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How to Design and Print a Custom T-Shirt: Your Complete Guide

Published: 11/16/2021 Author: PromoLeaf

Want to customize some t-shirts but don’t know where to start? You’ve found the right place! You can make your own custom t-shirts at home or go through a printing company, the choice is yours. Planning and executing your design, however, can be more tricky than you think. We’re here to help you design the best custom t-shirts you could ever imagine!

Designing a custom t-shirt, step by step

1. Plan out your design

Think about what you want your overall design to represent. It could be anything from advertising your construction company, to your sports team, or even a design that you created yourself that you simply want to bring to life. When deciding on a t-shirt to use for your branded t-shirt order, be sure to keep these variables in mind:

Material Type

There are a wide variety of material types to choose from and each material type will affect the cost of your t-shirt order. Some of the popular choices are 100% cotton tees, tri-blends, and poly/cotton blends. We compiled our t-shirt buying guide to help differentiate the material types, fit and styles of t-shirts that we offer!

Color Scheme

When designing your t-shirt it is important to think about your brand colors and how your logo/design will look when placed on a dark or light shirt. For example, using pastel ink colors on a lighter shirt will leave you with a logo that is not eligible from a distance. The same goes for darker colored shirts with dark inks.

Size & Quantity

The size of custom t-shirts you go with and the amount of tees you need to order will affect the overall cost as well. Sizes that are between XS and L will not affect the cost, but plus sizes will. If you buy a higher quantity of custom tees, your overall cost will be a whole lot smaller. Basically, the more you buy, the more money you will save! Learn More »

2. Decide on an imprint method

Screen Printing

Easily the most common imprint method, screen printing is when a design is transferred through a mesh screen onto a t-shirt with fabric ink.

Heat Transfer

Once your design has been printed a heat transfer paper is made, then heat pressed onto a shirt and peeled off to create a custom tee.


A mechanized needle goes through the shirt at a rapid pace, putting each stitch into place.


Direct to garment printing is when a t-shirt is directly inserted into the DTG printer and is then sprayed and soaked with ink to create the design.

3. Determine the location of your imprint

The location of your imprint is completely up to you, but for promotional giveaways, the most common placement is on the center of the chest or the left chest. Here are some options we recommend for you:

4. Produce the shirt(s)

There are many options when it comes to actually producing your ideal custom tees. You can screen print your design right at home, which may take more time depending on how fast you can pick up all the materials you need to accomplish this. WikiHow has a great how-to guide on screen printing. If screen printing them yourself doesn’t seem to fit your schedule, you can work with a promotional product company like us! 

Bring your custom t-shirt to life

Our design and buy tool makes it super easy to see what your overall design will look like! You can see how your design will look on any style or color t-shirt you please, add text or upload your company logo as shown in the video below:

There you have it folks! All the tools and knowledge you need to design your own custom t-shirts.

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