Custom Printed T-Shirts

Helpful Stuff to Know

Whether this is your first tee shirt project or you’re looking for a style, color, brand or fabric not available on our online site, this introduction to printed tee shirts is geared to provide information on common terminology and choices available.  Solid Merch wants to help you create tees and hoodies that meet your artistic and quality vision, budget and deadline.

Pricing Factors

Many factors determine your printed tee shirt cost. Most significantly:


1) Style – what cut, fabric type & weight, shirt color(s) and sizes are you looking for? Darker colored shirts tend to be more expensive due to popularity and higher ink costs. There are usually surcharges for plus sizes 2XL and above.


2) Quantity – the price per unit goes down the more you order


3) Artwork – printing pricing is primarily determined by the number of ink colors and print locations


4) Specialty Requests – mixing different color blanks or styles, changing ink colors, pantone matching, custom or variable numbering, texture effects such as holographs or rhinestones, finishing effects such as retail soft process or discharge

Cuts & Styles

The chart below shows the most common cuts of tees and fleece.  Standard cotton crew neck tees are the most popular tee shirt style and generally the least expensive.  However, pricing on all of these styles, even basic short sleeve tees, will differ significantly based on the brand and fabric.



There are dozens of brands for blank tee shirts.  We generally select the brand based on the type of shirt you order. But, if you have a specific brand you want us to work with, no problem –  let us know and we’ll give you style options and pricing.


Here’s a quick overview of some current common brands:


  • Standard (mass distribution) brands – Delta, Fruit of the Loom, Gildan, Hanes, Jerzees, Port & Company
    • These brands generally offer wide breadth of product options, from tees to hoodies, in multiple cuts and styles. They offer economy options and some high-end options, but are typically less expensive than mid-tier and premium brands for similar cuts.


  • Mid-Tier – Anvil, District, LAT
    • These are reputable brands with high quality products but offer a great value alternative to more well-known premium brands.


  • Premium Brands – Alternative Apparel, American Apparel, Bella + Canvas, Carhartt, Champion, Comfort Colors, Comfort Wash & Next Level
    • Trendy and fashionable premium brands


  • Performance Brands – A4, Adidas, Badger, New Era, Nike, Russell and Sport Tek
    • These can vary significantly in cost based on brand name, fabric features such as wicking, weight, color and size.

Fabric Weights

Weight is an important consideration when you’re considering what tee to buy. Consider its function, time of year/climate and your budget. Lighter weights and heavy weights tend to cost more than the standard weight products.


  • Ultra-Lightweight – less than 4oz per square yard, usually 3.3 to 3.9 oz., ultra-lightweight tees come with premium pricing, are more delicate and usually made of premium soft blends. Beware that lighter colors and whites can be sheer (somewhat see through) given looser weave or less dense fabric.


  • Lightweight – 4.0 to 4.9oz, typically 4.2 to 4.5oz. Lightweight tees generally have premium pricing. Lightweight is the most typical weight class for ringspun cotton and premium blends. Whites can be semi-sheer.


  • Standard weight – 5.0 to 5.9oz, typically 5.0 to 5.5oz. This is a very common weight class for standard cotton tees and promotional t-shirts.


  • Heavyweight – 6.0 to 6.5oz, typically 6.0 or 6.1 oz. Heavyweight tees may be standard knit cotton, blends or ringspun. For example, very popular Hanes Beefy-T, Comfort Colors and Comfort Wash brands are all 6.0 or 6.1oz ringspun cotton tees.


  • Hoodies/fleece – weights for fleece products generally range from light 6oz to mid weight 7-9oz, to heavy 9oz and above. Champion offers very hefty hoodies at 11oz+.


Softness is a key driver of perceived tee shirt quality and price. Over the past decade, manufacturers have introduced sophisticated blends, many of which feel luxurious to the touch.


  • 100% Cotton: from least to most soft
    • Standard: jersey knit
    • Softspun
    • Ringspun
    • Combed ringspun


  • Blends: from least soft to most soft
    • Standard cotton / poly
    • Ringspun cotton / poly
    • Triblends (e.g., ringspun cotton, rayon, poly)


You can feel the difference. If you can afford a small increase in your tee shirt cost, we recommend ringspun and ringspun blends as superior options. You and your customers will feel the difference and it will impact how often they want to wear your shirts.

Printing & Decorating Methods

  • Silkscreen
    • Spot color – most silkscreen jobs involve use of 1 or several PMS or stock ink colors; each color ink is laid down over a custom burned screen.
    • Full color – process printing can be done for full color or jobs with significant transition colors, shading or many discrete colors. Generally, this option is not cost effective below 150 units.
    • Half tones – a cost effective way to print gradients and shading of a single color (e.g. white half-tones or black half tones).
    • Jumbo screens vs. standard screens – standard screen size is generally about 13×15 inches. Jumbo sized printing is available, at an extra charge, with sizes up to 18×22 inches.


  • Under base:
    • Standard under base: An under base is generally used when screen printing on color and dark garments. A thin layer of ink (typically white) is laid down beneath the overall design and acts like a primer. The second coat is then applied on top of the under base to create the desired look/color.
    • No under base: White and some certain light garments require no under base. The finished hand of the garment will be very soft and may feel like the ink was actually dyed into the garment. On darker garments, it is possible to use no under base and get a similar retail soft feel – however without an under base, it is difficult or impossible to match PMS colors.
    • Discharge under base: this method can be used for retail soft finish on 100% cotton items, both dark and some light garments. Instead of a standard under base, a discharge additive is added to the ink which extracts the dye from the garment. This creates a super soft under base, which is then overprinted with the chosen PMS color. Colors will not be as vibrant when using a discharge. Exact PMS matching is difficult with discharge under bases.


  • Direct to Garment (DTG) – this is digital rather than silk screen printing. DTG may be a more cost-effective way to print multi-color or full color artwork for small run jobs.


  • Embroidery – not typical for tee shirts; more common with hoodies, especially zip hoodies


  • Specialty techniques:
    • Metallic foil
    • Metallic shimmer ink
    • Rhinestones
    • Laser etching (generally for hoodies or in conjunction with certain appliques)
    • Applique – more typical for hoodies
    • Names & numbers (for personalization, i.e. for a class or team)


  • Retail finishing options (extra charges and minimum orders sizes apply)
    • Hang Tags
    • Labels
      • Sewn-in, custom printed label
      • Printed label (works with tear away tags)
    • Polybags

Print Size & Scaling

It is important to note that print size will be the same across all sized shirts when we print your tees. For a narrow set of sizes (e.g., S, M, L, XL), a single size print screen is fine. But for jobs ranging from youth to oversized adult sizes, you may want to consider multiple sized screens.