Printing Minimums: What Are They and Why Do They Exist?

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“Can I order just one shirt?”

Don’t worry, you’re not the first person to ask. This is an incredibly common question in the screen printing world. At Threadbird, the short answer is “no”. We have a minimum of 24 pieces on every order of up to 2 colors.

“But why? I don’t need 24 shirts.”

Great question. It all comes down to time. Screen Printing is a mechanical process that involves machines, manual labor and time. It takes the same amount of time to setup a job with 1 shirt as it does a job with 100 shirts. When the costs involved are averaged over 100 shirts, the order is affordable for the customer. But, when the same costs are averaged over 1 or 2 shirts, the order is no longer affordable.

At Threadbird, our minimum is 24 pieces per design because that is the lowest point at which your order is still economically feasible.

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“Makes sense. But I’ve seen places that will print just 1 shirt.”

Indeed you have. There are many places out there where you can have just 1 shirt printed. These places use a completely different printing process called Direct-to-Garment (DTG). DTG printing is digital printing. It’s like running your t-shirt through a color printer, rather than dyeing and painting each t-shirt.

“Why doesn’t Threadbird print Direct-to-Garment?”

Another great question. Quality has always been one of our highest priorities at Threadbird. And while DTG printing can meet peoples needs, it does not hold the same quality as traditional screen printing. Colors are not as vibrant and printing typically needs to be done on light colored garments.

“Are there any other factors that affect the minimum order amount?”

Yes, as we mentioned above, 24 pieces is the minimum for all orders of up to 2 ink colors. The following minimums are based on the # of ink colors in your design:

  • 3 Ink Colors – Requires a 36 piece minimum
  • 4-6 Ink Colors – Requires a 50 piece minimum
  • 7-10 Ink Colors – Requires a 100 piece minimum

And lastly, there are a few other situations where minimums are a little bit higher.

  • Tag Printing – Requires a 50 piece minimum
  • Sewing Hem Tags – Requires a 50 piece minimum

“Makes sense. I’m ready to place an order! Now what?”

If you have your order and design ready for us, you can start here. Our team of all-stars will help you figure out pricing and answer any other questions you may have along the way. You can also always shoot your questions to printing@threadbird.com.


How To: Make Your Print Look Vintage

So you want that natural vintage look? We get it! The vintage look is a popular request and we can help you achieve it. Not only will it look great, but it will feel great, too.

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So how do you get the best vintage distressed look for your apparel? Here are a few recommendations from the Threadbird crew:

Start With Waterbase or Discharge Inks.

Waterbase and discharge are two popular printing styles where the inks are essentially dyed into the fabric, rather than “sitting on top” of the garment like plastisol ink does.

Sometimes waterbase and discharge prints will have a slight ink feel at first, but will soften up to the “no feel” state after the first wash.

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Note: stick with waterbase on lighter garment and discharge on darker garments.

Select Your Choice Of Either Tri-Blend Or 50/50 Garment.

This will help create a natural fade and distressed look as the inks are dyed into the fabric.

Need some garment suggestions? We thought you might ask!

When Printing On 100% Cotton Shirts, Create A Distressed Look With A Texturized Design.

When printing on 100% cotton garments, colors will be more vibrant, so you will not get the same fade that you naturally do on a tri-blend or 50/50 garment. However, you can still achieve a vintage look with 100% Cotton garments by designing your graphics with textures.

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If you’re looking for some texture vectors to design a vintage look, you can go here.

Ready to try it out and get your own vintage printed garments? You can start here! Have more questions for us? Feel free to shoot us a message at printing@threadbird.com.


Threadbird Top 5: Summer Garments

Temperatures are warming up, sunshine and blue skies are making a comeback and we’re getting ready for your summer apparel orders! We know picking the right garment can be half the battle when placing an order, so we thought we’d give you a hand. We’ve put together a list of our top 5 Summer garments. These t-shirts and tanks are lightweight, soft and stylish, and we’ve got plenty more where these came from!

American Apparel 6401 – Unisex Sheer Jersey Short Sleeve T-Shirt

The classic. This ultralight, sheer jersey version of American Apparel’s legendary (and most popular item) Fine Jersey Short Sleeve T-Shirt is great for just about any person or design. It results in a great print, too!

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American Apparel BB408 – Unisex Poly-Cotton Tank

Lightweight and cool. A unisex tank in 50/50 combed cotton/poly blend. Featuring a durable ribbed neckline, as well as durable ribbed arm openings. The combed cotton/poly blend provides an ultra soft, worn in feel and superior drape. This tank is another solid choice for any design.

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Canvas 3005 – Unisex Jersey V-Neck

The classic V. Outfit everyone in this conservative V-neck. Soft, classic unisex fit for all.

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Bella 8800 – Women’s Flowy Racerback Tank

Girly and lightweight. Made from Bella’s exquisite flowy poly viscose, this racerback tank’s rich and luxuriously soft fabric is designed to drape perfectly and accentuate your figure.

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Bella 8805 – Women’s Flowy V-Neck Tank

Trendy and flowy. Made from the same fabric as the Bella 8800, this v-neck tank is another flattering, flowy option to keep cool in through the summer and great for layering the rest of the year.

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Let us know if you have any questions about which garment is best for you! You can always email us at printing@threadbird.com or find more about our garments on our apparel page.


Your Threadbird Order is Being Processed: What Now?

When you place an order with Threadbird, our team immediately begins moving it through the system. You can help that process go smoothly and as quickly as possible by making sure your customer service rep has all artwork, sizing, due date (if specific) and shipping address with your order. We’ll handle the rest!

What exactly do we mean by “your order is being processed“? We’re glad you asked!

Once you’ve accepted and paid your invoice, here’s what’s next:

Your digital mocks are created. You should receive the mock for approval within 48 hours (usually faster).

  • Once you get the mock, double (maybe even triple) check the following:
    • Your Ship To address – This might seem obvious, but it prevents headaches down the road.
    • Finishing Options (printed tags, hang tags, fold and bag, etc.) – Do you have any? Are they shown on the mock?
    • Garment count for each size – Are all sizes and counts accurate?

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Our Purchasing department orders your blank garments.

  • We order your blanks right away to speed up your turnaround time. If you want to change your blanks, please let your customer service rep know as soon as possible to prevent additional delays and/or fees.

Your order goes into production.

  • Average production time after mock approval is 5-7 business days.
  • Any finishings and/or complex jobs may require additional time. Turnaround time is an estimate and not guaranteed.
  • If you have a specific due date, please be sure to let your customer service rep know when placing your order.
  • Questions or concerns about your order in the meantime? Contact printing@threadbird.com.

Your order is on the way!

  • You can expect an email with tracking information as soon as your order has shipped.
  • As much as we cross our fingers that it won’t be an issue, we can’t be held responsible for any shipping exceptions, i.e. inclement weather, lost packages, etc.

We understand you’re excited to get your order, so you can count on us doing everything we can to make that happen as soon as possible while delivering the best quality!


Stitching It Up With Threadbird Embroidery

Looking to do something a little different with your apparel? Embroidery is a great way to mix things up and looks great on hats, polos, fleece and variety of other options. We’ve put together a few points to help when considering an embroidery order.

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What you need to know:

  • Some details don’t translate well with embroidery. Small details and small lettering don’t come out as accurately, but the Threadbird Art and Mocks team will be happy to work with you to make sure the design turns out the way you want it.
  • Pricing for embroidery is based on the stitch count. If you don’t know what your design will require, feel free to email us for a quote.
  • When factoring the total cost of your order, don’t forget you will need to add the Base Embroidery Price from the stitch count to the item price of the desired garment. You can find those prices here.
  • Never hesitate to contact us with any questions you have along the way!

Thinking you might want some embroidery done? You can submit your order for a quote here.


How To: Getting the Best Screen Print from Your Design Files

So you’re ready to place a garment order. What’s next, you ask? There will be a number of steps to make sure we have everything you need, one being “high resolution or vectorized artwork”. What the heck does that mean? Well, allow us to explain.

High quality artwork is crucial in the screen printing process. The design you print is a major selling point for any clothing brand, band or retail company. It’s the reason your customers want to buy it from you, and we want all of our customers to succeed. Below we’ll answer some of the top questions that our customers have about artwork files.

“What’s a vector file?”

A vector file is a scalable art format that is most commonly associated with Adobe Illustrator. It’s a file that can be sized small enough to print on a baby onesie or large enough to fit on a billboard without any degradation or loss of clarity. It’s the favored file format of screen printers because it can be easily resized should the artwork require it.

“What does ‘high resolution artwork’ mean?”

It means that when zoomed in at 100% on an image, it has well defined, crisp lines. The two images below help illustrate that. On the top you see two seemingly identical images, but when you zoom in on the two images you’ll see the contrast between the two. The left image is muddy and not well defined. The image on the right, however, is clean without any blurriness or distortion.

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In order for a design to be printable it absolutely has to have sharp, clean edges. If it is even a little blurry the screen that the image is burned onto won’t pick up on the fine details and the final product won’t look right. For more information on the process of screen printing and more specifically burning a screen read our previous blog.

All vector artwork is high resolution, which we covered. But let’s say you created your artwork in Photoshop, Gimp or another design program. What then? What steps can you take to prevent your artwork created in those programs from being unusable?

  • Design everything in 300dpi. Dots Per Inch, or dpi, is literally a measurement of how many dots of color are in every square inch of a design. It’s the industry standard for almost any kind of graphic art as it produces a very crisp edge and is easily translated to print.
  • Create your project at the desired size you want it printed. When creating a new photoshop document with the intention of designing a new shirt, always favor a larger canvas than a small one. You can always shrink it down to work on the garment but you can’t ever stretch it out to make it larger without pixelating the artwork.

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These rules definitely are not common practice for even graphic designers, but when dealing with screen printing they make all the difference. Taking these steps will help to not only make your artwork printable, but the best quality you can get. They will make everybody’s job easier and guarantee the best final product!

Ready to order? You can go here or contact us at printing@threadbird.com with any additional questions! You can also find answers to some other file prep questions here.