It used to be that you could not order just one custom designed t-shirt. Because of the way they made t-shirts, companies could not print single shirts. The large and expensive setup required to make the t-shirts meant that t-shirt designing companies had to charge very high setup fees to make each design. This meant that it was impossible to make a cost effective single t-shirt. Each shirt would cost such a giant setup fee that it wouldn’t be worth the time, effort, and money that it would cost the company or the customer.
This meant that, if you wanted to order custom designed t-shirts, you had to be ready to order, for example, ten or more. You couldn’t just order a t-shirt designed for yourself, to ask your girlfriend to prom, or to give your dad a t-shirt for Father’s Day, because you couldn’t order just one. The setup fee would have to be spread over a larger number of t-shirts in order to be worth it.
The traditional method was called “screen printing,” and is still used on larger orders for t-shirts. But now there is another, newer technology for printing t-shirts. This new technology allows t-shirt printers to print just one t-shirt for you. The new “No Minimum Order” policy is carried by most t-shirt printers now because of this new technology. The new printing is digital, and is called “Direct to Garment” printing. It prints the design directly onto the garment. There is no setup, and the quality does not suffer. In fact, the quality is very good—the fabric is soft, not rigid or shiny like the older transfers made it feel.
You can still get screen printing and embroidery on your custom design t-shirts. You just need to still live by the minimum order rule for these techniques, since they still require the large setup fee. This means you can also still get discounts for buying in bulk (these discounts are offered by many companies). So if you’re ordering t-shirts for your soccer team or your senior class, you can get them screen printed and get a lower price. Most companies now offer both options—screen printing and direct to garment.
What this all means is that you can let loose imagining the possibilities for single t-shirts. You can create new t-shirt just for yourself, for the first day of school, or to ask someone out. You can make joke t-shirts for your friends, and customize them by putting their names on the front or back, or putting funny pictures on each person’s shirt. You can also make t-shirts for honorary guests, or for the birthday girl, or for your father on Father’s Day. The sky’s the limit now that the new direct to garment technology has opened up the option of getting just one t-shirt printed with your own original design. Have fun!