Design Basics: Ways to Produce Custom-Made Printed T-Shirts

Printed t-shirts are popular, as these tops can be paired with jeans, skirts, or any types of apparel. Messages and designs on these shirts can also attract attention and serve as a unique mode of expression. As such, people began using different methods to produce these shirts in large quantities. Find out more about custom-made printed t-shirts and the different methods used in their production.


This is one of the oldest forms of shirt printing techniques. Embroidery involves the actual stitching of designs onto the shirt with a needle and thread. This method is perfect for producing small quantities. Those using this technique must possess great artistic inclination to ensure high quality designs. Embroidery is ideal for making small designs, logos, and texts, as it is difficult to stitch larger designs manually. Several manufacturers, however, use machines to embroider logos and designs for mass production. Some people also use beads, sequins, and pearls to make the designs more appealing.

Hand painting

This is also one of the oldest methods of shirt printing. Manufacturers must also have artistic abilities to produce authentic designs. Despite the amount of labour and time, hand painting is popular among many people. This is because hand painting only needs brushes or air sprays and fabric dye to make the designs. People can use different techniques to apply the paint such as brushing, rolling, sponging, or stencilling.

Heat transfer

This method involves heat and pressure to transfer designs onto custom-made printed t-shirts. Manufacturers use a cloth iron and carrier paper to produce the designs. The heat from the iron allows the ink to stick on the shirt permanently. The process also does not require hand colouring or painting. Nevertheless, the carrier paper is only good for one application. Use white shirts so intricate patterns and messages are more noticeable.


This method, also known as silk screening, produces better designs compared to other processes. Screen-printing, however, requires a wooden or aluminium stencil, woven mesh, and fill blade to transfer the design. The mesh supports the stencil securely, while the designer moves the fill blade to pump ink through the mesh. Screen-printing is ideal for making large quantities of shirts over a short period. This is also more versatile compared to other printing techniques, as different inks are applicable to materials such as textiles, ceramics, wood, paper, and glass. Shirt manufacturing companies also use printing presses to stamp designs more efficiently and reduce time and manual labour.

Digital printing

Some companies use digital printing for mass production. Unlike screen-printing though, this method only needs inkjet printers to transfer designs directly to the fabric. People can also create and customize the designs on the computer. Digital printing, however, is more costly than other techniques, which makes it unsuitable for start-up companies.

Vinyl printing

An alternative to silk screening is vinyl printing. This method uses a computer to make and send the design to a vinyl plotter, which prints the image on a plastic backing. Once the design is ready, the manufacturer use heat and pressure to transfer the image on the fabric. Learn more about fashion vinyl t-shirt printing if you wish to use this method.


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