Nuts and bolts of making T-Shirts

Hey guys, Intern here. So, WE set up the t-shirt printer this weekend and well…it wasn’t as I remembered it to be from my high school days, but it all pretty much came back to me after screening the first print. Oh, who am I kidding? This is nothing at all what I remembered from the well-lit store in the mall. No, as you will find out later, Safety Sally had a conniption about a third of the way through this adventure.

When WE met, I was working in the mall silk screening shirts. Seriously, it was one of my favorites jobs to date. I would go to work and make shirts for tourists, shop owners and just people wanting a custom design. So, when WE decided he would rather print on demand than have a ton of shirts on a shelf somewhere, he asked me what I thought and I told him to go for it.
18422390_225683267930430_8547109076890299924_oI tried to tell him how we needed to set up shop. I tried to explain how it was set up when I was in high school. The set up of the t-shirt arm, the light thingy that hung to one side. How the t-shirt arm would swing over under the light and after a few seconds, the shirt design would start smoking and that’s how you knew it was cured. Oh. And then the heavy iron press that had the silicone sheets to cover the design when you ironed it. We used to spray water in between those silicone sheets and the press them together. The steam was awesome and the sound it made was similar to that of a balloon when you pull the opening tight and the air screams its way out. (I was less of a Safety Sally in my younger days.) Of course, while explaining all of this to him, I was using all the correct terminology which really helped him search the internet for the right products. {{Sarcasm}}

IMG_0911 (1)Truth be told, he ordered a 4-color t-shirt printing station and a flash dryer that heated up to 800 degrees. Upon delivery, the box with the t-shirt station was trashed. I am not kidding. It looked like the box had fallen out of the brown truck a few times and then accidentally dragged down the road a few miles before making it to the house. WE said when he picked the box up, a few nuts and bolts fell out. IMG_0883He couldn’t find any instructions for assembly, so it took him quite sometime to put it all together. Once together, it sat on our dining room floor for a week. While WE had planned on printing shirts, neither one of us had really no idea how much space was going to be required to do such an adventure. (True to form, WE jumps with both feet in and I tend to tip toe around the waters’ edge.)

WE decided, after tripping over the hardware in our dining room for a week, the best place to set up the shirt printing would be the basement. THE BASEMENT. I don’t even know how describe our basement without some horror music in the back ground. In our basement, there lives totes upon totes of holiday decorations, various pieces of raw and cut wood from projects I started and never finished, flooring from our many remodels, a few kitchen tables we are storing for…not sure, chairs that go with previously mentioned tables, a bamboo bar…Oh, there’s a twin sized bed, a headboard that is missing bolts…uh, OH! And the scariest furnace you have ever seen in your entire life. While an upgraded model from that featured in The Christmas Story, that thing freaks me out every time it comes on. It’s attached to a propane tank in our yard. No. Really. We have a propane tank in our yard. This City-Girl was pretty blown away by that too.

WE decided to get some new lighting for the dungeon, I mean the sweat shop, I mean the basement. He got everything set up and turned on the flash dryer. It smelled horrible as it heated up and neither one of us knew whether the smell/smoke was 81mwc0AYAKL._SL1500_.jpgnormal, or if we were going to die some horrible caustic death. Trust me, it was toxic. I worried about the load on the fuse…hold on, we just tripped a breaker. (Not kidding, just as we were discussing the possibility of the flash dryer being too much amperage, the breaker blew.) All joking aside, because you all know Safety Sally does NOT mess around in the face of certain death. Ha ha, or in this case burning down our house from over-loading the breaker box. This is where I had a melt down and told WE I didn’t think any of this was a good idea at all. I told him I was scared of burning the house down. I told him I was afraid I would forget to turn off the heat flasher. I even told him how many times I get halfway down the lane and turn around because I think I had forgotten to turn off my curling iron. Let’s not even talk about the days before self-turning-off coffee pots and the days we had an automatic garage door. I leave work an hour early so I have time to go back home and check that I had turned everything off. After listening to my twenty minute meltdown, WE ended up turning off all unnecessary switches. He also put a fire extinguisher on the table. After all of that, we made it safely through the first set of t-shirts. (It took us three hours to print five double-sided shirts.)

IMG_0911 (1)Talk about trial and error. Back in the day, I printed shirts without the aid of a screen holder. I had to eye ball the placement and the overall process was pretty easy. The contraption WE got had the silk screen hooked on an arm and the t-shirt was to be place upside down on the platen. It was very confusing to line up a screen when both it and the t-shirt were upside down. Again, in high school, I only had to do one pass of ink. This new age of printing on black t-shirts required multiple passes which also required curing the ink under the flash dryer between passes. I was having a hard time keeping the shirt in perfect position.

I am so thankful for You Tube!

Needless to say, one of those dining room tables came in pretty handy for mounting the machine so it wouldn’t move about an the spray adhesive is a dream! Just be sure and wash your shirts before wearing them. Which brings me to this: WE was pretty impressed with my mad skills for shirt making. That was until he washed all of his new shirts and realized I hadn’t cured them long enough under the heat flasher curer thingy. Let’s just say a couple of his shirts have to look of “Rustic Ruggedness.” Yup, marketing at it’s best ladies and gents. He laughed and said it make them more original and he has no problem wearing the trial and error shirts. (So thankful for this man’s patience with me!)

Feel free to pop on over to the Etsy Shop and see the designs WE have come up with so far. For the whole month, WE is offering 99-cent US Domestic shipping on all of the shirts.

Oh, and when we were cleaning out the office yesterday, I found the CD labeled: SCREEN PRINTER and asked WE what it was.

“Awe crap,” he said. “Uh, those are the instructions for putting together the screen printing thing.”

Never a dull moment, friends. Never. A. Dull. Moment.


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