Behind the Scenes: The Art of Hand-printing in L.A.

Printing Trendy Little Sweethearts Hand-printed Charity Tshirts

If you haven’t figured this out yet… I am INSANELY excited about the hand-printed shirts in our new Animal Rescue Collection!  (This is a 3 part series.  Click to read Part 1: Made in the USA or Part 3: Organic, Eco-friendly, Sustainable)

Each shirt is unique, with its own personality, printed by hand in my shop.

Yep that’s right!  I personally draw designs, burn screens, and print every single shirt that leaves my shop here in L.A.  My favorite part of doing this is that NOT ONE ITEM IS THE SAME as the next.

If we’ve been lucky enough to see you at a show, you know what I mean.  Some shirts have a light, “vintagy” print, while some have a bold, sharp print.  And others fall all over the spectrum between those two opposites!

There are probably 100 factors that play into the final look of each shirt. Are you curious how the process works?

Trendy Little Sweethearts | Hand-printed, Eco-friendly, Animal Rescue tshirts for kids

Let’s dive in!  Here’s how we make them:

  1. We research and choose WHO TO HELP. This is done through a process of surveys, conversations, networking & background searches on the Internet. VIP Members can impact this stage
  2. Imagine and CREATE DESIGNS. My goal is to have approximately 10 pieces in each collection, centered on a few different themes that children and their parents can both relate to. I draw everything with my Wacom tablet directly into my computer.
Drawing Elephant for Run with the Big Boys Elephant Rescue Tee | Trendy Little Sweethearts

3. Once the design is finalized, I create a stencil for printing.  This is done by burning the design into a SILK SCREEN.  A bit hard to explain, but it’s basically a photographic exposure process with a very bright light and a trash bag ;-).

Washing ink from Trendy Little Sweethearts Tshirt Printing Screen

4. And then it’s time to hand-print!  I use water-based inks from a really cool company in North Carolina.

I love the gritty texture of this specific ink because it enhances the vintage-feel of the shirt

5. Ink is pushed through the screen onto the shirts, and THIS is what MAKES EACH SHIRT UNIQUE. You never know exactly how the ink will transfer through each part of the design when you print by hand. The pressure I use with each hand, the speed, etc. all play into the outcome.  I love to pull them out and look at the work of art when I finish each one. I can just imagine it’s final home with an adorable little kid!

Hand-printed Tshirts to help charities | Trendy Little Sweethearts

6. After the shirt has dried, we hand-print our label into the neckline of each shirt. I love our labels! They’re super large, giving us the chance to share ALL of the cool aspects that make this shirt unique.

7. We sew each brand label on the sleeve by hand (fun bonus, even the brand labels were hand-printed before we got them).

Sewing Label for Animal Rescue Tee | Trendy Little Sweethearts

8. We wrap up by ironing the shirt, adding our unique Max & Maddie hang tag, and bundling it with our one-of-a-kind activity card for you & your little one.

Drawing Max in his Running with the Big Boys Elephant Rescue Tee | Trendy Little Sweethearts

9. Once the shirts are made and prepped for shipment, I have a little time to breathe before jumping into the next collection. This is when I get to really dive into creativity with Max & Maddie.

First stop, creating a little adventure for Max & Maddie to wear their shirts.  As these are developed, they can be found under “How Max & Maddie wore it” on each product’s page of the website.

Where to find Max & Maddie adventures on Trendy Little Sweethearts website

10. And if even more time allows, we put together a fun little event for locals to recreate Max & Maddie’s adventure.  For the past year, we’ve been doing a delightful little event here in L.A. to Read to Dogs, Cats & Rabbits at our local animal shelters.

Trendy Little Sweethearts Reading to Dogs at South LA Animal Services | Trendy Little Sweethearts

I hope this little “peek behind the scenes” has been fun for you!  Feel free to ask questions if you have them.

If you’re feeling inspired to purchase your own work of art, please use the button below.

Trendy Little Sweethearts | Hand-printed, Eco-friendly, Animal Rescue tshirts for kids
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