Make it Soft to the Touch

Tshirts have become an integral part of today’s fashions, and a common item for companies to advertise or promote their business or brand. One of the popular trends in tshirt design is to use softer materials and imprinting methods that are soft to the touch. The goal is to have an imprint that doesn’t feel like a plastic sticker, but retains the softness of the material as much as possible.

At The Creative J, we have numerous imprinting and decorating techniques available which gives us the ability to offer our customers unique and memorable ways to design their apparel. To achieve an imprint which retains that soft, almost worn feel, even when the design covers a lot of area, there are three main methods to use. Below are some of the options and details about each:

No Underbase

Using regular Plastisol inks without an underbase can achieve a more worn look with a slightly softer feel.

Final Appearance
Depending on the color of the shirt and the ink colors being used, the imprint can have a vintage/worn look with a slightly softer feel since there is not a layer of white underneath. There will still be a detectable imprint to the touch.

Imprints will retain their detail within the limits of standard screenprinting.

Either the same or a bit less in some cases than standard printing.

Minimum Quantities
No restrictions other than those for standard printing (usually 12, depending on imprint colors and locations)

Fashion Base

An additive is mixed with regular Plastisol inks to achieve a softer feel. After washing the shirt, you won’t be able to feel the imprint.

Final Appearance
The imprint will have a more transparent, washed-out look, which will allow the color of the shirt to show through. For this reason, printing a dark imprint on a dark shirt will not work as well since the shirt color will overtake the imprint color. However, if printing a lighter color on a dark shirt, the imprint will have the worn, distressed look of a vintage tshirt.


Fashion Base Print

Since Plastisol inks hold good detail, imprints will retain their detail in finer areas.

A bit more per imprint color and placement than standard inks, but still an affordable option.

Minimum Quantities
Since inks need to be specially mixed and cannot be saved for later use, there is a minimum of 48 pieces.

Water Base Inks

These inks have a softer hand to them then standard Plastisol inks and has a softer look to the imprint also (colors will not be as bright).

Final Appearance
The imprint will be a bit more transparent than standard inks and does not print well on white underbases, so works best on white or light colors. Pantone colors will appear a bit lighter than they appear in color books, so if you want bright, vibrant colors, waterbase is not the direction to go.

Since the ink has a tendency to dry more quickly, there can be a loss of detail in some fine areas.

Usually no extra cost to run waterbased inks.

Minimum Quantities
No higher minimums than standard printing.

Discharge Ink

Discharge ink is the process and waterbased ink used for dark garments. It’s extremely soft when compared to standard inks. It uses a chemical which bleaches the dye from the garment before depositing the ink pigment on the material.


Final Appearance
After washing, the imprint will feel just like the garment’s material. Imprint colors can be vibrant since the garment color does not show through the ink. Only SOME 100% cotton garments will work for this process. Some rich colors such as royal blue, red, purple, etc. can be very unpredictable as the inks can become contaminated by the shirt dye. When used on the right type of garment, it has a wonderfully soft and vibrant appearance.

Since these are waterbased inks, fine details may appear soft or fill in some due to drying issues.

Due to the special mixing of inks with chemicals, they must be used right after mixing. In addition, the chemicals tend to break down the screens, which depending on the size of the order, can require additional screens. Therefore, the cost for discharge is much higher than standard inks. You can figure an extra $.60-$.75 per imprint color, per location for discharge.

Minimum Quantities
Due to the factors above, discharge printing using requires a minimum of 72 pieces or more.

Using the methods above, along with other techniques and decoration methods, we can help you to create a tshirt design that will stand out from the rest.

CPSIA and Child Safe Products

For the past year, manufacturers and importers of consumer products have been required to show proof of compliance with third-party testing for lead in children’s products. These new regulations are commonly referred to as CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act) This impacts the promotional product industry since many promo products are intended for or handled by children. It’s important to be aware of these regulations as they pertain to the marketing items you chose for your promos.
 stuffed lamb toy

What is Defined as a Child”s Product?

Basically anything designed or intended for use by children under 12 fall under these regulations. However, this definition can get a bit sticky. Some items although not necessarily intended for children, may fall under this regulation due to the imprint placed on the item. For example, if you decorate a water bottle with a fun cartoon, then it can be determined to fall under this regulation. That same water bottle with a company logo on it can be exempt.
What About Items Not Intended for Children?
Items not intended for children, but handled by them, are exempt from the testing requirements. It is only if the items primary target audience is children under 12 that the requirements come into play.
What Products are Deemed Safe?
Products which have passed the testing guidelines for CPSIA will have proper labeling  and test results. Most manufacturers are now including these reports on their websites. Products which are deemed child safe will also have a tracking label directly on the product. Again, the gray area of this issue is on products which before decorated are not considered to be children’s products, but after decoration are. These items may not have gone though the testing process.
For a more in-depth explanation of this issue, read this article provided by the Promotional Products Association:  click here.
To view how some of our favorite suppliers comply with these regulations, check out their compliance pages:

A good rule of thumb for any promos you purchase for your marketing efforts:  Take a couple minutes to review the audience which will be receiving your items to determine if children are part of that audience. Then take a few moments to review the items to see if any of them appear to be intended for children, or appeal to children. The last thing you want in your marketing campaign is to hand out an item which could be potentially dangerous to a child.