Your logo on 1000s of products!

How Much Do Custom T-Shirts Cost? We Break It Down

Published: 2021-08-16T22:54:48+0000 Author: Abby Helgeson

Custom t-shirts are a big part of the promo industry since they are fairly inexpensive and deliver a large amount of brand impressions (brand impressions are defined as any time a brand's logo is viewed or seen). They are usually very inexpensive, easy to design and buy, and can be used for a wide variety of promotional giveaways. But how much do printed t-shirts actually cost? Let’s break down the various factors:

Material Type

Material types play a big part in the overall cost of personalized t-shirts. With each kind of material, there will be a different price. The type of material you choose not only affects pricing, it will ultimately decide how long the recipients end up keeping the shirt. You can’t always please everyone and each person will have a personal preference, that’s why it’s best to think about where the recipients will be wearing their custom tees and which material type will be better suited for the recipients. Below we have listed out the material types that are most commonly bought, ordered from least to most expensive.

Cotton -

Cotton tees are the most standard tee that people buy due to how inexpensive they are. Because of their price, cotton tees are perfect for giving away at big events or conferences where you will be handing out lots of t-shirts.

Polyester -

If you are giving away t-shirts at a marathon, 5k run, or to your sports team polyester t-shirts are your best option. Polyester tees are made with moisture-wicking material that is built for high performance activities. As far as pricing, polyester is not the most expensive, but usually more expensive than cotton t-shirts due to the moisture wicking feature.

Cotton/Poly Blend -

Cotton/polyester blends are great for just about any giveaway you have planned. They are usually more costly than cotton and polyester since they are a blend of both. However, this blend of material types makes a shirt a lot more comfortable!

Tri-Blends -

Tri-blends are more on the pricey side for good reason. They are super soft and comfortable, and are more fashionable compared to other t-shirt materials, making them a great addition to your wardrobe staples.

Choosing a material type is an important part, but with so many options it is best to do some research before you come to a final decision. That is why we created our t-shirt buying guide, to make sure you make a well-informed decision.


The cost of your t-shirt order will also depend on the sizes you need. Sizes that are between XS and XL are often all the same price, but if you need to order sizes that are 2XL and up, expect the price to increase. Larger sizes need more materials to be made, making them higher in price compared to XS-XL t-shirts.


Quantity is key when customizing and buying personalized t-shirts. The more you buy, the more you save, making bulk t-shirts a great way to cut down on the cost. When a purchase is made, it often requires the same amount of labor to retrieve and ship out 1 t-shirt compared to 10 or 100 tees, therefore, prices can be lower per unit when buying in bulk.


Brand name t-shirts from brands like Adidas, Nike, Next Level and American Apparel are often priced higher due to their perceived value. On the other hand, brands like Port & Company and Anvil that may not be as well known are on the inexpensive side. Ultimately you will have to decide if quality is a main concern and if it is worth paying more to have those popular brand names.

Imprint Method

The price of promotional t-shirts will change with the imprint method and the location(s) of the imprint: The more color and more locations the more the cost will be.

  • Screen Printing: Screen printing is the standard and least expensive imprint method. This makes it arguably the most popular and also the most versatile imprint method, since it can be used to print on a wide variety of materials.
  • Heat Transfer: Heat transfer is when a design is printed on a sheet, then a heat press transfers the design onto the tee. This method is used for full color printing, but the larger the transfer (or size of your design) the more the cost will be.
  • Embroidery: Embroidery uses needlework for long lasting designs, but is not the best method for t-shirts since they are thin and it will most likely puncture the tee. This process results in a high quality design, but as a result is more costly. The size and stitch count of your design will determine how much the overall cost is.
  • Direct to Garment: DTG or direct to garment printing is when dyes are absorbed directly into the fabric. This method allows for full color printing and works best on cotton t-shirts. Due to the ease of DTG printing, you can print just one t-shirt if you wanted. Just like any promotional product order, the price goes down with a higher quantity order.

Fees & Set Up Charges

To get artwork ready for production, it needs to be in a certain format depending on which imprint method is utilized. Additionally, the set up fee may vary slightly depending on the imprint method. There will always be a set up fee no matter the quantity, which is why it is advantageous to buy in bulk. However once you design a shirt, many merchants will not charge this fee again as no new work is needed to create the design again.  And remember, the general rule of the thumb is the more color and the more locations you go with, the higher the cost will be because it takes more time and parts to produce. Some items that require more labor to produce can even have additional charges for handling. Examples can include heavy jackets, hats, and odd-shaped items.

A Breakdown of PromoLeaf's Custom T-Shirt Pricing:

To make it easier for you to budget, we have added an example showing how quantity and size affect the per unit cost of your t-shirt order. The sample pricing chart below shows the cost of each shirt for the Next Level Unisex CVC Tee with a one-color design on one location:

Quantity: 6 12 36 72 144
XS $18.57 $​14.07
$13.15 $10.54 $9.96
S $18.57
M $18.57
L $18.57
XL $18.57
$20.24 $15.68 $14.74 $12.10 $11.50
3XL $21.90 $17.29 $16.32 $13.66 $13.03

Print Your First Custom T-Shirt Now

As you can see there are many factors that play a part in the overall cost of your t-shirt order. These should all be considered when trying to determine where you can spend and where you can save when it comes to creating a custom t-shirt. Hopefully you have a clearer understanding of what you need to do to get your order started now! If you need help customizing your branded t-shirts, feel free to give us a call or send us a live chat today.


From Our Blog

One Tree Planted
We believe in sustainability, which is why we plant a tree with every order
Learn More
10% OFF
Subscribe and receive 10% off your next order! Plus, be the first to know about specials, product ideas, tips and tricks.