Do it Yourself T-Shirt Printing


T-shirts are a fun and inexpensive way to get a message out about a product, service or a general interest. Making T-shirts yourself is fairly simple, thanks to modern technology, and can be a great way to raise funds for an event or organization. It's also a popular way of showing off your creativity and having fun in an artistic way.

Designing Your Shirt

  • T-shirt design is a based largely on personal tastes, but there are a few key points to keep in mind. Light colors do not show up well on white T-shirts, so if you must use yellow or white text, consider a black or red shirt as a base. Your transfers will have a specific sizing, most commonly 8 1/2 by 11 inches, and you must stay within these margins. Also, if your shirts are offered in sizes other than those between the usual small to extra large span, you will need different-sized margins or multiple sheets.
    Programs such as the free Desktop T Shirt Creator or Hanes T-ShirtMaker can also make these calculations for you. Remember that when you print your design it will print as a reflection of itself. T-shirt programs will automatically flip this so that the final product is not backwards.

Printing the Design

  • Most hobby or craft stores sell T-shirt transfers in both sewing and iron-on format. The sewn styles are most typically used for patches and can be quite a bit thicker than the iron-on varieties. If you're applying a patch or insignia to your shirt, this is fine, but it is best to stick to iron-on for most materials.

    Make sure your design is flipped by your T-shirt software or through a paint program that offers this option. It is advisable to print one copy of the transfer as a low-quality test at first, as it will allow you to examine your design before using the bulk of your ink and transfers. Once you are satisfied with the design and print, you can use the highest printer settings.

Applying the Transfer

  • Allow your printed transfer to dry completely before beginning the iron-on or sewing phase, as any smudges or smears from wet ink can ruin the design and the shirt at transfer.
    Place the transfer ink-side down against the fabric, bearing in mind that your image will be the reverse of what is printed. Put another cloth or T-shirt over your design, and be sure to iron over this cloth instead of pressing the hot metal directly on the transfer, which can cause it to melt or burn. As you transfer your design, move the iron in smooth, even patterns and do not allow wrinkles to form in the transferred area.
    Allow your shirt to cool before trying it on, as any stretching during the cooling period may distort the pictures or phrases.

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