of Heatherette or the late Stephen Sprouse. While they are on trend with the current 80's revival, the manufacturing process requires multiple "send-outs" for your buttons, cutouts, and hardware application. There is a market for these designs, but your customer base will be small, which means you cannot produce in large quantities, and very few sewing contractors or send out places will accept your order.

I do encourage you to go for it and perfect your skills, by buying a roll of T-shirt jersey and make your own customized designs. Don't waste your money to buy $ 8.00 blank T-shirts when you have to do major alterations to them. Just buy a roll of nice fabric and work with a good seamstress to sew up your designs. Or find a senoir design student in your area to collaborate with.

Get your prototypes perfect first. You need to tweak all the specs (garment measurements and placements of your details.) Manufacturers need your patterns and everything ready, they won't play with you. I can give you more manufacturing advise later. Best of luck.
 

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charlie .
those are very beautiful sketches. i am also in to fashion tees, also new as u r, best of luck for future,
jason
 

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well I give you credit for the sketches nice detail and inspiration.Mabey too much going on with the shirts alltogether though.Looks like my sketches when I was smoking the good stuff! Seems like it would be alot of money and time to create just one! I notice that you have a thing for that little alien guy...why dont you foucus on him and draw some designs to be either screen printed to the shirt or screen printed to a heat transfer you apply with a heat press or you could even have the design prited direct to garment.but here I think the alien dude is the key to your sucsess!just MHO.good luck whichever way you go!
 

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thanx buddy. i am wrking hard on polos this season. but i tried some fhsion t-shirts using textile fabrics in p que fabrics or in single jerseys.keep in touch budddy keep on sharing your designs.
 
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