From Cotton to Customer: How Your T-Shirt is Made

T-shirts are durable, classic, and versatile garments with mass appeal as a staple closet item. The life of a T-Shirt begins in cotton fields. They’re typically made of 100% cotton but can be found in various blends. Fabric uses vary depending on the designers choice of material and budget. Stretchable knit or jersey fabrics are comparatively inexpensive and great for screen printing and heat applications and are commonly used. Before a T-shirt is stocked by your favorite retailer, it goes through several processes.

Wet Processing

The fabric is treated with heat and chemicals where it takes on its final feel and appearance. Examples of this include bleaching, printing, and dyeing. At this stage, the fabric goes through inspection for greige textile. This process is typically divided into three separate stages of preparation, coloration, and finishing. Fabrics are “finished” to the desired softness and coloring.

Cut and Sew

Often times the finished fabric travels great distances to its next stop, the sewing facility. 15% of the fabric will end up on the cutting room floor as sewers create the blank garments.

Transforming Into a Perfect Print

The perfect print incorporates pantone colors, sizing, placement, and ink types. Each color in the artwork is individually separated and printed into clear film.  This is called a film positive.

Screen Printing

The films are used to expose the image onto mesh screens that have a photo sensitive emulsion. Each screen is exposed on a vacuum sealed UV Light table. The screens are rinsed with water and the images are checked for accuracy. The screens are registered into place on an automatic screen press that can print up to 900 t-shirts an hour! Each screen has a unique color loaded into it with either plastisol or waterbased ink.

At Your Door

In the last stage, the printed t-shirts are folded, sorted and placed into inventory. When an order is placed online the t-shirt is pulled from inventory, packed and shipped to its new home.