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An Ultimate Guide to Design a T-Shirt

T-shirts are a staple in the wardrobes of almost everyone. Obviously, everyone owns at least one because they are so comfortable, easy to maintain, and even express themselves without speaking a word. This is the reason t-shirt printing businesses are thriving these days. 

If you want to create custom t-shirts too, here we have an ultimate guide to designing a t-shirt, check it out- 

  1. Figure out the Why

Branding is important no matter the reason behind designing your custom t-shirt. Especially when you are creating t-shirts for promotional purposes, branding is the main target. T-shirts can be used for personal use like commemorating an event or they can be strictly for business merchandise. 

Here are a few reasons to help you understand, why you might need t-shirts-

Promotional Products

T-shirts can be given away for free to promote an idea or your brand in the minds of potential customers or clients. They can be given out at events, stores, conferences, end of business meetings, etc.

Internal Usage

Employees also get t-shirts for appreciation or solidarity in companies. They can even be used as uniforms. This is usually done for branding purposes. 


Custom t-shirts can be products you are thinking of selling. For this one, make sure you take care of style, marketability, and business strategy. 

Conduct research to figure out the taste of your target customers so that you supply according to the demand. Personal tastes are a good option at the start but when you have to sell to the masses, research will help. 

Event souvenirs

Certain special events need special souvenirs and custom t-shirts are an amazing option. 

Regardless of the use, most t-shirts are made to be promoted in some manner. In the end, you will want someone to wear it and speak about your business to the viewers too. 

  1. Define your Budget and Quantity

Before actually beginning the designing process, you need to settle some details of the process. These details include your budget and the quantity. How much you are going to spend and how many t-shirts you want will impact your design choice and printing options too. 

For instance, budget and quantity will be huge factors in determining the colors. Also, depending on which printing option you choose, additional colors can cost you more. So, if you have a tight budget, you need to keep a minimal color option for your designs and keep the cost low. 

The number of t-shirts you want will also have an influence on the printing option. Some printing methods are great for bulk orders while others print only limited pieces. 

  1. Printing Options 

When choosing the best t-shirt printing method, you need to consider a lot of factors. The cost, appearance, production time, materials, etc are all crucial factors too. So, to easily decide one option that works best for you, let’s discuss every option in detail. 

Screen Printing

Screen printing is the standard printing method that is widely used. In this case, the printer makes original screens of designs, so that you can get printed in bulk. 

Pros- This is a reliable standard printing option. It is affordable and produces high-quality designs. Great for orders over 20. 

Cons- New screen needed for every color or design revision which creates additional cost. Colorful designs become very expensive.  

Vinyl Graphics 

The next method is also heated transfer, but vinyl printing uses durable vinyl instead of ink. 

Pros- Durable, High Quality. Great to stand out in your designs.

Cons- More colors will add up to more costs, Not good for large orders.

Direct to garment (Print on Demand)

Direct to garment or DTG uses inkjet printing but prints directly on fabric instead of screens. 

Pros- Highly customizable, Maximum detail, Huge color choices. 

Cons- Only good for small batches, or a single sample only. The more you print, the less viable it will become. Printing on dark clothes doesn’t work well. 

  1. Create a Design

Now you come to the major part of creating custom t-shirts, i.e. designing. However, before going to that part we need to take care of little more things. 

Types of t-shirts

There are a whole lot of types of t-shirts to choose from when you are creating your custom clothing. For choosing one, think about your target audience, and the goals of your t-shirts. A crop top will not be an acceptable option for a law firm. 

When you start creating designs, keep in mind to picture them on your t-shirts at the same time. Make sure, it will translate to the actual size. You can design using an 18” x 18” canvas and physically place designs. 

Once you are done with the designs, you can consider how they will look in large and small sizes. If you have chosen the screen printing option, different sizes will add to more costs. 

Imagery or Style

Coming to the creative part of designing. You will need some creative instincts to communicate the messages to the viewers. First think about, what your brand is about? Who is your market? Why are you designing? 

After this, you are ready to start designing t-shirts. When creating designs for kids, the style should be cartoonish, cute, cheerful, and what appeals to the target market. Thus, choose designs according to the demand of the market. 


The fonts that you choose will say a lot about your brand. Serifs are classic, sans serif look modern, scripted ones are fun, crazy ones. So, use fonts on the basis of the emotions you are targeting. 


Each shade, hue, and tint evokes certain emotions which act as a shortcut to portray something about your brand in just a glance. If you are choosing red, know that red stands out for passion and anger. While blue is a symbol of trust and tranquility. 

  1. Find a Designer

If you are not good at designing, you need an actual designer to make everything happen. 

The DIY route

You can make your own shirt free of cost with online t-shirt makers. You get the chance of professional help as well as full freedom while designing. 

Hire an Expert

If you are not good at all at designing, it is better to leave things to experts. However, this option can turn out to be a little costly. Consider the personality, design style, and expertise of the designer before hiring one. 

  1. Evaluate your Designs 

Getting others’ opinions on your custom t-shirts instead of just yours is a necessity. Browse all of the versions of the designs and select your favorite ones. Keep in mind the marketing, branding, and technical requirements at all times. 

Ask your friends, family, colleagues, or even strangers for their honest opinion. It is even better to pick out people from your target audience and get real opinions. Think about the reviews clearly and make the necessary changes. 

  1. Get Correct Design Files

You will need t-shirts to design in vector format. This will be AI, PDF, or EPS file. Also, if your printed does custom colors, you will need the Pantone or CMYK codes so that it turns perfectly as you want.

You can make amazing custom t-shirts with an online t-shirt maker in minutes. There is no need of spending thousands on hiring a designer when you can do the same thing with very little cost.

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