Don’t forget that you’ll probably want to buy t-shirts for your team for the competition. It’s a cool “prize” for being part of the team. The kids really enjoy designing their own shirt and seeing it come to life.
Over the last few years, I’ve used Cafepress for my shirts, but their web site and t-shirt designer have become less and less usable over the years. This year, I was disappointed to see that the designer only showed a small printable area on the shirts. So I went on a quest to find a new vendor to get our team shirts this year.
After trying different on-line custom t-shirt web sites, the one I found that was most like what Cafepress used to be is uberprints.com. You can add your own image as the entire design, or design your shirt with smaller images and text. I found their designer interface pretty easy to use.
For your purposes, you’ll want to use their Digital Print method of printing on the shirt. It will duplicate your kids’ design the closest and will be the least expensive option.
What I really liked about them, though, is that they were very helpful. I called with a question and I got a live person right away. The person was very knowledgeable and was able to answer my questions.
I called them because I was concerned about how our design would turn out. We had a lot of thin lines and the preview was showing them broken up. The rep suggested I ask for a proof when I submit the order. It was a good thing I did because we had moved the design on the back of the shirt down a few inches to allow for ironing-on the kids’ names. They had moved it up. I asked them to move it back down and they did without question. I wasn’t so happy that they made changes to positioning without asking. I would highly recommend you get a proof before you give them the go ahead with the printing.
The cost for the 6 shirts I bought came to ~$115, but I also asked for expedited printing because I had procrastinated a bit too much this year. My shipping and handling doubled from $10 to $20, so I could have gotten them cheaper. Plus, uberprints.com offers free shipping for orders over $100, so if you have a bigger team, that could help you out (I only have 4 team members this year). The shirts themselves run about $15/each (cheaper if you have a lot of shirts), printing included.
The quality of the shirts are very good and the printing turned out great. Many places sell you really thin shirts with cheap fabric. These are 100% cotton and the thickness of a printed shirt you would buy at a quality store.
You can certainly get cheap shirts at Target and buy iron-on transfers. That will only run you $6-8 per shirt, but they won’t look nearly as nice. The t-shirts are a nice takeaway, so if the parents are willing to pay a little extra, these custom t-shirt companies are a nice way to give the team something they can wear for a year or two before they put them away in their memory box.
[Disclaimer: uberprints.com did not pay me for this review. I always like to pass on information about good companies. I will, however, get a small spiff if you click the link above, or the banner on the right. Any money I make after covering the costs of my web hosting will go to High Tech Kids.]