We've said it before and we'll say it again: making clothes is HARD or, maybe we're just making it hard on ourselves. When it comes to t-shirts, lots of apparel companies just buy what are called "blanks," a t-shirt someone else already made that's ready for screen printing. We could've done that too when we decided to make t-shirts. The tradeoff for the quick turn around time and low cost of that is we'd be stuck with someone else's standard fit and fabric. We wanted ideal fit and ideal fabric when we set out to make t-shirts. Here we go again, taking more steps and risks than are really necessary in the name of perfection.
Fabric and Ink
When we're looking at fabrics for our performance gear, we're looking for toughness and flexibility. A little different story when it comes to t-shirts that aren't designed to be worn in the mud. The name of the game with fabric for these was stretchy and soft as fuck. We tested about 30 different fabrics before finding the perfect one for us. It's a mid-weight cotton/lycra blend. The idea behind adding lycra is that it helps cotton clothing retain it's shape. We hate it when the arms of a t-shirt stretch out ... makes our arms look small. Lycra fixes that problem. Of course, adding lycra means the fabric stretches and stretchy fabric means that regular ink on a screen printer would crack once it dries. To make sure that didn't happen to our t-shirt, we had to test the formulation of adding just enough silicone to the ink that would allow it to stretch while keeping the color true to our specifications. See what we mean about this shit being hard?
Getting the perfect fit is another reason why we decided against buying existing "blanks." Our customers, OCR athletes and trail runners, are WAY more fit than average people so clothes made for average bodies don't work well for us. For example, most men have a 5"-7" difference between their chest and waist measurements. Most people are 5"-7" bigger in the waist. Athletes are the exact opposite with bigger chests than stomachs. Same principal applies to female athletes. We had to go through several pattern adjustments to get the fit of this shirt just right. We nailed it!
The bulk order was delivered three and a half months after we started working on it. It would've been about 3 weeks if we'd chosen to print our message on someone else's blanks. The price of perfection is worth the cost.