Keeping it Organic & Local
Here at the Turtle's Nest, we recently had the opportunity to come up with designs and concepts for a whole line of t-shirts. We quickly got to work collaborating, sharing ideas and going through the exciting process from start to finish. We went through colors, themes, styles, material, messaging, text vs. no text- the list goes on. The Turtle Fur team had a TON of fun exploring all of those directions (and more) before this new shirt collection rolled out (just in time for the warm weather!)
Designs aside, we knew that we wanted our t-shirts to be made from material as soft and comfy as our winter products are - but also keep them super lightweight for the warmer weather. Seeing as that none of us can take our hands off of these ultra-snuggly and breathable tops, we think we achieved our goal.
Our Lead Designer had countless meetings with our marketing team, R&D, right on through to the e-commerce team to pick everyone’s brains and see what kind of graphics belonged on the front of our newest apparel. Most of them boast imagery and messaging that honor the outdoors; a place where a majority of us like to be every time we get the chance. Check them out after you’re finished with the blog!
With some wild ideas tamed down, and mild ideas built up, the results cover a wide range of outdoor enthusiast and casual styles.
We love the way they fit, the way they feel- even the ideal necklines became a rolling topic! Our MOST favorite part: they’re 100% American made.
While we got the soft and comfy organic cotton shirts from Farm Fresh in California, we brought the printing process home to the Green Mountain State. Tucked up in Northern Vermont there’s a screen printing shop called Creative Concept and they know how to make shirts stand out from the rest. Creative Concept is run by Jesse Bates, who started the company a few years ago. He’s been working with a whole bunch of Vermont businesses ever since to provide them with the custom screen printed designs they’ve always wanted on their company apparel.
After the shirts were sent from California to Vermont, we knew they'd be sent off to be screen printed at Creative Concepts. We also asked ourselves about the process, realizing our own curiosity; after all how do you screen print a t-shirt?
We knew about the concept, but few of us had first-hand knowledge of how screen printing actually works.
We were so curious to learn more about this magical process, so we paid Creative Concept a visit and found out how designs go from computer to t-shirt.
First lesson - these designs aren't "laser cut" into the screen from which they are printed - it's actually a special light and a semi-transparent print-out of the graphic; they're combined and used to achieve a perfect "mold" for the ink. Essentially, the process is kind of like baking cookies- except the other way around. Imagine having a whole oven pan filled with cookie dough, then placing a cookie cutter in the middle and taking out the perfect circle it creates- then baking it. You'd end up with a huge cookie- and its perfect hole in the center. That's kind of like the screen after it's hardened everywhere except for where the design is.
Second lesson - it's all about the color. If you have a red t-shirt, for example, and you want to have a bright lime green graphic on it- you've got to ensure that the opacity applied to the lime green is strong & bright enough to stand out and "on top of" that red layer beneath it. Sometimes, that means going over the screen 2x per shirt (by hand) to ensure the color is perfect.
we're all about color - and the folks over at creative concept know exactly what to do with it to ensure a true match. each ink is mixed by hand for the perfect hue that matches the design request per shirt.
Seeing all of the color options for "ink" at the Creative Concept shop was fascinating. This ink isn't the kind of ink that goes in a printer; it's a thick, goopy, shiny substance that's meant to be hardy. Once it dries on the fabric, it's got to be able to keep up with you and your washing machine year after year. The fact that all of it is mixed by hand and not machine makes the whole design and finishing process that much more involved and unique.
Next, we got to see all of our graphics in their screen, ready to be imprinted by hand at the shop:
Third lesson - the application process is no walk in the park! This part, the actual transfer of the ink onto the shirt, is all done by hand, t-shirt by t-shirt. A maker has to physically force the ink through the opening in the screen on and into the fabric beneath. It's slow, methodical, and really cool to watch. The ink gets globbed on, smoothed over and pushed down through the open area of the screen. This gives a high-quality print with attention to detail.
The drying process for these t's is critical. They're all gently placed on to their respective boards for drying before the final "deal sealer" heating process via conveyor belt ride.
We were thrilled to see them on their final step toward the drying process. It meant we had watched the whole cycle from start to finish. The work that's done at this shop in particular is impressive, and the owner Jesse was super helpful in explaining all the intricacies involved throughout the time of our visit. It makes our love for these T's even deeper to know that we kept them local and organic.
After all the ingredients had been combined and the recipe if fully baked- we're ready to rock our new favorite summer tees!
So, now you know where they come from, it's time to peruse the whole collection of them here!