How To: Design a T-shirt in 6 Steps
Make your own T-shirt - we dare you!

Design Master

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A blank T-shirt is a lot like a blank canvas. You can do anything in that space, whether you’re looking to design a T-shirt for your wardrobe or to serve as a mobile advertisement for your business.

In this how-to article, I’ll show you how to design a T-shirt in six easy steps.

When you are working on any design project, it’s good to sketch, take notes and formulate a general plan for the design. Determine the purpose behind your design and what sort of resources or images you will use.

TIP: If you’re stuck for ideas, look for inspiration online.

1 Design a T-shirt

Do a little research to find a high-quality, affordable T-shirt.

Keep in mind the type of T-shirt you want. Is it for men or women? Boys or girls? In what kind of climate will you wear it? How many do you want to purchase? (Check out our reviews to help you out.)

TIP: To help yourself visualize the final design, use a picture of a T-shirt to determine the layout.

2 Design a T-shirt

If you are not using your own photo or design, make sure any image you select from the Internet is public domain or is a stock photo that is fee. Use a 300 DPI image for high-quality printing.

This step is optional, of course. You can use photo editing software to make alterations to your image, like color filters or other artistic effects.

4 Design a T-shirt

Add any text you would like on the T-shirt. Keep in mind the color of the text should stand out against the background and the font should be easy to read.

TIP: If you’re using professional photo editing software, you can create outlines on the text to enhance readability.

5 Design a T-shirt

Before ordering a large quantity, have a sample or two made to make sure there no adjustments that need to be made or to fine-tune the design if something’s a bit off.

For a smaller quantity, you can print the design and iron it on to your shirt. Larger projects can be sent to a printer. Generally, the larger the quantity, the smaller the unit price.

TIP: If you choose to have your shirt screen printed, it’s probably best to use professional software and ask the printer how to prepare the file.

Sometimes it’s hard to imagine something as ubiquitous as a T-shirt can be custom made, but it’s really not as hard as it seems.

Remember to check and double-check your work and use high-resolution, non-licensed images and high-quality T-shirts!

About the Author
Kristi Maddox is a master of graphic design, on-site design and ordering, and is the go-to for template and design tool usage.
Kristi and the team order print jobs from every major printer to test quality, value, customer service, and more. See their reviews here:


  1. Very helpful and quick, thanks!

  2. Thank you for the post! We’re looking at getting t shirts printed for a family reunion. Tip number two is very useful. The first time we tried the t shirts were very low quality so no one has worn them since.

  3. This is VERY useful to anyone trying to print shirts (especially if they want something unique). There are so many ideas to grow from online it’s great you encourage existing designs for inspiration. Please inform me of any other posts. Do you encourage any specific platforms for design?

    • Kristi Maddox (

      Hi Linda! We recommend using InDesign GraffixPro Studio T-Shirt Design Software when designing shirts. Hope this helps!

  4. Very useful information
    Thank you