Thursday, April 11, 2013

Rant and Review: Sharpie and Zazzle

As I've stated on my bio page, the name Lannis originated in part from a handle—specifically for the Wheel of Time Reread, led by Leigh Butler. The community she's helped create over the last four years is quite remarkable—the quick and dirty description I use is that we're a glorified online book club... it's the easiest way to get the point across, but our group is so much more than that.

Since Leigh's the Toast Master (Toast Mistress?) of JordanCon this year, and since it's kind of a big deal for us Rereaders attending, some of our talented members pooled their ideas and designed a shirt for us to wear. This shirt was posted on Zazzle for customization and purchase by anyone interested.

Of course I picked one up. (Go Light!)

Immediately after I'd purchased my shirt—like, within the hour of my hitting the "confirm order" button (or whatever it says—I don't remember. It's online shopping—it gets hazy until the product shows up at the door) someone mentions customizing the shirts to have our Reread handles on the back.


I was too quick on the draw. (That's what I get for being gung-ho I guess...)

So what do I do?

Well, first I waited, because Zazzle decided to jerk me around—yes, Canada's considered international shipping and obviously will take longer (I can be patient when I want to be), but COME ON! Zazzle didn't ship my shirt out until TEN DAYS after I placed the order!


I ordered my shirt on the same day as many folks, and my American friends had received their shirt before mine was even shipped, according to Zazzle's tracking notification. GAH!

And I sent Zazzle an inquiry email—because some folks had had a snafu or two with their order, so I wanted to make sure mine wasn't in the same category—and instead of replying, I received an email requesting I review a product I had yet to receive.

Not cool, Zazzle. Not. Cool.

Yes, I get that it's an automatically generated review request. But perhaps if a particular order number shows up in your inbox, you could—oh, I don't know—put a flag on the order?

Or, hell, maybe reply to the inquiry email previously sent?


Other than that, the product itself is great. The design I already knew was fun, and I'm pleased with the quality of the screening. It fits well and is comfortable.

I referred to the sizing chart and ordered an XL based on my measurements, which makes me scratch my head, because I'm usually a medium, so all I can conclude is that Zazzle hates big people.

Way to go, Zazzle.

But enough of them, because I doubt I'll be using their services in the future (it ended up taking five weeks from the order date to receive my product, and I have yet to receive a reply from my inquiry email and it's been a week... five whole business days).

How to get my name on my shirt?!

To solve the problem of lack-of-handle, I bought a package of Sharpie Fabric Stain Markers (I love me some Sharpies). It's a package of four and I only used the black (obviously). I drew out what I wanted on a separate paper and traced the design onto my shirt.

These fabric markers? So pleased!

They've got a firm brush-shaped tip that allows for thick and thin lines—great, except you have to watch out for accidentally touching the fabric on an angle and creating a smudge. It took some getting used to, and in order to be precise it took a while to fill in the design carefully.

While I haven't tried out the other colours, I've already decided to use these again, probably to let my kids attack some plain shirts this summer.

When I went to the store I was looking for iron on letters (which weren't in stock), and had no clue that Sharpie even made this product, so yes, I'm more than pleased with this alternative. It was $7.46 CAD for a package of four (black, red, green, and blue).

It's fun, and far more personalized than stock letters, and I don't have to worry about them peeling off with wear.

Some tips:
Use a template and trace your design if you're looking for an even result—sometimes freehand can get away from the best of us.

Go in the direction of the weave of the fabric to fill in spaces—the ink absorbs more evenly.

Use a clean piece of paper to cover any ink your hand will touch as you finish your design to prevent possible smudging of wet ink.
Place cardboard or some other barrier between the layers of your shirt to prevent possible bleeding of ink (I didn't see this happen on my own project, but you want to be careful for a good result).

For fine lines, keep the pen perpendicular to your project.

Occasionally check the marker tip for accumulated lint that might drag ink where you don't want it (I only had two fine cat hairs over the course of my project, but that's an expected hazard in this house).
Check the Sharpie website for design inspiration.

Not sure yet how this will stand the test of time after a few washes, but I guess that means I get to revisit this review, yes?

This opens up a whole world of doodled-on shirts. My neighbours will have more reason to roll their eyes.


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