Threadbird Printing 101

For anyone new to Threadbird Printing, here’s a basic rundown of how our screen printing ordering process works. Feel free to leave any questions in the comments, and I’ll be sure to answer them. Thanks!

Step 1: Get Acquainted

When you start thinking about placing a print order, take a few minutes to look through the Website. We list our pricing, file prep and provide tons of tips. Reading through this info will make sure you don’t hit any surprises along the way.

If you can’t find something you’re looking for, drop us an email and we can get you a custom quote.

Step 2: Your Design

Next, you’ll need to get your design ready for printing. Your artwork should be sized to print, in either a 300 dpi file or in a vector file format. See our File Prep page for more info on how to prepare your order, including downloadable shirt templates and imprint sizes.

We like to receive your files with colors separated into different layers, but if you’re not able to do that yourself, we can do it for you. If you’re not sure how many colors it will take, feel free to ask in advance.

We would also prefer to set the halftone pattern. If your design has large halftone dots it isn’t a big deal, so just ignore this, but if it is for detail and shading, your print will come out better if you allow us to set them. We have everything calibrated for the dot gain we will get using our inks and it is impossible for us to adjust for dot gain if the half tone is preset. Another issue that can come up is moire pattern, that is where we get an unwanted pattern in the final print caused by the halftone angle being set incorrectly.

It also helps us a lot when you know the Pantone color of the inks you want to use, so if you know those, please include them.

Step 3: Place Your Order and Send Your Art

Using our online order form (Coming Soon), you’ll give us your contact info and specify your print placement, product, sizes and colors. Very important: If you need your order by a certain date, be sure to note it here.

Email all artwork files to printing@threadbird.com. If the files are too big to email, please use YouSendIt.com.

Step 4: Approve Estimate and Pay Invoice

Once you place your order, we’ll use our trusty FreshBooks system to send you an estimate with your final charges, including shipping costs. If you need to make any last changes, this is the time to do it.

Once you accept it, we’ll send you the invoice, which you can pay online by credit card, PayPal or through the mail by check. If you mail a check your order maybe delayed until the check has been received and the money has cleared.

Once your order is paid, we’ll order your blanks and get rolling!

Step 5: Approve Mock

Before we put your items on the press, we’ll send you a digital mock up for final approval. It shows your garment color, print placement, print size, ink colors and final quantity. We do this to make sure everyone is on the same page. Once you approve it, we are smooth sailing.

Step 6: On the Presses

Step 7: Receive It and Love It… and Sell It!

You will get the shirts in 8-12 business days, plus average shipping time, via UPS.


Why Great Apparel Photography is Important

As we develop our blog to provide more information for our customers as well as the
general public, we will be having friends of the company come in and provide
info on areas that are outside of our areas of expertise. Adam Assoian,
professional photographer, agreed to write an article about the importance of
photography when it pertains to your clothing brand.

Hi. My name is Adam Assoian , and I own and operate Focused in Photography, (http://www.focusedinphotography.net) a photography company based out of New Jersey that specializes in serving you guys, independent clothing lines. Last week Shane of Threadbird asked me if I’d be interested in writing up a blog post for them about the importance of photography, and obviously I was glad to. So keep on reading to find out why you should be hiring a professional photographer, and how it can help your business (aka why you should care). I’ll be writing this as bluntly and transparently as possible, telling you exactly how it is, both from the photographer’s point of view, and from the point of view from a consumer of your shirts.

First and foremost, I want to tell you why you should care that you have great photography on your site. First, realize we are talking about great, not good or good enough, but great. Look, clothing lines are an inherently visual field, you put a lot of energy, money, and time into each of your designs; I am sure a lot of you gave up a social life for your brand. So now after you’ve finished a design (which is completely awesome), you get it printed and what do the majority of you do? Well I’ll tell you; you go take photos of it with your iPhone or have a “photographer” friend do it for free (aka poorly), or you take your siblings camera they got for their birthday and you take a photo of it yourself on some decent looking friends that you call models, and you post them up on your website, Facebook, Twitter, etc. to advertise and sell your new design. That, or you just use the same template everyone else has on their site, which is your design on a shirt that’s lying on the ground, and every shirt has the same exact creases and sleeve fold.

Labyrinth Clothing Photography

So now that you’re thinking to yourself, “crap, I totally do that! I don’t think it looks bad, I mean, it’s good enough…” let me tell you why it’s not “good enough”. First, when it comes to your business, your baby, your pride and joy that you put all of your money into, there should not be a “good enough” option. You’d never put a design on a shirt that you thought was, “good enough”. Why? Because, “good enough” doesn’t sell shirts when you’re competing with hundreds of other independent brands. So now that we all agree that “good enough” isn’t an option, let me tell you why you shouldn’t be taking your own photos. Simply put, for the large majority of the time, it looks like your models have jaundice (a disease where the skin turns yellow). Not only will people be looking at the skin (and thus not your design), no one would be attracted to the design because it’s surrounded by something unflattering.

To emphasize that last point, if you look through any fashion magazine, what is something you realize about the people in the ads? How about the fact that they are all ridiculously good looking people? As brazen as it sounds, sex sells. You would sell more shirts with an attractive model, than you would if you took that same shirt and put it on an unattractive person. And the reason is simple, when people are shopping online, they want to believe they will look good in your shirt. Likewise, you can take a shirt from your favorite brand, slap it on Johnny Depp or Mila Kunis and it would look great! But if you took that design and put it on Honey Boo-Boo’s mom and dad, it’s not going to look so great.

Great Apparel Photography

The last reason to make sure you have great looking photos is simple; people will think you are only as successful as you portray yourself to be. So if you want to come off as a professional brand that knows what they’re doing, you should have a professional presence. The images people see on your website when they’re shopping around are the only images they get to see before they buy it, so you better make sure those images can convince someone to buy that design. Think about it, your customers don’t have the leisure of trying on the shirt and looking in the mirror before they buy it, they need to trust that the design they see on the site, is exactly what they’ll get in the mail.

Since they don’t get to try it on and look in the mirror, they should be able to see exactly how it will on the body. Women will want to know if the design is going to wrap around their torso, or if the design will look odd once there are boobs and hips adjusting it. Guys and girls both want to know how deep the v-neck you’re selling is, how tight it is on the body, how long the shirt actually is. All of these questions are usually answered in a dressing room. Well their dressing room is now your online storefront.

Winky Boo Shirt Photography

So now that we’ve agreed that you’ll stop taking the photos yourself and on your phone, let’s discuss what a professional photographer should be able to offer you. Bluntly, you should only be working with photographers that you feel can help you get to the next level by giving you that professional presence. The right photographer will be able to tell you everything I’ve just said; how you need to show how the design will look on the body, and all of that fun stuff I listed above. Your photographer should be able to offer you exactly what you want, whether it’s indoor shots against a backdrop, or outdoor shots in the woods. Listen, you’re paying a fair amount of money to get your photos looking great; don’t settle for anything less than what you want. Sure, you’ll have to pay a bit more than you’d probably like to get great photos, but it’s a solid investment. Great photos help sell your shirts and more shirts sold equals a happier you.

So to wrap this up, please do yourself, and your business a favor and hire a professional photographer. While I’d love to work with you (no matter where you live we can work something out), there are other photographers out there (but you should still hire me because I am awesome, and you’re awesome, and you want awesome photos…which I produce) that can give you great photos. Please don’t settle for anything that leaves you saying, “these will do”, or “these are good enough”, etc.

Labyrinth Clothing Good Photography

Don’t think you’ll hurt your friend’s feelings if you don’t let them shoot your brand, remember, this is a business your running, your business, not your friend’s business, and you need to make smart business decisions that will push your brand forward. And lastly, please, please remember that you can always reach out to me via Facebook (www.facebook.com/focusedinphotography) or my email (focusedinphotography [at] gmail.com) if you have ANY questions at all. I will always respond within 24 hours, and I promise to give you the attention you and your brand deserve. So don’t be shy.

Oh, and one last thing. The amazing team over at Threadbird work really hard to get your shirts looking absolutely perfect, and they want your shirts looking as perfect as possible not only when people wear them, but in your photos too. So, what they have graciously agreed to do is this: if you get your order printed with them AND hire me for a shoot, you will get 25 cents off of each shirt in your order and 5% off your shoot with me. Just contact them for more details and they’ll put you in touch with me so we can work out all the pricing.

Thanks so much for your time.


The Missing (L)ink! – Know Your Screen Printing Inks!

When it comes to printing new apparel items, it’s always good to be prepared and know what you’re getting into, especially when it comes to knowing your inks. The most commonly misunderstood decision that a client makes when placing an order is what type of ink to use. The options are many and each one of them has pros and cons. Also, there are situations where they do work and don’t work on certain apparel choices. So, where are we now? Decisions…Decisions…

This guide will help you understand what inks to use, why to use them and how to use them. We’ll break apart each ink, give you the details on what to expect, and leave you feeling awesome, I mean “prepared” to place your orders in the future.

Premium Standard

Premium Standard is Threadbird’s ink style of choice. This is a blend of multiple printing types, a discharge ink underbase, and house blended topcoat of ink. The topcoat is a plastisol base with additives to soften the ink and take a lot of the shine out of the print. Many shops have tried to duplicate our style and haven’t been able to do so. You’ll see print facilities offer Fashion Soft inks and say they are comparable, but they are not. Fashion soft is a softened plastisol, but the key component is the discharge underbase. This allows you to get the feel of a garment with one layer of soft ink while getting the brightness of a garment with a full underbase layer.

Pros: The big benefits you’ll see when using Premium Standard are softer prints and vibrant colors, pending the use of the correct garments. You won’t experience big “vinyl shield” prints that you’ll see from straight plastisol print shops (your standard local print facility). We offer this at no additional charge, so it’s a great option for those who want a good quality print on a budget.

Cons: Much like discharge inks, Premium Standard inks have restrictions for both garment type and garment color. Due to the discharge component, premium standard will not be able to provide true color matching on the following garment colors: Kelly Green, Red, Royal Blue, Lapis, Cobalt, Purple, Forest, Teal and Turquoise. These colors will cause a tint to the topcoat color. As a “for instance”, if you use a white or yellow ink on a Royal Blue garment and opt for premium standard, your yellow can come out with a green tinge and the white will look more like a light blue.

Garments That Work With Premium Standard Inks: The only garments that work with Premium standard inks are 100% cotton, 90% Cotton / 10% Polyester, 80% Cotton / 20% Polyester with 100% Cotton Facing. This means it’ll work on most of your standard t-shirt options, and works well with fleece items made by American Apparel, Independent Trading Company (ITC) and Bayside. Companies like Hanes are also trying to creep into the market with PrintProXP items that are 80/20.

Sample Photos With Premium Standard Inks:

  • Sleep Terror Premium Standard Printing
  • Sleep Terror Clothing - Premium Standard Printing
  • Native NYC - Premium Standard Printing
  • Native NYC Clothing - Premium Standard Printing

Waterbase (Water Based) Inks

Water base ink, much like the name would imply, is ink with a water base, not a PVC base like Plastisol ink. Water based ink is a translucent ink with lower opacity than plastisol or premium standard, which means it can give very visible results on white or very light shirt colors, but on darker colored garments the colors will be heavily influenced by the shirt colors beneath. Water base inks are also more eco-friendly, free of more harmful PVC’s and phthalates.

Pros: This eco-friendly ink will give you a no feel print every time that will provide a vintage look immediately, working into the shirt to dye the fabric as opposed to sitting on top of the fabric like a plastisol print. This will help to create a life long print that will not crack, peel, split or otherwise be wrecked by constant wear.

Cons: The vintage look is a double-edged sword, if you know what to expect, it’s fantastic and one of our favorite looks. If you use it incorrectly, it can wreck a perfect design quickly. Using water base on dark colored garments will cause the garment to overwhelm the ink color, causing your design to appear incorrect on the shirt. We would not recommend the use of water base on dark colored garments for first time clothing brands or people whom aren’t familiar with screen printing.

Garments That Work With Water Based Ink: The benefit of water based ink is that it will work with most any garment, but you need to be mindful more of garment color than material make up. There are certain cases and situations where water base inks won’t work (nylons, 100% polyester, etc.) but you won’t run into many with normal screen printing items.

Sample Photos With Water Base Ink:

  • Dribbble Infinity - Discharge Printing
  • Dribbble Ampersandwhich - Discharge Printing
  • Salvation Army Abolition Tee - Discharge Printing
  • Hook & Irons - Discharge Printing

Discharge Inks

Discharge is a form of water base ink, but with a bit of a twist. Discharge inks have an additive in them, abbreviated as ZFS (Zinc Formaldahyde Sulfoxylate) that will remove the dye used by the manufacturer. I know the chemical name may sound awfully imposing, but truthfully is quite safe. There are three different versions of discharge: clear, white and pigmented. Clear will only remove the dye from the garment, leaving either the color of the garment pre-dying behind or the color of the garment after interacting with the ZFS (as for instance, Royal Blue, will turn to a mid-grey color). White is as you would expect, white, and pigmented discharge will remove the dye in the garment and replace it with a pigmented dye. As discharge is a water based ink, it will work it’s way into the fabric, giving you the most long lasting print you can get, but there are some drawbacks.

Pros: Discharge can give you a no feel print, with bright colors on dark garments. Resting in the garment as opposed to on the garment, this will give you a long lasting print that, like water base, will not crack, peel, split or otherwise be wrecked by constant wear. To get the no feel print, the shirt must be washed to rinse the residual ink out of the garment.

Cons: The most frustrating con with discharge ink is the coloring issues caused. Right off the bat, discharge is not recommended with the following garment colors: Kelly Green, Red, Royal Blue, Lapis, Cobalt, Purple, Forest, Teal and Turquoise. As a whole, when using discharge, there’s a storm of different factors at play, bleaching additives, possible manufacturer over-dying, pigments, there’s no fail-proof formula. That said, we can print discharge on 100 shirts and get varying shades of the color you chose, it’s an arduous and often times impossible task to color match using discharge, so it’s best to use this ink in a situation where the design isn’t anchored to having exact colors.

Garments That Work With Discharge Inks:

The only garment types that work with discharge inks are 100% cotton and tri-blend material. Please note on tri-blend material you will see a great deal of the heathering through the print.

Sample Photos With Discharge Inks:

  • Thought Space Clothing - Discharge Printing
  • Iconic Black Detail - Discharge Printing
  • Wicked Clothes - Discharge Printing
  • Machete Choose Your Weapon - Discharge Printing

Plastisol

Plastisol is your standard screen printing ink. Sitting on top of the garment as opposed to in the fabric, plastisol will give you the brightest possible print and it’s what you may be used to seeing from screen printed garments from most print shops. Plastisol is a suspension of PVC particles in a plasticizer and can be printed on virtually any surface that can be heat cured and is porous enough to permit good ink penetration. If the item isn’t porous, like in the case of a nylon windbreaker, we can add a bonding agent to help the ink stay on the garment. Plastisol inks do not color the fibers like a dye. Instead, the ink adheres to the fabric when printed and heated, forming a bond with the material. You can add a handful of additives to plastisol to make it work in different ways, so the applications are very versatile.

Pros: Plastisol will work on every type of garment, providing the brightest prints that you’ll be able to achieve. It will allow you to manipulate it in many different ways to have different applications.

Cons: The biggest cons in printing you will usually see with plastisol inks. The hand of plastisol printing is the heaviest of all print types that we offer. We won’t provide you a vinyl shield like other shops, even with plastisol inks. The other issue with plastisol inks will be the differences in texture with printing. As the ink is thicker, it sticks to the screens when printing, so the prints can either be very smooth or it can come out rough, it’s unpredictable for the texture of the print, it can be swayed by ink color (whites are thicker than other colors), ink coverage amounts, there are lots of deciding factors.

Garments That Works With Plastisol Inks: Plastisol inks will work on all garments.

Sample Photos With Plastisol Inks:

  • Capitl Clothing - Plastisol
  • After Eleven Sugarskull - Plastisol
  • Cherry Sauce - Plastisol
  • Machete Premium Cuts - Plastisol

We hope this guide helps you make an informed decision on what inks to use on your apparel choices. If you would like to know more information on other print types (metallic, foil, glow, gel, puff, etc.) please feel free to reach out to us at printing@threadbird.com. We’ll work to get you the information you need!


Weapons of Mass Creation Fest 2013 – Aug 16-18, 2013

This year, Threadbird Printing is going to be a part of something stellar, something creative and all about a community of dreamers and doers. Weapons of Mass Creation 2013 in Cleveland, OH.

WMC is short for Weapons of Mass Creation. It’s an independent art, design, and music event in Cleveland, OH with a thread of DIY and entrepreneurship behind it all. It features 20 speakers, 20 designers, and 30+ bands over three days. Four years ago, after years of going to shows and various fests in the DIY punk scene, I wanted to start my own music festival and sprinkle in my other interests in art, design, and film. The goal was to create my ideal fest that I would want see right in my own backyard. It started as a side project but it had great synergy with what we were doing at Go Media and we decided to combine our efforts. We wanted  to showcase those who inspired us creatively and to share that inspiration with the community.

This is festival’s 4th year, how has it grown and what is different now from previous years?

The first year, it could have been called Jeff’s Fest, because it was largely based on my own taste in music and art and who I knew. I had to try to convince artists and bands to come to a fest that had no track record and I had to prove to people that this thing was real. After adding Jesse Sloan as music director in 2011 and Joseph Hughes as speaker director in 2012, our lineups have grown to include a more diverse collection of styles and genres we are sure will inspire our fans.

We probably had about 200-300 attendees our first year and spent more money and time throwing it than we gained back. Last year we had around 1,300 attendees and it forced us to find a venue that could handle more capacity.  We’ll be taking over the entire Cleveland Public Theatre building and using all their stages. Now for the first time, we’ll have ONE single venue instead of multiple buildings spread out along the street. We feel this will create a more cohesive and intimate experience and allow attendees to bounce back and forth between speakers and bands at their leisure. Something that was harder to do in years past.

Weapons of Mass Creation 2011 Video – Check It Out!

This will give them a taste of what WMC is all about. First time attendees can expect to be inspired and energized by everything. Lots of people express feelings of friendship and camaraderie that they can’t get at other conferences. It’s like summer camp for the alternative/creative crowd.

What things, if any, should attendees be made aware of before showing up?

Just having a ticket does not guarantee you access to a particular speaker. It’s a first come first serve, so if you want to see a speaker, make sure you show up to their session ahead of time to get a seat. We should be able to seat 300 people at the main stage, but we’re expecting 1,500+ people over the weekend. And secondly, bring some spending money because artists and bands will be selling their merch and if they don’t make money, they can’t keep coming back to WMC Fest. We need to support our creative community as much as possible.

What do first time attendees need to bring?

If they bought a ticket online in advance, they should print and bring their e-ticket to the door. Bring some extra spending cash to support the bands and artists selling merch. Bring a notebook to draw or jot down ideas. Bring a laptop if you want, there will be free wi-fi (but it might be slow with so many people accessing it, so don’t expect amazing internet access). Bring a positive attitude. No jerks allowed. 🙂

What are the highlights from previous years?

Aaron Draplin’s talk from 2011 (WMC2) was the first epic win for WMC Fest. He brought the house down. No footage is available from his talk, but he did this interview outside the festival. That same year, Jessi Arrington led an impromptu rainbow parade in honor of my 29th birthday and is something I’ll never forget. Last year Kate Bingaman Burt made people cry with her incredibly inspiring talk. Also the power went out during Blueprint’s set on our main music stage. All lights and sound were killed. It was a terrifying moment, but we were able to reroute the power in under 15 minutes to lots of cheers from the crowd. Blueprint picked up without missing a beat. And finally, at the end of the night, my music director went streaking down Detroit Avenue and it was amazing.

What are you personally looking forward to at this years festival?

Besides my inspirations and my favorite and soon-to-be-favorite bands, I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of familiar faces and meeting a lot of fresh ones too. The epic breakdance battle that will take place is always a site to see. I’m looking to see our organizing team make this the most simplified and straightforward WMC Fest yet. I am hoping we can actually be profitable so we can afford to keep doing this every year. So far things are looking good.

Any secrets you can let us in on for the festival this year?

One thing I’m really excited about is the Adventures in Design podcast will be doing a live taping at WMC Fest and fans can watch and participate. Host Mark Brickey of Hero Design has also agreed to take center stage as our MC on the speaker stage. He’ll be keeping people entertained between speakers! If you haven’t listened to the AID podcast, you’re missing out. It’s my favorite design podcast. After our own of course.

Check out some photos from past events!

  • Weapons of Mass Creation
  • Weapons of Mass Creation
  • Weapons of Mass Creation
  • Weapons of Mass Creation

For more info: visit this years Weapons of Mass Creation Festival here: WMC Kickstarter page.


Movember: The Art of the Moustache

November is just around the corner… which means that unlikely men across the world will abandon the razor and begin the journey of tending to the hair on their upper lips. For the uninitiated, here is a brief description from the official Movember website:

During November each year, Movember is responsible for the sprouting of moustaches on thousands of men’s faces, in the US and around the world. With their Mo’s, these men raise vital awareness and funds for men’s health issues, specifically prostate and testicular cancer initiatives.

For those concerned about just how to go about growing that moustache, you should probably watch the following video:

Find some great moustache (mustache) apparel over at Walk in Love’s store.

  • Moustache Necklace by Walk in Love
  • Moustache iPhone Case by Walk in Love
  • Moustache Grey iPhone Case by Walk in Love
  • Moustache Ring by Walk in Love

Will you be sporting the stache this November? Send us your photos and we’ll post our favorites!


David Ramirez: Indie-Folk from Austin, Texas

Check out the beautiful video for “Stick Around” by David Ramirez. If you aren’t familiar with David Ramirez, here’s an excerpt from his bio:

By breaking through heartache, David Ramirez has gone on a search for understanding. The Austin resident and frequent traveler to clubs, theaters and listening rooms all over the country, has come to a phase in his creative life where the tears have dried and moving on looks like the best option. http://www.davidramirezmusic.com/full-biography

Find out more about David’s amazing work on his website, twitter & Facebook. Then, check out these awesome Alternative Apparel shirts (Heather Grey & Black) for sale on his store.