How to Start Your Own T-shirt Line

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If you’ve got some clever ideas for T-shirts, why not start a T-shirt clothing line? There are a number of helpful online sites, many of which are free and easy to maneuver, for someone looking to design and sell T-shirts. The key is making designs that people will want to buy.

Things You'll Need

  • Blank T-shirts
  • Screen printer or a printing press
  • Design software
  • T-shirt template or picture of your T-shirt

Get a T-shirt template or create your own by photographing a blank T-shirt and uploading it to your software program. When photographing your T-shirt, use a solid background that is a different color from your T-shirt. You can create wrinkles in your T-shirt or have a friend wear it to make it look more realistic.

Find a software program such as Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop to design your T-shirts. As of 2009, both programs cost more than $500 each, so before you buy, check out their free trial memberships. Also consider GIMP, which is a free program. While it can’t do everything that Adobe’s programs can and won’t have the tech support, there are a number of free features that you can use to design your T-shirts.

Create your T-shirt designs. Upload your T-shirt template or picture and begin designing your shirts. Don’t exceed the length and width of the T-shirt as determined by your screen printer.

Find a screen printer to print your designs. Depending on your needs, your screen printer may supply you with T-shirts, store your products and ship the items when sold. Some print companies, such as Mojo.com or Cafepress.com, will even provide you with an online store. Or purchase a table press and sell your shirts from home. In that case, you’ll also need screens, an exposure unit to cure the image, transparencies for the image, degreaser, drying racks, ink, a flash dryer and squeegees. As of 2009, tabletop presses start at about $150. A complete package may cost about $1,000, but can run as much as $16,000.

Find a T-shirt manufacturer to purchase wholesale T-shirts, if you will print your shirts at home.

Create your logo. Brainstorm and write down all the terms that can describe you, your T-shirts or your philosophy. Your logo should be simple, clever and catchy.

Purchase a website if your screen printing company doesn’t provide one for you. Include your business history, shipping times, thorough descriptions and sizes, availability, and quality images of your shirts. Contact consignment stores and boutiques in your area to sell your shirts, if you will design or store them in your home.

Tips & Warnings

  • Check local regulations to find out if you need to register your business or obtain a sales tax permit, federal tax ID and liability insurance.

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