How to Order Custom Screen Printed T-Shirts - A Guide for Screen Printing Customers

We understand ordering custom screen printed merchandise can be confusing and overwhelming - especially if it’s your first time! How does screen printing work? How many shirts do we order? How do you charge? Do we do a test run? These are all common questions that we hear from clients. It makes sense - when ordering screen printed merchandise in bulk you want to make sure your items come out exactly as you intended. If you’re ordering on behalf of an organization like a company or non-profit, it’s even more important that they come out perfect… it’s a lot of pressure for someone that’s never done it before!

For these reasons we’ve put together some information for you to be a more educated buyer and make sure you know the questions to ask, common terminology, techniques, etc. to make sure you get what you want. We don’t want you to be just happy…. We want you to be thrilled!

Each customer has specific needs. This guide should a novice through the ordering process from A to Z and figure out what’s right for you. Read below for our in-depth guide about the full process of ordering t-shirts and merchandise.

How to Order Custom Screen Printed T-Shirts & Merchandise

Different types of Client requires different needs. First of all - what type of buyer are you?

    • Business Owner -  Most of our clients are small business owners(restaurants, music venues, retail shops and businesses that offer services)

    • Startups - We print a ton of company merch for new and emerging tech startups that need company branded t shirts,bags,posters and other items for their employees and visiting guests .

    • Artist - printing t shirts, sweatshirts and posters to sell on their sites and craft fairs.

    • Streetwear / Clothing Brand - We love working with new clothing brands.  We offer all the required services to get your brand off the ground.  From printing to sew on labels or printed neck labeling we do it all.

    • Large Business or Organization - We’ve printed for huge summer camps, large gatherings and concerts and even marathons.  We can ship multiple pallets anywhere in the country including multiple destinations depending on where they are needed for specific dates. Great for tours and events with multiple stops nationwide.

Below are some common questions we receive from our clients:

  • Do we offer fullfillment services?
    • No
  • What are the minimums
    • 24 Pieces
  • Whats the turnaround time
    • 2-4 weeks
  • How do I submit graphics?
    • Email your graphics to
  • Do you deliver?
    • We sure do. All orders over $500 get free delivery
  • What are the set up costs?
    • We dont charge for set ups.
  • Whats the best t shirt?  
    • Depends - I love Bella and Canvas for premium tees and Gildan for economy tee’s
  • How long do prints last?
    • Prints will last as long as the t shirt lasts.
  • Do you keep screens?
    • We do not but it doesn't matter for you because we don't charge for set ups.

Things You Should Know About Ordering Custom T-Shirts

Submitting Graphics

  • We prefer that you submit the original file — just be sure to carefully proofread all text before submission. We are not responsible for misspellings or incorrect dates.
  • If you need a Pantone Ink Color mixed, use the PANTONE solid coated Swatches.
  • Document Color Mode should be set on CMYK.
  • All fonts must be TYPE>>CREATED TO OUTLINES.
  • Illustrator files should submitted at 100% printed size. Templates are available on our website.
  • If you are using Pantone inks, use the pantone swatches-coated.
  • Please use a true 100% black swatch versus “Rich Black”.
  • Document Color Mode should be set on CMYK.
  • Do not flatten your artwork
  • Unacceptable file formats:
    • Jpeg’s
    • .gif’s
  • Acceptable file formats:
    • eps
    • .tiff
    • .psd
    • .ai
  • Photoshop files should be at least 300 dpi at the final printing size.
  • A full back print can be made into a smaller left chest print, but a left chest print cannot be made into a full back.
  • We accept files from Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator.
  • By sticking to these easy guidelines, you minimize costs and turnaround time. Most importantly, you help us create the best possible art.
  • Drawings and other works can be submitted on paper, but because they require scanning and clean up, we charge a small design fee for these submissions.
  • We suggest that you include a printed mockup or PDF.
  • When sending us disks, be sure to clearly identify each enclosed folder.
  • Be sure to clearly identify all submitted materials with your name, address, phone number and contact information. In this way we can ensure their return with your order.
  • You may submit artwork on cd, dvd, thumb drives, via email or just upload directly to our website.

Pick a Shirt Quality

  • Good - Bella canvas 3001c
  • Better - Nexl level CVC
  • Best - Bella Canvas Tri-Blend

Pick a Sweatshirt Quality

  • Good - Independent IND4000z
  • Better - 3739 Bella + Canvas Unisex Poly-Cotton Fleece Full-Zip Hoodie
  • Best - 3729 Bella + Canvas Unisex Sponge Fleece Pullover Hoodie

Types of Ink:

  • Discharge Printing - discharge printing is able to give you a soft print with bold colors, and it works by dying the fabric rather than laying ink on top of it. We’ve found that discharge printing is most successful with cotton garments. Due to the nature of this process, we can't guarantee pantone matches; however, the vibrancy and quality remains unmatched.

    Recommended Pairings for Discharge Printing:
    • 100% cotton garments
    • Bold Colors

      Know Before You Print:
    • This process dyes the fabric rather than laying on top of it
    • Avoid blended-fabric garments
    • Perfect pantone color matching not guaranteed
  • Water-Based Printing - water-based inks are similar to discharge inks, but without the addition of the chemical agent that colors the actual fabric. They’re best used on lighter colored garments and lead to a soft, smooth finish. the ink is generally slightly translucent, so it often may appear washed out or give the garment a vintage look. Similar to discharge inks, we cannot guarantee color matches.

    Recommended Pairings for Water Based Printing:
    • Projects that call for a vintage look
    • Pairs best with lighter colored garments
    • Nice ringspun cotton tees

      Know Before You Print:
    • Color matches are not guaranteed
    • Kelly green, some purples and royal blue seem to have issues and are not suggested with discharge printing.
  • Discharge Ink - discharge ink doesn't print as well on polyester or blended fabrics.  Stay with 100% cotton if you want a rich and robust print with vibrant colors.
    • This process results in an extremely soft final product
    • Water-based inks are more translucent than other inks
  • Plastisol - Plastisol has been the industry standard ink for decades. It provides a bold & lasting color, and it is great for when an exact pantone match is required. plastisol may occasionally feel heavy and isn't recommended for soft garments.

    Recommended Pairings for Plastisol Printing:
    • Any brand any tee.  

      Know Before You Print:
    • The print will have a slightly raised texture that is a slightly rough and will crack over time.
    • Blended fabrics with a loose weave can get rough.
  • Simulated Process Printing - Process printing uses halftones of a few colors to produce a much wider color range through blending inks on the garment during the printing process. Due to the nature of this process, the artwork may vary from shirt to shirt by up to 15%. We start with hundreds of colors, and then we reduce these down to a selection of four to ten essential colors that will provide the best overall replication of the art when printed onto a garment.
  • Soft Touch - also known as a ‘hybrid print', our soft touch process uses a discharge base in combination with softened plastisol top colors. this print style gives you a soft feel and bold colors on garments that may not work well with discharge inks.

    Recommended Pairings for Plastisol Printing:
    • Ringspun cotton tees, poly cotton or cvc blended fabrics.  
    • Anything soft. Why print a soft print on a gritty rough tee?

      Know Before You Print:
    • Hybrid prints will have a soft touch and good quality look to them.  
    • Not as soft as discharge printing but has the same look as plastisol.
  • Foil Printing - During this process, a gel is printed onto the garment and foil is applied to the gelled area with a heat press. these garments usually last about 10 wash cycles. due to the nature of this garment decoration, we are not responsible for the customer’s satisfaction of the shirt after it has been washed or worn.

Which Type of These Inks Should I Use for My Order?

  • Economic Tee’s -  Gildan 5000 with standard plastisol ink
  • Standard Tee - Bella and Canvas 3001c with discharge printing for dark or plastisol print on light tees.
  • Vintage Look - Alternative Apparel Keeper Vintage Jersey with discharge print.

Order Size Information

  • Should you do a test run or full run 1st time around?
    • Depends on how technical the image is and how picky you or your client is.
  • Things you should know about Small Orders
    • Small orders are always more expensive.
  • With screen printing most of the work is in set ups. We have to separate the image, print the film for the screens, coat and burn screens, make the inks for the specific colors of the image and sort the shirts. On top of that, we then have to set up the job on the press and make sure everything looks perfect.
  • When ordering a small quantity keep all that in mind because you're mostly just paying for the time it takes to do all of the setup.
  • Things you should know about Big Orders
    • Big orders save you big money.
  • Like we talked about in small orders
    • Most of the work is in the set up. Once all that is done and set up on the press it’s just turn and burn. It doesn’t take us much more time to do 500 shirts than 50 shirts.
  • How long does it take for order to complete?
    • Normal turnaround time for screen printing is 2 weeks
Address :
744 Alabama St #1,
San Francisco,
CA 94110
Tel : (415) 634-7875