T-Shirt Love & Care

(and then more love!)

It was really important to us to find an exceptional t-shirt that was ethically produced. At the same time, we wanted to create products that people we know and hang out with could afford.

After a good deal of research, we are very happy with the shirts we are selling--and wearing! We only use shirts made from one hundred percent combed ringspun cotton.

We are proud of that. But what does it mean?

In a nutshell, ring spun cotton is nicer, softer, and more durable.

The processes for creating regular cotton and ring spun cotton are quite different. Regular cotton is a mixture of short, thick, more coarse fibers. These are twisted together to make yarn, which is then woven into material. Most industry-standard t-shirts are made from this kind of fabric--as it is much cheaper to produce. Printing on this regular carded cotton fabric can result in a grainy, less defined image, as there is a rougher surface texture in the fabric.

Ring spun cotton is very different. Ring spun yarn is made by twisting and thinning the cotton strands to make a very fine, strong, soft “rope” of cotton fibers. The straightened fibers lie more closely together, giving a smoother texture. Ring spun cotton t-shirts cost more to manufacture, but they are more durable and longer lasting. The ring spun yarns yield a smooth, lustrous fabric that’s a joy on which to print.

But even better--is “combed” ringspun cotton. In this process, after the cotton fibers have been ringspun, they are combed with fine brushes to remove any impurities or imperfect strands. This leaves only the longest and strongest of the fibers and creates a very soft texture and feel.

Sanctuary Citizen shirts are made from just this fabric.

So how do we take care of them?

Care

Longer-lasting clothing means less environmental damage and waste, contributing to making the world a better place. But all clothing, t-shirts included, will eventually fade and wear out. It’s only natural. The idea is to slow this process down as much as possible. (Sound familiar?)

Much of it depends on how you look after your shirts, as well as on the printing method used to create them.

All of our t-shirts are professionally hand screen-printed by real people.

With screen printing, ink is fixed ‘in’ the shirts and not “on” them, resulting in the longest-lasting print possible. Each color is printed separately, so it can be a labor-intensive process. But a very cool thing that happens is that each shirt may be very slightly different from the rest, especially when more than one color is involved. Each shirt is a work of art—and we love that!

There is another process that some operators use called DTG or “direct to garment” printing. It’s a way of printing directly on textiles using specialized inkjet technology. But the inks used in DTG are more prone to fade. And each shirt is a carbon copy of the one that preceded it. T-shirt designers and companies can send dozens of designs to “fulfillment” companies that use DTG and who then ship the “products” to their customers. The designers rarely see a finished shirt.

Where's the art in that?!!

Okay, so we got sidetracked.

Here are some rules you should follow in caring for your shirts:

a) Read the manufacturers recommendations. Check the care labels found on the inside of the neck. These instructions are a good starting place.

b) Turn your shirts inside out to wash them. This minimizes fading and damage to your shirts and to the printed images. Fabric rubbing against itself is a quick way to create pills and wear, and printed designs can crack and peel from too much friction. This is also a best practice for washing your pants or jeans.

c) Wash them in cold water. Even though our all-cotton shirts are pre-shrunk by the manufacturer, they still tend to shrink a bit, especially if repeatedly washed and dried at high temperatures. A cold wash is ideal. It will still clean your clothes and it's gentler on the fabric.

    d) Avoid tumble-drying. Again, high heat is the worst enemy of printed
    apparel and other clothing. The manufacturers do say that the shirts can
    be tumble dried, but you should know that this will shorten their lives. If
    you can, hang them out to dry naturally instead, but out of direct sunlight and turned inside out.
        e) Don’t iron the printed image. (Do people iron these days?) If you are really committed to it, then iron the shirts inside out and on the lowest possible setting. Alternately you can lay a towel over the printed image to protect it while ironing. Another tip is to not overload your washing machine with too many clothes. This will prevent them from being so wrinkled when you pull them out. You can even hang your shirt in the bathroom while showering. The steam and humidity from your long, languorous showers will remove the wrinkles naturally!

          Ethics

          When choosing companies to work with, we spent a lot of time reading the “fine print” in their materials. We wanted to know what our partners “stood for,” how they conducted their business, and whether or not that aligned with our own values and vision.

          Consequently, we purchase the blanks for our shirts from companies that are committed to the highest standards. Their factories are certified sweatshop and child labor free, and the companies are dedicated to ethical conduct. They respect the rights of all individuals and at the same time strive to protect the health of our planet.

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