T-shirt Weather

T-shirt Weather | Sophster-Toaster Blog

It finally feels like spring is here in Canada. There’s a still a bit of snow kicking around in the shadows, but it looks like we’ve seen the last of the under 5°C days. After a very long and drawn-out winter, it seems like we’re jumping right into late spring/early summer. It’s officially safe to put our boots and shovels away and pull out the sundresses and lawn chairs. It’s perfect timing, since my first t-shirts of the spring/summer season are just coming out and my first market of the season is this weekend!

I’m so excited about my first new screen print shirts of the year! I hooked up with an amazing North American made t-shirt brand for my nostalgic, double binding ringer tee and paired it with classic Cooper Black for a fun vintage vibe. I used a really neat UV ink that looks nearly invisible indoors but shows up the second you walk out into the sunshine! I had so much fun wearing this shirt around and seeing how the ink responded. I’m also planning to make a regular ink version in the same golden yellow colour for a lower price-point tee for anyone who likes the print so much, they want it to show all the time.

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T-shirt Sophster-Toaster
Jeans ModCloth
Socks ModCloth
Shoes Keds
Earrings Nicole Gagnon / Craft Arts Market
Sunglasses The Bay

All photos by me.

Come shop my tees in person, this weekend, at the Etsy: Made in Canada: Niagara Spring Market!

A Little Bit About Screen Printing

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I don’t remember how I was first exposed to screen printing. I must have seen something about it on Popular Mechanics for Kids or one of several other “science is cool” children’s shows I loved watching in the 90’s. All I know is that I’ve had a goal of learning the skill for a very long time.

A Little Bit About Screen Printing \\ Sophster-Toaster Blog

Luckily for me, I unknowingly married a man who shared this goal. My husband’s father had been a graphic design and screen printing teacher for a prisoner rehabilitation program – before the program was discontinued and the prison ultimately closed due to lack of funding – and he had always been interested in picking up the skill himself. He had never seen the full process, since his father made the screens at work and brought them home to print side projects, but had fond memories of printing with his father. My husbands and his father’s experience and knowledge gave us a huge head start, but many things had changed since the 90’s and we knew we wanted to do things a little differently.

We wanted to make our process as ethical and environmentally friendly as possible. We chose to use eco-friendly water based inks instead of the petroleum inks my father-in-law had used, even though they can be more difficult to work with. We sourced biodegradable versions of all the prep and clean up chemicals we would need. We elected to use American Apparel t-shirt blanks because they were the only brand we could find that is still made in North America (by well treated employees), plus they offer organic cotton. Finally, for economical and environmental reasons, we opted to reclaim and repair my father-in-law’s old screens instead of buying new ones.

A Little Bit About Screen Printing \\ Sophster-Toaster Blog A Little Bit About Screen Printing \\ Sophster-Toaster Blog A Little Bit About Screen Printing \\ Sophster-Toaster Blog

All this concern over ethical and sustainable practices can really take its toll on the efficiency and profitability of production, but we think it’s worth it. We make the screens by hand by coating them with a photosensitive emulsion, exposing my designs onto them and washing out the unexposed areas to create a negative. We then load, print and heat set each t-shirt by hand, one at a time. It’s a long, sometimes fun, sometimes frustrating process but, in the end, we create a product that we are proud to stand behind.

A Little Bit About Screen Printing \\ Sophster-Toaster Blog A Little Bit About Screen Printing \\ Sophster-Toaster Blog A Little Bit About Screen Printing \\ Sophster-Toaster Blog

Top Sophster-Toaster
Skirt Sophster-Toaster
Shoes ModCloth (another colour)

All photos by me.

T-Shirt Giveaway / Winter 2015

Sophster-Toaster T-shirt Giveaway

It started with a joke. A few months ago, while driving to the mall, I joked with my husband about how easy it would be to make and sell t-shirts. “All you’d have to do is choose a nice font, choose a good word like pizza, ice cream or cats, and slap it on a few t-shirts over the weekend,” I said with an air of unearned confidence. Then something weird happened, I sat quietly for the rest of the ride.

Over the next few days, I couldn’t get the idea out of my head. I thought about what kind of font I would choose, which t-shirt wholesalers I might use, dozens of words that I liked and plans for growth and expansion of my imaginary t-shirt line. After several days of not being able to shake the feeling that this might be a good idea, I decided I would go for it.

Over the Christmas season and into January, I learned the (somewhat difficult, actually) process of screen printing with a lot of help from my husband. I assumed things would go smoothly, his father used to teach the skill to prisoners before he retired and would often do pro bono print jobs at home for his church and social groups, but, of course, it didn’t. I lost track of how many times my husband said something like, “hmm… I don’t remember this part,” or “he always did this part at work,” as we fumbled our way through the first few unsuccessful attempts at making a usable screen. Somehow, through the difficult and frustrating process of learning a new skill, we had a lot of fun together.

I choose the first design set by bouncing ideas off my reluctant friends and relatives until they told me I was ruining Friendsgiving. Here are the winners:

Tea T-shirt \\ Sophster-Toaster Giveaway Coffee T-shirt \\ Sophster-Toaster Giveaway Milk & Sugar T-shirt \\ Sophster-Toaster Giveaway

Don’t worry I have pages and pages of more ideas and I fully intend to ruin Easter as well.

The t-shirts are American Apparel’s (sweatshop free) organic, sustainable edition, the ink is water based, everything we use from prep to clean-up is eco-friendly, and the hardware is even made in North America (or salvaged from my father-in-law’s attic).

Finally, the bit you came here for…

I am holding a giveaway to celebrate the new winter t-shirt line! There are three prizes to be won: first prize is two t-shirts of your choice, second prize is one t-shirt of your choice and third prize is a $10 Etsy gift card.

The t-shirts are available from size small – extra large in women’s and men’s/unisex. (You can find more info about sizing in the shop.) Winners can choose any shirts in any sizes they like. Prizes will be shipped for free to any location in the world.

The giveaway ends at midnight on February 1st. Winners are chosen at random. Winners will be announced here, on Facebook and on Twitter, and contacted via email.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Overbooked Day to Night

I find it so hard to dress for this time of year. There are so many things to do and so many obligations and expectations to meet – both those I look forward to and those I don’t – that choosing an outfit for all the things I’ll do in a day can seem impossible. The last thing I need to add to an over-packed schedule is extra loads of laundry, but choosing a tree from a slushy parking lot, getting it home and decorated in the same thing you plan to wear out to dinner with your friends can be inconvenient in its own ways. The best compromise is to pick one or two key items to dress down for day then up for night.

With this in mind, I styled my new Vixen Skirt two ways with a day to night switch. Then I quickly tucked it into my personal clothing collection.

Tea T Shirt - Sophster-Toaster
The Vixen Skirt - Sophster-Toaster Tea T Shirt - Sophster-ToasterTea

T Shirt: Sophster-Toaster / Skirt: Sophster-Toaster / Tights: Target / Shoes: ModCloth

The Vixen Skirt - Sophster-ToasterThe Vixen Skirt - Sophster-Toaster Day to Night - Sophster-ToasterThe Vixen Skirt - Sophster-Toaster

Earings: old / Necklace: gift / Shirt: H&M / Skirt: Sophster-Toaster / Petticoat: ModCloth / Tights: Target / Shoes: ModCloth