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Misprint Monday: What To Do with Misprinted Shirts?

What should one do with misprints? I honestly don’t have any great answers but here are some mediocre ones. It should be on everyone’s mind because the world is swimming in overstocks and misprints. The average American disposes of almost 70 pounds of clothes per year. H&M was recently found to be incinerating 19 million dollars of slow moving fashion and Burberry had over 30 million dollars of clothes burned in a year. How about on the small scale of our print shops, what do you do when things go wrong?

  1. We use reject printed shirts to test print on before throwing them out. This works very poorly on shirts that already have big prints on them. A long time ago we had a store that would then sell these shirts with a wacky bunch of prints, they loved that beer company shirt that had the Jamaica Plain Gay Straight Alliance print and a dinosaur and what have you on it. They both stopped buying them and we didn’t want to risk the wrath of a customer that didn’t like some chance juxtaposition. We test on them, sometimes use them to clean, and then landfill them.

    Still room for more test prints on this shirt.
  2. We used to have a punk band that would print a big red logo of the band “Schnockered” over the existing print on the shirt. They disbanded, but that was a fun small answer while it lasted.

    We used to print that “Schnockered” over misprints and the band would sell them as official merch. Funny, inexpensive, and green. I think it was more of an FU decision, but it did have all that going for it.
  3. Use them as rags, sometimes after test printing on them. However, unwashed t-shirts are not that absorbent and to really work they have to be washed first. Also for  a customer that absolutely wanted some shirts destroyed, we were able to get a rag company to cut up the shirts and it didn’t pay for them, but it was less expensive than dump fees and they were at least partially used.
  4. Donate them to shelters, salvation army type places, or places that send them overseas. This doesn’t work where you don’t want the misprint to see the light of day again.
    The Patriots won lots of games but not the one that would have meant 19-0

    Some of the places collecting them sell them not give them to poor folks or are total scams like cultish bullshit charity Planet Aid which is the worst of the worst but has the most collection boxes out there. Donating clothes overseas also can screw up local economies overseas where the local businesses can’t sell their clothes because of free stuff as this article “Haiti Doesn’t Need Your Old T-shirt” indicates. It all is super complicated. I have a shelter that takes them and actually gives them to poor and homeless folks and that’s my preferred thing to do with them. I got a pallet of overstock shirts from a customer selling nature prints back in the day and their were quite a few struggling folks in my area that all had gorillas and tigers on them for a couple months…

  5. This is not a cure, but on a small scale wonderful. Once a year I cut misprint shirts up and make rugs and bathmats out of discarded shirts. Basic instructions is you put a bunch of nails on a piece of plywood and cut the shirt into loops and make it like you would make a potholder.

    Bathmat made of cut up t-shirts






  1. Some good ideas. In addition to misprints, what should we do with free shirts that one wouldn’t actually want to wear? Like you, I throw the t-shirt cannon ones back. Others I keep for sentimental reasons, but never actually wear them because they are either a) “scratchy” b) ill-fitting or c) too inky (i.e. the design takes up more surface area than I’d like, making the shirt feel too thick). I have kept examples of a-c in my oversized t-shirt drawers for years without wearing them… should I make them into a t-shirt quilt? Is there a way to soften shirts? What are some ways to cut/re-sew shirts? I only know of one, but I haven’t tried it:

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