Shirt Art, Inc -- Custom Screen Printing and Embroidery

Shirt Art has been providing Custom Screen Printing, Embroidery, and Ad Specialties since 1981 in the Northern Virginia area, including Woodbridge, Fairfax, Alexandria, Manassas, Arlington, Fredericksburg, Loudoun, Stafford, Reston and Washington DC. We specialize in Custom orders for Schools, Businesses, Churches, Athletic Teams, and School Spiritwear. We also offer Wholesale Contract Printing.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

How To Order Custom Screen Printing on T-Shirts, Sweatshirts and More

Welcome to Shirt Art, Inc! Do you have any questions about the Custom Screen Printing Ordering Process? This article is a quick "How to" introduction for anyone looking to Order Custom Screen Printing. Our goal is to assist you in making the most of your order. We believe that the more you know about Ordering Custom T-Shirts and other Garments the better your project will turn out. At Shirt Art, we take pride in making your Custom Screen Printing Order the best it can be. This is what puts us at a different level than all those Generic Internet Clip-Art Websites out there. From start to finish, we work with you to ensure that your order is exactly what you want it to be. Our Full Service Artwork process, where we help you create a High Impact Custom Screen Printing Design, is where we really shine. Compare our Image Gallery with any of the Bargain Bin Internet Clip-Art sites and you will clearly see why our Graphic Design Expertise will set your Custom T-Shirts and other garments apart from the crowd.

Let Us Help You
Stand Apart from all those Generic Internet Clip-Art Websites

Step 1: How to Get Custom Screen Printing Pricing Quotes

There are Three things you need to know to get an accurate price quote:

  • Quantity

  • Garment Style and Color

  • Print Locations and Number of Print Colors
Click Here to Visit Our Website
Click Here to Request a Free Custom Screen Printing Quote


Screen Printing Pricing is very Quantity Dependent, meaning that the more shirts you get with a given print, the lower the price per shirt. This is because there is a very involved set-up process before you can even begin to Print Custom T-Shirts. (For an interesting and informative article on How Modern Screen Printing Works Click Here). So the first thing you must determine is an estimate of quantity

Garment Style and Color:

Garment Style is pretty self explanatory, obviously a Custom Sweatshirt or Custom Polo Shirt will cost more than a Custom T-Shirt with the same Printing. Take a look at our Apparel Catalogs for numerous choices, and let our EZ Style Finder ™ Links assist you in that process. And every step of the way feel free to Call Us at 703-680-3963 or Email Us: for assistance. For Garment Color you don't necessarily need to have a particular color in mind, in fact a mix of colors is perfectly acceptable. However, Light Garments (White, Natural and Ash generally) are cheaper than Colors, so if Garment Color is not a huge concern you can save a bit of money sticking with Light Garments. We would be happy to give you a price quote on both light and colored garments.

Print Locations and Colors:

How many Screen Prints are you going to get on your garments? Just one on the front? Front and Back? Maybe a Sleeve Print? We need this information to give you an accurate quote. We also need to know the Number of Colors per Print Location. For example, a 3 Color Front and a One Color Back Print.

Step 2: The Artwork and Graphic Design Process

Now that you have a price quote and have selected us for Screen Printing your Custom T-Shirts or other garments we can start on the Design. This is an area that really sets us apart from our competition. Regardless of whether you already have some Artwork or just have a vague idea, we have a Full Service Professional Artist ready to transform your ideas into a High-Impact Custom T-Shirt Design suited for the Screen Printing Process. Looking at our Image Gallery you will quickly see that we offer much more than the basic clip-art features of the bargain-bin Internet Screen Printing companies. Compare our Artwork with any you see on those generic Internet Clip Art websites and you will quickly see why Shirt Art, Inc is the right choice for your Custom Screen Printing Order. So submit to us your ideas or logo, via Phone: 703-680-3963, Email: (Artwork Requirements), or In Person at our Shop. We will quickly create a Graphic Design and Email it to you for final approval or revisions.

Click Here to Visit Our Website
Click Here to Request a Free Custom Screen Printing Quote

Step 3: Submit Final Style and Size Count

While we are creating your Screen Printing Graphic Design you can get together your final tally of Garment Style and Sizes. Submit this to us along with the date you need your order completed by. Our Standard Turn-Around time is 7 to 10 business days from the final approval on the order and artwork. We can also accomodate Rush Orders for a small fee. Once these 3 Steps are completed you just need to sit back and relax until you pick up your completed order on the scheduled date!

Shirt Art, Inc - Custom Screen Printing and Embroidery 2869 PS Business Center Dr.Woodbridge, VA 22912 Phone: 703-680-3963Toll Free: 18003529097 email:
Screen Printing:

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Custom Screen Printing 101 -- How it works

Custom Screen Printing is a complicated and (at least in the opinion of Shirt Art employees) fascinating process. It is both labor and machinery intensive. Properly done it requires a great attention to detail at every stage of the process to achieve a superior Custom Printed T-Shirt. It also requires some specialized machinery, but of course the results are only as good as the knowledge, experience, and care given by the operator.

As you may know, Screen Printing Pricing is very quantity dependent. This is because the Set-Up process to print 1 shirt or 1000 shirts is the same. So let's start there, with the Set-Up process for a 1 color T-Shirt print.

The Screen

The single most important tool used by Screen Printers is the Screen. As it's name implies, it is essentially like a piece of mesh with holes that allow the ink to pass through onto the T-Shirt, polo shirt, or other garment. Originally this mesh was made of silk, hence the name silk screening, but currently it is most often a high strength nylon. (For more on Screen Printing History, click here) Aside from various subtleties such as type of material and type of weave, the basic characteristics of a screen are it's hole size and tension. At Shirt Art we predominately use high tension screens that we stretch ourselves, giving us more control in our print. As far as mesh size, we use a wide variety, among which the most frequently used sizes are 86 (holes per inch), 110, 156, 200, 230, 305, and 355. Essentially you can think of these mesh sizes as corresponding to resolution, for instance a 355 hole per inch screen would hold much more detail than an 86 hole per inch screen. So you might ask, "Why not only use the highest mesh screen, since that provides the most detail?" The answer is that we do use the highest appropriate mesh at all times, but there are practical limitations determined by the type of ink being used, and whether the print is going on a light or dark T-Shirt. A dark T-Shirt needs a thicker and more opaque ink to hold it's color, and these inks often are too thick to pass through the higher meshes. We do employ a number of techniques to combat this issue, of which an advanced technique called "Simulated Process Printing on Darks" is paramount. Using this technique we routinely use 230, 305, and even 355 mesh screens for our Custom Prints on dark T-Shirts.

Screen Printing Process Prepping the Screen

Reclaiming and Coating the Screen

So once the appropriate screen mesh has been selected, the screen must be cleaned of all past images and inks, and then left to dry (figure 1). Once it is completely dry, it must be coated with a light sensitive photo-emulsion. This substance comes shipped as a liquid. It is water soluble and has a consistency similar to that of ordinary paint. It is applied to each screen individually by hand using a scoop coater, which is essentially a long trough that allows a thin layer of the emulsion to coat both sides of the mesh. Once this process is complete the coated screens are left in a dark room until the photo-emulsion dries due to exposure to the air. At this point the screens are ready to be exposed to light(figure 2).

"Burning" The Screen

We now have a screen with a dry layer of photo-emulsion coating both sides of the mesh. We started with a screen that was entirely open mesh, and would allow ink to pass through at any point, and now we have a screen that is covered with dry photo-emulsion and will not let ink pass through anywhere. However in order to produce a Custom Screen Print we must have something in between the two, namely a stencil that will allow the one color of ink in the screen to pass through the mesh and be deposited on the Custom T-Shirt in only the areas we want the ink to be. This is where our in-house Artist comes into play. The artwork he creates on the computer is printed out in black ink on transparent film (figure 3). Each color of the artwork is first separated and then printed out by itself, because each screen can only print one color of ink. These films are then fixed to the screen (figure 4), at which point we use a Metal-Halide Bulb Exposure Unit to expose the light sensitive photo-emulsion to a light source. After the screen has been exposed (or "burned" in Screen Printing lingo) it is rinsed with a steady stream of water. Wherever the light was able to reach the photo-emulsion directly the photo-emulsion remains hardened, continuing to block up that portion of the mesh. However where the black ink of the computer film blocked the light from getting through the photo-emulsion washes away, leaving an open area for ink to pass through the mesh and creating our stencil.

Fig 5: Exposure Unit in Action

Fig 6: Screen Burned and Rinsed -- Stencil Complete

Tape it Up and Lock it Down

After the rinsing process is complete, and the stencil is opened up, the screen is allowed to dry once again. Then tape is used to cover the sides, top and bottom of the mesh area, where the scoop coater is unable to deposit any emulsion, so that no ink is able to slip through onto the shirt. The screen must also be examined for "pinholes," which are tiny holes in the emulsion that would let ink pass through to leave tiny unwanted spots of ink on the Custom T-Shirts. If any of these pinholes are present they must be covered with a small piece of tape. Similarly, during the print run a very close eye must be kept on each and every shirt to ensure that no more pinholes open up once the run has started. Once the Taping Up process is complete, the screen must be aligned in the printing press so that it is level with the board on which the Custom T-Shirts will be loaded, so that it is straight, and also centered, and then Locked Down into place. Then the ink must be placed into the screen, as well as a squeegee which draws the ink across the stencil and deposits it onto the shirt. In addition, if it is a multicolor print, each screen must be Registered to the others so that the various colors will line up correctly. A rough registration is accomplished during this Lock Down process. Then test prints must be done and adjustments made using the microregistration knobs of the press, which allow for tiny movements to be made to each screen, until all colors are in precisely the right spot relative to each other.


And now we've finally reached the Printing stage. As you can see, there is quite a bit involved in setting up a Custom Screen Print. Whether we're printing this image on 1 shirt or 1000 shirts, we still have to perform all of these steps before we are ready to print the first shirt. Once this has all been accomplished the printing process is fairly straight forward and can move at a relatively high speed. Each shirt must be loaded individually, with care taken to make sure it is put on the board straight, then the squeegee must be passed across the screen to push the ink through the entire stencil. In Fig. 8 you can see the Green Ink Screen set up and ready to print on our Automatic Press. If there is another color to be printed it is then ready to print, by spinning the board with the loaded Custom T-Shirt over to the next screen. Then the shirt must be removed from the board and sent through the Dryer. The Dryer is exactly what it's name implies, essentially a conveyor belt that goes through a heated tunnel. The ink we use on the shirts is called Plastisol, and is essentially a liquid plastic that needs to be heated to roughly 330 degrees Fahrenheit in order to properly cure. Once this has been done, the Custom T-Shirt has a layer of plastic on it, which should outlast the T-Shirt material. Fig. 9 shows the final product, a Custom T-Shirt printed with 2 Colors. This whole process, the loading, printing, and unloading of the shirts, can be accomplished at a reasonably fast rate. Thus you can see why the quantity of shirts is such an important factor in determining a price for Custom Screen Printing. Once the production run is complete the ink can be scraped out of the screen and back into the bucket, the squeegee cleaned, and the screen is now ready to be reclaimed, returning us to the beginning of the cycle.

Shirt Art, Inc - Custom Screen Printing and Embroidery 2869 PS Business Center Dr.Woodbridge, VA 22912 Phone: 703-680-3963Toll Free: 18003529097 email: website:
Screen Printing:

Custom Printed School Spiritwear

Hello, and Welcome to Shirt Art, Inc. We specialize in top quality Custom Screen Printing and Embroidery. Today I'd like to tell you about our quick and easy Custom School Spirit Wear ordering process. Lately alot of websites have sprung up offering a standardized format for ordering School Spiritwear T-Shirts, offering you the ability to create a basic t-shirt design using standard clip-art images for your shirt and then place the "custom" Screen Printing order online. While this may be fine for some, it ignores a crucial component of the Screen Printing industry -- Customization. Please take a few moments to learn about our Full Service Professional Art Department and our quick and easy 3 step Custom School Spiritwear process, and what sets us above the competition's boring clip-art.

Design for School Spirit Wear Custom T-Shirt Printing Design for Custom School Spirit Wear T-Shirt Printing

Two Recent Custom School Spiritwear T-Shirt Prints


Contact Us
Pick Up Sample Pack and Take Orders
Pick Up Finished Order

Contact Us

We make this step as painless as possible. We can correspond via email (Email Us), over the phone (703-680-3963) or in person at our location in Woodbridge, VA, less than 5minutes from I-95. This step gets the ball rolling, and this is where you'll begin to notice what sets us apart from our competition, namely our desire to work with you to turn your vision into a succesful Custom School Spirit Wear order. At Shirt Art we have been custom printing T Shirts and other garments with long lasting and dynamic designs for over 25 years. We are experts at taking a concept for a design and turning into a unique and exciting image that is fun to wear and creates a strong impression. We encourage you to turn our strength in image design into your strength in fundraising. Furthermore, you can choose your own level of involvement. If you'd simply like to turn the project over to us, just let us know the name of the school, the colors, the mascots, and any guidelines on the type of content you'd like to see (for instance would you like a cartoonish looking mascot, retro design, lifelike design, etc). On the other hand if you enjoy graphic design feel free to send us something you've worked up. Keep in mind, though, that part of our expertise and experience comes in turning the image you see on paper or the computer screen into something that will print well on a t-shirt, so remember to let us work with you. After all, what makes us better than all those clip-art websites out there is our desire to transform the ideas you have into exactly what you'd like to see on the shirt. Our process is just as streamlined and easy as theirs, but we stay one step ahead in customer service, custom art design, and printing quality. In addition, many of these websites outsource their printing, often to other countries, whereas Shirt Art has been a part of Northern Virginia, creating US jobs and contributing to the community, for over 25 years.

Pick Up Sample Pack and Take Orders

Once we know what you are looking for we will design several images to be used on the different types of garments, such as Tshirts, Longsleeve shirts, Sweatshirts and Hoodies, Ringer T's, Baseball Sleeve T's, TyeDye T's, Sweatpants, Shorts etc. We will then email you the layouts for approval. Once approved we will create a sample pack showing the images printed on garments in a variety of sizes, so that your students can see the finished product as well as know what sizes to order. We will also email you an order form completely ready to go, simply print out copies and distribute them to each homeroom. And here's the best part, by taking orders in this manner, you will only have to pay for items already committed to, and will not be stuck with any leftover pieces. Assign a deadline for orders to be placed, then let us know the final tally's.

Pick Up Your Finished Order

Once you give us the final quantities your order will be available for pick up in 7 to 10 business days. That's it, you're finished! And you'll notice both the quality of the printing and the great look of the various designs on the finished product. So not only are the stock clip-art sites no easier to use, but their finished products are generally lacking in creativity and impact.

So give us a call, send us an email, or just stop by for a quick chat. Let us know what you'd like to accomplish and let us set you up with a quick and easy path to success for your Spiritwear Order. In addition we offer the same easy 3 Step system for Embroidered Staff Spiritwear packages, again we are here to serve you with our fully customizable process. We also offer a variety of Ad Specialty and Promotional Items printed with your school's logo, such as Magnets, Stickers, Water Bottles, even USB Flash Drives.

Shirt Art would like to thank you for taking the time to read through this, and we look forward to helping you with your future Custom Screen Printing and Embroidery needs.

Shirt Art, Inc - Custom Screen Printing and Embroidery
2869 PS Business Center Dr.Woodbridge, VA 22912
Phone: 703-680-3963Toll Free: 18003529097
email: Email Us)website:
Screen Printing:

Design for T-Shirt Printing

*Designs we have created and printed - Not intended as endorsement of Shirt Art, Inc by these organizations - For illustrative purposes only - Do Not Reproduce

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Welcome to the Shirt Art Blog

Shirt Art, Inc -- Custom Printed T-Shirts, Embroidery, and Ad Specialties Products

Hello and Welcome to the Shirt Art, Inc Blog.

At Shirt Art our mission is simple. We provide our customers with the highest quality of Screen Printing, Embroidery, and Ad Specialties available, while at the same time making the ordering process as quick and easy as possible. We dedicate ourselves to working with our customers to achieving a final result that exceeds their initial expectations. With nearly 30 years of experience, our expertise enables us to take our customers screen printing and embroidery projects above and beyond what they would get with the bargain bin internet printing companies.

There are many variables involved in putting together a successful Screen Printing or Embroidery order for your organization, and it can seem like a daunting task at first. That is where Shirt Art can be your greatest asset. In addition to providing top notch quality, we have a customer service oriented team with the experience and knowledge to quickly and easily answer your questions. We specialize in Custom orders, and take pride in making each order we do fit the needs of the customer as closely as possible. Aside from our high standards of print quality and attention to detail, this is the quality that sets Shirt Art above the competition.

At Shirt Art, our job is to turn your print ideas into reality, and we do this every day. We have an in-house artist to help transform your visions into reality. Our Artist takes our customer's ideas, logo's, or draft art and turns it into a highly polished high impact T-Shirt design hundreds of times a year. And most importantly, he understands how to produce the artwork in such a way that it looks good not only on the computer screen, but more importantly on the T-Shirt. This is something that many customers overlook when they order from the bargain bin "design it yourself" websites. Not only do most of those websites outsource their orders, often to foreign countries, resulting in inconsitencies from one order to the next, but their design features do not take into account that the design needs to work properly in the silk-screening process.

We encourage you to take a look at our website,, for more information, catalogs of apparel types, and samples of our Screen Printing and Embroidery. If you are interested in placing an order or getting pricing, please email at or call at 703-680-3963. And of course we welcome you to come by our shop and meet us, because nothing works as well as genuine personal interaction. Our address is
2869 PS Business Ctr Dr. Woodbridge, VA 22192