Microfactory Magic: An Inside Look at the Garment-Making Process

apparel manufacturing -

Microfactory Magic: An Inside Look at the Garment-Making Process

Have you ever wondered how custom garments or sportswear are made? The apparel production timeline for custom garments is an interesting process with several steps you may not know about. 

Today we’ll take a peek at the garment-making process in a microfactory. We’ll walk through how custom garments are created on-demand with dye sublimation inks and heat presses, delivering color-matched, accurate designs in just a few days.

Custom Designs in 3 Steps

If you’ve ever had a kid who plays a team sport (or been on a team yourself – cornhole, anyone?), garments and accessories like custom shirts, swimwear, leggings or tote bags are all part of the fun. 

Here at Equipe Athletics, the garment making process is as easy as 1,2,3 for our customers:

Equipe Athletics apparel production timeline

Let’s take a deeper dive into Equipe’s garment production steps and explain some of the background magic that gets your custom garment from initial sketch to finished product.

Step 1: Design and Materials

The first step of apparel production is deciding how you want your garments to look and feel.

Dye sublimation is an excellent choice for vibrant patterns, colors and prints, which is why this method is ideal for printing swimwear, teamwear or other performance apparel, like cycling uniforms, for example.

Performance apparel for cycling team

At this stage, you’ll also want to decide what fabric type to use for your garments. At Equipe, we work with polyester and nylon fabrics, because dye sublimation works with these types of materials only: 

  • Polyester and polyester blends (minimum 65% polyester)
  • Nylon and nylon blends 
  • Polyurethane-based outdoor fabrics

Dye sublimation does not work with cotton or other natural fibers.

We recommend working with a dedicated graphic designer or fashion designer to make your digital prototype. Remember to include concepts for the front, back, and side views (if any).

Step 2: Approve Your Swatch and Begin Production

Once we receive your design, we’ll edit for color accuracy and quality for your desired garments. You’ll then receive a sample fabric swatch depicting how your garment will look and feel using dye sublimation inks and printing. 

Now, let’s see what happens once you approve your sample swatch.

Pattern Printing

Patterns are made and scaled correctly, then printed on paper with best-in-class digital machines that use dye sublimation inks.

MS JP4 digital textile printer used at Equipe Athletics



Heat Transfer

After the patterns are printed, the designs are transferred onto the garments via dye sublimation

During this part of the process, a heat press is applied to the printed pattern laid atop the garment. Once heated, the solid ink transforms into a gas, which allows the design to be fully absorbed through the open pores of the fabric. Essentially, the design becomes one with the fabric and resists cracking and fading even after stretching and multiple washes.

Heat transfer for teamwear garments at Equipe Athletics


Laser Cutting

After the design is applied to the garment, the pattern pieces are cut from the fabric with a laser. 

Laser cutting ensures clean cuts, sealed fabric edges (to prevent fraying) and extreme accuracy – without ever touching the material. Furthermore, pattern placement is optimized to minimize waste

While the laser cutter runs on its own, there is still a lot of oversight that happens at this machine. In addition to ensuring accuracy, a team member must sort the different pieces of the garment properly to prepare for the next step — sewing and assembly.

Laser cutter at Equipe Athletics



Each set of pattern pieces is then sewn together as the final step in creating your custom shirt. We take great care to ensure even seams and high quality across the garment.

After sewing and quality assurance checks are complete, the garments are finished and ready to ship to you.

Step 3: Enjoy Your Creation!

At Equipe Athletics, we use machines that are speedy and efficient. (We can manufacture a single garment in about 15 minutes!) So depending on the size of your bulk order, the entire process takes approximately five to seven days. Orders of 5,000 or more can take at least two weeks to complete. 

Equipe designs and manufactures teamwear for all kinds of sports and businesses, such as:

  • Auto racing
  • Baseball and softball
  • Bowling
  • Cornhole
  • Cycling
  • Darts 
  • Football
  • Lacrosse 
  • Rugby 
  • Running 
  • Soccer
  • Swimwear 
  • Volleyball
  • Yoga
  • Restaurants
  • Medical apparel and more!

Bring Your Apparel Projects to Life with Equipe

When you know what you want and want it done quickly and accurately, make Equipe your one-stop digital printing shop for consistent quality and fast turnarounds.

Equipe Athletics is a microfactory production facility that takes custom garment designs from concept to completion, usually within one to two weeks. We’re specialists in apparel manufacturing with dye sublimation printing and have over 30 years of industry experience! We pride ourselves on color accuracy, color fidelity and proper saturation. If it’s not right for you, it’s not right for us.

We’re confident you’ll be satisfied with your finished products. Request a quote today and let us bring your next project to life!