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How to print a t-shirt: A t-shirt printing guide

How to print a t-shirt: A t-shirt printing guide

There is always a good reason to print custom t-shirts, whether you want to advertise an intriguing new brand or want to dress your family members for Instagram photo opportunities at a family reunion. Yes, you probably have a sizable wardrobe of cosy, functional t-shirts. But why not create your own since there's always room for more?

We'll go over the ins and outs of printing a t-shirt in this step-by-step guide, including figuring out your quantity and budget, choosing a printing method, and picking the correct fabric. We're here to help you start the process of printing your newest favourite t-shirt!

Step 1: Choose a design

Without a fantastic design, you can't print a t-shirt. So, to sum up, make sure your design expresses your message, suits your brand, or just looks awesome. What do you want your shirt to communicate about you or your brand? This is an excellent place to start. Who exactly are you attempting to reach with your message? Whether it is an artwork, a logo, a phrase, or a combination of all three, take your time crafting a design that reflects your company identity.

How to choose a t-shirt design

Also, keep in mind that your design must complement the t-shirt colour. A design with dark hues won't look good on a dark blue or black t-shirt. As a result, if you intend to print on black t-shirts, your design must use lighter tones and vice versa.

If you don’t have a design in mind, check out our comprehensive guide on t-shirt design, where we go over everything you need to know to create a t-shirt you'll love. To create the ideal t-shirt design, we will show you how to choose the appropriate style, graphics, colors, and font.

Using a professional designer is the simplest method to create a fantastic t-shirt design that will look fantastic on the finished printed shirt.

Step 2: Budget and quantities needed

Determine your projected quantity and budget before you get too far into printing. As with any printing, ordering in bulk will probably result in lower per-item costs. It's a good idea to place large orders, especially if you intend to sell the shirts.

custom uniforms

You should also determine the sizes you'll need and how many of each. It's crucial always to have a wide variety of sizes available when printing product shirts because some sizes are more popular than others. Different sizes can cost more or less, depending on the manufacturer.

Setting your quantity and budget is also an essential stage in narrowing down your printing method. Your printing procedure will also be influenced by the number of shirts you require. Some processes are excellent for large-scale printing. Others are more expensive per shirt and are appropriate for small orders.

What is the cost of t-shirt printing?

Printing a single t-shirt typically costs more than printing in volume. T-shirt printing prices vary depending on the printing technique used, the quality of the plain t-shirts printed, and the number of t-shirts ordered. Bulk orders can result in significant savings.

Step 3: Select a printing method

Differences in price, appearance, production time and materials will all be factors when choosing the best method for printing a t-shirt. Let's discuss these crucial characteristics using three widely used printing methods:

  • Screen printing

screen printing online

T-shirts can be screen-printed by hand or machine. In any case, this is the gold standard for t-shirt printing. The printer will create unique screens of your t-shirt design, allowing you to print in very large quantities. Best for large quantities and printing vivid colors on dark clothing.

Advantages: Screen printing is dependable, inexpensive, and of great quality. This strategy is best suited for huge orders.

Disadvantages: Each new color or design adjustment necessitates the creation of a new screen. Colourful designs can be costly.

  • Vinyl graphics

custom vinyl transfer

Transfer printing is used to manufacture t-shirts with vinyl graphics. As a result, the look and texture differ from screen printing, seeming bolder and more substantial. Vinyl is frequently thought to be more durable than ink. Best suited for simple graphics and short-run orders containing basic shapes and/or text-based designs.

Advantages: The vibrant colours and long-lasting materials are ideal for t-shirt designs that need to stand out.

Disadvantages: As with screen printing, each extra colour increases the cost. Vinyl printing is not a good solution for large orders because each graphic must be transferred shirt by shirt.

  • Direct-to-garment

DTG direct to garment printing

A recent alternative that uses the flexibility of inkjet printing is direct-to-garment (or DTG) printing. Ink is sprayed into the clothing, similar to inkjet printing on paper. Best for small to medium-scale orders requiring a great deal of precision

Advantages: The DTG process enables elaborate patterns and photographs with a wide range of colour options.

Disadvantages: This works best for small to medium-batch t-shirts and gets expensive when printing several hundreds of shirts.

Step 4: Contact the T-Shirt Bakery

Now that you have settled on a design, budget, and printing method, stop by the T-Shirt Bakery, where we will translate the design into an actual print. 

T-Shirt Printer

Keep your timeframe in mind to ensure that you get the order prepared in time. Consider both the printing and delivery times when placing online purchases.

When you contact the T-Shirt Bakery, we will discuss many points, including:

  • Printing techniques and how they work for your design
  • Cost for plain t-shirts and printing
  • Printing time
  • T-shirt cuts, sizes, materials and colours
  • Quantities
  • Support and proof options

Step 5: Fabric and type of t-shirt

T-shirts are among the most common and basic articles of apparel, which is why it's so important to purchase ones that are produced ethically and ecologically.

type of t-shirts

Vegan apparel in the UK has advanced significantly in recent years. Today, the majority of individuals favour vegan-friendly selections. Future UK vegan clothing firms will be self-sufficient, design-driven, and built on moral principles. These companies create appealing, trendy, and cruelty-free clothing.

Choose ethical clothing brands like Stanley/Stella and Continental that exclusively use 100% organic cotton developed from seeds that aren't genetically modified (non-GMO) and cultivated without chemical pesticides and fertilisers to help promote a kinder and greener wardrobe.

In addition to choosing a fabric, you must decide on a shirt style. Before selecting the proper type of t-shirt, consider your target demographic and desired aims. 

What style and cut would your target audience prefer? What colours are they likely to prefer? When and where should they wear it? When in doubt, a short-sleeve crew neck in white, black, or grey is a safe bet.

Step 6: Send design files

When you're ready to start printing, you must transmit your design files to your printer. Communicate with your printer directly and inquire about specific file formats, colour requirements, and file sizes.

design files

 To avoid future misunderstandings, ask ahead of time. Please provide this information to your designer so they can provide you with your final files.

What file format should I use for t-shirt printing?

Vector format is required for submission of your t-shirt design in EPS, AI, or PDF file. Any of these formats will do, but if you're not sure which one to send to your printer, pick a PDF because it's the most adaptable. 

A file in one or more of these formats will be provided by your designer (depending on the program used to create your design like Adobe Illustrator or InDesign etc.). For each unique t-shirt design you are making, you will need one.

Additionally, you will require precise colour codes. To ensure that everything looks the way you want, make sure you have the Pantone or CMYK colour codes.

Step 7: How is your proof?

Before a shirt is produced, the T-shirt Bakery will always show you proof, especially if you're ordering a large quantity. This might be a digital proof or a test print of the garment itself.

custom t-shirt mockup

Review it thoroughly because this is your only chance to make any changes. Verify the text, numbers, colours, alignment, and anything else!

When reviewing the proof, it can be beneficial to display the evidence to an objective third person who can provide a fresh perspective on any apparent inaccuracies.

Step 8: Receive your shirts

eco t-shirt delivery

Once the t-shirts have been printed and delivered, double-check everything. Ensure that you are pleased with the finished product, and thank your printer for their efforts. If at all possible, please provide a review of your experience. 

Now, enjoy your fantastic new shirts!


You're all set for great t-shirt printing — we've covered everything from quantity and budget to t-shirt printing methods and fabric selection. It's now time for you to get started! Determine your objectives before printing the ideal tee. Communicate "you are what you wear" with a boldly designed t-shirt.

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