Jason Toon


quality posts: 19 Private Messages Jason Toon

There's a magical place on the North Texas prairie, where jolly elves sing merry worksongs as they conjure enchanted t-shirts from sparkling fairy dust. This story is not about that place. No, we're going somewhere altogether more gritty and fume-ridden, a manic hive of furious activity, where burly workers struggle and sweat and silkscreen. Ride with us now on a journey to the Shirt.Woot spilling floor...



I think it needs a little more nutmeg.

Around The Corner, Shirts Are Made

We'll start with the color-separating process, because nothing is more visually scintillating than a guy sitting at a computer. This is where our t-shirt wrangler, Thomas, takes the artist's Adobe Illustrator file and breaks it down one color a a time. Holla!


Each color then gets its very own transparency print-out. If we do it for one of them but not the others, the colors get jealous and argue.


Before we go any further, Thomas has to put a screen together, using this gnarly pneumatic table to stretch the screen on the frame until it begs for mercy.


Careful, Thomas. This is a potentially hazardous part of the process.


Those transparencies we saw earlier are painstakingly arranged for transfer to the screens, using artisanal techniques that have not changed since the Bronze Age.


Let's coat the screen in photo-reactive gunk, throw it in this machine, and see what develops.


The result: a screen for one color of this design.


Whoops, let's try that again.


Now, before we can use all these screens, we have to mix up the right colors. Virtually any color you want can be yours by mixing varying proportions of a dozen base inks. Thomas has painstakingly weighed out the right amounts of each color, to achieve a certain orange we're looking for. Don't worry: this ink never dries out. It's made up of tiny little plastic granules or something, we're told.


Initiate bad-ass mixer gun!


Any extra glops of ink wind up in Jackson Pollock's trashcan.


Then it's off to the printing room next door, where deputy shirt wrangler Craig loads them onto the octopus-like shirt press for inking. Continuity error: these are not the same serpent shirts that Thomas was making the screens for. While he does that, Craig is printing the previous day's koi shirt.


Shirts are moved into place with fascist precision...


...for the machine to drag its mecha-squeegees across the screen, pushing ink through and onto the waiting shirt below. Trust me, it's even more magical in person.


A light flash-dries the ink with the fury of a thousand suns.


After that, our Passport robot (which we think might be the only one in Texas, because it's expensive and not strictly necessary and it didn't make that much sense for us to buy it) delicately picks up each corner of the shirt.


The Passport drops said shirt onto the dryer's conveyor belt. And it does it fast. Robot fast.


The dryer's kinda like the sandwich-toasting machine at Quizno's. Getcha hot, fresh shirts here! But don't touch that plastic mesh conveyor belt. It burns.


Shirts go into the folding machine naked, and come out spiffed to the nines in a natty Shirt.Woot bag.


The bags are packed into boxes, then into bigger boxes, then wrapped up in cellophane, placed on a pallet, and sealed with a kiss. Here, they wait at the second-floor loading door. Don't jump, shirts! You've got too much to live for!


On the first floor, up rolls a forklift to whisk the shirts off the ledge and out of our damned lives. Good riddance to bad rubbish, I say.


Finally, a pristine copy of the latest shirt is tacked up on our Wall of Garment Majesty. Make sure you're not bringing along any unwanted stowaways - vermin like to hide in those things.


Thread Count

How many shirts does it take to get to the center of Shirt.Woot? In the tradition of the great Charles and Ray Eames short film Powers of Ten (hey, might as well steal from the best), let's "zoom out" from one shirt, to give you an idea of just how many shirts it takes to bring this whole mess to life. OK, here's one Large brown Woot Tee, American Apparel style #2001.


Multiply that by 96...


...and you have one box of shirts.


Now, here are nine shirt boxes, which don't really represent anything in particular but make a nice photo.


Multiply that many times over, for a single row of shirts in our shirt warehouse area.


Finally, multiply that row by five, to grasp the vastness of the known Woot Tee universe. The devastatingly handsome human model is included for size-comparison purposes. Sorry ladies, he's taken.


The Human Sizing Chart

Despite our most valiant efforts to edify and instruct the public, many of our members are still confounded by one question: which size shirt to order? We see an opportunity to both advance understanding about this vital issue and publicly humiliate one of our employees. Woot Creative Director Dave Rutledge stands at a solid 6'0" and weighs about 175 (more like 170 if he's had a haircut recently), which we figure puts him near the average for a contemporary American adult male. Dave graciously agreed to emerge from his underground bunker and wear one shirt of each size, depicted below with Women's Small on the left, progressing to 2XL on the right. Dave's own preferred size? Medium, fifth from left. Click the image to see a bigger one.


Shirtonomics

But what does it all mean? What does all that equipment represent in hard dollars-and-cents terms? Or, more importantly, in iPhone-and-Camry terms? Let's start humbly, with one canister of ink. Approximate cost equivalent: two upper-deck tickets to watch the Columbus Blue Jackets play the Nashville Predators. (Those are hockey teams, if you were wondering.)


We're not sure what we're going to do with this rolling cart, but it's a handsome, sturdy piece of metal on wheels, and you can never have too many of those. Approximate cost equivalent: two iPhones.


That pneumatic table we saw earlier? We don't recommend getting one for your home. It'll set you back quite a bit, and you can't even play Stratego on it. Approximate cost equivalent: one hour with New York's most exclusive female escort.


It's not cheap to print oversized transparencies with the kind of precision we need, but what choice do we have? Approximate cost equivalent: a used Vespa scooter in reasonably good condition. And the Mountain Dew can isn't even included.


The developing machine will quickly develop a huge crater in your bank account. Approximate cost equivalent: 12 ounces of Almas caviar.


At that price, our behemoth shirt dryer seems like a bargain, at least in terms of sheer size. Approximate cost equivalent: a new roof on a 2-bedroom bungalow.


For slightly more, you can add a high-powered screen washer to go with your shirt dryer, if you're mentally ill or something. Approximate cost equivalent: a 2008 Toyota Camry, base model, no frills.


The more gentle you want your robots to behave, the more expensive they're going to be. Take our Passport robot, the one that moves the shirts from the press to the dryer. It doesn't work for peanuts. Approximate cost equivalent: one courtside season ticket to see the L.A. Clippers.


Folding and bagging is boring and tedious. So we bought a machine to do it. Maybe we do have more money than sense. Approximate cost equivalent: William Shatner's kidney stone.


Finally, the big, expensive daddy of them all, the straw that stirs Shirt.Woot, the multi-armed Vishnu of vestments: the shirt press itself. Approximate cost equivalent: two fully-loaded 2008 Toyota Camry Hybrids.


Whew! So that's how Shirt.Woot works, or doesn't. What a long, ink-stained trip it's been. Let us know if there's anything else you might like to see. We'll see what we can do. I know you might be excited after all this, uh, excitement, so stare deeply into the hypnotic blue-grey eyes of Dave, and he'll whisk you off...to..sleep...


hammr25


quality posts: 0 Private Messages hammr25

Cool, thanks for the info dudes

unixrab


quality posts: 11 Private Messages unixrab

Ya just can't tell me woot, that Thomas and Dave and some others there don't want 3XL .... it's just gotta be.

Let's get it done...mmkay? mmmkay.

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Bags of Crap = 3 ------> woot 3.0 is DEAD!!!!
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FenStar


quality posts: 16 Private Messages FenStar

I think you should mix the leftover gobs to make a mystery color t shirt.

Still single, can't imagine why.

AZGman


quality posts: 3 Private Messages AZGman

Oh, d'name's gonna love this place . . .

Grumpy 'til the day I die.

DrewBlood


quality posts: 0 Private Messages DrewBlood

I live in West TX and screen print out of my garage with a 70s 4-color/1-station press, a beat up flash dryer, and a 2 bulb 220W conveyor (which is actually not a bad operation for a hobbyist). I've worked in the nicest print shops in my town. So I can say with authority that that is a SEXY setup. I've never even seen a folder or a Passport before. In the shops I've worked at, you graduate from FNG pulling shirts off the dryer and quickfolding them up to basically doing the Passport's job.

Don't be surprised if you find a fleet of Uhauls pulling up over the weekend coming from my direction. Just submit quietly. I only want your press :-)

Toys4Tommy


quality posts: 0 Private Messages Toys4Tommy

Where's the machine that ensures that every image is off-center?

Every one of mine has been off to the right, when facing the shirt.

(I do love them anyway.)

AZGman


quality posts: 3 Private Messages AZGman
Toys4Tommy wrote:Where's the machine that ensures that every image is off-center?

Every one of mine has been off to the right, when facing the shirt.

(I do love them anyway.)



Someone at woot must have Marty Feldman eyes . . .

Grumpy 'til the day I die.

hockeyfrog


quality posts: 2 Private Messages hockeyfrog

Very cool. I never knew what the process was behind all this.

Sadly though, the only price representation I understood without research was the hockey tickets.

commodog


quality posts: 4 Private Messages commodog

Cool, thanks for the tour.

ThunderThighs


quality posts: 617 Private Messages ThunderThighs

Staff

Weird. In the animated shots of Dave, everything wanders a bit except his eyes. They're in the same position in each shot.



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Yeormom


quality posts: 0 Private Messages Yeormom

Looks like a goverment job...

imcompa


quality posts: 0 Private Messages imcompa

Thanks! That was neat.

dontwantaname


quality posts: 13 Private Messages dontwantaname

Volunteer Moderator

daj59 wrote:Weird. In the animated shots of Dave, everything wanders a bit except his eyes. They're in the same position in each shot.



But the shirt keeps changing. I would love to freeze them.
Why isn't this on wow?

edit
doh, they are frozen in the still shot.

WE LURV YOU TOO! Dork!!!
No greater love is lost than that not shared.

thezar


quality posts: 0 Private Messages thezar

Worked a screen shop for a few months and was amazed at things like the chopper (for paper) and other stuff obviously now considered OOD.
Fantastic!
Thanks.

ThunderThighs


quality posts: 617 Private Messages ThunderThighs

Staff

dontwantaname wrote:But the shirt keeps changing. I would love to freeze them.
Why isn't this on wow?

I figured they put it here so it would be on all the sites (Woot, shirt & wine).



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To contact Customer Service, use the SUPPORT form at the top of every woot page
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dontwantaname


quality posts: 13 Private Messages dontwantaname

Volunteer Moderator

daj59 wrote:I figured they put it here so it would be on all the sites (Woot, shirt & wine).



That makes sense. If someone bumps it for them.
I wonder what the job pays? (bumping, not making shirts)

WE LURV YOU TOO! Dork!!!
No greater love is lost than that not shared.

pooflady


quality posts: 20 Private Messages pooflady
dontwantaname wrote:That makes sense. If someone bumps it for them.
I wonder what the job pays? (bumping, not making shirts)



Probably as much as mods make.



The biggest lie that I tell myself daily..."I don't need to write that down, I'll remember it."

dontwantaname


quality posts: 13 Private Messages dontwantaname

Volunteer Moderator

pooflady wrote:Probably as much as mods make.



Maybe even less!

WE LURV YOU TOO! Dork!!!
No greater love is lost than that not shared.

pooflady


quality posts: 20 Private Messages pooflady
dontwantaname wrote:Maybe even less!



You'd pay them?



The biggest lie that I tell myself daily..."I don't need to write that down, I'll remember it."

firemalt


quality posts: 0 Private Messages firemalt

Ya'll do alot of work for $10!
Thanks w00t!

jqubed


quality posts: 7 Private Messages jqubed
daj59 wrote:Weird. In the animated shots of Dave, everything wanders a bit except his eyes. They're in the same position in each shot.


Maybe he's trying to pull a Paris or a Lindsay...

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mudman2007


quality posts: 2 Private Messages mudman2007

A great bedtime story.Thank you for the info.

Kisisie


quality posts: 1 Private Messages Kisisie

Thanks Woot! That was awesome!

sugarpike


quality posts: 8 Private Messages sugarpike

Very very cool! Now we know more than we ever expected to about the shirts. And the team. And...oh, never mind!

dmx10101


quality posts: 0 Private Messages dmx10101

Thanks that was a good read. Always cool to see the insides of woot.

One thing you guys forgot that I wanted to know is how many shirts can you print/package an hour?

dontwantaname


quality posts: 13 Private Messages dontwantaname

Volunteer Moderator

bump for wandering shirt people

WE LURV YOU TOO! Dork!!!
No greater love is lost than that not shared.

Skidi


quality posts: 6 Private Messages Skidi

Wow! Good job, Roberto!

Somebody actually paid $25K for a kidney stone?? I mean, I am a Trekkie and all but they could have bought alot of good stuff at that Christies Auction for that!

terrybatey


quality posts: 2 Private Messages terrybatey

Thanks for sharing Jason!

zh3ex


quality posts: 0 Private Messages zh3ex

AMAZING POST. Really interesting to see how everything is made and makes me excited for woot shirts!!

Oh, if 3XL raise the prices, I officially vote AGAINST 3XL shirts. These shirts are supposed to feel snug anyways...

markzero


quality posts: 12 Private Messages markzero
daj59 wrote:Weird. In the animated shots of Dave, everything wanders a bit except his eyes. They're in the same position in each shot.



How do you think they lined up the pictures? They lined them up on different layers and moved them around until the eyes lined up. They probably also did some slight resizing. Then they cropped everything. That's my guess.

How come nobody's noticed that a lot of those shirts had no graphics? They probably all have failed inspection.

dontwantaname


quality posts: 13 Private Messages dontwantaname

Volunteer Moderator

markzero wrote:How do you think they lined up the pictures? They lined them up on different layers and moved them around until the eyes lined up. They probably also did some slight resizing. Then they cropped everything. That's my guess.

How come nobody's noticed that a lot of those shirts had no graphics? I'm guessing they were messed up copies.



I understand the shirts with no graphics. The ones that bother me are the ones with different graphics. I figured they only make one size image, but it looks like there is more than one. Plus one shirt is just totally messed up!

WE LURV YOU TOO! Dork!!!
No greater love is lost than that not shared.

ThunderThighs


quality posts: 617 Private Messages ThunderThighs

Staff

markzero wrote:How do you think they lined up the pictures? They lined them up on different layers and moved them around until the eyes lined up. They probably also did some slight resizing. Then they cropped everything. That's my guess.

How come nobody's noticed that a lot of those shirts had no graphics? They probably all have failed inspection.


Yes, I know that but watch his iris. It barely shifts position in his eye. That's what I meant. It's like he he has the same weird stare in each shot.



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Jason Toon


quality posts: 19 Private Messages Jason Toon
dontwantaname wrote:I understand the shirts with no graphics. The ones that bother me are the ones with different graphics. I figured they only make one size image, but it looks like there is more than one. Plus one shirt is just totally messed up!



We didn't want Dave stretching out/stinking up any valuable shirts, so we used mostly misprints. For the smaller women's sizes, we didn't have any misprints, so we used blanks.

no1


quality posts: 7 Private Messages no1
Jason Toon wrote:We didn't want Dave stretching out/stinking up any valuable shirts, so we used mostly misprints. For the smaller women's sizes, we didn't have any misprints, so we used blanks.


Mr. Toon,

It looks like Mr. Bug hasn't had a shave and a haircut (two bits) in a while. Has he stopped showering too?

dave bug


quality posts: 14 Private Messages dave bug
roberto002 wrote:[IMG]table of estimated costs



Nice job, though I'd be pretty scared to get my bungalow re-roofed for that price. I guess we should've more clearly stated "re-roofed in a manner that will last 10-20 years."

kriscad


quality posts: 0 Private Messages kriscad

nice setup

thumbs up on using the Newman frames...

nice passport, any problems with it? we are looking to buy one, but have heard of people having problems with shirts not getting pulled off?

do you have production under AC ?? or fresh air from outside?

intaglio


quality posts: 0 Private Messages intaglio

excellent tour! it's very cool to see what goes on there

drumz0rz


quality posts: 1 Private Messages drumz0rz

Sweet Factory! Never realized how much attention my little shirt.woot got!

With the whole process so complicated, do you find yourselves hating people that order older shirts? since it would seem that you'd have to set it up just for them.