April '20

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 4 P R I N T W E A R A P R I L 2 0 2 0 2 4 P R I N T W E A R A P R I L 2 0 2 0 TWO FACED How to Heat Print Reversible Basketball Jerseys D ecorating reversible basketball jerseys can be a headache for many printers. The com- bination of at least four print locations with variable numbers and personalized names onto polyester mesh fabric wreaks havoc on many printers. Typically, these jerseys are used for rec leagues or practices, so the expectation is that the client will be able to secure them for a lower price adding to the nightmare. It wasn't too long ago that I visited a printer in New York that was looking for a better way. After some discussion, he quickly understood that achieving the look of screen printing with a heat press wouldn't be difficult when it comes to athletic numbering. By moving to screen-printed transfer numbers, the business could greatly expand their font selection as well as the number of colors offered while reduc- ing their inventory in screens. However, this meant investing in the proper equipment and know how for decorating these challenging items. GAME TIME The most important instruction for heat printing reversible jerseys is getting to a single layer of fabric. Keep in mind that most jerseys are mesh and simply laying them on top of your heat press for applica- tion will result in the sides sticking togeth- er. Also, simply splitting the jersey at the body will not be enough as there will still be two layers of mesh fabric per side, caus- ing issues for printing and wear. A deco- rator must get the jersey down to a single layer, but don't worry, almost all jerseys are made so you can do this. While a print pad/large mousepad will do the trick, a heat press with a cantile- ver design is the most efficient option to split and load the jersey. As a caution, a heat printing pillow is not often recom- mended for screen-printed transfers due to the higher-pressure requirement, so it will be of little use for this job. With the goal of loading on a threadable heat press, consider that the 16" X 20" or 15" X 15" platen on most presses will probably be too wide for the upper back print location on a basketball jersey causing the jersey to get caught when trying to place a personalized player name. Therefore, many experi- enced heat printers prefer to utilize an 11" X 15" lower platen and restrict the width of a player's name to 10.75" or less for this application. Heat presses often have inter- changeable platens which will make swap- ping to an 11" x 15" platen easy. With the jersey loaded appropriately, its time to discuss printing. Screen-printed transfer numbers often come in individual packs or kits with a single digit per sheet. It's important to select a transfer ink formu- la that works well on polyester. Although HEAT PRESS Pressing Matters J o s h & Z a c h E l l s w o r t h The reversible nature of practice jerseys makes them a headache for many decorators if not done properly. (All images courtesy Stahls')

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