There’s a time and place for a nice, new T-shirt, but we also know that it’s sometimes hard to beat the feeling of a good ol’ worn-in tee. The distressed look is also seen a lot in retail these days, and people are paying big money for a shirt that looks vintage. A product with holes in it could be sold at a boutique for over $100. So how can you create that look right away without spending a ton of money or all those years wearing it in? Well, in this post, we’ll break down all the details you need to know about for creating a vintage T-shirt.
CREATE A VINTAGE T-SHIRT USING THE RIGHT TEE
There are few different types of T-shirts and fabrics that work well when going for a vintage vibe. Poly-cotton blends and triblends, in particular, are great, because the yarns take the ink differently, giving it that worn-in look. In the video below with Deluxe Screen Printing, one of the tees we used is our vintage slub, a fabric with a great tonal texture, thanks to the uneven knit. Another great option is to go for a shirt that is pre-distressed, like our 3009 Vintage Distressed Tee from our Fast Fashion collection. This tee is made up of super soft 100% Airlume combed and ring-spun fabric but features holes throughout for that worn-in look.
CREATE A VINTAGE T-SHIRT USING THE RIGHT DESIGN
The next step is to pair your tee with the right design. There are things you can do to your artwork on the front end to achieve that vintage look, regardless of the shirt material. According to our friend and expert designer, Charley Pangus, it’s important that you use textures that give the design a nice worn-in look without making the artwork hard to read. To do this, he recommends using use a combination of texture brushes and layer masks to get the desired look you’re going for. Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment with random textures. You would be surprised how awesome the oil splatter will look as a texture.
If you’re interested in seeing Charley’s full process for designing a vintage tee, check out his video HERE.
CREATE A VINTAGE T-SHIRT USING WITH THE RIGHT INK
Last, but not least, you’ll need to choose a printing technique that complements both the shirt and the design. At Deluxe, they recommend using either waterbase/discharge or plastisol. With waterbased printing, the ink only dyes the cotton of the T-shirt, not the polyester or the rayon. So if you’re printing on a blended fabric, such as 3650 Poly-Cotton Tee, the ink will only dye 37.5 percent of the fabric, giving that really cool vintage look. An important thing to keep in mind with that is the pigment of your ink is going to change depending on the fabric, so be sure if you’re looking for a specific PMS color, to do a lot of testing. The other option is to use a plastisol ink with no base. With plastisol, you’ll want to print on a darker fabric, so your ink isn’t as bright. It also sits right on top of the fabric, giving a different kind of dimension and natural distressed look.