Behind the Scenes with Fourteen Apparel

If you are like most people you have never put much thought into the work that went into making your favorite shirt. Sure, you might have  been impressed with the design, but coming up with a unique design is only the first step in making that favorite tee.

14 year old Dylan had the desire to start his own t-shirt business.  After months of begging his parents and coming up with a feasible business plan, 14 Apparel was born.  What started out as making a couple shirts here and there quickly grew into taking on orders of 500+.  ArtFire Maker, Dylan, now 15, lets us go behind the scenes of 14 Apparel to watch how a design idea can quickly turn into your favorite shirt..

Step 1:  Breaking Down the Design

Each color on a piece of clothing has to have its own screen which means each color in a design must be made into its own separate design.  Adobe has several programs that are suited to do this job, most people favoring Illustrator, but sometimes you use what is available to you, which in this case is Photoshop.

Step 2: Screen Burning

After a screen is evenly coated with emulsion it is ready to burn.  The designs are printed on special paper and then placed on an exposure unit.  Once lined up, the screen is exposed to UV light for a specific amount of time.

Step 3: Washing Out the Screen

This is my favorite part to watch!  Using a low power pressure washer, Dylan carefully washes the exposed screen revealing the design.

Step 4: Screen Printing

Screen printers come in all different sizes and costs!  Auto printers take all the guesswork out of printing, but they also cost tens of thousands of dollars.  Dylan uses a manual screen printer which means he must load the shirt, add ink, and print each shirt by hand.

Step 5: Drying & Pressing

After screening the shirt it is run through a dryer.  In order for the ink to cure so it is sure not to wash out in the washing machine, the shirt/ink must be heated to a specified temperature.  This is where most screen printers consider the job done.  Dylan likes to take the extra step of heat pressing the shirts.  He feels that by pressing the shirts it gives them a smoother feel and look which makes them look truly finished.

 Be sure to check out Fourteen Apparel on ArtFire.

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