Designing your own clothes, for fun and (small) profit!

A guide to designing your own clothes with Print On Demand (POD) providers, Spoonflower, Printful, Kin Custom and Print All Over Me (PAOM)

So, you’ve got your own pattern(s) made for you or your family after conversation with us, excellent! Let’s get you started wearing your pattern(s)!

First, disclaimers.

  1. This is more for fun and for personal adornment. It is so cool to turn some pixels into a sweater, a fanny-pack, a back-pack, laptop cover or an embroidered sweater, tshirt, or long sleeve shirt. IT IS SO COOL! I obviously recommend it and this is why I’ve written this (long) guide for my clients. I want you to have the same joy that I have.
  2. Those seeking profit, look elsewhere. This business model is a very cool way to get your things out there, but if and when it starts getting serious, there is no other way (IMHO) to do this than by buying bulk and sending out the orders yourself, the margins are very very very thin for the quality of material, and integrity that you have. POD is a great way to do market research before you invest in your local silk-screener.

    Also, we’re still in the midst of this pandemic which is producing weird disruptions across multiple industries, mostly due to outbreaks of personnel in manufacturing positions. These have plagued the manufacturers listed below in various ways. Keep this in mind when placing an order.
  3. Place, and receive and order, and then plan what you want to do with it. Don’t plan based on when the “schedules” that the various websites say. That is not to say to not have faith, by all means have it, this is such a weird time that you should err on the side of patience.

Who is the best at what?

  1. Spoonflower (fabrics)
  2. Printful (clothing and accessories. EMBROIDERY!)
  3. Kin Custom (heavier shirts and home goods)
  4. Contrado/Printify to be tested in the future
  5. PAOM

In the future I plan to explore Printify and Contrado

Spoonflower

I recommend Spoonflower although they are quite expensive. However, expensive is the nature of POD. One feature I look forward to them having is double-sided printing. Until that comes I will continue searching elsewhere, and or lining my garments when I make fabric.

Sometimes I think with the costs associated with Spoonflower (wax print type fabric Cotton Poplin is $18/yard if you design it yourself) make it so that you should get only accent pieces made with the fabric you purchase, and maybe a solid color base as the foundation. However, that is more for a business. If you are planning a family picture, I say go all out and get your fabric and have everyone Draped Up and Dripped Out!

If you know your way around a sewing machine the Spoonflower is a must with plenty of types of fabric (Poplin to Denim to Baby Gauze and various silky fabrics!!) and faithful color reproduction.

Paying for the expedited processing and shipping definitely saved me from missing deadlines plenty of times!

Spoonflower!

Printful

I consistently utilize Printful for some lifestyle products, some of which are available in my store! I also get hoodies printed through them, also available on the store. The laptop cases are wonderful and lined, extremely soft on the inside. They have yet to make a size to accommodate the 16in MacBook Pro, but for everything smaller than that I recommend purchasing some. I currently use mine to contain my fabric portfolio. Printful has three strengths in my experience. All-Over-Print (AOP) and Embroidery. These are both done so easy through their amazing software.

I absolutely recommend ordering at least one AOP shirt. I say that with two caveats. AOP products are going to be polyester, which is very hot for me in the summertime. I usually move to cotton in the summer, and leave the AOP products to Summer Nights or late summer/fall. The second caveat is that there is a technique to wash these so they don’t pill up, but I haven’t found it. I have purchased a fabric shaver to remove some of the pilling, but I also haven’t used it. Since I am not selling AOP shirts, I just wear them like any other shirt. I like the vintaging aspect of the shirts.

The embroidery in Printful is very much why I keep coming back despite my hassles with shipping. It just can’t be beat! Make sure your design is 6 colors or less, and if it isn’t circular, consider getting it on a heavier weight shirt or sweater (best). The fabric and the embroidery will warp in weird corners. Maybe this can be fixed with ironing, I haven’t tried that yet.

Embroidered logo for Jìgìjìgì: Africulture Podcast after 18mos

Printful’s design software is amazing and is definitely what sets them apart from other manufacturers. It is very intuitive and easy to use. With patience, you can achieve the covetous pattern matching on t-shirts. I’ve only done it once, luckily I had the right pattern to make it happen.

Printful’s detraction is that it has too many options. These options may lead you, as it lead me to not getting my Direct-To-Garment printed hoodies for 5 weeks, despite living in the same city as where they were printed. These “too many options” will also lead you into customer service email dungeons were your questions will be restated to you as an answer followed up with “I look forward to giving you more information.” The follow up, of course, came a couple of days after I received my hoodie. They emailed me to tell me that it had been delivered! How thoughtful…

After you sign up, got straight to Settings->Orders> and uncheck “Fulfill my orders at a backup facility.” Other people have gone through it, so you don’t have to, let Printful handle all of your orders so the HQ quality control will be there. Since this is for fun, good things come to those who wait!

Kin Custom

Kin Custom is an American company that has factories manufacturing their products in China. I use them currently in my store for the neck gaiters/dreadsocs. The print quality, along with product offering is amazing! Their software is annoying in certain places. They charge per item for shipping, which can feel like a scam. However, they are quite productive, shipping very quickly and the quality is worth it. Most everything they sell is cut and sew which is an additional plus.

The French Terry T-Shirt is very awesome. I love mine! It has pilled up also but I don’t care anymore. I’ll shave it soon. I’ve also ordered the newly released French Terry Sweater, which is more like a long-sleeve version of the t-shirt. It has a smaller than normal neckline with no give, I popped seams when putting it over my head, but I also have a bigger than normal head with a lot of hair.

The ircross-body sling bags I also have in my store, despite my disappointment in whatever they used to cover the zipper. They should remove that but it eventually all peels off and no one is the wiser. Despite those issues I use mine everyday! If you are looking to start a brand they have an option where you can include a Branding Set of a personalized inside tag, a hanging tag, and a reusable bag. That is really sweet!

Kin Custom also offers shoes, shower-curtains, duvet covers, and kids clothes. I’ll be looking at using their hockey jersey offering as a basis for another project I’ll be launching ‘in the springtime!

Kin Custom also offers shoes, shower-curtains, duvet covers, and kids clothes. I’ll be looking at using their hockey jersey offering as a basis for another project I’ll be launching ‘in the springtime!

Kin Custom!

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DO NOT USE PRINT ALL OVER ME.

TRUST ME AND TRUSTPILOT! This guide is already long enough

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You already know to reach out if you have any questions, you can call me or email me here!