If you can imagine it, we can probably print it!

You may already know that we are Ellijay’s leading embroidery shop, but did you know that we also custom print t-shirts, hats and just about anything else that you can imagine? We have all of the major brands and styles!

The 4 main types of apparel printing are DTG (Direct to Garment), DTF (Direct to Film), Screen Printing and Dye Sublimation. When it comes to deciding which type of apparel printing is right for your business or the project at hand, consider the following factors: 

  • Fabric color. Sublimation printing works better on lighter colored fabric because of the way the ink blends into the fibers. To print on black or dark colors, DTG or DTF is a better printing method. 
  • Range of colors in the image. Sublimation has some color limitations, especially white. If there is white in your image you may want to go with DTG or DTF printing. 
  • Type of fabric. DTF printing works on any type of fabric, but DTG works best on cotton and sublimation works best on polyester. 
  • Size of the order. If you need to print a large number of items quickly, DTG printing is often the best option because it is faster. However, the pretreatment does take some time, so if you have a rush order you may want to try DTF or sublimation. 
  • Texture of the final product. The image on a DTG product tends to feel more rough as the ink bonds with the fabric, whereas DTF feels smoother and more plastic. A sublimation printed image feels the same as the rest of the fabric. You wouldn’t know it was there if you closed your eyes and felt the garment. 

Ideas From Our Catalog

How to Choose the Best T-Shirt Material

There are a lot of factors that people consider when it comes to t-shirt fabric. Each fabric has its various pros and cons, and no hard evidence seems to show that one is better than the other – you just have to make sure that you choose the right one for you. The fabric plays a big part in not only the design and printing, but in the way it feels and the way it’s worn. Some t-shirt fabrics hold ink better than others, and some fabrics are longer lasting. If you know the difference between the fabrics, you’re going to make a better decision.


Cotton is the most common type of fabric that is used to make t-shirts. This is because it is soft and breathable and strikes a perfect balance between cost and comfort. The main drawback to cotton is that it wrinkles and it often shrinks in the laundry. There are a few different types of cotton that can be used for shirt production:

Types of Cotton:

  • Combed cotton is created when short strands are eliminated, then fine brushes straighten the fibers. This makes the fabric softer, smoother, and stronger. It also makes for a better material for printing. Combed cotton is made from pretreated fibers that produce a softer, more durable fabric.
  • Organic cotton is more expensive than regular cotton, and the cotton is grown without many fertilizers or pesticides. If environmental impact and sustainability are important to your brand, organic cotton is the way to go. It utilizes the most popular t-shirt material but limits the selection to materials that achieve certain standards for limiting their impact on the environment. This type of cotton is more labor-intensive to produce and therefore more expensive to buy.
  • Pima cotton is known to be the highest quality cotton that money can buy, with extra long fibers which ensure the softness of the t-shirt fabric. Pima cotton is durable – it resists pilling, fading, and stretching. Supima is the same type of cotton as Pima, but it’s specifically grown in the US. 
  • Slub cotton is a type of cotton that looks like it has slight lumps in the fabric. This is created before the cotton is weaved, where the cotton is twisted, and the twists are irregular. Slub cotton is unique – it’s light, airy and does not cling to the body. It’s also naturally textured, which means that there is no need to iron it.


There are a lot of t-shirts that are made with linen. It comes from the flax plant, and the weave is textured. It’s such a popular choice for summer clothing because of its breathability and lightweight properties. Linen is also moisture-wicking and dries quickly. Although it’s a great summer material, it can easily wrinkle.


Another common fabric used for t-shirts is Polyester. It’s quick drying and doesn’t mildew. It also maintains its shape without stretching. Most athletic apparel companies use polyester in their t-shirts. Polyester is synthetic and includes fabrics like nylon, acetate, and acrylic.

Polyester is durable, drying fast after a wash. It’s also flexible, cost effective, can potentially be recycled, and can blend with cotton. Along with these positive attributes, there are some drawbacks. Polyester doesn’t break down quickly, doesn’t breathe easily, and it can release plastic microfibers when it’s being washed, which in turn causes water pollution.


Rayon is another athletic-wear fiber, and it’s been created as an affordable alternative to silk. Rayon is a human-made fiber formed from trees, plants, and cotton. What you get in the end is a breathable fabric that feels silky and drapes effortlessly. It dyes well, and it’s absorbent. However, it wrinkles easily and is not known as the most eco-conscious option.


Lycra is the best-known name, but really it’s Spandex which is an additive to other t shirt materials. It’s used to give t-shirts more room to stretch, and it’s found in athletic wear more than anything else because of the ease of movement.

Cotton/Polyester Blend

The best of both worlds is a blend between cotton and polyester. Not all blends are created equal, so you will need to look at the percentage of each material in the blend before making a decision. However, most cotton/polyester blends are soft like cotton and wrinkle-resistant like polyester.


T-shirt manufacturers have found another way to improve on a good thing! By adding rayon to the mix, they have created an ideal t-shirt blend that marries the comfort of cotton and the durability of polyester with a touch more softness and lighter weight with rayon.

Understanding T-Shirt Weights

What goes into making a comfortable t-shirt? What specific qualities should you look for when choosing t-shirts for your brand? For one, the weight of the material. Heavier weight t-shirts that are more than 6 oz are better suited for colder climates. If you are an outdoor brand popular in mountainous regions, this will be more important for you. Lightweight t-shirts typically range between 3 – 5 oz and are more comfortable for warmer weather. 

Lightweight t-shirts tend to have a more fashionable fit, whereas heavier t-shirts have a more utilitarian fit. The average t-shirt weight is somewhere between 4.5 oz and 6 oz. Weight below this range is comparatively not as durable. In some instances, however, a lightweight t-shirt material is appropriate, for example, shirts that might serve as a novelty item for one-time use, such as for an event.

T-Shirt Weights

  • Heavyweight– A heavyweight t-shirt weighs 6 oz or more per square yard of material. It’s thick and provides a feeling of heft in hand.This class of t-shirt material is typically less breathable than lighter weights. The breathability of t-shirt material is determined by the amount of space between the fabric and the fabric type. Heavyweight t-shirts are expensive compared to other t-shirts, but on the plus side, these are also more resistant to shrinkage, have heavier stitching, and are more durable.
  • Midweight – Mediumweight t-shirts weigh between 5 oz and 6 oz. This class of t-shirt material offers the benefits of both heavyweight and lightweight t-shirts. You might use this weight of t-shirt material when designing clothing items for fall and spring, since these keep wearers a little cooler compared to a heavyweight t-shirt. The most significant advantage of a midweight t-shirt is that it gives you the benefits of a lightweight shirt. But, at the same time, this material gives you the durability of a heavyweight.
  • Lightweight – A lightweight t-shirt weighs less than 5 oz. Usually, designers select this kind of material for summer t-shirt designs. Moreover, it’s breathable, which makes it an excellent choice for exercise gear. Lightweight t-shirt materials can tear easier and are more prone to shrinkage than their heavier counterparts.
DTF Printing

DTF solves a lot of problems of other printing methods while producing great results and most importantly being affordable. DTF will allow you to print on 100% cotton and black garments, it will also have great feel and washability. We will be able to print on demand quickly and conveniently, without having to worry about production delays. 

  • Very fast transfer production
  • Use with any fabric
  • Stretchable – won’t crack
  • Low cost per print
  • *No pretreat needed
  • Very high wash and wear resistance
  • Prints on any color fabric

Direct to film, or film to garment printing, involves printing the image onto a film first, then transferring the image from the film to the fabric. DTF printing does not require any pretreatment of the fabric, but it does require a powder to be applied after the image is transferred onto the film to prevent the ink from running or streaking. 

What is Dye Sublimation?

Sublimation printing is a unique type of printing different from DTG and DTF, two other printing processes. In sublimation printing, an image or design is transferred to the paper and then transferred to the fabric through a heat-transfer process.

  • Fast transfer production
  • Low cost per print
  • Most vivid colors
  • Can be printed on rigid surfaces (mugs, photo slates, plates, clocks, etc.)
  • Washes like the garment
  • Lasts as long as the garment

Dye Sublimation printing allows for incredibly smooth tones and is the best option for photography designs. There is simply no better method for creating realistic results. In this printing method, the ink is fused with the fabric rather than sitting on top. This ensures that the design will last through hundreds of washes without fading. 

Sublimation printing uses a unique process that is different from DTG and DTF. Instead of liquid ink being printed onto fabric or film, a solid ink substance transitions from a solid state directly to a gas without ever becoming a liquid. The image is printed onto transfer paper and then transferred to the fabric. The ink is heated until it blends right into the fibers of the fabric. 

You can only use this printing method to print on polyester and polymer-coated substrates. If you prefer hats and t-shirts made from natural fibers like cotton, this method might not be suitable for you. 

What is DTG printing?

Direct to garment printing works just the way the name suggests: the printer prints the image directly onto the fabric. There is no film or transfer paper required, however, the garment does need to be pretreated to ensure that the image transfers properly. DTG printing requires a specific type of ink and is usually best when printed on cotton fabric. 

  • DTG is the most versatile
  • Incredibly soft hand or “feel”
  • Slightly higher cost than DTF printed
  • Fade to shirt is perfect.
  • Best for natural fibers (i.e. cotton)
  • Faster turnaround than screen printing

DTG printing is generally more suitable for one-offs or small quantities of printing. This makes it a popular choice for small rush-jobs. DTG printing is great for detailed designs and many colors. It is also a good way to render photographs onto any garment. That said, it is not ideal for images that are dark or opaque.

What is Screen Printing?

Screen printing, also known as silkscreen printing or simply silk screening, is an analog or pre-digital technique that’s been used for decades. With this process, plastisol-based inks are pressed through a screen onto a garment such as t-shirts, sweatshirt, baseball cap, or another items.

  • Screen printing is an art form that takes a lot of time to set up
  • Master screen printers can get amazing results
  • Best for mass-production
  • Not applicable for one-time orders
  • Requires more time
  • Longer turnaround than other methods (except mass orders)

Different screens are used for different colors. The screens are attached to a press, which rotates and allows the designs to be imprinted on the garments. Even though screen printing is an analog process, when you place an order for printing, you’ll generally send files that contain the design in a format such as EPS to the printing company.

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