Tshirts – Make or Break Details


Tshirts – everyone has their favorite, whether it’s because of it’s worn-in comfort, the great graphic design, or the memory it evokes. With tshirts being such an everyday item, we don’t often think about the small details that can make a shirt our go-to favorite, or buried at the bottom of the drawer.

“Six years I’ve had this t-shirt. It’s my best one. I call him Golden Boy.” – Jerry, in “The Marine Biologist”, Seinfeld tv comedyanatomyoftee

Take into consideration what preferences your group will have when ordering tshirts. You may want to mix styles for men and women to appeal to both. Some features to consider:


The wrong neckline can ruin the feel of a shirt. Ever had one that just didn’t lay right or stretched out too much? Or maybe a crew neck just gives you that strangling feeling!

  • Crewneck – soft rounded look, close to the base of the neck, also available as a ringer (contrasting color)
  • Scoop – a lower rounded neckline, usually for women, varying depths
  • V-neck – more common for women, but seen lately in men’s styles
  • Notch Crew – a slightly deeper crew neck option for men’s styles


Softer fabrics are the current style and offer a higher perceived value. If you want to ensure your apparel will be worn after your event or occasion, choosing a soft fabric combined with a great design makes all the difference.

  • Open-End Cotton – less expensive, less refined, good value – used for very basic tshirts
  • Ring Spun Cotton – smoother, stronger and softer than open end
  • Combed Ring Spun Cotton – even more refined and softer than plain ring spun
  • Poly and Poly Blends – performance fabrics with moisture management properties
  • TriBlends – combination of three threads – polyester, cotton & rayon to create a heathered look with a soft, drapey feel; very popular in fashion styles, and softest fabric


Weight is determined by the weight of one square yard of fabric. The trend lately has been towards lighter weights, but consider who will be wearing the shirts and when they will be worn.

  • Lightweight – 3-4.5 oz; usually for women’s, fashion and performance styles
  • Midweight – 5-5.5 oz; most standard tshirts, holds up well
  • Heavyweight – 6 oz+; durable, holds up best to frequent washings


Be aware of the size range of your group and choose accordingly. Mixing women’s styles in with standard adult sizing makes your apparel more appealing and comfortable.

  • Adult Sizes – unisex fit, but really made for men with longer sleeves and boxier fit
  • Ladies – slightly more contoured than adult sizes, with shorter sleeves
  • Ladies Fashion Fit – more contoured with shorter sleeve lengths
  • Junior – most contoured and body-hugging for slimmer silhouettes

For a comprehensive guide and graphics on tshirt styles and sizing, Sanmar has put together this handy chart:  Sanmar Tshirt Fit & Style Guide



Stainless Drinkware Makes Sense

Stainless drinkware – bottles and tumblers – have been around for awhile, but there’s been a surge in popularity with two styles in particular:  The S’well® bottle and the Yeti® Rambler.

The promo industry has embraced these two stainless drinkware products with many suppliers adding their own versions. These two styles were one of the most popular and most seen items at recent industry shows.

What’s the big draw? Both are made from 18/8 stainless steel with double-wall copper vacuum insulation. That combination creates the best insulating properties for drinkware available. With copper vacuum insulation, a stainless bottle can retain it’s temperature for hours longer than standard air insulation.

A stainless steel copper vacuum insulated bottle can stay hot for up to 8 hours and cold for up to 24 hours!

In addition to the incredible insulating features, these bottles and tumblers also offer an eco-friendly alternative to plastic water bottles. Consider promoting these as a waste-reduction as well as wellness initiative to  your employees.

insulation chart

This chart shows the differences in various types of insulation used in drinkware.

We’ve found these items in our industry are coming in at under half the retail cost of the name brands, including your imprint:

The 20oz name brand tumbler sells for $30, while our industry version comes in around $9.99!!

crownyeti stainless drinkware

20oz Stainless Tumbler

A 17oz name brand bottle retails for $35-$45 while the very same bottle in our industry, with your custom imprint, sells as low as $9.99!!

force gray bottle stainless drinkware

17oz Stainless Bottle

In addition, the construction and quality of the promotional versions match or exceed those of the retail brands. We’ve found in some cases, the promotional versions actually are higher quality and hold temps longer.

For a full retail look and a great presentation, many of these come with retail-inspired packaging. Options for custom imprinted boxes are also available, making them perfect for gifts.

17oz force bottles stainless drinkware

Bottles come in a variety of colors, including vivid neons.

Charge It Right – Power Banks

Power banks and charging devices have become very popular this year as a way to keep your tech items charged while away from home.

But trying to figure out which device will power your needs can be confusing. Thanks to one of our favorite suppliers, Gemline, here’s an easy-to-read chart explaining what you need to know.

Simply put – find your device, note the mAh it requires, then purchase a power bank with at least that amount of charging power (if you want to be able to fully charge that one device).

If you need to fully charge more than one device on a single charge, you’ll need to add the mAh’s to find the total amount you will need.

If your power bank contains only a fraction of the total mAh your device requires, then it can charge your device, just not fully.


Figuring Out Cooler Liners

This time of year is perfect for thinking about coolers. They make a great gift for customers and employees. In addition, anyone receiving a cooler will invariably hold onto it, making it a lasting marketing presence.

When looking at various types of coolers, you’ll notice there are several different types of liners. To help clear some of the confusion, here’s a short chart on the differences:

Heat Sealed Liner:  These provide a leak-resistant barrier and are able to hold water. Not recommended for loose ice as it can misshape and tear a soft liner. Usually made of PEVA, a non-toxic vinyl which has been replacing the use of PVC.

Silver Foil Liner:  Sometimes referred to as a thermo-liner, this is good for warm and cold items, but is not leak proof. Usually the least expensive of the liner types.

Hard Plastic Removable Liner:  A good choice for convenient cleaning and for using loose ice.

Clear Plastic Removable Liner:  A soft, leakproof liner which can be removed for easier cleaning.

To best insulate your items in a cooler, follow these tips:


  • Keep your cooler out of the sun.
  • Keep the cooler off the ground as it can absorb the ground heat and transfer it to the contents.
  • Pack items tightly inside the cooler to minimize air circulation which can warm the contents.
  • Always keep the cooler closed when not in use.



Keepin’ It Cool – What Type of Coolie Works Best?

Confused about the types of beverage insulators out there? Wonder what’s the difference between scuba and neoprene? Wonder why they call it scuba when diving suits are made out of neoprene?

Here’s a quick rundown on the types of coolie materials commonly used:

Scuba: Open cell polyurethane foam with a polyester fabric on one side and tricot on the other.
Neoprene: Closed cell rubber-based product with polyester or nylon fabric on both sides.
The photo shows the scuba on the left, neoprene on the right.
Now, what does that mean? In a nutshell, open cell has more air pockets and is thus, less insulating. Since closed cell is much denser, it blocks transfer of heat much better, keeping your beverage cooler for longer.
So why choose scuba over neoprene? Price. It was developed as a cheaper alternative to neoprene, but the tradeoff is it won’t insulate as well.
So when choosing an insulator, the decision is yours – less expensive, but won’t perform as well, or spend a little more for a better product.

Umbrellas 101

It’s that rainy time of year coming up, and the perfect time to think about umbrellas as marketing tools. Whether it’s for golf outings or personal use, umbrellas can’t be beat for the length of time the recipient will hold onto them and the marketing exposure they offer.

When in the market for umbrellas, the following things should be kept in mind:

Stick or Folding:
Stick umbrellas are much stronger than folding ones. Each joint in a folding umbrella which allows you to fold it down creates a point of weakness. You sacrifice strength for convenience.

Click here to view our favorite folding umbrella – Totes Auto Open/Close Umbrella

Ribs and Frame:
The ribs of an umbrella are the rods which spread out and attach to the canopy. Coated ribs will better protect against rust and corrosion. The ribs and frame are usually made up of aluminum, steel or fiberglass. Aluminum is the least expensive, but also the most likely to break and bend. Steel, while much stronger, is more rigid and can break at the rivets in a strong wind. Fiberglass, though pricier, is stronger and flexible, making it better able to handle very strong gusts.

Vented Canopy:
A vented canopy, or double canopy, is common on golf umbrellas due to their normally larger arc size. The vent allows wind to pass through the canopy rather than invert it. Some smaller umbrellas are now available vented.

The Gustbuster is the umbrella of choice for touring pros. It can withstand up to 60mph gusts without inverting. It also comes with a lifetime warranty. Check out more details here:  GUSTBUSTER

Fiberglass or Metal:
As discussed above, fiberglass offers more flexibility in wind gusts, decreasing the chances of damage to the umbrella. Another advantage of fiberglass is that it does not conduct electricity, making it much safer in a lightning storm.

Some fast facts about umbrellas:

  • average imprint area is 7″x5″ and can go up to the entire umbrella canopy — great advertising space!
  • golf outings are perfect for umbrellas – cheaper than golf balls and don’t end up at the bottom of the lake!
  • great item for gift with purchase
  • rule of thumb:  everyone needs at least 3 umbrellas – it’s a personal accessory
  • perfect appreciation gift – the recipient will hold on to it for years

Golf Shirts – Understanding Fabrics

In the very popular category of golf and polo shirts, you’ll find a wide array of fabrics, technologies and styles. Below is a quick guide to the most popular types of fabrics and features you’ll find in this apparel category:

Fabric Types

Cotton – This universal fiber comes in many varieties, in order of softness:
Carded: Process which removes the debris in the fibers.
Combed: Shorter fibers are removed, leaving a higher-quality, softer cotton.
Ring-Spun: Fibers are spun into yarn, creating a softer, stronger thread.
Pima: Premium cotton which is very fine, lustrous and strong

Microfiber – Ultra-fine fibers which make a very soft, silky fabric.

Polyester – This fabric has become extremely popular for it’s excellent wear and quick-drying properties.

Spandex – Stretchy fiber which is now often added to materials to create a bit of “give.”

When it comes to polo shirts, the trend is definitely towards polyester or poly blends which also incorporate various technologies.

Finishes or Added Features:

Moisture Wicking – moves moisture away from the skin and allows it to pass to the surface for evaporation, keeping the wearer cooler in hot temperatures.

UV Protection – Protects the fabric from fading and the wearer from harmful UV rays.

Snag-Resistant – Resists snagging and thread-pulling

Odor-Fighting or Antimicrobial – Resists odor caused by body bacteria and increases the garment life.


Jacquard Knit
Ottoman Knit
Pique Knit

Weaves or Styles

Jacquard – Intricate pattern woven into the fabric, typically with two or more colors

Ottoman – Tightly woven horizontal raised rib texture

Drop-Needle – Knit fabric with vertical lines within the cloth

Herringbone – Zig-zag pattern knit into the fabric

Mélange – Mix of different colors knit together to create a heathered look

Nailhead – Jacquard knit with a design similar to small nail heads

Pique – A knitting method that creates a fine textured surface similar to a waffle weave


Power Banks – Recalls and Cease & Desist Letters

When connecting your high-dollar phone to any sort of power device, you want to be certain the energy source is not going to damage your phone.

We’revery proactive with our suppliers to make sure we only sell certified and tested products. Below is a statement from our main supplier, KTI, about their standards:

“As most of you are aware, power banks and cables have been the center of quite a few Unknownissues – the Apple Cease and Desist letter that many suppliers have received and the Powerbank recall being two of the main headliners.

I have been asked by a few “Are KTI products involved with the recent recall and/or did KTI get a Cease and Desist letter from Apple?”  In short, no.  We certify all of our power banks to prevent this sort of issue coming up with anything purchased from us.  And we foresaw issues like this with Apple, so we have never offered any lightning cables or adapters that are not Apple MFI certified.(regardless of pressure to offer and sell at a low price).
You can count on us to continue this trend.  We watch out for your reputation.
I want you ensure you all KTI power banks have certifications and are not a part of the recall and KTI does not resell any cables without Apple MFI license.”
Be sure to ask if items are tested and certified when inquiring about any electronic devices. The last thing you want when handing out these items to your employees, customers, friends or family, is to have them come back to tell you the device shorted out their expensive electronics!

Charge Ahead – Mobile Power Banks

One of the most popular products this year is mobile device chargers or power banks. It seem almost every supplier in our industry has added a variety of chargers, all with different price points and mAh levels.


And what the heck is an mAh?


Milliampere hours, or mAh, is the standard measurement of battery capacity. The more mAh a battery has, the longer it will run. Likewise, the higher the mAh number on the portable charger, the more it will be able to charge.


So what is a good mAh amount for a charger? Well, it all depends on what you need or want to charge. Here’s some mAh levels for some common devices:

mobile phone

samsung phone


iPhone 5S: 1570
Galaxy S3: 2100
Galaxy Note: 2500
iPad Air: 8820
iPad 3: 11,560


With this in mind, now look at the mAh level on the charger:


2200 mAh: Can fully charge an iPhone or a Galaxy S3
4400 mAh: Can fully charge the above and a Galaxy Note, with charge left over
5200 mAh: Fully charges all the above and about 60% of an iPad 3
11,000 mAh: Fully charge most all devices, or charge more than one device at a time.


So, which device is right for you? It depends on how you want to use it. Do you just need enough power to charge your device for a couple hours before you can get to an electrical source? Do you need to be able to charge multiple devices at the same time or before recharging the power bank? Do you want the device to display the amount of charging capacity left? Do you need multiple inputs?


Once you narrow down how you will use your power bank, then it’s just a matter of selecting the charger to fit your needs.


When it comes to electronics, we like to stick with suppliers who will back up their product. We also will only suggest items which have been certified for safety.

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.