Start understanding what you're buying.
How does a shirt get made?: Most companies buy blank shirts from a domestic wholesaler, ship them to a t-shirt printing company, and wait for the garments to be printed on. We most commonly purchase our blank shirts from a warehouse based in Illinois and they almost always arrive next business day. Sometimes one size or an entire style will be out of stock though and we have to purchase from a supplier located further away from us which delays the start of production.
What exactly does it mean to get a shirt "printed on"?: Obviously we're not taking an office printer and tossing the t-shirt inside it where the paper usually goes. There's really 4 ways to "print" on a shirt:
1) Heat Transfer/Vinyl - this is what's most commonly used for small, at-home projects. You've probably heard someone say they can "Cricut (pronounced like cricket)" something. Vinyl is essentially a piece of paper with your design on it that you can heat press onto a shirt. For the at-home projects you'll see people just using an iron to get their design on their shirt but a larger company will use an actual heat press that allows you stick the shirt between two hot boards that press together like a waffle maker. Vinyl is not generally considered very high quality but is great for samples and small logo prints.
2) Dye Sublimation -