How to Design Your Own T- Shirt

T-shirts (Image: © Svetlin Rusev -

Take a plain t-shirt and see what you can do with it. The possibilities are virtually endless for what you might create. Find a personal photograph or use one from the Internet to design your own t-shirt. Once you see how simple this is, you might want to make custom t-shirts for your friends and family.

Things You'll Need

  • Plain t-shirt
  • T-shirt transfer paper (see Resources)
  • Graphics program
  • Ink jet printer
  • Scanner (optional)
  • Scissors
  • Iron
  • Ironing board
  • Pillowcase

Select a t-shirt to use for your project. T-shirt transfer paper is available in kits that allow you to transfer photographs onto a light-colored or a dark-colored t-shirt. Select the transfer paper that is appropriate for the t-shirt you are using.

Choose a photograph. This could be a personal photograph of your own or one you obtain from the Internet. If you have a hard copy picture you want to use, scan it into your computer.

Open the photograph in your graphics program. Rotate and crop the image if necessary. Resize the image to the size desired for your t-shirt.

Add a border to the photograph. Choose the color and design the border by clicking "Add Borders" and entering the number of pixels you want each side's border to be. Make the bottom border larger (e.g., 150 pixels) and the sides and top borders very small (or none at all). Uncheck any options to make the border symmetrical.

Add a text slogan to the border and choose a font, color, and size. Click on the border area that you made in step 4 and enter the text you want into the text box that pops up. Click "Enter" and then position the text where you want it to be under the photograph.

Reverse the image by selecting the "mirror" option. This will flip your image to make it correct for printing onto the t-shirt.

Name your image and save it onto your hard drive as a JPEG file.

Place a sheet of transfer paper into your ink jet printer according to manufacturer directions.

Open the saved image in your graphics program and select to print onto an 8 1/2 by 11-inch template.

Cut around the printed image on the transfer paper to make a small border of approximately 1 inch.

Set the iron to a high cotton setting and turn the steam setting off. The iron should be set to dry. Allow the iron to preheat for 5 minutes.

Place a clean pillowcase on the ironing board and position the t-shirt in the center of the pillowcase. Adjust the t-shirt so that it is perfectly smooth and flat.

Hold the transfer paper so that the image is facing down and position it onto the t-shirt in the desired location. Make sure the image is exactly where you want it to be.

Iron the transfer along an edge for 15 seconds. Make certain that the iron covers all of the edge sufficiently. Move the iron to another edge and repeat. Slowly work the iron around all of the edges of the transfer paper, allowing the iron to sit for approximately 15 seconds in each area. After the edges are finished, place the iron over the entire surface for about 2 minutes to make sure that the entire transfer has been adhered.

Peel the transfer paper off while the paper is hot if you want a satin finish for your image. If you want a glossy finish, wait until the transfer paper has cooled. Start peeling at a corner and carefully pull the backing off of the transfer paper to remove.

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