An example of a difficult – but not impossible – print position is the shirt pocket.

The golden rules of textile screen printing apply – that is, substrate must be single ply and heat tolerant. With a shirt pocket we have a product that could probably withstand the heat involved in the process but, by its very nature, is not single ply.

So, what are the options?

  1. You could ask the old lady in the sewing room to unpick the pockets and after you’ve printed them single ply and panel style, get her to sew them back on. But to be honest no one can remember her name and she’s a little bit scary if she hasn’t had a coffee.
  2. The shirts are black and the print is white so you could consider cheating and using loads of spray, a coarse mesh count and that squeegee that has never been sharpened. But pride steps in and you realise that if you had been born that lucky you would be better off buying a lottery ticket, and you would not be repaying a long forgotten debt to society by serving time as a garment decorator in any case.
  3. You adopt full ‘Heath Robinson’ mode: using some 3 mm foamboard (or stiff card) from the vinyl department, you carefully cut out a template the same size as the pocket minus 5 mm. This is then covered in a liberal amount of spray adhesive on both sides, and then this super sticky template (note: next time use less spray) slides not so easily into the pocket. You now have reduced the shirt to single ply and can load it onto a freshly sprayed pallet and, with some very careful positioning (using lasers), you can print the shirt as normal, remove the template before the shirt enters the dryer and, if the production run is large, reuse it to produce the rest of the job.

As the last shirt comes off the dryer, you should make a mental note that the next time a customer wants a pocket print, recommend they go for a transfer or embroidery: they’re much easier and it means you don’t have to go and wake the old lady in the sewing department. Nobody wants to wake the old lady in the sewing department.

Tony Palmer, technical sales consultant, MHM Direct GB


“Nobody wants to wake the old lady in the sewing department”