Soft Shirts in Soft ColorsSome: Comfort Colors, SanMar, and Hanes Coastal Colors

At ISS Long Beach in January Tom and I did some seminars in the SanMar classroom on printing on Garment Dyed shirts.

A few of our words of advice:

  • use good platen adhesive to promote good registration, and re-apply more often than usual. At my shop we mostly use Albatross Brush Tac and then some Albatross spray when necessary.
  • test your garment for whether it will discharge, which will make for the softest print if it will.
  • test the garment for dye migration. We went over the test we have posted on the Ink Kitchen that is used for polyester which can also be used to test garment dyed shirts.
  • If there is a dye migration issue, minimize flash and dryer temperatures. Consider using Rutland Endurance series inks which are softer and more printable than usual dye blocking inks
  • To avoid “pallet marks” round the edges of your squeegees, use minimum pressure possible, use squeegee width that is the size of the image, minimize flash temperature.
  • Often such shirts will not “shoot out” and you can’t remove spots of ink. Take extra measures to clean hands, aprons, shirts of your workers and keep your press area clean.

The traditional supplier of garment dyed shirts in our industry is Comfort Colors. The company was sold to Gildan recently, and they took over right in the middle of a rapid growth in sales. In Long Beach we also talked to Comfort Colors who have been experiencing shortages despite an increase in production. It appears that there is almost a panic among some buyers of their products and that is contributing to even more shortages. Eventually the increased production plan will stabilize the inventory, but when you run behind for a few months and then have a bunch of your customers trying to buy their shirts early, it is a pretty tough situation. You have to respect that they didn’t duck their customers but rather were front and center and present and answering questions at the PPAI Expo, the ISS Long Beach show and then even at the Alphabroder Expo. I came away from my discussions with them with a respect for the extraordinary effort they are making to catch up and to work with their customers as best as they can.


Richard Wainwright and Lisa Waithe-Webster spent lots of time comforting Comfort Color customers

SanMar recently started offering their version of a garment dyed shirt. They have a couple of pigment dyed shirts and then some that are reactive dyed. They seem to sacrifice some of the softness of traditional garment dyed shirts but they still are soft and offer “vintage colors” and are true to size (garment dyed shirts don’t generally shrink at all once in consumer’s hands.) A few of the colors are dischargeable and a couple even allow for dry cleaning of ink spots unlike most traditional pigment dyed shirts. I would test the colors as mentioned above, but the shirt Tom printed for the show discharged nicely.


Nice soft discharge print that Tom did on SanMar’s new garment dyed shirt the PC099

Hanes showed their new release of what they are calling “coastal colors.” On their soft styles of shirts they have some new more muted colors, probably good stuff to use in the resort market. The colors are in their ringspun cotton Beefy T, open-end Tagless T, and also in my new favorite the X-Temp which is a soft 60/40 shirt. I think they are responding to the marketplace where some folks want the colors that might traditionally be only found in the garment-dyed lines, but on shirts that print like more traditional garments.


Hanes new color palette of “coastal colors”



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