‘Tis the Season for 12 Days of Christmas Giveaways

It’s back! We’ve got a brand new Threadbird 12 Days of Christmas full of giveaways and holiday cheer! Yup. That’s a shiny, new giveaway every day from December 8th through the 23rd.

12 Days of Christmas

Here’s how this works. Each day we will post on Twitter and/or Facebook about how to win the scheduled giveaway. It might be a race against the clock or a test of your brain so be sure to be on the lookout, and be sure you’re following us on both social accounts – maybe even on Instagram (@threadbird).

In addition to the daily posts, you can earn 1 entry towards the final giveaway on Dec. 23rd for every 50 apparel prints ordered through Dec. 16-23. For example, order 1,000 shirts and you will earn 20 entries towards the final giveaway – $500 in Threadbird Printing credit!

So what are we giving away? We thought you might ask.

Dec. 8th – 250 Vinyl Stickers (Up to 5×3 in)
Dec. 9th – 1000 Business Cards (14pt Gloss or Uncoated)
Dec. 10th – $25 iTunes Gift Card
Dec. 11th – 250 1” Buttons (up to 5 different designs)
Dec. 12th – $250 in Threadbird Printing Credit
Dec. 15th – iPod nano (color of your choice)
Dec. 16th – 1000 Business Cards (14 pt Gloss or Uncoated)
Dec. 17th – 250 1” Buttons (up to 5 different designs)
Dec. 18th – $25 Amazon gift card
Dec. 19th – 250 Vinyl Stickers (up to 5×3)
Dec. 22nd – Apple TV
Dec. 23rd – $500 in Threadbird Printing Credit

Don’t be a cotton-headed ninny muggins and miss out. Go FOLLOW us and LIKE us and check in on Monday!

Merry Christmas from the whole Threadbird team!


Best Printing Styles for Screen Printing

There is an ongoing debate over the best way to screen print. Threadbird Printing has been working to develop an answer so that we can continue to deliver the best possible product to our customers. What we’ve found is that each style has its pros and cons and there is not one perfect process. It also comes down to who is doing the actual printing (there are good printers and bad printers) and what the customer is looking for. Personally, I like my prints to be soft, either no-feel or with a slight hand (barely any feel). However, some customers associate a thicker print with higher quality.

One of the things I love about screen printing is the science behind it. The ink, as well as the shirt itself, have such an effect on the end result. The shirt color and fabric can affect the outcome of the print. An experienced printer knows this and can help you better understand what results you will get. For example, some people believe you can only use discharge on 100% cotton shirts. This is not true; however, discharge does work “best” on 100% Cotton. On tri-blends or 50/50 blends, a discharge print will come out looking faded and vintage which may be the look you are going for. If you are not looking for a vintage print and want to use discharge ink, 100% cotton is the only option.

So, let’s take a look at the 4 most popular print styles today: plastisol, waterbase, discharge and hybrid.

Plastisol

Plastisol is the traditional style of screen printing that has been around forever. It is the most commonly used ink for screen printing because it is the cheapest and most user-friendly. It works on all types of fabrics, produces bright colors and is perfect for color matching. Like the name implies, plastisol inks are essentially plastic. The major downside to using plastisol inks is that the thickness of the ink can make the final print a bit on the rough side, which can feel heavy and less breathable. Colors can also bleed together when they touch and you do not get as much detail. Very detailed prints with small dots or lines may not print well.
Plastisol

Waterbase

Waterbase inks are as they sound, water-based. This makes them eco-friendly and easy to clean up. The water is mixed with a dye or pigment and then evaporated during the drying stage of printing. You have a slight hand (soft feel) after printing with waterbase inks, but it becomes no-feel after its first wash. Waterbase ink blends into the shirt instead of sitting on top of it. One downside of using waterbase inks is that they are less opaque, so the color of the shirt will influence the print itself. For example, a bright red ink on a black shirt will come out as a very dark red. Waterbase delivers the best results on white or very light colored shirts with dark colored inks. When printing lighter colored inks on dark colored shirts, the ink colors will change resulting in a more vintage look. Because of this we can’t guarantee color matching when using waterbase inks.
Waterbase

Discharge

Discharge is waterbase ink with an added bleaching agent. This allows us to print waterbase ink on dark garments by bleaching out the color of the shirt and replacing it with a new color. Discharge inks are also no-feel once washed. Discharge produces the best results on 100% cotton shirts because cotton is the “only” fabric that will bleach. You can use discharge on other fabrics, but you will see the texture of the polyester (and other threads) through the print. This could result in a very cool “distressed” looking print. There are exceptions to the rules, for example, if you are printing on a poly-cotton heather shirt and the poly is white, you will see great results using discharge. Unfortunately, certain colors like royal, red, kelly green and purple do not discharge completely. Like waterbase, the ink color will be affected by how well the shirt will discharge, so we cannot guarantee color matching. Print colors are also usually more muted when printing with discharge.
Discharge

Hybrid (Discharge Underbase/Premium Standard)

Premium Standard is a name we created. This is our standard ink which is used on 80% of the jobs we print. It’s a hybrid between discharge printing and plastisol. We use discharge as the underbase (bottom layer) with a soft style plastisol on top. The end result is a really soft print with brighter and more accurate colors – the best of both worlds! You may be thinking, “That sounds great! Why don’t you use it all the time?” Premium Standard may sound like your best option, but it isn’t perfect. As we mentioned above, using discharge requires a garment that discharges well. If we can use the discharge to make the underbase white or as white as possible, the top coat will print much better. If the underbase does not discharge well, the top colors will not look as good, however they will be brighter and more accurate than using discharge alone.
Hybrid

So which printing style is the best? Personally, I would go with the hybrid (Premium Standard), our most popular printing style. There is no additional charge for Premium Standard because the best quality printing is what matters the most. In the end, the best style comes down to personal preference and what will work best with your garments and final design. Each design is different and we are here to make sure yours look amazing! Reach out to one of our printing experts today and lets make something amazing together!


The Threadbird Family Is Growing: Part 1

At Threadbird we love two things: quality screen printing and quality people. Over the past few months our team has welcomed on a number of new members. With each addition, we’re focused on keeping the culture we love while prioritizing customer service and the end product. We’re confident that these 3 talented guys will continue to help us do just that!


Austin Cox Threadbird

Austin Cox – Sales & Support

When did you join the Threadbird team?

August 2014

Hometown:

Big Spring, TX

Hobbies/Interests outside of Threadbird:

Music, Classic Typography, Pizza, Hot Rods, Fire Pits

Currently listening to:

Andrew Combs – “Worried Man

Favorite tshirt blank:

I’m still a sucker for American Apparel’s 2001.

What’s your favorite part of working at Threadbird?

Getting to review all of the awesome artwork that we receive on a daily basis. 

Fun Facts:

  • I started designing t-shirts when I was 13 on Microsoft Paint.
  • I got my first screen printing job as an Art Director in 2010.
  • I used to make tees by printing off designs using iron on transfers.
  • I toured for several years as either a guitar player or merch guy.

Landon Ginnings Threadbird

Landon Ginnings – Sales & Support

When did you join the Threadbird team?

July 2014

Hometown:

Kansas City, MO

Hobbies/Interests outside of Threadbird:

Running my online stores, graphic design, scouring antique stores for vintage toys and novelty items, eating chicken strips, creating new nicknames for my animals

Currently listening to:

Harmontown, Comedy Bang Bang, & Superego podcasts

Favorite tshirt blank:

As a tall person who is 90% torso, American Apparel 2001’s are a godsend.

Fun Facts:

  • I have a cat named Turtle, a rabbit named Mayonnaise, a ferret named Nosferretu, and 2 hedgehogs named La Rue and Little Richard.
  • I own and operate 2 online stores flatblackcult.com & artisdumb.com where I sell screen printed & spray painted/stenciled artwork.
  • I almost went to the National Spelling Bee when I was in 4th grade. I missed qualifying by one round when I misspelled “Savagely”, it will haunt me to my grave.
  • I am a die hard fan of the Kansas City Chiefs.

Alex Nova Threadbird

Alex Nova – Fulfillment

When did you join the Threadbird team?

September 2014

Hometown:

Fort Myers, FL

Hobbies/Interests outside of Threadbird:

Cars, music and percussion

Currently listening to:

Only Love by Ben Howard

Favorite tshirt blank and ink type:

Probably the Next Level 6010, and I love discharge printing.

What’s your favorite part of working at Threadbird?

Honestly, I love everything about Threadbird. Being able to work with people you actually enjoy being around is truly amazing.

Fun Facts:

  • I’ve been playing drums for almost 10 years now.
  • I was a second degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do at age 13.
  • I attended 2 state-wide chess tournaments in middle school.
  • I’m younger than people think I am.

Find out more about the rest of the Threadbird team and let us know if we can answer any questions!


Understanding Discharge Printing & Waterbase Printing

Customers frequently ask us about discharge printing or waterbase printing and why it works on some garments but not others. There’s a lot of information floating around promising that discharge will or will not work, but oftentimes the information lacks insight about the effectiveness or limitations of the ink. When working with discharge ink, there’s a difference between “Will this work?” and “Will this look good?”. We wanted to take a moment to discuss discharge, equipping you to make the distinction between these two questions and enabling you to determine what is best for your project.

The first thing to look at is the ink itself. Let’s start with an important point: all discharge ink is waterbase (water based) but not all waterbase ink is discharge. (You may need to re-read that last one a few times). The distinguishing factor between discharge and waterbase is that discharge contains an additive called ZFS (Zinc Formaldehyde Sulfoxylate for the super technical). ZFS creates a chemical reaction that essentially removes the dyed color of the material, allowing the waterbase ink to re-dye the material at the same time. For this reason, waterbase ink works best on light colored garments and discharge ink works best on dark colored garments.

When considering waterbase or discharge ink, you might try thinking of them as “dyes”. When waterbase ink is applied, the shirt color will affect the ink color, as the waterbase “dye” interacts with the material “dye”. For example, a white waterbase print on a red shirt will appear somewhat pink. Or a yellow waterbase print on a blue shirt will appear green. These results are not bad in and of themselves; in fact, they may act in your favor depending on the vision you have for your project. Some customers are intentional about these results to achieve a faded/vintage effect. Take a look at the following image for reference:

Understanding Discharge Printing & Waterbase Printing

You may already know that discharge ink is primarily used on 100% cotton garments. The ZFS interacts only with Cotton. It does not interact with Polyester or any other materials. To achieve an even color across your print, 100% cotton will create the best results for discharge prints. However, this does not mean that 100% cotton is the only material that you can use with discharge inks.

Threadbird Discharge Printing

In the photo above, the 100% cotton shirt in the middle has a very even and consistent white color, while the tri-blend (50% Cotton, 25% Polyester, 25% Rayon) on the left shows the heathering of the garment through the ink and the 50% Cotton/50% Polyester on the right has a very muted mid-range grey print. Results can be somewhat inconsistent and aren’t guaranteed to have an even texture depending on how the knit in the shirt is blended. If the knit is inconsistent (patches of cotton or poly and not an even heather) the print will look inconsistent. This is not something that printers can account for, nor does it really qualify as a misprint, it’s just the nature of the beast when using these inks.

Discharge Printing on a 50/50 Heather

Now that you’ve committed all of these things to memory, let’s throw another wrench in the system when using discharge and heathered 50/50 material. Some manufacturers blend their garments so that the white “heathering” of the shirt is polyester and the colored portion of the garment is cotton, garnering a better discharge effect. This is a great chance to do something out of the ordinary that usually cannot be accomplished. However, not all heathered 50/50’s discharge well, and it’s largely a case-by-case scenario. If you have a project that you think would be a suitable option for using discharge on a 50/50, just ask us and we’ll be happy to look into it for you. Below is a picture of a print using 4 colors, the white is discharge, the grey, black, and red are waterbase.

Discharge Printing on a 50/50 Heather Shirt

The Question: “When is it ok to use discharge on a tri-blend or a 50/50?”.

The Answer: “Only when you’ve done your research and you know what is best for your project or brand.”

We hope you have learned something after reading this post. If you have any questions please reach out to us. We would love to answer any questions you may have to make sure that you get the best results possible.

printing@threadbird.com / (407) 545-6506


Drawing a Blank? – American Apparel 2001

Hello Threadbirds!

Today is the start of a new series called “Drawing a Blank”. This blog series will hopefully give you an insight into the world of blank shirts. We understand that choosing the perfect brand and style is crucial when setting up an new order for your clothing line, brand, startup, band or personal event. We at Threadbird want to give you an insight on every shirt we have to offer, so that you can make an informed decision on what shirt to choose for your apparel printing needs. Today’s shirts are a standard, in the screen printing industry.

American Apparel 2001 – Made In The USA

These blanks are known for excellent quality. These are very comfortable shirts with just the right amount of cloth thickness, also is soft to the touch and are 100% ring spun cotton, also this shirt take well to different types of screen printing inks (Premium Standard, Plastisol, Waterbase and Discharge Inks). American Apparel shirts are known to be a little bit on the pricier side, but it’s one of those “you get what you pay for” type deals. Many independent clothing lines, look to these as the go-to shirt for their apparel printing needs. *Premium Standard & Discharge ink doesn’t discharge well on these colors (Kelly Green, Red, Royal, Royal Blue, Lapis, Cobalt, Purple, Forest, Teal and Turquoise)

To Fit or Not To Fit:

Personally, the AA2001 is one of my favorite shirts to wear. They are fitted, but don’t have a ridiculously tight form to them. I wear a large shirt, but it isn’t a shirt that I have to bump up in size just to fit. If you go on American Apparel’s website you notice that everyone is a slim fit in that shirt, but don’t let that detour you from trying one on for yourself. They are great shirts for any size.

Size Matters:

The American Apparel 2001 offers sizes ranging from XXS – 3XL. To be sure about what size you would fit in, I would recommend checking out their sizing chart to help choose the correct fitting. Also, they are Unisex shirts.

Colors, Colors, Colors:

The American Apparel 2001 comes in a variety of vibrant colors. Attached to blog post will be a color chart and a few photos of the AA2001 shirts for you to review. Currently they offer 52 stunning colors! So, if you’re looking for something poppy, smooth or even dark, they have many colors to choose from.

If you have any questions about these shirts or would like to talk to a representative about them, please feel free to reach us at printing@threadbird.com.

  • American Apparel 2001 Color Chart
  • American Apparel 2102 Royal Blue
  • American Apparel 2102 Gold
  • American Apparel 2001 Summer Peach
  • American Apparel 2001 Cranberry

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.