Choosing the Right Custom Childcare Apparel

Daycare centers and preschools often order custom apparel for their staff and students. It can be confusing to know what type of printing and designs to order. Instead of just taking a sample to a printer, it helps if you can talk to a knowledgeable apparel company employee about your product options and budget. You may choose a different style of printing depending on the number of items you intend to order and how the products will be used.

Daycare centers most often order tee shirts for their students, especially for field trips or a uniform polo shirt, employee shirts, tote bags, soft-side lunch boxes, or book bags. Some schools will offer more upscale items, like a diaper bag, for new clients or as a reward. All these items can be made with your school logo or a message about a special event your school is hosting. The sky is the limit on your creativity!

Generally speaking, there are 3 types of apparel designs: garment printing, screen printing, and embroidery. There are advantages and disadvantages with each.

Garment printing uses a digital garment printer, which is a computer controlled large format ink jet printer. This prints directly on the garment. The advantage of this style is that there are no minimum orders or reorders and it is the lowest cost of the three methods. There can be good detail on logos or artwork and there is no extra charge for multi-color art. They can be printed with unlimited colors. Garment printing is not used with white ink, however.

Screen printing is similar to a stencil where the art stencil is adhered to a fine screen for support. Ink is then pushed through the screen onto the shirt. This style printing is also referred to as “silk screen” or “serigraphy.” Screen printing can be done on any color shirt and can use multiple colors of ink, including white ink. However, since each color in the image has to be screened individually, the more colors, the higher the cost as opposed to garment printing which is using a printer to print the image with unlimited colors. Because there is a one-time screen fee to set up the art work for screen printing, the price per item will be lower if more shirts are ordered. For example, say the apparel company charges a $15-20 screen fee and then a set price per shirt. That $15-20 fee will NOT be cost prohibitive if you are ordering 100 shirts, raising the cost of each shirt only 15 to 20 cents. But it may be cost prohibitive if you only want to order 5, since that would effectively raise your shirt price by $3 or $4.

Embroidery is actual stitching of a logo or name with an industrial sewing machine. Some basic artwork can be done with embroidery, since the machines are programmed with a computer. It is a very sophisticated, professional look. Some daycare centers prefer embroidery for their staff members polo shirts that are part of their uniform, since that gives a very professional look. It is also a good choice if you are putting your school name on a book bag or tote. Multiple thread colors can be used and any color shirt. It is generally a bit more expensive than the print options, but the final cost is often determined by a number of factors, including detail of design and number of products ordered.

Now that you are informed about the different types of apparel design, you are ready to get creative! Many apparel companies offer some design services but all can take your artwork or logo and reproduce it. Before you order, make sure you are clear about the format they will need for your artwork. Or have them help you design something fun for that next field trip or special day tee-shirt!