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  • For Their Dyes Only: the Secret of Silk

    By: Rachel T, rachel.t@annarbortees.com

    5 days

    In our previous post, The Hairy Origins of Screen Printing, we discussed the Chinese invention of screen printing using human hair. This post will cover how the next big advance in screen printing began with the discovery of silk in China. Silk comes from the cocoon of the mulberry silk moth (Bombyx mori, for those who care or pretend to read latin). The caterpillar spins it's cocoon from a single thread of hardened spit measuring close to 1000 yards. China started weaving silk around 3,000 BCE, even further back than the Pyramids of Giza.

    Who exactly discovered silk?

    That’s almost enough silk to cover your thumb!

    That’s almost enough silk to cover your thumb!

    According to an old Confucius legend, the Chinese Empress Leizu discovered silk when a cocoon fell into her tea and unraveled. The empress then had the clever idea to weave some of it in a loom. However silk got it's start, China’s new fabric became a luxury produced only for the royal family and those they deemed worthy.

    So, how did silk spread?

    They better not find any holes

    They better not find any holes

    Eventually, the rules about who could wear silk became more relaxed. It soon became a huge source of revenue for traders and merchants who would pay for silk’s weight in gold. As a result, China maintained a monopoly on silk production and all things related. This meant the weaving process, the caterpillars, and the mulberry leaves they ate all became a carefully guarded secret. Unfortunately, loose lips, bribery, theft, and kidnappings of workers spread the secret. Soon, smugglers carried worms to countries like Korea, Japan, and India. These countries spun their own unique threads into the process.

    What started as fashion for the wealthy elite soon spread all along the “silk road” and into Europe in the 1700’s. As silk became more widespread and less expensive, people found its’ uses in all manner of things. By 1870, France began using silk stretched over wood frames for printing textiles. These silk screens worked much better than the rough cotton and human hair screens of the past.

    Is silk still used in screen printing?

    The new silk meshes resulted in the term “silkscreening.” Printers still use this term today even though most mesh screens are now polyester, nylon or even metal. These materials are stronger, do not unravel in water, and aren’t dyed by the inks and pigments used. More great technological developments would unfold as the need for screen printing grew. Read on to our next post, Let Them Screen Prints!: Production for the Masses, to learn how the Industrial Revolution changed screen printing.



    References

    1. http://www.ooshirts.com/guides/History-of-Screen-Printing.html
    2. http://www.visual-arts-cork.com/prehistoric/hand-stencils-rock-art.htm
    3. http://www.brighthub.com/multimedia/publishing/articles/105324.aspx
    4. http://revolverwarholgallery.com/andy-warhol-screenprints-process-history/
    5. https://www.dfcscreenprinting.com/blog/the-history-of-silk-screen-printing.html
    6. http://www.visual-arts-cork.com/printmaking/screen-printing.htm
    7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silk
    8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Screen_printing
    9. http://www.gwent.org/gem_screen_printing.html#history
    10. Book - Mental Floss History of the World
    11. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mimeograph
    12. http://homepage.usask.ca/~nis715/scrnprnt.html

    Tags: #screen printing, #learn about printing, #history
  • The Hairy Origins of Screen Printing

    By: Rachel T, rachel.t@annarbortees.com

    11 days

    Screen printing is the process of pushing ink through a mesh screen to create a print. A stencil of the design blocks off some of the ink in the shape of the desired print. This basic technique has changed little over the course of thousands of years. Yet, major technological advances helped printers adapt to a growing demand.

    Both the use of stencils and the creation of printed images are some of the oldest forms of human expression. Some span all the way back to 40,000 BCE. Researchers have found examples of prehistoric art in countries around the world. This includes France, Spain, Australia, South Africa, Turkey, Indonesia, and Belize. It is no wonder then that printed images are still used in so much of our daily lives.

    How did printing begin?

    Can you tell the positive from the negative?

    Can you tell the positive from the negative?

    Oftentimes, our ancient ancestors made images on the surface of cave walls using nothing more than their hands. They created these prehistoric designs as either a print or a stencil. The prints, known as “Positive Handprints” were usually red, white or black pigment that coated the artist’s hand. The artist then pressed the pigment coated hand against the surface of a rock, leaving a rough handprint behind. Ancient artists created the stencil version or “Negative Hand Stencils” by first laying their hand on a flat surface. They then sprayed over the hand and surface by blowing pigment through a reed or bone, or even spitting it from their mouths. This method left behind an outline of the hand.

    What about screen printing?

    The original ink printer?

    The original ink printer?

    Early examples of printing with small seals and stamps exist in China, Mesopotamia, and Egypt. However, China boasts of the origin of screen printing during the Song Dynasty (960-1279 CE). A wooden frame and human hair for mesh composed the first printing screens. Hair was strong enough to hold a stencil in place. Hair was also fine enough to allow the colored vegetable dyes and pigments to pass through the unobstructed spaces and onto the substrate. The substrate is the fancy industry term for whatever needs printed on.

    China eventually improved on these hairy screens with their most precious secret, silk. Read on to our next blog, For Their Dyes Only: the Secret of Silk, to learn about the importance of silk in ancient China and the origin of silk screening.



    References

    1. http://www.ooshirts.com/guides/History-of-Screen-Printing.html
    2. http://www.visual-arts-cork.com/prehistoric/hand-stencils-rock-art.htm
    3. http://www.brighthub.com/multimedia/publishing/articles/105324.aspx
    4. http://revolverwarholgallery.com/andy-warhol-screenprints-process-history/
    5. https://www.dfcscreenprinting.com/blog/the-history-of-silk-screen-printing.html
    6. http://www.visual-arts-cork.com/printmaking/screen-printing.htm
    7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silk
    8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Screen_printing
    9. http://www.gwent.org/gem_screen_printing.html#history
    10. Mental Floss History of the World
    11. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mimeograph
    12. http://homepage.usask.ca/~nis715/scrnprnt.html

    Tags: #screen printing, #learn about printing, #history
  • Breaking News: Patagonia apparel has arrived!

    By: Rachel T, rachel.t@annarbortees.com

    3 months

    Chances are, if you ask someone what their favorite quarter zip, fleece zip-up, or rain jacket is, they’ll tell you it’s their Patagonia.





    Patagonia is a brand known for their quality outdoor apparel and gear. They donate 1% of their sales to environmental groups and they are constantly working to reduce their manufacturing harms by using organic cotton and recycled fabrics. They also actively campaign for saving forests and increasing time off and benefits for American families. Basically, we think they’re pretty cool and that they make some sweet apparel.

    So we decided to partner with them

    And we’re so excited about our new partnership that we’re dedicating an entire blog post to it! Check out some of the apparel you can order:



    The perfect backpack for hiking through the woods or just trekking across campus.


    Is there anything better than being both stylish and comfortable? (Spoiler: no, there’s not)


    Our smiles are just as big as this model’s when we wear Patagonia rain jackets!

    A few quick tips for ordering custom Patagonia apparel:

    All gear has to be purchased as part of a group uniform or work-wear. That means that even though you can’t order just one jacket for yourself, you can order jackets for your entire group! Also, all gear needs to be decorated with an approved logo. In other words, if you order Patagonia apparel through us, we have to customize it in some way with a decoration.

    One more pro tip: if you want to order some custom Patagonia gear, make sure you plan in advance! This stuff has longer turnaround time than our standard offerings, so you’ll need to give us a couple weeks’ notice. But as long as you order early, it’s totally worth it!

    Think it can’t get any better? It can!

    You also get sweet discounts! You can get up to 40% off of original retail prices depending on how many pieces you order. Yep, you read that right….that’s 40% off if you have a large order!

    If you’ve never felt like this guy while wearing custom apparel, then you’ve been wearing the wrong custom apparel.

    If you love Patagonia as much as we do, let us know! Fill out this form and we will get started. We’re happy to help you with an order, or just chat about Patagonia, custom tees, or life in general.


    Tags: #partnerships
  • Ordering pizza for large groups of people is the worst.

    By: Rachel T, rachel.t@annarbortees.com

    3 months

    Everyone wants something different. 3 people want Hawaiian pizza, 4 want ham and green pepper, 2 want BBQ chicken, and 4 want plain cheese. How can you possibly decide what toppings to order? Well, you order more than one kind of pizza, of course! A mixture of flavors so everyone is happy, and voila, problem solved.

    This pug is sad because he wanted ham on his pizza, not pepperoni! This proves our point - how can you please everyone?

    This pug is sad because he wanted ham on his pizza, not pepperoni! This proves our point - how can you please everyone?

    The same situation is true for apparel. How can you please everyone when a few people want tees, some want sweatshirts, and some want embroidered polos? Like the all-too-familiar pizza predicament, the solution to apparel ordering can be just as simple!

    Just ask Megan Sullivan from Belmont University.

    Megan is a second year occupational therapy doctoral student (OTD/S) at Belmont. She's on the board of the program's Student OT Association (BSOTA). She was in charge of ordering apparel for the OT program. The OT program needed professional apparel to wear at clinical rotations as well as casual apparel to wear around campus. She was not quite sure where to begin. Classic unisex tees for the t-shirt lovers? Embroidered polos for looking professional at rotations? Crewneck sweatshirts for chilly classrooms on campus?

    Rich, our salesperson working with Megan on her order, thought to himself, “This reminds me of something. Ah yes, the last time we ordered pizza for the office!” There are many people in the OT program, and each person would want multiple garments. It would be very complicated to collect money from everyone and get everyone’s sizes. Being the smart cookie that he is, Rich realized that we have the perfect solution for Megan - our online group ordering system. This made Megan’s t-shirt ordering experience painless and straightforward.

    Some of Belmont’s occupational therapy doctoral students wearing their Ann Arbor Tees apparel

    Some of Belmont’s occupational therapy doctoral students wearing their Ann Arbor Tees apparel

    Megan’s Testimonial

    “We custom order our apparel for the students who want to represent the program and wear professional looking shirts on their clinical rotations. Ann Arbor T-Shirt Company made ordering custom apparel for students very easy with their online store. Rich’s email replies, as well as the company's service, were very prompt. The customer service was exceptional with the team constantly updating me with order details and answering all the questions I had. Once the order was completed, the apparel arrived quickly and looked great! We will definitely be using Ann Arbor T-Shirt Company again.”
    Megan Sullivan, Therapy Doctoral Student

    Thanks for working with us, Megan!

    Jealous of Belmont’s sweet swag? If you’d like apparel for your student group or program, let us know here!


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  • 242 Community Church is not your ordinary church.

    By: Rachel T, rachel.t@annarbortees.com

    3 months

    You may have heard about one of 242’s campuses in Ann Arbor, Brighton, or Lansing. Their community is built around the goal of helping people take the next steps with God.

    242 Church also values high-quality t-shirts. They have t-shirt needs ranging from marketing campaigns to giveaways for student members of the church. That’s where Ann Arbor Tees comes in!

    What kind of tees does 242 need?

    242 is all about the individual. They wanted a shirt everyone would be happy to wear - not a shirt they feel compelled to wear. They want something a step up from your average gym class t-shirt. So instead of a classic unisex tee, we recommended a fashion fit shirt for their order.

    Classic unisex cotton t-shirts are boxy and loose fitting. They’re the most economical tees and what you think of when you think of a typical t-shirt for an event.

    Fashion fit tees (think brands like American Apparel or Bella+Canvas) are tapered below the chest to fit the body for a more athletic look. They’re a popular choice for a more fashionable look without a big price hike.

    242 also wanted to make sure that the design going on their shirts is attractive, eye-catching, and just plain feels good to wear! Luckily, 242 has their own graphic designer, so they didn’t need too much help from our art team. They sent us their logo in a vector file and we mocked it up for them to make sure it looked exactly like they had envisioned. Even if you do not have your own designer, we can help bring your vision to life with our staff of designers and illustrators!


    This is what a proof from Ann Arbor Tees looks like - you get to see exactly what your shirt looks like before we print it!

    But we didn’t stop there.

    242 knows their stuff when it comes to t-shirts and they didn’t want to settle for any old screen printing ink. They requested a special additive, called Softee. We put it in the ink to make it thinner and softer when printed on the shirt. This makes the print more comfortable to wear. We were happy to accommodate and worked with 242 to make the shirts look and feel like they wanted, Softee and all!

    Oh, and one more thing! 242 needed these shirts for an event...the next week. Impossible to do, right?

    Wrong! With our lightning fast turnaround time, 242 did not have to sacrifice a quality print and experience just to make sure they got their tees on time. One week turnaround is standard for most orders!

    Here’s what 242 thought of their Ann Arbor Tees experience

    Lead Pastor Dave Dummitt speaking about 242’s Devoted initiative while wearing his Devoted shirt printed by Ann Arbor Tees!

    Lead Pastor Dave Dummitt speaking about 242’s Devoted initiative while wearing his Devoted shirt printed by Ann Arbor Tees!

    The ordering process could not have been any easier! The salesperson communicated quickly and efficiently, and the turnaround time was unbelievable.

    Brad Tate - Executive Pastor of Teaching & Arts (at the time of the order)

    Glad we could help, 242!

    If you have any questions about how to get some super cool shirts for your church (or any other group) contact us here! One of our awesome team members will get back to you ASAP and answer any questions you may have.


    Tags: #church, #testimonial
  • Back-to-school time again!

    By: Rachel T, rachel.t@annarbortees.com

    3 months

    And do you know what the best part of going back to school is? That’s right, school supply shopping!

    • Folders? Check!
    • Notebooks? Check!
    • Pencils and pens? Check and check!
    • School spiritwear? Oh...oops.

    Completely forgot about the most important back-to-school shopping trip of them all!? Don’t worry - Ann Arbor Tees has you covered!

    There’s no better way to show school spirit than with custom apparel for your school group. Maybe you’re an administrator looking to outfit your staff in the most spiffy and professional custom polos and oxfords.

    school spirit for administrator

    Or, perhaps you’re a coach looking for some new sweats for your team.

    new sweats for a coach

    Maybe you’re a part of student organization and are in charge of designing your org’s t-shirts. Maybe you’re having a minor heart attack because you have no idea where to begin. (It’s okay. We’ve all been there.)

    student organization t-shirts

    We get it - your school has a million things going on.

    We know t-shirts aren’t always the first thing on your mind when you wake up and the last thing on your mind when you go to sleep. But that’s where we come in!

    We’re always thinking of t-shirts. We think of zip hoods when we wake up. We spend our lunch breaks discussing the benefits of cotton, polyester, or blended garments. We don’t count sheep when we fall asleep, we count t-shirts. We dream of polos and oxfords.

    Since custom apparel is always on our minds, we’re happy to help take some of the stress off of your shoulders! All you have to do is let us know how many shirts you want to get and a general idea for your design. We’ll help you find the perfect apparel within your budget that will please your entire group.

    If you think this sounds too good to be true, let us prove you wrong! Contact us and let us make your group the trendsetter for the entire school.


    Tags: #K12
  • What’s the deal with youth shirts, anyways?

    By: Rachel T, rachel.t@annarbortees.com

    3 months

    Sometimes they have numbers for sizes. They don’t always come in the same colors as adult shirts. Most of the time they cost more than the adult equivalent. What gives?

    These are all great questions, curious blog reader! Pretty much everyone who has placed an order for youth shirts has wondered these exact same things.

    First things first: youth t-shirt sizing

    Youth shirts are sized a little bit differently than adult shirts. Some brands use the standard sizing that you think of with adult tees - extra small, small, medium, large, and extra large. However, some brands use a numbering system for youth tees.

    size chart for youth

    There are also sizing options for infants and toddlers. Since younger kiddos tend to be more variable in their sizes, it’s usually best to go by their height and weight when selecting a size rather than their age. Infant and toddler sizing varies by brand, but here are a few sample size charts for some garments:

    size chart for infants

    size chart toddlers

    Smaller shirts = less room for printing on the shirt

    Since youth shirts are smaller than adult shirts, there is a smaller area available to print on. If you’re placing an order with the same art on both youth and adult tees, you have a couple of different options to deal with this size difference in your design.

    One option is to keep the same size art on all shirts. Our art team would make the design as large as possible on the youth shirt, and then use that exact same size art on the adult shirts.

    Sometimes, keeping the same size art on all garments isn’t the best option. Think of how silly it would look if you used the tiny art for a newborn onesie on an adult XL shirt! In this case, we would resize the art to be smaller on the youth tees, and larger on the adult tees.

    Colors and cost and adult correlates, oh my!

    There are a few more things to keep in mind when placing an order for youth tees. Let’s say you found the absolute perfect color t-shirt for your adult t-shirt order. How exciting! Then, you decide you want to add a few youth sizes for the youngsters in your group. Sometimes, the youth equivalent will not stock all the colors that the adult style does. This is just because there is less demand for youth tees. If you find yourself in this situation, do not fear! Our talented sales team will help you find a youth shirt that’s as close as possible to the color you selected for the adult tees.

    size chart toddlers

    Here is an example of an adult and youth shirt that does not come in the exact same color. We had to use very similar but slightly different garment colors.

    Another common question about youth tees is, “Youth shirts are smaller. They contain less fabric. So why do they cost a little bit more than the adult tees I’m ordering?” Just like the reason suppliers do not stock a ton of youth t-shirt colors, the demand for youth shirts is not as high. This is reflected in the higher price. It’s only a small difference in price though - less than a dollar in most cases.

    Still curious about custom apparel for your group?

    Get in contact with someone from the Ann Arbor Tees team here, or check out our blog on some of the most commonly ordered garments for school groups!


    Tags: #youth
  • So you have a crazy t-shirt idea - is it possible?

    By: Rachel T, rachel.t@annarbortees.com

    3 months

    So you have a crazy t-shirt idea - is it possible?

    Shoshana Eisenberg was scrolling through Facebook one Monday evening. She clicked on the Facebook event for Women’s March Ann Arbor. She saw a post that read, “anyone know where we can get the t-shirts/hoodies with the march logo on them?” Since she was planning on attending the march, she decided to take charge of the project.

    She was not quite sure of most of the details. She didn't know what she wanted, how many shirts to get, and if it was even possible to get the order by the following weekend. Shoshana decided to give Ann Arbor Tees a call the following morning to see if we could help with her project.


    Working our magic!

    Andrea, one of our sales reps, spoke to Shoshana about her t-shirt idea. Such rapid turnaround time - less than 4 days - is no easy feat. But seeing how important this was to Shoshana, Andrea was able to pull a few strings and make it work. Ann Arbor Tees also agreed to donate part of the proceeds to Planned Parenthood, an organization Shoshana wanted to support.



    Marchers proudly sporting clever signs and Ann Arbor Tees apparel!


    There was one more issue that came up, though. What about marchers who hadn’t logged onto their Facebook that day? They wouldn't have seen there was a shirt order going on. What if they wanted to place an order later or after the march?

    We assured Shoshana that even if everyone couldn't get orders placed in time for the march, we could open an online order after the event. That way, people who saw Shoshana and friends’ shirts at the march could order apparel of their own! She would not have to know every person ordering a shirt with the online system. Everyone pays for their own order and enters their shipping information. For more information on online group ordering, check out our blog post here.

    We had a blast working with Shoshana!

    Donating proceeds from the Women’s March order to Planned Parenthood. From left to right: Amanda from Planned Parenthood, Ann Arbor Tees Sales Rep Stephanie Eller, Shoshana Eisenburg, and Ann Arbor Tees Sales Rep Andrea Armbruster
    “Andrea was so helpful with the amount of time she spent with me. The folks at The Ann Arbor T-Shirt Company not only created an online store so that dozens more could be decked out in the design of Nicole LaRue but they also donated proceeds to Planned Parenthood - almost $2,500 has been raised so far. Unity starts at a local level and The Ann Arbor T-Shirt Company gave so much of us a bigger voice. It’s amazing that the locally owned Ann Arbor T-Shirt Company made such an impact on my life and the lives of hundreds, maybe thousands, of others.”

    Shoshana Eisenberg, Ann Arbor Tees Sales Representative

    You can read Shoshana's full testimonial and story here. Contact one of our sales reps using our quote request form to the right to get your own custom apparel!


    Tags:
  • Trilogiq needs polos

    By: Rachel T, rachel.t@annarbortees.com

    3 months

    Maria Kurple is the Marketing Manager for Trilogiq USA. Trilogiq is a company that offers material handling solutions. Maria came to us needing corporate apparel for the various workers at Trilogiq. But most importantly, Maria needed polos. Lots and lots of polos.


    What kind of polos does Trilogiq need?

    First, we have different polo fabrics. We have classic knit cotton pique polos. Pique (pronounced “pi-kay”) refers to the way the fabric is weaved. It creates a textured appearance like a waffle weave.



    Unisex and ladies classic knit polos




    A close-up of pique knit fabric


    We also have wicking polos. These polos are made of polyester that wicks moisture and sweat away from the body. They are also known as dry-fit since they dry quickly. They are more lightweight and breathable than classic knit cotton polos.



    Unisex and ladies wicking polos


    After discussing these options with Maria, she decided that the wicking polos would be the best fit (pun intended). She ended up choosing an Ogio brand polo because it fit her budget and had a ladies equivalent. Plus, the wicking material was perfect for employees wanting to stay cool in the hot summer weather while still looking professional.


    Will they fit everyone?

    Maria wanted to be sure that the garment she picked would be a hit with the entire office. She also wanted to make sure that everyone ordered the correct size. To help her out with this, we offered to order in a sample set of polos. That way, she could bring them back to the office for employees to try on. Once everyone decided on their sizes, Maria brought the sample polos back to us to be embroidered.

    Maria then sent us the Trilogiq logo to be embroidered on her shirts and we got to work on her order!


    Here’s what Maria thought of her Ann Arbor Tees experience

    “Trilogiq has used Ann Arbor Tees for about a dozen orders and we’ve had great experiences with custom apparel. Quality is very important for both the tees and professional apparel we purchase so it was important to us to be sure we had the perfect garment before we placed a full order. Ann Arbor Tees was extremely accommodating and even ordered samples so we could be sure it’s exactly what we wanted. The Salespeople responded quickly, were friendly, and easy to work with. I would highly recommend using Ann Arbor Tees for any and all apparel needs, they’re the best!”
    Maria Kurple, Marketing Manager

    Thanks, Maria! We think you’re the best, too!

    Ann Arbor Tees offers many styles of corporate apparel. Contact us to see how we can deck out your company with some custom branded apparel!


    Tags: #testimonial, #corporate apparel
  • Tall styles!

    By: Rachel T, rachel.t@annarbortees.com

    3 months

    Nate pulled up a chair next me and sat down.

    He was deep in thought. I could tell he had one of his genius blog post ideas. ‘This request is going to be a tall order,’ I thought to myself.

    He handed me a chart with a list of garments. “I want you to make a post on our new tall apparel styles.”

    I could see it in his eyes. He was thrilled. It’s finally happening. All these years of wearing ill-fitting apparel are coming to an end.


    Tall apparel has officially arrived.

    Being 6’7”, Nate knows a thing or two about being tall. He also happens to love t-shirts. But when you’re as tall as Nate is, finding t-shirts that fit can be impossible.



    Being tall is great - people are always looking up to you.


    Luckily for Nate, Gildan has a pretty awesome tall tee that will actually fit those people that regularly get asked if they are a basketball player. Sick of t-shirts barely covering your stomach simply because they’re not long enough? Look no further!



    Gildan’s tall tee - no exposed tummies here!

    Just like anybody else, vertically gifted individuals also want custom embroidered apparel. There’s no need to settle for a shirt with sleeves that barely go past your elbows! Check out this professional tall Oxford style from Ash City:



    Look at how well those sleeves fit! Awkwardly uncovered forearms, begone!

    Ever had someone ask you, “how’s the weather up there”? (The same as it is down there, but thanks for your concern.) Be prepared for any weather Mother Nature throws your way with this insulated jacket, also from Ash City:



    The weather is great up here, thanks to my insulated jacket that actually fits!

    These styles are no tall tale!

    Want to learn about a tall style that’s not mentioned here? Or want to get started on your own order of tall apparel? Let us know here - nothing goes over our heads!


    Tags: