How To: Make a T-shirt
T-shirts are the comfiest wardrobe staple, so add a homemade touch to them.

Design Master

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I don’t think there’s a person alive who doesn’t love a good T-shirt.

Think about it: They’re versatile and comfortable, appropriate for a ton of different occasions and appeal equally to men and women of all ages.

Not only are T-shirts the comfiest staple in your wardrobe, but they’re also a blank canvas. A T-shirt can serve as an advertising space, an expression of opinion or personality or an invitation.

However, there are some guidelines to follow when making your own T-shirts.

Whatever your reason for making your own T-shirt, you definitely want to be creative.

Start with a few different ideas, and then develop the ones that most accurately represent what makes you stand out from the crowd. Even a common concept can be unique if you explore different ways to express it.

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There are examples everywhere of amazing T-shirts that employ only typography, and we all have seen plenty of tees that only use graphics or photos without any text at all.

Most often, though, you’ll see some combination of the two. Matching text to your graphics is the most effective way to get a message across.

How to arrange those elements depends on what you want to express and to whom you want to communicate. Try to be consistent and clear in your design but avoid being obvious.

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If you’re using software to design your T-shirt, choose a PNG format over other bitmapped image formats. A PNG file is lossless, small and manageable and is ideal for preserving transparency.

JPG files are fine if you are not working with transparencies, but it’s not as flexible or as high-quality of a format as PNG.

All graphics editors allow saving to the PNG format, so the software you use won’t influence your final product.

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When you’re ready to print, you can look for a printer in your area or you can use an online printer.

A local printer offers you the chance to personally oversee the production of your T-shirt and allows you to communicate face to face with your printer.

However, using a brick-and-mortar printer can also mean higher fees and fewer printing options.

Online printers typically charge less and offer faster printing. An increasing number of small companies and independent vendors rely on online printing.

We’ve gone ahead and reviewed the best online printers to help you find the one that best suits your needs.

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If you’re tight on money, there are alternative methods for making your own T-shirts.

If you plan to make a small number of shirts, you can purchase iron-on transfer paper compatible with inkjet printers.

This paper is very easy to find in any office supply store. While this method is very quick and simple, the resulting shirt will be of a lesser quality than a professionally printed T-shirt and may even start fading just after a few washes.

Another option you might want to consider is homemade screen printing. Homemade screen printed apparel usually looks very nice, and this technique is especially well-suited for T-shirts with an artistic, handcrafted design.

The trade-off: Screen printing at home will take considerable time and effort to master.

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Optimizing your T-shirt-making process may seem like a hassle at first, but it really isn’t. Don’t give up!

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. Great article – thanks Kevin!