May 17, 2016

Inside the Icebox: T-Shirt Embellishment Techniques

Hey there!

We're following our last blog on t-shirts up with this insider look into how The Icebox uses decoration techniques to embellish your branded apparel.  We pride ourselves on our expertise when it comes to designing and producing cool branded tees that your clients and employees will love to wear. We hope that you will find this guide to t-shirt embellishment informative and useful as you design your next t-shirt.

Here is an insider’s guide to t-shirt embellishment.

Icebox Spot Color
This is the most common type of t-shirt decoration preferred by our clients. Spot color decoration allows us to match your PMS colors by mixing inks to your specifications. Prior to laying down the ink, a flash may be applied:
  • Flash
    A white base layer of your design or logo is printed onto your shirt. This base layer ensures a solid print and true PMS coloring.
  • No Flash
    Artwork is applied directly to the garment, which enables the ink to seep into the material. This produces in a more worn-in look.

Traditional screen print often requires flash (also called underlay) when printing light ink colors on dark garments. An underlay is an extra layer of white ink that is printed first as a base coat and flashed (dried), before the colors are finally printed on top. Think of it like a primer coat applied before painting a wall in your home. The underlay helps lighter colors pop off the shirt and stay true to their PMS colors. The positive result is that your artwork colors will stay true regardless of the t-shirt’s color; on the other hand, sometimes the overall “hand” (feel) of the print can be heavier when you use an underlay.

Icebox Distress Print
Distress is used to achieve a vintage look and feel. It is intended for the garment to look washed and worn. There are many distress patterns we can use to offer different worn-in looks. To help achieve your desired distressed look, we use high-mesh screens that minimize the amount of ink applied to each garment. We recommend printing this style without an underlay to keep the garment as soft as possible. As a result, imprinted colors can appear more subdued on darker garments.
Icebox Vintage Soft Hand Screen Print
The Icebox likes to think outside if the box and has mastered the art of soft hand printing. Unlike traditional screen print, a soft hand print does not utilize an underlay. Instead, we take a traditionally thick plastisol ink and reduce it, making the ink base thinner than usual. We often add distress layers into the design to help further reduce the overall feel of the print and give your design an incredible vintage washed look. This process gives your design a unique look and feel, and your customers will think the shirt has been washed ten times when they receive it.
Icebox Simulated Process (Also Referred to as Index Printing)
Index Printing (or Simulated Process) is a technique used to separate colors when printing an intricate, complex design. It allows for more than four colors to be blended together. It is a great option for printing designs with a high level of detail, heavy half tones, color gradients, or a more photographic look.
Icebox Appliqué
Appliqué is a great way to add a unique element to your design and increase the perceived value. Appliqué of any shape or size can be embroidered to your garment of choice. A laser cutting process makes it possible to create custom shapes for your logos, which add texture and depth to your design. We can use any type of fabric (i.e., jersey, fleece, twill, vinyl, leather, felt, and others) when creating the appliqué.
Icebox Direct-to-Garment Printing
Direct to garment printing, also known as DTG printing, is a process of printing on garments using specialized or modified inkjet technology. It works similarly to how a printer prints on paper. Direct to garment printing works best when printing on white or light colored garments, although it is possible to print on dark garments. DTG is a viable alternative to screen printing for low-quantity orders.
Best DTG Uses:
  • The design calls for a photographic imprint
  • Printing requires many different ink colors in low quantities (designs with 10 or more imprint colors that cannot easily be indexed)
  • Surface for printing is uneven, such as plackets, pockets, zippers, etc.

Icebox Laser Etching
This technique uses lasers to engrave your art onto the product. This method works very well on certain fabrics and is often used on polo shirts and polar fleece. The effect offers a cool tonal look.
Icebox Embroidery
Nothing competes with our high-quality embroidery when you want a professional and upscale design for your apparel. From bags, to jackets, to hats, to fleece, your customers recognize embroidery as a high-end solution, and that says something special about you.
Icebox Sublimation Printing
Sublimation produces a design that covers the entire shirt with a wrap effect while maintaining the softest hand possible. There is no ink to “feel,” as it is completely absorbed into the fabric. The sublimation decoration technique can only be executed on 100% polyester garments.
If you are seeking a “wow” factor, sublimation printing is the answer!
Icebox Sugar Crystals
Warning: Sugar crystals look so good that you will want to eat them! The sugar crystal printing process adds some extra shimmer to your logo. Sugar crystals can be applied across the entire design or just in certain spots. Once your design has been printed, it is dipped into the sugar crystals and sent through the dryer, which sets the sugar crystals into the shirt. It’s important to note that the crystals will begin to disintegrate after numerous washes.
Icebox Foil Printing
Traditional inks wish they could have the “bling” factor of a foil print.  Regardless of what color foil you choose, this decoration technique offers glimmer to your design.  For best results with this method, you will want to limit the size and complexity of your design. This is a great way to add retail detail to your product!

Available Colors: Gold, silver, pink, red, purple, blue, copper, rainbow
Icebox Gel Ink
Gel ink is a great way to add texture to your print. Your design is printing using a super thick gel to add stickiness to your design. A clear gel can also be printed on a dark garment for a tone-on-tone look. This decoration method involves a unique set up process, and specialized mesh is required for the print.  
Icebox High Density Printing
If you are looking for a little bit more depth to your t-shirt print, check out our high density printing. High density printing is a popular method of printing on heavyweight items, such as sweatshirts, or as an accent to add dimension to a plastisol print. Depending on your design, high density printing can add an “embroidery” look to your garment.
Icebox Metallic Ink
Looking for a little punch to your design? Metallic inks add a sparkle element to your print and will set it apart from others. 
Available Colors: Silver, gold, bronze, teal, purple

Icebox Finishing Capabilities
The Icebox’s finishing services provide details that will set your product apart. One service we offer is relabeling, which enables you to private-label your own garments. Our relabeling services include both woven labels that are sewn into your garments and screen printed neck labels for maximum brand identification. 

In addition to relabeling, we also offer a variety of packaging and presentation solutions. These include individual folding and garment polybags. We also offer hang tags for retail-ready apparel. Finishing is a small but meaningful way for you to create a polished and lasting impression with your clients or employees.

Now that you’ve been given an insider’s perspective, we encourage you to get creative with your t-shirt solutions. The right t-shirt will be kept and worn for years by thankful customers, increasing your brand visibility and associating your company with great taste, style and comfort! If you’re ready to talk more, contact one of our Creative Experts today.

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