About two years ago, I was lucky enough to review Soft™Clothing’s nautical striped tee and their “jeans”. Far more recently, I was lucky enough to review a pair of their seamless underwear — and am currently running a GiveAway of a 3-pack of the same. It doesn’t end there, though. Oh no no no no no. See, so long as my brain is working, I go through life thinking things like, “Well yes, that’s splendid, but what if…?!” Admittedly, sometimes that is not a good thing. Other times, though, the most marvelous things can be thunk, when you’re thinking outside the box. I know I sound like Dr.Seuss, but bear with me.
The thing is, Soft™Clothing has proven to be an excellent resource when it comes to wardrobing kids with Sensory Processing Disorder. The OTHER thing is that the overwhelming majority of people with Autism Spectrum Disorder, also have at least some degree of SPD. The OTHER OTHER thing is that people with ASD….especially kids with ASD….are known for being finicky about more than just how their clothes fit and feel. Some might be satisfied if everything they wear is a certain color. Others might only be willing to put clothes on if the clothes cater to their obsessive, passionate interests.
Go ahead, try to find clothes in the right size, fit, texture, style, color AND design that caters to your child’s veeerrrrryyyyy specific wants and needs. Now try to do so without breaking the bank, the clock, or what passes for your sanity. If you’re the caretaker of a child with ASD and SPD, you’re probably laughing/screaming/crying along with me, right now.
Ash isn’t as “bad” about this as many of the special needs kids I know in his diagnostic category, but he does have his themes, as it were, and once he started taking an interest in what he was wearing, he started wanting more and more of it to reflect those themes. He would sometimes ask to wear a specific shirt, and that shirt would not necessarily currently exist in his wardrobe, or perhaps even in stores from which I might shop to accommodate the wish for his wardrobe. What would follow would quite possibly be a meltdown, during which he certainly wouldn’t make any progress towards getting dressed in anything he did have as an option. Now, I’m not saying that that’s ok, or that we’re letting Ash think that’s ok. On the other hand, I’m not saying a little preemptive damage control is never welcome, either.
When I was offered the seamless underwear for review, I asked if I might also review a shirt for the express purpose of testing out how well it would take an iron-on fabric transfer. See, those little beauties allow you to print out any design you have the whiles to come up with, and stick it more-or-less-permanently on fabric. The end result isn’t as tactile-unobtrusive as something which is screenprinted, but, honestly, it’s a lot less stiff and annoying than many professionally manufactured shirts and such, with different kinds of appliques on them. I’ve been using them lately, along with cotton t-shirts from DollarTree, to make Ash special-occasion-gift shirts for things like Valentine’s Day and St. Paddy’s Day. Admittedly, I’ve designed those shirts to be wearable on more than just their source holidays, but, 100% cotton though they might be, they still aren’t comfortable enough for Ash to want to wear them regularly. So it is that my mind held certain things — many of them involving dragons — in reserve for shirts like the ones from Soft™Clothing. If THOSE shirts — already proven in so many ways (reflected in my review of the t-shirt and the accolades to them revisited in my review of the underwear) — could take a transfer well, I could end up with the ultimate, customized shirts for Ash. Moreover, I could let you all know that, so long as you have an inkjet printer and an iron, you could end up with the ultimate, customized shirts (or whatever) for YOUR kids, too.
If CafePress let me stick the kinds of things I come up with onto Soft™Clothing items, I’d be oh so happy to reap the varied kinds of reward, lemme tell ya….but in the meantime, at least I could do this for myself.
In any event, Jessica from Soft™Clothing loved the idea of my test, and so I got two shirts to play with for purposes of the review. Unfortunately, because of the season, they didn’t have anything in stock at the time, in the size and color combinations I was most interested in — because I already had design-transfers in mind — but I wasn’t about to let that stop me. I ended up with a Medium in the Grey Heather/Blue Danube Two-Tone Raglan Long-Sleeved Tee, and a Medium in the Heather Grey Soft Sensory Tee. Ash wasn’t especially fond of the raglan’s color scheme, so I set that one aside to test out how it took dye.
Predictably for a 100% cotton shirt, the fabric took the dye as well as could be expected for the quality of the dye used. I did get a very even color, which speaks well of the shirts as a starting point for more invested dye jobs. As you can tell from the photo, the dye does NOT “take” on the thread used, which serves as a reminder that even “100% cotton” shirts don’t use 100% cotton thread.
I haven’t yet come up with the right transfer graphic to take advantage of this slightly odd end-result color combination, so this shirt might eventually get a transfer, or might end up getting a second dye job with some more potent black aniline dye that will “take” thoroughly on the whole shibang.
The grey tee was easier to tackle as originally intended. I decided that since I hadn’t ended up with one of the “summer wash” tie-dye shirts to add a funky black dragon silhouette to, to make it look like, say, the dragon was breathing fire at the bottom of the shirt….or just one in plain navy, since Ash is big on blue and there are plenty of dragon graphics I’ve got waiting behind the scenes, that would coordinate with it….I would make the most of the unplanned color of what came, and come up with something that would not only work well on it, but really push the limits of the experiment.
Ash’s favorite shirts tend to have one of a few things in common. If they don’t have dragons or some other strong interest on them, they pay tribute to how cute he is, his impishness, or some other prized quality of his personality. Since he can read, words are more than welcome. With Ash having recently begun to experience bullying because of his differences, I thought I’d make him a shirt that stressed how distinctive he is, in a more positive light.
I could not have been more impressed by the way that the shirt took the transfer. The fabric is so smooth, I don’t think that any adhesive micrometers went to waste. Washing the garment inside-out in cool water and drying it inside-out as well….as per transfer paper instructions….the shirt has thus far made it through somewhere around 4 wearings during the day and 3 wearings during the night, as well as the wash-and-dry following each of those, plus one before it the transfer-applied shirt was ever worn. There has been no bubbling or lifting of the transfer. Furthermore, the transfer has managed to stick that well to the front of the shirt, without any of the fabric adhesive going THROUGH the fabric. That tells me that the weave is not only smooth, soft, and lightweight, but also very tight. Even with the transfer applied, Ash finds this shirt more comfortable to wear than unadorned, standard cotton t-shirts.
In fact, this became one of Ash’s favorite shirts, the first time he discovered it. “Mommy, this shirt is like my soft, stripy shirt!” he said, as he flicked through his closet to choose what he would wear the next day. Yes, you really can feel the difference between these shirts and the average cotton shirt, at one touch. Well, as Ash pulled it free of its hanger, he realized what the design was, and then he was even happier. “Mommy! This shirt talks about how I’m not BORING!!”
Ash wore the shirt all day that day — which happened to be a Saturday. Not once did he twist it around him. Not once did he tug on the collar until it distended enough to get yanked down over his shoulders as he pulled at it. Not once did he lift it up over his stomach. Even if it got a splatter of water on it when he washed his hands, he didn’t want it changed for a “dry” shirt. He wanted to sleep in it that night, and since it didn’t appear to even be sweaty, I let him. He took it off the next morning only after getting me to promise….and this should sound familiar….that I would put it in the laundry so that he could wear it again to bed that night.
He even checked up on my laundry duties several times that Sunday, to make sure I didn’t drop the ball.
Now, normally Ash takes off whatever he was wearing at night, in the morning, before changing into his new clothes for the day. This is not just a practical habit we’ve tried to instill in him, it’s part of his ROUTINE. On Monday morning, however, he specifically called out instructions to not enter his room until he finished getting dressed. Steffan, who was taking over get-him-ready-for-the-bus duties that morning, never thought to check for the night-worn shirt in the laundry pile, and wonder why it wasn’t there. Ash had – in defiance of his own routines, the high temperatures that day, and what in most other tees would have been a night’s accumulation of sweat — decided to be sneaky and keep the shirt on, layering the t-shirt which had been chosen for that day, the night before, over it.
He has worn it, as noted, a number of times since then. He has worn it at home, worn it at school, worn it out and about, worn it to bed. He is quite in love with the thing, which is pretty impressive since it is neither blue nor emblazoned with a dragon. I can definitely tell you that I’ll be hoping to win Soft™Clothing shirt giveaways that other bloggers host, so that I can make Ash a heck of a lot more special shirts that delight his personality as much as his sensory needs. I can also tell you that the Soft™Clothing shirts aced the test I gave them, and I thoroughly recommend taking advantage of them as a medium on which to create perfectly personalized shirts for your sensory kids.
Five out of five stars on the iron-on-transfer front. Four out of five stars on the unplanned dyeability angle, and that’s only because the synthetic thread doesn’t “take” the cheap dye most of us can afford. (Granted, cotton sewing thread is generally only sold for decorative quilt stitching for a reason….it simply isn’t as strong as synthetic threads.) I should add the disclaimer that I used a particular kind of fabric transfer paper — which is text-linked in this review — so results might vary if you use other brands. I got better results on this shirt than any other shirt I’ve used this particular transfer paper on, though, which makes the Soft™Clothing shirts doubly perfect for this purpose.