It was not easy to convert the designs to shirts. First and foremost, I had never done screen printing or had anything screen printed for me. I also had no idea what types of shirts were even possible. In my mind I benchmarked on the Ruehl shirts that were slim fit, super soft and very stylish. They really fit well, and that’s what I aimed for. Of course, being short on cash I had to keep things simple, so a local sporting goods store in Amityville called Amity Harbor Sports was where I went. I carried the Ruehl shirts with me as examples, and spoke with the guys there to understand the options. Long story short, I took a huge shirt booklet home, reviewed things for a bit and made an educated guess to go with Next Level V-Necks 60/40 cotton/poly blend for the guys and regular crew 50/25/25 cotton/poly/rayon for the girls. 30 shirts total.
The Label Nightmare
Next came the tags. What a pain in the ass. You learn very quickly that at small quantities there are just certain things that crush you in apparel. Tags and labels are such items. Because of the fixed cost to set up and cut a design, there really is no option other than to do about 100. Even so, the manufacturer hates you, and it takes 2 weeks to accomplish by the time the proofs are checked and approved, and then the labels are mailed. For this sample run I got 100 woven damask labels, which by the way was another detail I had to learn. Up to that point I had no clue there were differences between satin woven, damask woven, etc. A picture of the finalized label is below.
The First Products
At last we had to finalize the artwork, which was not easy. Image quality is critical as well as color complexity. For my designs the color complexity of the Silvercup sign was not hard, but it required changing the original slightly to get a deeper red. In the final designs I also decided to add a caption below each image to designate the neighborhood in the city (e.g., Long Island City, Queens). With all designs finalized I printed the shirts in February 2015 and then had to figure out how to sew the labels on the front. Luckily, “Bank of Mom” supplied some capital for the shirt samples and also sewed on the labels for me. Thanks so much!
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