If you’re looking for quality-focused provider of custom apparel and t-shirts in Traverse City, then Field Crafts is your experienced source for superior products and services. Since 1977, Field Crafts has been serving the Northern Michigan region with fully-custom t-shirts, sweatshirts, and other custom-designed apparel for a wide range of companies and organizations. Whether you represent a local Traverse City business or a nationally-recognized brand, Field Crafts has the capabilities to fulfill your needs.
For custom t-shirts in Traverse City or throughout northern Michigan, contact our friendly staff with questions or to inquire about your custom t-shirt needs.
Screen printing has seen dramatic technological advances in the 36 years since starting Field Crafts in 1977. Sheets of “press-type” were the simple form of lettering for designs in the 70’s and the high-tech method was with a “Compugraphic” typesetter. These words and processes were out of use by the late 1980’s, supplanted by the desktop computer that took over the graphics and printing industry with such verve. While the early years of desktop computers seem like dinosaurs now, at the time they were miracle machines. A “laser printer” was simply a box of magic compared with the clunky efforts at typesetting with press-type.
Back in the 1970’s there weren’t many companies printing or embroidering custom t-shirts, hats and apparel in Traverse City, or anywhere in Northern Michigan. I remember driving the four counties of Benzie, Leelanau, Grand Traverse and Manistee. The main source of printed t-shirts for customers in Northern Michigan was from downstate or out-of-state suppliers. This made it a fairly easy sale to offer local printing with quick turnaround compared to t-shirt printers 200 or more miles away whom rarely visited Traverse City and the Northern Michigan region.
But life of the sole proprietor is true to its reputation of wearing many hats and putting in lots of hours. The process of doing road sales, writing orders (shirt colors, sizes, styles), discussing and creating designs, producing the films in a manual darkroom, making and burning screens, printing shirts, invoicing and delivering was all-encompassing. It seems like, and was, the pioneering days now. A single color print on a shirt was sufficient and two or three colors were dramatic. I remember well the excitement of buying a four color manual press in the early 1980’s.
Computerization and the internet have so greatly extended everyone’s abilities it’s amazing. People ask me if I miss the good old days. “No, I don’t miss spending all day in a closed up closet (darkroom) with trays of chemicals to breathe” is my typical response. Yes, competition for custom t-shirts Traverse City, Michigan is greater now but Field Crafts has such a great crew and has been at it for so long that we do well in that arena. We have more experience in years and in breadth of technology than anyone else in the Northern Michigan area. Part of that is from being creative; creating stock screen printed and embroidered design catalogs for fifteen years from 1985 through 2000, and then inventing and patenting BookWear® in 2000.
The stock design program meant regional sales of shirt designs in the Great Lakes area, which then grew to a national market by 1990 and with sixty independent national sales reps by 1993. We were printing 250,000 shirts per year for tourist and gift accounts all over the country. It felt like cheating to produce a beautiful design of Point Betsie on Lake Michigan and take the same design and label it with “Sarasota, Florida” or “Bar Harbor, Maine” but that was the reality. We worked with many local and Michigan artists like Glenn Wolff, Roland Roycraft, Terri Haugen, Cyndy Callog and others.
Beyond our local scope of custom t-shirts in Traverse City, Michigan. the invention and patenting of BookWear® has opened up huge doors nationally for our shirt printing and embroidery. Originally it was a T-shirt that we printed and compressed into a little brick of cotton that we then inserted into what looked like a book cover. Our initial steps at marketing to national bookstores was misguided because we soon found it wasn’t a retail item. People couldn’t feel the quality of the shirt or the print inside the package, plus it cost more. We knew that symbolically the education market liked “books” and so we started calling on colleges and universities. What started slow became an avalanche of interest. The”book” cover could be printed with “Congratulations on Your Acceptance to Texas A&M” on the cover along with the photographs and message from the school. It was mailable like a postcard so it was terrific as a recruiting piece for higher education. We now work with 650+ colleges and universities. We do regular mailings of 5,000 to 22,000 pieces for individual campuses.
In addition to recruiting BookWear® is perfect for marketing, fundraising, PR and virtually any message. Because it is such a surprising package it gets opened, and therefore the message gets read and remembered. So our market has extended to hundreds of corporations, healthcare systems, and nonprofits who use BookWear® for effective messaging.
A great thing about Field Crafts is the longevity and experience of our staff. We have six staff members who have been with us for ten to twenty years, a number with four to ten years, one with 29 years and myself with 36. You add that kind of talent/experience up and it makes a huge difference in all aspects of Traverse City t-shirts, apparel and printing, embroidery and production: design, shirt styles, fabric types, technical abilities, equipment, color separations, color combinations, print locations, turnaround time, customer service, and even just the ability to answer questions with a depth of knowledge. Experience Counts!!