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Printing Process: How Houndstooth Uses Direct To Garment Printing

Ever wonder how when you buy apparel with designs on it, they all have different life spans? Some shirts can go through the wash hundreds of times and still look great, but others, after a few washes, start peeling or lose colour in the design.

A wolf head on top of trees
Our designs with lots of colour (like our Wolftree) look amazing using Direct to Garment

That's why at Houndstooth, we pride ourselves in using DTG or direct to garment printing on all of our products. You might be wondering what DTG is and is it better than other options out there. We put together a miniature crash course so you can be knowledgeable in the background of DTG and see how we make all of the apparel magic happen behind the scenes.


What Is Direct To Garment Printing?


A Direct to Garment printer
It might seem like a normal printer, it's anything but

Direct-To-Garment printing is a mechanized print process that uses an industrial garment inkjet printer to spray water-soluble inks directly into the fibres of the apparel item. This gives the apparel a much tougher resistance to the laundry cycle and keeps colours looking bright and vivid for a much longer time. DTG printing also lets us get a higher resolution look in any designs we make, resulting in sharper and more detailed prints. DTG is perfect for logos or pictures on clothing that has many small details to it. We can easily pick up those details in DTG and make sure they are easy to see and stand out. After it is printed onto the clothing, the ink is then heat cured at high temperatures, sealing the design into the garment.

Screen Printing VS Direct To Garment Printing

You might have seen or heard about another process to produce incredible apparel called screen printing. Houndstooth has also looked into this and may offer it as an additional selection in the future. A screen printing method is where ink is pushed through a woven screen (also called mesh stencil) onto fabric.

Screen printing by hand
Screen Printing can be done by hand and can actually be done from your own home!

While screen printing can create unique designs (especially ones with lots of text), screen printing has many downsides.

  • Using multiple colours requires additional layers of printing. This means it takes longer, and the print will have a thicker, heavier weight to it.

  • Long set up to use screen printing means bulk ordering one or two designs is the only way to use screen printing and make our time valued. So single shirt designs are a no-go.

  • Because the only way to use screen printing effectively is to do bulk orders, some shirts might not get used, which means they can end up in the landfill, which we don't want!

The DTG printing process has almost none of these flaws and can create one-off designs that our clients or we make. The option to produce just one shirt or 50 is also there when using DTG, which gives us much more flexibility. Here are some other added benefits of DTG that screen printing can't give us.

A screen printer that is printing a shirt
Our apparel always comes out fresh and beautiful
  • It is excellent for multicolour designs because it is easier to introduce more colours into a design without making it heavier.

  • No setup process means zero setup fees. It's as easy as sending your design to us, we scan it in, and we print it on what you want. Nothing upfront

  • Fast turnaround times mean that you can have your designs on apparel in as little as one or two days. We know quicker doesn't always mean better, but with DTG, it is!

  • As we mentioned above, DTG gives us the option of single printing items or bulk print runs. The choice is entirely yours.

Environmental Impact

A sunset over a field with clouds in the sky
We want to do our part to help Canada lower its carbon footprint

Houndstooth cares greatly about the environment, and we want to do our part in making our business much friendlier to the environment. As we mentioned above, with screen printing only being done in bulk orders, this puts a much higher chance at shirts not being used and ending up in the garbage. According to the recycling council of Ontario, just in North America, we throw out over ten million tons of textile products each year. That is a lot of clothing, so using DTG is a much more friendly way to make you look good in our designs while helping the planet. DTG also has some very innovative products that are currently being worked on that will further reduce waste. New printers are entering the market with almost zero wastewater, use less energy and use vegan-based ink that is biodegradable.

We look forward to seeing this technology grow and if you are interested in reading more, take a look here.


Show, Not Tell

We figured those eyes could use a bit of a break from all of this reading. So we thought we would show you our entire process from when we get an order to where we are ready to ship it out to you. We sped up the video for time's sake, but every piece of custom apparel we make gets the same love and care equally across all orders. If you want to see some of your custom designs come to life, get in contact with us using our custom order form right here or pick out one of our fantastic designs here.


As an added bonus, below we have a quick and easy way to create some amazing designs using bleach. Some of our amazing apparel uses this method and you can try it at home too!


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