Ask an Expert: Add Budget-Friendly Lettering and Numbering Services

Q We’re a small startup decorating firm that offers embroidery. We’d like to expand our business to serve schools and teams, but don’t know too much about offering lettering and numbers that we can do in-house. How can we get started, since we’re also on a budget?

In today’s market, teams want to create their own identity through uniforms. By providing them with unique numbering and lettering styles, you can easily generate more business. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Pre-cut numbers. Recent additions to the industry expand on standard number offerings and are now available pre-cut, so you can provide a custom look without the custom price. More importantly, there are no setup fees, no screens to burn and no mess to clean. These new styles are often available in the most popular sports sizes and heat-transfer materials, and can be ordered by the pack.

Specially created for football, baseball, hockey, volleyball, basketball, soccer, softball, lacrosse and moto sports, number styles can even be customized to match the text of the team name on the uniform.

For teams requiring numbers that contain detailed pieces, or have a gap design to allow the garment to show through, suppliers have launched pre-spaced numbers. For easier application, these arrive on a carrier that holds the numbers in place. Once positioned and applied, you simply peel the carrier to complete the application.

You can offer sublimated or digital-transfer numbers to teams that also want graphics or designs. An example of a popular graphic that can be delivered in both sublimation and digital transfers are camouflage numbers or text. Through sublimation, the camouflage pattern can be sewn or heat-applied to the garment, providing a single layer with unlimited color options. Digitally speaking, the pattern arrives printed onto the media and is applied much like a transfer. Both techniques provide unlimited colors in a single application, while their single layer provides a lighter weight to the jersey.

By offering more styles to your customers, opportunities to obtain business will increase. When presenting to a team, prepare a printout of the styles you wish to offer them. Pick five to 10 styles that you feel fit the sport or the organization, perhaps. You might also consider producing samples or presentations that highlight styles on various sports garments.

“Specially created for football, baseball, hockey, volleyball, basketball, soccer, softball, lacrosse and moto sports, number styles can be customized to match the text of a team’s name.”

2. Lettering supplies. Here’s a great idea for your shop: Save time, money and increase efficiency by creating a layout station when applying to jerseys.

First, set up an area near your heat press, allowing enough space to lay out letters or numbers before placement. It’s important to keep this area clear of debris and make sure that you have a flat, level work space.

Keep the following items at your station: storage boxes for letters and numbers, cover sheets, garment pillows, pre-mask or thermo tape, and layout boards.

Layout boards can be taped to your counter or tabletop to be used as a guide for lining up names requiring straight or arced arrangements. Taping down the layout board will allow placement of the letters across the top of the board, while pre-mask tape is then used across the length of the name. Once the tape has been applied, peel the pre-aligned name from the tabletop, and set it directly onto the jersey. After application, simply remove the tape from the jersey.

Cover sheets, used with each application, protect the upper platen of your heat press from sticking letters or numbers and potential ink transfer..

Garment pillows offer an even surface when decorating garments with buttons or zippers, V-necks or heavy seams, and can also be inserted into reversible or mesh jerseys during application.

With 21 years of sports industry experience, PAUL SABATINI is the marketing sports coordinator and product line champion for letters and numbers for Stahls’ in St. Clair Shores, MI. Sabatini is the go-to guy for all things sportswear and uniforms.

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