Screen Printing vs. DTG: 4 Things to Consider

Screen printing and direct-to-garment (DTG) printing are two of the most popular ways to print a design onto fabric. While there are many ways to print a design on a t-shirt, tote, or piece of merch, these two approaches are the go-to methods for good reason. Let’s look into them in more detail.

Screen printing is the process of pulling a layer of ink over a specially crafted screen (usually with a mesh stencil) in order to produce a custom design. DTG printing applies ink directly onto the t-shirt using inkjet technology. There’s no silkscreen or paper applicator; it’s just like printing on paper, except on fabric.
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How to Print Everything

Every printing project is different. From the printing method to the choice of ink, the blend of fabric, to the intended audience, each project requires its own considerations.

One of the most important decisions you’ll have to make when customizing your order is how best to match your method with the fabric you’ve chosen for your garment. This is easier said than done. Even a slight change in the makeup of a fabric can drastically affect the way it reacts to a certain approach (be it screen printing, DTG, or sublimation). But fear not! With this printing guide as a resource, you’ll be ready to create bright, beautiful and buzzworthy swag!

Before we get into how specific fabric choices affect different printing processes, let’s do a quick review of the three main methods you have at your disposal.
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Hoodie Goodies: What You Need to Know to Choose The Best Hoodie For Your Brand

Hoodies aren’t just for winter anymore. Nor is the hoodie just what you wear on laundry day. Over the last five years, there’s been an explosion in breathable workout hoodies, lightweight spring and summer hoodies, and long-sleeved, high-performance hooded tees.

And of course that’s all on top of the traditional, and still very popular, hooded sweatshirt. With this recent surge in options, knowing the ins and outs of hoodie style, weight, and fabric is essential for brands to nail this trend.

There are two primary styles of hoodie: pullover and zippered (either quarter-zip or full-zip).
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How to Choose the Perfect Tee: Think Fit, Fabric, and Funds

T-shirt drawers around the world are overflowing with custom tees. But, only a select few of those tees get the honor of being worn again and again. To the supermarket, the beach, the bar, everywhere. By making a few smart decisions, the brands that designed those tees get exponentially more marketing value. So how do you give your brand the best chance to create a shirt that your audience will love for years?

Choosing any old cheap, boxy shirt and slapping a logo on it just won’t cut it anymore. While price still matters, savvy brands should care about durability, fit, weight, and design versatility of their promotional tees. After all, each time your t-shirt gets worn, your audience is marketing your brand for you! Put the right design on the right shirt, and it can become iconic. So why not give your tee a chance to be someone’s favorite, and not just a bottom of the drawer throwaway?

In order to make the most effective t-shirt choice for your brand, it’s first important to understand the ins and outs of price, fabric, and fit. I’ll help you understand all the style combinations and price ranges. Then you’ll be ready to make an awesome choice that’s perfect for your brand’s target market.


Tee Fit

What’s the point of putting your brand’s awesome design on a t-shirt that’ll never get worn? Before you make a single choice about what type of tee you’d like to create, consider who your target market is. Every audience is different.   

That’s why it’s important not only to choose high-quality printers and distributors, but also to make an informed fit choice. If you can appeal to your brand’s audience today, they’ll help create and grow your brand’s audience of tomorrow.

So, now you know how important it is to choose your tee with your audience in mind. Let’s look at what fit options are out there.


Men’s and Unisex Tee Fits

Well, the patriarchy is everywhere, even in shirts. Case in point – women can usually fit into men’s tees, but men often have a harder time fitting into women’s tees, so men’s and unisex fits are often just the same thing. So much for truly gender neutral shirts.

Knowing this, if you’re intent on creating just one awesome shirt, the best option would probably be to go with one of the male-tailored unisex styles. For example, if you’re planning to attend a tradeshow and don’t know exactly who will be visiting your booth, ordering quantities of a unisex shirt is a much safer option.

Luckily, this won’t really limit you choices. From classic to basic, v-neck to crew, baggy to long body, there are a ton of style and color options to choose from in the unisex category.


Women’s Tee Fits

While many women can make do with a unisex style, it isn’t usually an ideal fit. This is an especially important consideration when choosing promotional tees for audiences that are majority women. For these brands, it’s a good idea put in an additional order of a women’s fit style as opposed to just a unisex/mens fit.

Women’s fits run the gamut in terms of style, more so even than men’s tees. From slim and sporty to relaxed and flowy, from deep vees to scooped necks to basic crews, there’s no shortage of great style options to choose from.

For both men’s/unisex as well as women’s fits, make sure to evaluate the range of style options that are out there, and then try to match those up with the needs of your target audience. If you’re still not sure what would be best, make sure to order samples of your favorite styles before you commit to a large order.


Tee Fabric

When choosing the fabric for your tee, there are several questions you should be asking yourself:

  • How will your brand’s design be printed onto your shirt? Will you use water or oil-based ink?
  • Where is the tee most likely going to get worn?
  • How often will people where it?
  • What types of people will be wearing it?


These are all important questions to consider when thinking about what kind of fabric to use.

For example, if you are targeting a surf/skate/streetwear audience, then you would likely want to use a heavier weight fabric. These soft, structured cotton shirts traditionally come with looser, more relaxed style options.

However, if you’re targeting a more boutique customer, a medium weight fabric would work better. Medium weight fabrics generally come with more fitted, slightly more refined style options.

In addition, don’t forget that the type of fabric you choose also affects the ways in which you can print your design. Make sure to check if the fabric is versatile enough to handle your preferred design method (i.e. screen printing, DTG, sublimation, embroidery, etc.)

No matter what type you choose, the fabric for your tee is just as important as the fit when it comes to its wearability. Just like with the fit and style, don’t be afraid to order samples and conduct tailored market research in order to determine the best option for your brand’s core audience.


Tee Price

After targeting the best fit and fabric options for your audience, you’ll then be able to target the perfect tee for your budget. This is because within each tee style there’s a diversity of good, better and best options tailored to fit budgets of all sizes. At DTLA we handpick our partners’ products that we think represent good, better, and best options.

For example, let’s say you want a crew neck, relaxed fit shirt for a primarily female audience. Well, within that style, you’ve got a wide range of price options to choose from. If you’re on a tighter budget, you might want to go with one of our simple, high quality 100% cotton tees from Bella + Canvas. If affordability is less of a concern for your brand, you might consider something like a burnout cotton/poly blend, or a semi-relaxed triblend.

The point is, once you’ve made an informed decision about the best fit and fabric for your tee, there will be a diverse range of products for you to choose from depending on your budget.          


The Takeaway

The promotional tee is a foundational pillar for both your brand’s design and the relationship it has with its audience. By just taking a little bit more time to understand your options for fit, fabric, and price you can make the perfect choice for your target audience! And if you’re ever feeling overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to reach out to our experts. Having worked with a huge range of brands, we know target audiences as well as we know our inventory.

Choosing the Right Tote Bag for Your Brand

Tote bags are the new shopping bag. As people wise up about limiting their use of plastic, tote bags are becoming a must-have item for conscientious consumers and designers everywhere. It’s not hard to see why – totes combine convenience, environmentalism, and brand promotion.

To keep up with the demand for totes, brands large and small order custom tote bags in droves. However, at DTLA we’ve seen that a lot of them don’t know just how many different styles of tote bags are available. This is in no way a one-size-fits-all bag. Just like with screen printing on t-shirts, sweatshirts and hats, there are countless styles and sizes of tote bags to choose from. 

We hand-select our products for quality of fabric, washability, durability, printability, and consumer satisfaction. To be as transparent as possible with our clients, we give each of our available items an overall rating of good, better, and best.

For a better idea of the range that exists within each tote style, we’ve included links to examples of our good, better, and best selections.
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Top 5 Ways Promotional Tote Bags Deliver For Brands

Tote bags are totes in right now.

These days, you don’t have to be a lifestyle brand to reap the rewards of lifestyle marketing and merchandising. From apparel to kitchenware, far more brands are integrating promotion with lifestyle.

One of the most popular forms of totally lifestyle-integrated advertising is the screen printed promotional tote bag. It seems like you can’t walk more than a few blocks from your house before spotting someone toting a cloth bag full of groceries, library books, or picnic items. Slapping your brand’s logo on a tote is a great way to unify your base, increase brand recognition, and build a lasting relationship with your audience.

Here are the top 5 ways promotional tote bags can deliver big for brands.
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How green is your ink? Environmental Impact of Water Based vs. Plastisol Inks

Your T-shirts say more than that you like Justin Bieber. On each of your tees, your environmental impact is literally written in ink.

Traditionally, choosing the right ink for your tee has been a combination of quality, ease of use, and price. However, for designers and consumers today, the environmental impact of our choices matter more than ever before. If you’re looking for eco-friendly screen printing that doesn’t affect quality or price, what are your options?

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Why You Should Be Using Water Based Ink

Choosing the right ink for your tee is vital. Water based ink helps you to not only to get the most out of your design, but also to create the softest, most comfortable shirt possible.

Your beautiful, vibrant screen printed design and super soft tee can feel ruined when it’s been printed with an ink that feels rough and itchy on the skin or one that quickly cracks and peels as it wears. Believe us, we know, it’s torture. Luckily, using custom-made blends of water based and discharge inks with high quality fabrics s a great recipe for making your new favorite tee.

So what exactly are water based and discharge inks?
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Top 5 Ways to Save When Ordering Wholesale Custom Shirts and Other Screen Printed Products

I’ve heard “Hey, where’d you get that rad shirt?” way more than “hey, which digital agency designed your website?”

Custom screen printed t-shirts and swag bring people together and promote your brand in a profoundly personal way. What better way for your fans to show that they’re one of the select few who love your products, your band merch, or your events?
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photo screen printing
Crack Ink
Available in both water based and discharge inks. The ink actually cracks in pieces the way you want it to so no two piece will be alike. Great for vintage washed out looks while still brand new. This is custom silk screen printing at its best.
spot color screen printing
Burn Out
Burnout is a special screen printing process we use to removes the cotton fibers from a shirt, leaving only the polyester intact. It’s perfect if you want to give your T-shirt designs that really cool see-through look.
photo screen printing
Water Based Ink
Well known for their soft feel and vibrant colors they produce when printed onto t-shirts and other textiles. When printed water based inks leave no hand feel behind so you can feel the fibers of the garment.
spot color screen printing
Silk Screen T-shirt printing with plastisol is the oldest and most commonly used ink across the market to screen print your custom t shirts. The misconception how ever is that all inks are the same.
photo screen printing
Eco Friendly Inks + Screen Prints are the true green alternative to screen printing. These inks replace traditional harmful inks and are 100% PVC and phthalate free.
spot color screen printing
Stretch Ink
Mostly used for athletic/activewear fabrics such as nylons, spandex, polyesters, rayons, lycra, that have a lot of stretch but can also be screen printed on other blends for different textures. These inks will make your prints stretch with the fabric and do not create cracks or creases when stretched. These should be printed on all sports jerseys, yoga apparel, athletic uniforms, and activewear.
photo screen printing
3M Reflective
We offer the 3M reflective ink prints as well as a standard reflective print that come in either a waterbase (eco-friendly) or plastisol-based ink with the unique ability to reflect once a light source is aimed at the print. Popular uses for this new ink includes police departments, fire departments, E.M.S., and other safety professions. Has recently become extremely popular in the skate, surf, urban, and street apparel industries.
spot color screen printing
Puff Inks
Inks that expands and rises when heated, giving a three dimensional look, with a raised feel. Any los angeles t-shirt printer can buy inks and print them, but the real beauty and art of screen printing on t-shirts comes when you can mix inks correctly and accurately. Controlling how the puff inks actually puff is one example.
spot color screen printing
High Density Inks
Perfect for create custom silk screened T-shirts right here in Los Angeles. High Density inks can be matched to any color and raise in the drying process to create a 3D look. Inks can be raised to your desired height or width and can be printed with other high density inks of different sizes.
We are currently following safe work place practices and are processing orders. 10% off All Orders Placed Online Through 2021. Code: DTLA10