Team Tips: Cool Clothing
There are many many sites that now do
shirts on demand. Each has it's
own unique features. Some sites will do
dark shirts front and back, others will
not. Some will print on sleeves, and
other features. We suggest you look
at a few, create a sample shirt to get
an idea of costs, the pick the one that
works best for you.
Shirt Sites for Direct Printing
Totally Cheap Tees (Online):
800-858-3040 to call them (White
Mountain) and ask for Brandon
Café Press (Online)
Bewildering array of items and clothing.
How to Get Cool Team Clothing
You've worked hard to prep your team. You've
paid your fees, made your plans, spent hours in
preparation. Why not look like a million bucks?
Look at the photo albums from our
past years (drop down above) to see how cool it
looks to have full color shirts or
CLICK HERE for some samples.
Production Options for Team Clothing
Use a Direct Print Vendor:
These vendors can print you logo and customization to each shirt
in full color. The process is direct
print in which they inkjet with permanent
ink directly onto your item. And, they offer
hundreds of items that can be customized
with your logo.
- PROS: One design can be
applied to many items. Each item can be
customized without penalty (for example,
we make a shirt for each person with
their name). Online system is easy to
use. Quick turnaround (2-4 days). Good
quality garments (even our shirts from 4
years ago are still going strong). You
can open a free store if you want just one
one of each item (no customization)
Basic stores (unlimited items) are about
$6 per month. But you can close the
store after the season.
- CONS: Really none
except cost. A typical shirt will cost
$14-17 or more but you only have to make what
you need (no minimums).
a sponge print template for custom shirts.
This year our FLL teams are going to use
generic t-shirts and use sponges and brushes
to color their logo. To do this you need to
use a local sign shop that can digitally cut
out the template. The key is that you cannot
have any floating elements (like the center
of an "O'). You have to connect them. This
will create similar shirts that are each
- Do it Yourself: Using any number
of iron on materials from a variety of
vendors you can make great shirts yourself.
There are now iron on transfers for light
and dark shirts. The key to getting these to
work is to FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS.
- PROS: Do it at home,
can be done in a night. Can be done
in color (any thing you can design). Can be
customized (since you are printing a
graphic for each shirt).
- CONS: More expensive
than you would expect (materials, ink,
shirts). You will spend, between
ink, iron-on, and the shirt, at least
$10 per item. Prone to error (which means you
typically have to discard the garment).
Relatively short wear life (may break up or
fades after a few washings. Time
consuming (doing 10 shirts will take you
a few hours).
- WHERE TO FIND SUPPLIES:
Your local Staples, BestBuy, Office
Depot, etc. will have the iron on inkjet
material. Shirts can be purchased from
local sports stores or Wal-Mart/Target
(for white). Shirts should be 100%
cotton for best results.
- Use a Silk Screen Vendor: Silk
screening is a process that uses inks
pressed through screens into the garment.
The screens provide a mask for the design.
- PROS: Relatively low cost in
1 or 2 colors. Can be put on almost any
type of garment. Shops will offer a wide
range of garment choices (which effects
cost) Extreme garment life (image will
rarely fade or crack). In large
quantities (48+) this is a very
affordable way to make shirt. You can
often go to full color screen printing
at this level
- CONS: Limited colors (fixed
range). No customization (every
shirt is the same). Expensive with more
than 2 colors. Typically must be ordered
in large quantities to be affordable (24
Set up fees are typically charged.
Delivery time is typically 10-14 days for
- WHERE TO FIND VENDORS: Start
in your local area. There are silk
screen shops in almost every town and
it's good to buy locally. After that,
Tips for graphic design
Designing good graphics for your team's
shirts is not difficult. Each site provides templates for
each item (or class of
items). Here's our suggested tools.
- Buy Adobe Photoshop Elements:
This is Adobe's basic image editing
software and it can be purchased for
less than $100 (it is often bundled with
Premier Elements for $150. Premier is a
very good video editing package). It's
available at almost any
- Create Graphics at the Actual
Size at 300 dots per inch (pixels
per inch) in RGB (Red/Green/Blue) color
model. Cafe Press offers templates for
each item that you just need to open in
Photoshop and then add your graphics.
- Understand the limitations of the
- For silkscreen you
typically can only use solid colors.
The more colors, the more expensive.
Also, not all colors you see on your
screen can be printed with inks.
Check with your vendor for color
- For Direct Print On Light
Shirts remember that your shirt
color is your 'paper color.' Most of
are used to designing on white
(paper). However, your shirts will
typically not be white so the colors
are additive. That is, for example,
yellow color in a light blue shirt
will produce a greenish tint. Also,
anything that is "white" in your art
will be transparent (hence the shirt
color). So it best to create a
mockup by putting the logo on a
sample shirt graphic and removing
all white from your logo.
- For Direct Print on Dark
Shirts you can almost do
anything you wish. The process works
by putting down a white mask and
then printing on top of it. There a
few issues to consider:
- The shirts are not as
durable as direct print to light
- The printed areas don't
breath and become hot or sweaty
in warm/sunny situations.
- They are typically more
- Make sure you have good starting
graphics: You can download
Postscript version of the FIRST logos
for all programs. Postscript logos (ai,
ps, eps, and pdf extensions) can
be converted to images at any
- For your team's Logo:
Ideally it should be created in
Illustrator or Freehand as a
postscript, vector based graphic.
This will let you apply it to any
item at any size and allows for
transparency. These can be converted
to images at any resolution through
PhotoShop. Have fun. Use color. Be
creative. Hire a local graphic
designer if you don't have the skill
set on your team.
- For US FIRST resources go to:
Choose your program then choose
"Marketing Tools" from the menu.
Be sure to review the Intellectual
Property Document from US FIRST.
Specifically Section II paragraphs 1
Happy designing! Let's see a sea of great
shirts this year....
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Forest Hill, MD USA
Contact Marco Ciavolino
FIRST®, FIRST® Tech
Challenge, FTC®, FIRST® LEGO League, FLL®, Junior FIRST® LEGO® League,
and JrFLL®, are jointly held
trademarks of FIRST® (www.usfirst.org) and The LEGO Group, neither of which is
overseeing, involved with, or responsible for this activity, product, or