Printing Methods for Making Customized T-Shirts

T-shirts are so named because of the T shape that the body of the fabric and the sleeves form when stretched out. Most were initially designed to have a round neckline without any collar but newer designs have evolved to include collars. However, the round neck t-shirts are still as common and as popular as ever, cementing their place in the history of fabric and clothing. Some have V-neck neckline designs and are referred to as V-neck t-shirts. These were designed to prevent the neckline from showing when it is worn underneath an outer wear.

T-shirts are made from stretchy fabric materials that are light and inexpensive. This is to make them easy to wear since they do not have buttons. They are also very easy to clean and are made from cotton textiles in sort of a jersey knit; a fabric made of wool, cotton, and synthetic fiber. You can read this interesting article on how they are made here.

T-shirts are casual clothing that evolved from being used as undergarments to being used as general-use cloths. They may come with different levels of thickness and can be worn on virtually any kind of trouser material such as jeans, chinos, velvet, corduroy, linen, etc. You will find that a lot of people like to wear it on either jeans or chinos to go with casual snickers or boots. A lot of men also like to wear one beneath their outer garment instead of wearing undergarments like singlets.

In the modern world, t-shirt bodies are circular without side seams. They are made from a continuously knitted tube using circular knitting machines. Manufacturing t-shirts are now so highly automated with different fabric cutting machines. You can also make them in different colors, mix colors and even have any desired design printed on them. With summer round the corner, it’s good to know more about how making customized t-shirts is done.

Methods of Printing on T-shirts

making customized T Shirts

In printing and customizing t-shirts, different methods can be used. While the two most common are heat press and screen printing there are also other types. Below are details of some of these methods.

Screen Printing

This is the most commonly used method used for printing on clothing materials and some other surfaces. It is especially good when making bulk orders. It can also be called silkscreen printing as it involves using screens to apply ink on the material.

This method requires a stencil made of wood or aluminum and fabric mesh which is finely woven. The mesh is setup and stretched to be held by the stencil while a waterproof material is used to block the negative spaces that you desire to design. The negative space is the only part of the material where the dye is permeable. Ink is flooded into the screen and pressed against the material to create the desired design.

Using this method results in high-quality prints as it can last a long time and guarantee a replication of the design making it very cost-effective.

Using screen printing is cheap but it requires each color to be used on separate screens so when you have a design with several colors, you will need a different mesh for each which can then increase its cost. You may need to keep the number of colors used to a minimum to avoid this.

Screen printing is used by most businesses to print customized t-shirts in bulk. It will be unrealistic to print single orders with this method.

Heat Transfer

This can also be referred to as inkjet or LaserJet iron-on transfer. They are almost as popular as screen printing and are great for complex and multi-color designs.

The chosen design is done on a computer with software and is then printed using an inkjet or LaserJet printer on a heat transfer paper which is made of transferrable vinyl. This paper is then placed on the t-shirt and a hot iron is used to transfer the design to the material via the heat and pressure applied.

Note that the heat transfer paper is unique for each type of printer. That is. The heat transfer paper you use for the inkjet printer is different from the one for the LaserJet printer. Also, it is important to know if the material you are printing on can take the heat else, this method may not work.

Heat transfer is great with white and light colors but may not be so great on dark colors. It is also not as durable as screen printing as it can peel or crack over time.

Direct to Garment

This is also fairly popular amongst t-shirt design enthusiasts. It is a method quite easy to do but requires skill and knowledge.

If you will be printing colorful designs for a small number of t-shirts; between one and five, then it is one of the best methods to use. You can also use it to print photos straight from the computer.

The way it works is almost like printing on a paper in the office but instead of the paper, it is a t-shirt material. Of course you do not use the regular office printer for this but a specialized variation. To print it, the design is fed into a computer and then printed on the material.

This method is great for printing complex designs when making customized T Shirts. The ink used makes if have a soft feel on the hand and it does not create a thick layer on the material. It is the least durable of the available methods and may fade before a year.

Other methods of printing on t-shirts that exist which include: 

  • CAD cut vinyl
  • Plastisol transfers 
  • Dye sublimation printing
  • Discharge printing, etc. 

To learn more about this, you can check the article here:

Customizing Your T-shirts

Professionals, like rarecustom shirt are available to help you customize your t-shirt using any design and method you desire. While some are specialized in a particular printing method, some are versatile and can do different methods. 

You can start making customized T Shirts at online sources that make it easy for you. They have ready-made templates for designs that you can edit to your taste. You can also upload your design and have them print it for you in any color or size and deliver the finished work right to your doorstep.


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