Difference between revisions of "Mesh/Swag"

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= T-shirts / Clothing =
= T-shirts / Clothing =

Revision as of 12:02, 7 March 2017

This page details the mesh group's research on stuff like stickers, t-shirts and other things that we can sell or give away to further awareness of the mesh and raise money.

for a square logo


We're creating stickers to spread the word!

The logos below were made using Maven Pro.

The current wiki preview system isn't working all of that great, so in order to see faithful renderings of the svgs and pngs click on the images and click on the filename where it will actually render in your browser.


These are a template for our business cards. Edit them and make your own!

T-shirts / Clothing

T-shirt manufacturers

All of the research done so far has been focused only on American Apparel t-shirts. Most, if not all, or the big custom t-shirt companies offer these shirts. They are more expensive, but so far it is the best bet for insuring that workers and the environment are treated reasonably. If anyone knows of other clothing companies with ethics whose clothes are available through a custom t-shirt company, then please add to this wiki!

Here are some fair trade, worker-owned cooperatives I came across recently:
  • JustShirts - Shirts are produced by the Cooperative of Single Mothers of El Salvador
  • Zona Franca Masili - Shirts produced by a worker-owned sewing house in Nicaragua.
We'd need to contact these organizations directly for a quote :) --Tunabananas (talk) 03:09, 29 August 2013 (PDT)

Printing types

These are the commonly available cloth printing types:

Digital printing

Basically inkjet printing directly onto cloth. The results can vary depending on the skill of the printing machine operator and the quality control. This method can print any image, even photographs, onto cloth. The borders and contrasts will often be less sharp than with other methods. This method is usually available even for orders of a single t-shirt.

Most of the big custom t-shirt shops offer this type of printing.

Screen printing

Also referred to as silk screen printing. This method is usually only available for bulk orders. A "silk screen" is first created which functions somewhat like a big stamp, transferring ink onto the cloth. This results in extremely sharp lines and good contrast, but the number of colors is limited. Good for vector graphics with few colors. Cannot be used for photographs. This is usually not available for one-off orders, only for bulk orders.

Most of the big custom t-shirt shops offer this type of printing.

"Iron-on" printing

Pieces of vinyl or vinyl-like substance are cut out into shapes that are then pressed onto cloth and heated. This creates an extremely sturdy print, with many of the same advantages and disadvantages of screen printing. One downside is that the cloth becomes stiff and sometimes more uncomfortable to wear, in the the areas with print. The durability of this type of printing is much better than screen or digital printing. Some claim that these types of print usually outlast the t-shirt.

The only company we've found that offers this type of printing is SpreadShirt. They call this type of printing flex printing. They do offer this type of printing for one-off orders and fullfilment orders, but their prices are significantly higher.

Ways of ordering/selling t-shirts


You set up your own storefront on a t-shirt company's website and specify how much on top of the base price of a product you want to add. People then go to your store and order the t-shirt. The t-shirt company takes care of everything, and you don't have to do anything after setting up your storefront except maybe marketing. E.g. you can create a t-shirt that costs $24 for the t-shirt company to produce and sell it for $30, making $6 for yourself for every sale.

Usually only digital printing is available for fulfillment orders.

Bulk order

You order some amount of t-shirts. The t-shirts are sent directly to you. You then have to re-sell the t-shirts to the end user and ship them yourself. You can save a lot of money doing this, since the t-shirts are generally almost half the price if you order bulk (e.g. 20 or more).

Fundraising campaign

This is like a kickstarter campaign, where you set a goal for how many t-shirts you want to sell, and the more you sell the more profit you get. The t-shirts are all printed in a batch at the end of the campaign and we don't have to deal with shipping. The company ships the t-shirts directly to the individual buyers. The difference from kickstarter is that you don't have to reach your goal, you just have to get above 10 purchased t-shirts before the fundraiser end date. You then get money based on how many t-shirts were sold.

The only company we've found so far that does this is CutomInk.

Comparison of prices and services

So far we've looked at the following custom clothing companies:

Comparing small bulk orders of screen printed shirts

CafePress only offers digital printing for t-shirts.

Pricing for one order of 5x small, 5x medium, 5x large and 5x x-large, with a single-color logo design and different-colored text, using screen printing on an American Apparel men's jersey t-shirt:

customink.com: $14.77 per shirt (free two-week delivery) bluecotton.com: $14.36 per shirt (free two-week delivery) zazzle.com: $14.68 per shirt (free two-week delivery) spreadshirt.com: $32.60 per shirt (free two-week delivery), flex printing, not screen printing

Limitations concerning small bulk orders of screen printed shirts

It looks like CafePress' color choices for american apparel t-shirts are limited to a snippet of the pastel rainbow.

The customink tool to allow you to select which colors to use in your uploaded vector graphics file is buggy to the point of being useless. This may be something we can find a way around though. It could be that it works in other browsers (attempted in firefox latest stable).

bluecotton allows only eps files and bitmap formats, and they recommend using png files. When I tried uploading an eps file, it complained that the image dimensions were too large, which makes no kind of sense for vector formats. This leads me to believe that they actually convert the eps files to bitmaps and don't support vector files at all! Very odd for screen printing, since I can't imagine a screen printing machine that uses bitmaps.

zazzle _does_ allow the use of multiple colors per design file, though they get a frowny face :-( for not accepting svg files (they do accept pdf and eps and ai).

spreadshirt is just too expensive.

Best choice for screen printed bulk orders

The best choice for us is Zazzle. CustomInk would be a worthy competitor if it didn't have the color selection bug.

Best choice for digital printed fulfillment orders

We'll make a lot less money using fulfillment, but we won't have to ship anything. The base price on zazzle.com per American Apparel t-shirt is less than $22, and the base price on cafepress.com is $23. Bluecotton and customink don't do fulfillment and spreadshirt is too expensive. As mentioned, cafepress has a kinda poor color selection for American Apparel too.

This makes Zazzle our best choice for fulfullment orders as well.

Using CustomInk's fundraising campaign

If the color selection bug can be sorted out, then this is a great option!

For a two-color design on american apparel t-shirt we could do either of the following:

Sell for $12 per t-shirt, goal of 50 shirts, profit if we sell 50: $7

Sell for $25 per t-shirt, goal of 50 shirts, profit if we sell 50: $642

At those prices, I'm assuming that they buyer has to pay for shipping, but I haven't checked.