Inside Look: Embroidery

We specialize in many areas here at Big City, and one of our favorites is custom embroidery. The concept of embroidery is usually a pretty familiar one to most people, but the image that comes to mind typically involves a single hoop, a pattern, and stitching done painstakingly by hand. Not the case here! Our talented embroidery team is capable of conceptualizing and churning out hundreds of pieces in a short amount of time,  executed to perfrection. Want to know more about the embroidery process? Our latest installment of the "Inside Look" series will give you the 4-1-1:

Here at Big City, our embroidery department is substantial enough to tackle any size job. Unlike some other companies, we don't outsource our embroidery or digitizing; we execute it all in-house. We have 22 embroidery heads, all controlled by an advanced computer system, which means we can embroider lots of pieces with the same design at once, or several smaller jobs at the same time. From ball caps to work polos to tote bags, from simple logos to complex images, there are tons of options to choose from with embroidery.

Like the screen printing process, the embroidery process first starts with digital artwork (or the custom design for a given product). For embroidery, a logo or image always needs to be digitized. This process converts the image into one that carries instructions for the embroidery machine, and tells it how to correctly recreate the image in thread on the garment. Our embroidery team is able to take nearly any logo, photo or idea and turn it into a a true work of art (like these awesome car designs below -- which were done from scratch!). More complicated designs, like when an item is personalized or the image has a lot of detail, mean the item will have more stitches. The more stitches a design has, the higher the cost will be, since that means much more work for our team. Our ladies accomplish some truly incredible and intricate work!

Once the customer's artwork has been digitized and approved, the garment(s) are put into embroidery hoops, which hold the garment while it's being embroidered. Sometimes, the location of the embroidery is determined by where the garment is able to be hooped; if the spot on the item is too rigid, thick or otherwise too difficult for the hoop to reach, we may have to make some adjustments. Once the item is aligned correctly in the hoop, the machine is loaded with the correct colors of thread, and then the stitching can begin. The stitching is all controlled by machine, which means the way the machine is instructed to embroider has to be perfect. Because we can mass-produce the same design on multiple items at once, the actual embroidery for a large-scale order can be done in a short period of time. If you want to see some of the embroidery process in action, be sure to check out our Instagram for tons of videos, like this one!

There's a lot of work that goes into it, but those are the embroidery basics! If you have an idea for something you'd like embroidered, chances are that our team can create it. We take immense pride in our high quality of work, and we'd love to collaborate with you on an order that will exceed your expectations. Call or click to get your order going!

Inside Look: Screen Printing

screen printed t-shirt big city

Screen printing: it's a major part of what we do here at Big City. Even if you've never heard the term, you probably know what a screen printed shirt looks like. Screen printed shirts are used and seen all over, and ours are considered to be some of the highest-quality in the area. But did you ever stop to think about what goes into the process? Most people don't have a clear idea of how we complete our screen printing orders. We love when our customers can get an idea of what we do all day, and because we take care of the entire process in-house — from conception to completion—we're giving you the inside scoop on how we do what we do with our "Inside Look" series. First up is probably the most popular service we offer: screen printing!

Rochester NY screen print

If the term "screen printing" seems a bit foreign to you, you're not alone! You might be familiar with the term "silk screening," which is essentially the same process; that term has simply fallen out of fashion, since most screens are now made out of polyester mesh or other synthetic materials, rather than silk. Whatever name you use, this is the process that creates everything from the designs on your kickball team shirts to your favorite novelty tee.

novelty tee screen print

awesome novelty tees
We love these fun designs!
Before a design can be put onto a shirt, you first have to create the screens, which is a multi-step process that we have down to a science. The very first step involves the digital artwork, or what you want your t-shirt design to look like. A customer may already have a high-quality logo or image they want to use on their shirts. However, more often than not, a customer may have just a general concept for the design, and our skilled graphic design team will then turn that idea into reality (or sometimes they'll need to recreate a pre-existing, low-quality image into something that's suitable for printing). The artwork is then turned into a proof to send to the customer, to make sure the design is exactly what they want.

Big City Sportswear: An Inside Look at Screen Printing
A fun customer proof for bachelor party shirts
After the artwork is approved by the customer, it's printed on a thin piece of film to be used as a design template. Think of this template as a stencil. Each stencil represents a different color in the design. So when a logo contains 4 different colors, each of those colors gets its own stencil. The complete image with all the colors comes together again only when the shirt is completely finished!

guide to screen printing

Once the film stencils are printed, they are then transferred onto their own screens for printing on t-shirts. To do this, the screens are coated with a light-sensitive emulsion, and the stencils are taped onto the screens. Together, they are put into a machine that exposes them to an extremely bright light (we have a darkroom specifically for this process), which "burns" the stencil onto the screen. Then, the screen is power-washed to make sure none of the emulsion remains. This leaves tiny openings in the screen where the colored ink can be pushed through, which is what creates the design on the shirt.

screen print shop, upstate NY

screen print fairport ny
Design on film vs. two screens (which each get a different color)
screen printed t-shirts

The screens are then loaded on the screen printing machine, and each color is printed separately. (You can see a snippet of this process on our Instagram!) After the shirt has gone around to all the screens with all the different color inks in the design, it's put through the "oven," which dries the ink and cures it to the fabric of the shirt at a very specific temperature. This ensures that the design will not crack or fade over time. After it comes out of the dryer, the shirt is ready to be boxed up and shipped out to the customer!

big city sportswear rochester ny

screen printing

Got all that? While we'd never expect our customers to be experts (we'd like to keep our jobs, after all!), we love being able to share the process with you. Putting together all these moving pieces is really an art form in itself, and we take a great amount of pride in producing the best quality work we possibly can. No matter whether your order is 1 shirt or 1,000 shirts, we always want you to be 100% satisfied with the result. So what are you waiting for? Call us or visit our site to get started on an order!

Big City Sportswear: New Location, New Website!

There's a whole lot happening here at Big City Sportswear & Graphics! Since 2008, Big City has provided service of the highest quality throughout the greater Rochester area. Our business keeps growing, and to keep up with the increasing demand for our top-notch screen printing, embroidery and digital printing, we needed more space! We just moved to our new location, which features an enormous production area to house all of our state-of-the-art equipment and offices. Those familiar with Big City's former location won't have to go too far... we're now located at 3861 Buffalo Road (right down the street from our old digs!). Business is booming, so having this additional space in our new facility allows us to take on any size or type of job -- and, as always, we do all of our work in-house, so you can be assured that your order will exceed your expectations along every step of the way.

Not only have we increased our physical square footage, but our business is expanding in another important way: internet orders! We recently launched our brand new website, which allows you to easily design your own custom t-shirts for free! Choose your apparel from our extensive catalog of brands and styles, enter your quantity and sizes, add text, upload your own art (or choose from our vast selection)... you can even get design ideas from our team to get the creative juices flowing. You can turn your ideas into reality -- and you never even have to get up off the couch! Plus, we'll even ship your order to you for FREE! Not seeing what you're looking for? Whatever your needs, we're here to help; chat live with a customer service representative, e-mail our service department, or call us (1-877-332-2945) with your questions or concerns. Our team is dedicated to quality, competitive pricing, and world-class customer satisfaction.

Design t-shirts free
Create your own t-shirts using our user-friendly design studio!
Unlike other t-shirt design websites, Big City is unique in that we want our customers to get to know our team, see our facilities, and get the inside scoop on all the work that goes into each order. No two orders are alike, so we aim to tailor the experience for each and every one of our customers. Although we're expanding our business to include web-based commerce, we never want to lose our personal touch. Be sure to follow our blog and check us out on social media (see our sidebar on the right) to stay up-to-date on everything Big City! We're becoming a big company with an even bigger heart, and we'd be honored to earn your business. Get started with your order today!
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