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Embroidery Screen Printing T-Shirts

Foobadap Apparel located in St. Charles Missouri and servicing the greater St. Louis area, is the place to go for any and everything you want to personalize. They specialize in screen printing and embroidery, but their talents stretch far beyond, from personalized coffee mugs and water bottles to the always important beer coolies. Banners, pens, and even jigsaw puzzles are in their bag of tricks.

Let’s start with the basics though. Shirts. Whether it’s a tee-shirt, hoody, or sweat shirt, shirts are where they excel. The screen printing process is what they use for the majority of the work. The press, it looks like a giant spider sitting upon its back, has six different screens. This means that they can use six different colors of paint for each shirt. Each screen has the area that the paint is to be applied left open so that the paint can be pushed through. The shirt is then moved to the next screen for the next color to be applied. The shirt is then heated up to 300 degrees making the paint permanent.

To illustrate this, let’s say we are going to make a shirt with Elmo on it. The shirt is placed upon a board and a design is created. The design is then sent to the dark room where the image is burnt into the screens. A different screen is used for each color. For Elmo we would use three colors so three screens: black for the borders, mouth and eyes; red for the fur; and orange for the nose. Only the area that appears on the shirt in that particular color would be burnt into the screen, so the nose would just be an oval. The screens are then attached to the press above the board with the shirt, or shirts if we were planning on producing more than a single Elmo. The paint is then poured into each of the three screens that we are using. With some elbow grease and a squeegee the paint is moved across the screen, through the burnt portion, and onto the shirt. The screen is then moved on the rotating press and the next color is applied. So the black sets Elmo into the recognizable character, the red fills in the fur, and the orange fills in his nose.

As this step is completed, the shirt is then carefully removed from the board and placed into the drying oven. It is heated so that the paint dries and becomes permanent.

Now that I am sporting my favorite monster, let’s go back to that inevitable first step: pricing. The screens are not cheap and each color of paint is another screen. If separate images are used on the front, back or sleeve then more screens will need to be used and more time will be put into the process of making it. To order a single shirt that uses three or more screens, the cost will be fairly high. However, if a thousand shirts are ordered, the cost of the screens will be distributed across all of the shirts reducing the cost significantly. The quality of the fabric you choose is another issue that affects pricing.

Vinyl, embroidery, or heat transfers are other options for your shirt, but we will save them for another blog.



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