How to Get Started Printing Team Uniforms
If you own a heat press, you can learn how to print team uniforms. You don’t have to have a lot of experience. Anyone can learn to print a professional looking team uniform with the right products. If you own a heat press machine, and have a phone and internet access, you can be in the team printing business by noon tomorrow. But first, let’s look at some of the basics of team uniform printing.
Advantages of Heat Press Transfer Numbers
First of all, one thing every team needs is numbers. Not every team puts player names on jerseys but they all need numbers. The advantages of using heat press transfer numbers over screen printing are numerous. Screen printing numbers is a big pain. You have to burn individual screens for each number. Even if you’re doing a huge number of uniforms, it’s still a complicated process. A high level of technical expertise is required to successfully screen print numbers—even with equipment designed specifically for athletic numbering.
Screen Printers Count on Heat Press Transfers
This is why screen printers the largest users of pre-cut, ready to apply heat transfer numbers in the world. Screen printers will screen print logos on shirts but when it comes to adding individual names and numbers, they turn to heat transfer numbers and letters. Heat press transfer numbers are a fast, easy and clean way to number jerseys, whether you’re printing ten shirts or 10,000.
If you stock pre-cut numbers you can print jerseys today. The beauty of heat press transfer numbers is that you can create a single jersey, with a single number, in just seconds. This makes heat printing ideal for last minute orders or replacement jerseys. The same can’t be said for screen printing.
Top 4 Ways To Number Uniforms
Teams are usually made up of about 15 players, who each need an individual player number. Here are the top four most popular heat transfer number solutions:
- PRE-CUT or DIE-CUT: You can buy a wide selection of pre-cut/die-cut heat press transfer numbers and heat press transfer letters in packs, convenient kits or team sets for a lower cost, which allows you to layout the names and numbers yourself. Adding names and numbers is easy. Just arrange on your garment and heat apply. Layout guides and templates are available for proper alignment. Numbers are available in the most popular styles and sizes, in both one and two-color styles. Thermo-FILM® is the world’s most popular athletic numbering material, offering excellent opacity, wash ability and durability. When applied properly, they don’t peel, chip or flake off—ever!
- PRE-SPACED PLAYER NAMES: To take care of both numbers and player names at the same time, order pre-spaced player names and heat transfer numbers from a service company. They come on one sheet, you simply heat press on the shirt.
- CUT IT YOURSELF: If you have a vinyl cutter and a heat press, you can use cuttable heat transfer vinyls designed for use on garments. Cutting your own player names is very cost effective and can be done for around .30 cents per name, depending on the size of the lettering. You may choose to combine cutting player names with die-cut numbers.
- TRANSFER NUMBERS: For a look that is indistinguishable from direct screen printing, try screen printed transfer numbers. They are available in the most popular athletic styles, sizes and colors. Another huge advantage transfer numbers have over die-cuts is apparent when it comes to two-color styles. Two color transfer numbers apply just as quickly and easily as one color and have a lightweight, soft finished hand.
How to Add Names to Uniforms
The same heat applied options available for numbering are available for lettering as well. You can order pre-cut lettering in packs or kits, cut them yourself, or order pre-spaced team or player names. Pre-cuts are also available with different textures and adhesives that make it possible to decorate any type of garment, including mesh jerseys and nylon and performance fabrics such as Lycra® or Spandex®. They are also available in reflective materials.
Your Shopping List
A standard player name uses 2” athletic Plain Block or Varsity style lettering. If you are going to stock up on lettering kits, choose either black or white for your inventory. If a customer requests an unusual color, style or size, you can order what you need or cut it yourself with a cutter and heat transfer materials. Number sizes vary depending on the size of the shirt, whether it is for a child’s shirt or adults, as well as the sport. Football and hockey typically use 10” or 12” numbers, while soccer, basketball and baseball will use sizes that range from 6” to 10”.
What to Charge
The average retail charge for a player name these days varies from $4.00-7.00 or more, depending on your area. It’s usually easier on everyone to charge by the name, rather than by the letter. This free guide also has a lot of information on Pricing Sports Decorating.
However, there are many businesses which offer the service of player names as a “free add-on” when the customer purchases the jersey from them. You won’t want to do this if you’re not making money yet, but in the long run it generates excellent word-of-mouth advertising. It’s seen as true value by the customer. If you have the ability to do lettering, give this powerful promotional tool a try. Or consider charging for numbers and throwing in the name or vice-versa.
Team Sponsor Names
It’s often traditional in many leagues to feature a sponsor’s name on the jersey. In fact, there is a growing trend of seeing more than one sponsor on a jersey. Print sponsor names in one inch to two inch lettering or use two lines of type that total two inches in height. When sponsor names are used in lieu of individual player names, position above the number on the back of the jersey, or on the front on the jersey in addition to the team name.
No room on the jersey? Bump sponsor names to the cap. (Cap printing is another lucrative team market) If you have a large number of sponsor names to print, one way to save money is to order custom transfers, and request gang sheets. These are special layouts for leagues which allow you a cost effective way to print for multiple teams as long as you are able to group your orders by color. For example, you can print up to eleven 1” sponsor names on one sheet, allowing you to get the sponsor names you need for eleven teams with just one 15 sheet order.
Gang Sheets for Team Logos
If the jerseys you’re planning to decorate are completely blank, you can also choose from a wide variety of heat applied options. This includes using heat press transfer pre-cut letters, custom logos ordered from a service company, or custom transfers. As discussed earlier for sponsor names, you can use order league gang sheets and group all your like-colored team names together to save money. All you have to do is cut apart the sheets and heat apply.
Mix and Match Methods
Use a variety of methods to get the job done. Don’t be afraid to mix and match heat press transfer numbers and letters with screen printed logos and team names. In the long run, your customers don’t care which print method you use. They just want professional looking uniforms which will hold up after washing and last the season.
Team jerseys can be anything from an inexpensive t-shirt to a more expensive stylized athletic garment. Teams always want to look like the pros. Kids love seeing their name on a shirt. Some youth leagues may purchase licensed pre-printed uniforms that mimic their big league, pro-sports counterparts. But even if the leagues uniforms already have logos on them, you can still make money adding names and numbers.
Questions? We Have Answers
If you ever have any questions about how to print team uniforms, Stahls’ and Stahls’ Transfer Express have hundreds of how-to videos. These extensive video libraries feature information on every type of heat press transfer you can imagine. Plus, our customer service reps, who have years of experience helping people print team uniforms can answer any question. Call us today if you want to learn more about how to print team uniforms. You can also get free downloads of the following ebooks:
The Ultimate Guide to Design and Placement
Ultimate Guide to Sports Decorating Pricing