Looking Under the Hood: How Custom Clothing is Made
Have you ever wondered how your idea goes from a few notes on a piece of paper to a complete custom outfit? Today we're going to take a look behind the scenes to show you all of the care and expert precision that goes into each and every step.
Step 1: Create the Image
What do you want your custom clothing to look like? Does it have a logo? Is there a unique graphic? Are there words or a slogan that will advertise to potential customers? Designing the layout of your custom clothing is the single most important step in the process, because that's where the "custom" in "custom clothing" comes in.
Once you have an idea, the designers will enter the concept into a computer for the finishing touches. Plus, it's necessary to have a digital version of the graphic so that the machines can create perfectly precise embroidered or screen printed designs.
Step 2: Create Film PositivesFrom here, expert custom clothing artists separate the design into its component colors. Paint is applied over clothing one layer at a time, so the designers need to be able to apply all the blue paint at once, all of the red paint at once, all of the yellow paint at once, and so on. The designers create film positives, which are kind of like a "paint by numbers" guide for custom clothing. These positives are basically blank ink on some sort of transparent material, like vellum or clear film. Image source: Printcutsew.com[/caption]
Step 3: Creating the Screens
This step is a little bit complicated so I'll do my best to keep things simple. The designers cover a metal screen with a light-sensitive chemical and place the screen over top of the film positives. Then, they expose a light to the screens. The black ink on the transparent film blocks the light, which prevents the chemicals behind the ink from hardening. Image source: Futurecraftcollective.com
Think of it like tracing a shadow. If you stand against a wall with a bright light in front of you, you will cast a shadow of your body on the wall behind you. Now, imagine that the wall is covered with paint that will only dry when it's exposed to light. Your shadow will leave a wet spot that can be washed away, leaving a you-shaped hole. Screen printers can use that hole to apply the paint on articles of custom clothing.
Step 4: Run the Press
Now that they have the empty outlines, the designers run articles of clothing through a screen printing process to push paint through the holes in the wire mesh. They have to do this once for each color until eventually all of the colors stack up and you have a complete image. Image source: Flickriver.com
And voila! You're left with an awesome article of clothing with a unique screen-printed design. Unlike embroidery, the screen printing process allows you to place huge bulk orders with elaborate designs and plenty of colors -- perfect for advertising your business or charity with eye-catching t-shirts.