How to Design and Print Your Own Custom Shirts


Whether you are looking to promote a new business or want to outshine your friends at a social gathering, there’s always a reason to design and print your t-shirt. You, undoubtedly, have access to a large assortment of t-shirts, but there’s always space for more, so why not design your own?


A custom t-shirt design is a popular way of adding your creative and personal touch to a t-shirt for everyday wear and special occasions. There is an infinite assortment of design options. A design can feature words, slogans, logos, images, and even original art. A custom design lets you display your own unique personal style or express your solidarity with a team or group, such as a sports team or a company brand. 

Let’s take a look at everything you’ll need to know before printing your design. Prior to purchase, you’ll want to determine your budget, land on a final total of shirts you’ll need, choose a printing method, and select the right material type for your custom shirt. When you follow these steps, you’ll be on your way to printing your custom t-shirt in no time.

Step 1: Acquire a design

What makes custom design so appealing (and popular) is that anyone can do it. Whether you’re an expert artist or struggle to sketch a decipherable doodle, there’s a designer hidden in everyone.

Despite popular opinion, you can’t print a t-shirt without an eye-catching design. Without a design that captures the essence of your message or brand, the eyes of passersby will wander past the t-shirt you spend a notable amount of time and money designing. Therefore, it’s essential to commission a design (or personally sketch a design) that represents your story or elevates your brand image. Take your time drafting a design that reflects your business identity, whether it spotlights a logo, slogan, or a combination of both.

It’s important to note that your design should complement the t-shirt color you choose. For instance, if your design features dark colors, it won’t appear well on a black piece. If you’re set on the idea of a black t-shirt, you’ll want to use lighter colors in the design itself.

If you want a stellar t-shirt design, consider working with a professional designer who can guarantee professional results. For those hoping to save some money along the way, sketching your own design can keep the final product of your custom shirt well below budget. 

Step 2: Know your number and budget

Before diving deep into the printing process, identify the number of t-shirts you need to print and verify that the given number fits within your budget. With any form of printing, ordering in bulk reduces the overall cost per shirt. If you are planning to sell them, ordering in large quantities can garner long-term savings. 

In addition to the number of shirts, you’ll need to select which sizes you or your team will require and how many of each size you’ll want to keep in stock. If you are printing promotion t-shirts, remember some sizes are more popular than others, but it’s essential to have an inclusive variety. Depending on the manufacturing company, some sizes will also be more expensive than others.

Solidifying the number of shirts and your budget is a crucial step in kicking-off the t-shirt printing process. Remember, the number of t-shirts you need will inform the printing method you choose. Some forms of printing are more ideal for bulk orders, whereas other printing methods have a higher price per t-shirt and are better suited for small orders.

T-shirt printing prices may vary depending on the printing method you choose, the quality of the fabric, and the number of t-shirts you’re printing. When printing your own custom shirts, you’ll want to think big picture. Otherwise, you may be forced to swallow additional costs you could have avoided. 

Step 3: Choose your printing method

The choice of printing method of a t-shirt depends on cost limitations, production time, and t-shirt material. Here are the three most common printing methods:

Screen printing

Screen-printed t-shirts can be made by machine or by hand. This method is the benchmark for t-shirt printing. The printer will make copies of your design, allowing you to print in bulk. Screen printing is affordable and reliable, making it ideal for bulk orders.

Unfortunately, screen printing can wind up being expensive, as a new screen is required for every design revision. If you value time over savings, screen-printing may be your best bet. 

Vinyl graphics

This method uses transfer printing to create vinyl graphics. Vinyl graphics have a different look and feel as compared to screen printing. Oftentimes, a vinyl graphic will have a bolder and more three-dimensional feel. Not to mention, vinyl graphics tend to outlast ink graphics. For those considering a vinyl graphic, these graphic types are most ideal for t-shirt designs with bright colors and durable material. An unfortunate downside of vinyl graphics is that they aren’t a great choice for bulk orders, as each added color increases the cost.


This is a t-shirt printing method that utilizes ink-jet printing. This technique sprays ink directly onto the t-shirt. This method allows for highly customizable details with a wide variety of color choices. Direct-to-garment printing is best suited for small quantity orders that include intricate detail. Despite this method’s pros, a con of this direct-to-garment printing is that you can’t print on dark-colored garments. For those business owners and creatives who prefer black t-shirt bases, you’ll want to choose a different printing method.

Step 4: Choose a fabric and shirt type

Keep in mind that the right blank t-shirt should be comfortable. Don’t let design undermine your shirts’ level of comfortability when exploring fabric choices for your new custom t-shirt. A popular option is 100% cotton, which is easy to wear and wash. For a cheaper alternative, try the 50% polyester/50% cotton mix.

If you are looking for budget-friendly, high-quality blank t-shirts, visit ShirtSpace ( for a wide variety of t-shirt materials at unbeatable low prices. Regardless of the printer you choose, you should consult with the printing staff to identify which materials are most conducive to your budget and the number of shirts you require. 

What makes a good t-shirt design?

To ensure a high-quality final product, make sure your image files are of high quality. As a last-minute detail, closely examine your font of choice, as it may add to or detract from your message printed on the t-shirt. Last but not least, remember that location is everything. Whether you choose to adhere to a standard placement location or decide to deviate, you’ll want to analyze what placement will best reflect your personal style or brand image.