Pop Your Pocket – Not Your Basic Tee

Looking for a new look for your basic tshirt? Pop Your Pocket!


With our Pop-Your-Pocket program, you combine a tshirt color and a pocket color along with a variety of decorating techniques for a truly custom look.

Decoration can be applied on top or beneath the pocket, as well as on or above. By combining unique color combinations along with a variety of screenprint techniques and inks, you’ll have a tshirt like no other.

Minimum order is 72 pieces. Contact us for a free virtual concept.

Boost Your Color — With TruColor Imprints

We just met with our supplier rep from Starline who showed us a great new imprinting process they are offering — TruColor. It’s a new technology for printing vibrant, beautiful color directly on drinkware and other selected products. Normally, when printing drinkware, there can be many issues, usually related to multi-color imprints. TruColor eliminates those issues and creates a truly custom, professional-looking item that promotes your brand like never before.


TruColor Imprints Stand Out on a Variety of Items

No borders, no registration issues, fine photographic detail with a slightly raised feel to the imprint, lends to a very high-end product.

Instead of drinkware that sports a simple one color logo, amp it up by adding a full wrap photo to showcase your product, services, location, or event. The flat matte surface of these black vacuum tumblers makes a great background for any artwork, especially when paired with a colored band around the top.

Full Wrap Available – Get Creative!

Give us a call if you’d like to see some ideas showcasing your brand using this new method. We’ll get creative, do some brainstorming, and come up with a eye-catching virtual proof for your review.

View items which are available for this printing process:  Click Here

Burlap and Neoprene…Together…at last?

Now here’s something I really haven’t seen in our industry…. burlap… and neoprene…together!

Brand new from one of our favorite suppliers, a line of burlap and neoprene items. Coolies, key tags, wine holders, lunch bags and more. And to top it off, you can mix and match neoprene and stitch colors to truly create a custom look.

“Consider using products as packaging.”

It really does make a unique look. Create a custom gift set. Wouldn’t these make a great alternative to standard packaging? Ordering tshirts for your employees? Why not pack each one in on of these lunch bags or iPad sleeves instead? Sponsoring a luncheon or conference? Use the key holder as a napkin ring at each place setting. Put your business card in the card guard and use as a leave-behind that will leave an impression.

And, if you’ve got your own idea of a product you’d like to have using these materials, they can do it. Everything is cut and sewn on demand, so just about any custom shape or item you might need can be created.





Embroider It Right

We work with a lot of embroidery orders, and getting the art right can sometimes be a bit tricky. Artwork for embroidery tends to have more restrictions than other types of imprints, so care to detail is a must.

Here’s a quick overview of the basic requirements for embroidery:

  • Start with a good, clean vector file whenever possible.
    • Vector files are artwork which was created in Illustrator or Corel
  • The smallest text should be a minimum of 1/4″ tall
    • Text may need to be stretched to reach this minimum height, or stacked and enlarged
  • Keep graphics simple, not a lot of fine detail
    • Fine detail is difficult to reproduce, so keep lines at least 2pts wide
  • Do not use gradients whenever possible
    • Gradients cannot be reproduced as smoothly as they appear on the computer
If you are unsure if your artwork will work for embroidery, just shoot it over to us and we’ll review it. We’ve worked with hundreds of artwork files for embroidery and will be able to let you know if your artwork will reproduce well, or if it needs to be altered for best stitching results.

Creative Bag Imprinting Ideas

Bags are a common promotional item businesses are buying these days. Be it die cut plastic bags, recyclable grocery bags, coolers or totes, you see them everywhere you go. And because they are an item that gets used and reused, it’s a great advertising vehicle for your logo.

But, problem is, since you do see them everywhere, we tend to not pay attention to them as much since most bags utilize the most basic decorating – a one color imprint centered on the front panel.

To really help your message and your brand stand out, how about trying some more creative and unique decorating methods? With just a little creative twist, what was once a plain looking bag will now stand out and help show off your brand.

So here’s just a few ideas on how you can make your next bag project unique:


Full Color Imprinting:

Going from a simple one color imprint to a full color logo or even photo, can make a big impact. Look at these two examples – which one demands more attention? Upgrading to a full color doesn’t always add a lot to the price of the item either. In most cases, it’s just a bit over $1 with no additional set up charges.

In addition, by utilizing a full color imprint, you’ve just opened the possibilities for imprint content. How about a map of the event? Or, a schedule of events? Photos of your product?

The possibilities are endless and you’ve created a marketing piece that really promotes  your brand or product, instead of just displaying your logo.


Custom Design

If you’ve got a large quantity (minimums vary, but usually over 3000 pieces), the opportunity for a completely unique and custom design is wide open. All aspects of the bag can be designed from scratch and present a great way to really stand out. From selecting materials to imprint colors and locations, the options are endless. It’s a great way to create a bag that will be memorable and will be used time and time again, presenting your message each time it’s used.

Buckle Tote                              Accessory Tote

Unique Imprint Locations

Another option for a unique look is to place your imprint in non-standard locations. Depending on the bag supplier, your options may include handle imprints, imprinting inside the bag and on the gussets. Combining multiple imprints and locations on the same bag can truly provide a custom look.
These are just a few ideas for getting creative with bags. If you’ve got an occasion coming up where a bag is part of your marketing plans, give us a call and we’ll present you with some creative, custom ideas that will make your bag get noticed.

Heat Seal Decorating

Everyone’s used embroidery for decorating polos, bags, jackets and other items, but have you ever considered, or even heard of heat seal as an alternative?

At first listen, heat seal may conjure up memories of tshirt imprinting of the past – those thick, plasticy transfer imprints that would crack and peel over time. Today’s heat seal or transfers are much more durable and offer a variety of materials.

Heat seal is an excellent option for full-color graphics with great detail. If you’ve got a complicated logo or one with many colors, digital heat seal transfers are a very cost effective solution. Often heat transfer can be a less expensive option than embroidery, especially for imprints with lots of detail or solidly-filled areas.

Transfers are usually digitally printed on a transfer paper or onto printable heat transfer material which is then heat sealed or pressed to the fabric. Photo-quality images can be reproduced for unlimited options.

In addition, since the transfers can be applied to practically any location on an item (as long as it can lie flat), the options are endless for a more creative approach to decorating.

Consider these ideas for imprint locations:  pockets, hem, collar, upper back shoulder, sides, trim areas, or shoulder tops. You are only limited by the ability to lay the heat transfer flat for pressing.

There are a variety of heat seal materials available such as glitter, reflective, rhinestones, sequins, foil, felt, and twill.

Ask about using heat seal decoration as an option on your next apparel project. We’ll brainstorm with you to come up with some unique and creative ways to make your apparel stand out from the rest of the crowd.


Make it Soft to the Touch

Tshirts have become an integral part of today’s fashions, and a common item for companies to advertise or promote their business or brand. One of the popular trends in tshirt design is to use softer materials and imprinting methods that are soft to the touch. The goal is to have an imprint that doesn’t feel like a plastic sticker, but retains the softness of the material as much as possible.

At The Creative J, we have numerous imprinting and decorating techniques available which gives us the ability to offer our customers unique and memorable ways to design their apparel. To achieve an imprint which retains that soft, almost worn feel, even when the design covers a lot of area, there are three main methods to use. Below are some of the options and details about each:

No Underbase

Using regular Plastisol inks without an underbase can achieve a more worn look with a slightly softer feel.

Final Appearance
Depending on the color of the shirt and the ink colors being used, the imprint can have a vintage/worn look with a slightly softer feel since there is not a layer of white underneath. There will still be a detectable imprint to the touch.

Imprints will retain their detail within the limits of standard screenprinting.

Either the same or a bit less in some cases than standard printing.

Minimum Quantities
No restrictions other than those for standard printing (usually 12, depending on imprint colors and locations)

Fashion Base

An additive is mixed with regular Plastisol inks to achieve a softer feel. After washing the shirt, you won’t be able to feel the imprint.

Final Appearance
The imprint will have a more transparent, washed-out look, which will allow the color of the shirt to show through. For this reason, printing a dark imprint on a dark shirt will not work as well since the shirt color will overtake the imprint color. However, if printing a lighter color on a dark shirt, the imprint will have the worn, distressed look of a vintage tshirt.


Fashion Base Print

Since Plastisol inks hold good detail, imprints will retain their detail in finer areas.

A bit more per imprint color and placement than standard inks, but still an affordable option.

Minimum Quantities
Since inks need to be specially mixed and cannot be saved for later use, there is a minimum of 48 pieces.

Water Base Inks

These inks have a softer hand to them then standard Plastisol inks and has a softer look to the imprint also (colors will not be as bright).

Final Appearance
The imprint will be a bit more transparent than standard inks and does not print well on white underbases, so works best on white or light colors. Pantone colors will appear a bit lighter than they appear in color books, so if you want bright, vibrant colors, waterbase is not the direction to go.

Since the ink has a tendency to dry more quickly, there can be a loss of detail in some fine areas.

Usually no extra cost to run waterbased inks.

Minimum Quantities
No higher minimums than standard printing.

Discharge Ink

Discharge ink is the process and waterbased ink used for dark garments. It’s extremely soft when compared to standard inks. It uses a chemical which bleaches the dye from the garment before depositing the ink pigment on the material.


Final Appearance
After washing, the imprint will feel just like the garment’s material. Imprint colors can be vibrant since the garment color does not show through the ink. Only SOME 100% cotton garments will work for this process. Some rich colors such as royal blue, red, purple, etc. can be very unpredictable as the inks can become contaminated by the shirt dye. When used on the right type of garment, it has a wonderfully soft and vibrant appearance.

Since these are waterbased inks, fine details may appear soft or fill in some due to drying issues.

Due to the special mixing of inks with chemicals, they must be used right after mixing. In addition, the chemicals tend to break down the screens, which depending on the size of the order, can require additional screens. Therefore, the cost for discharge is much higher than standard inks. You can figure an extra $.60-$.75 per imprint color, per location for discharge.

Minimum Quantities
Due to the factors above, discharge printing using requires a minimum of 72 pieces or more.

Using the methods above, along with other techniques and decoration methods, we can help you to create a tshirt design that will stand out from the rest.

Tumblers 101

We’ve all seen those popular tumblers – you know, the ones that are usually acrylic with a screw-on lid and straw?

Did you ever wonder what the difference is between the price points you see and the product materials?

Well, even if you didn’t wonder, here’s a quick run-down on what to look for when shopping for tumblers!

Tumblers are made in a variety of materials, which leads to the wide price ranges you find them advertised. Keep in mind that a very low cost tumbler may be made of materials that don’t hold up well and will warp or chip easily.

Polypropylene – this is the low-cost alternative to the other available materials. Normally these tumblers will have a snap on lid and the material is softer and more flexible than the others. It also does not hold up in the high heat of a dishwasher and will warp.
16oz Price Range:  $1.89 – $2.50

Acrylic – a strong, clear material, but still prone to chipping if dropped, but is less prone to scratching than polycarbonate. 16oz Price Range:  $2.99 – $4.50

Polycarbonate – the biggest item to note on polycarbonates is that they contain BPA – a chemical which can be toxic. Most manufacturers have quit making drinkware using polycarbonate due to this. Polycarbonate is extremely resistant to breakage and is often marketed as “unbreakable.” However, it is easy to scratch and will yellow over time.16oz Price Range:  Generally not available due to BPA issues

SAN – this plastic is an acrylic blend and is more stable and durable for hot and cold liquids as compared to acrylic. Acrylic can craze when switching between extreme temps, while SAN will not. 16oz Price Range:  $5.50 – $7.50

Tritan™ – this newer material offers clear advantages over polycarbonate and other materials. It’s BPA free, won’t add odor or taste to liquids, is dishwasher safe, resists degradation, cracking and has great clarity. It is, however, the most expensive option.16oz Price Range:  $8.50 – $10.50

Double or Single Wall
Single wall tumblers will be less expensive, but you trade cost for performance. With a double wall tumbler, you add more insulation, keeping your drink cooler, longer, while also preventing the walls from sweating when ice or very cold drinks are used. If you’ve ever had a drink sweat and drip on your desk, you’ll know why double wall tumblers are much nicer to use.

The Creative J staff can help you navigate through all the intricacies of drinkware. Just give us a call and we’ll help you find the perfect tumbler for your budget and needs.

Zockets in Your Pockets

No, it’s not a Dr. Seuss book, it’s what our favorite apparel company, Vantage, calls their embroidery pockets – Zockets!

What are embroidery pockets? They are a feature usually specific to apparel that is made to decorate. It’s a hidden zippered pocket, usually found on items such as jackets which have a lining. In order to embroider a jacket without going through the lining, and having the backing show, the Zocket allows the embroiderer to open the lining.
After the embroidery is completed, zipping the pocket hides the embroidery backing, leaving nothing showing but the lining.
In addition, Vantage’s Zocket also doubles as a functional inside pocket – a feature most other brands don’t have. (Usually the embroidery pocket is just an opening to lining, allowing anything you put in it to fall to the bottom.)
When ordering apparel such as jackets that have lining, it’s always good to check on how the embroidery will look on the inside of the jacket. If the jacket does not have a lining or it does, but no embroidery pocket, you will see the backing of the embroidery. The only other option is to have the embroiderer rip out the lining seam, then sew it back up – which can be costly and create the possibility of damaging the apparel.

Laser Etching – Decorating Methods #1

Since there’s so many decorating methods for apparel, in addition to the standard embroidery and screenprinting, I thought it might be a good idea to talk about some of them.

One of our favorite decorating methods is laser etching. Instead of adding something to the apparel, like stitching with embroidery or ink with screenprinting, laser etching actually changes the fabric’s surface. The result differs depending on the type of fabric it’s applied.
For a quick little video showing a fleece being etched, click here.
On most laser etching, you’ll want to stay away from fabrics that are really dark in color, like black or navy, as the effect will not show up well on those colors, since the imprint takes on a tone-on-tone look for most applications.
Fleece fabric probably creates the most dramatic effect since the laser actually etches part of the top layer away. This leaves a 3 dimensional effect for the imprint. It can be really dramatic when used as a full imprint on a blanket or the back of a fleece jacket or pullover.
On wovens or knits, the effect is more subtle, usually darkening the fabric color a bit to create a tone-on-tone look. Since it is a more subtle effect, it offers the ability to be more creative with placement and sizing as the imprint can then become part of the design of the apparel. One example would be to take a graphic element from a logo, enlarge it, and position it possibly at the bottom of a shirt, overlapping a zipper, or extending off the item. View some of the out-of-the-box etching placements here.
Denim creates a whole different look since the laser removes the pigment, leaving a lighter-colored imprint. This would be a very affordable way to imprint the full back of a jean jacket.
Laser etching tends to be very cost effective too. Set ups range from $0 to $32 and run charges are right in the range of embroidery, but usually don’t vary based on size. We have some items which can be ordered at just 1 piece with no set up charge — a great idea for gifts or thank you’s.
And, we offer laser etching in our online webstore – no set ups, no additional run charges, no minimums. Check it out here. Items which can be lasered include blankets, awards, glassware, sportswear, jackets and more.