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Custom Tee Shirt Printing on White or Light Colour T-shirts

Custom Tee Shirt Printing on White or Light Colour T-shirts


An outline of the process for custom tee shirt printing on white or light colour t-shirts using t-shirt transfers. It elaborates on some ideas of the possibilities as well as the positives and negatives of this approach.


T-shirt transfer printing refers to the method of printing your graphic/photo/text or any kind of image onto a t-shirt using either a color laser or an inkjet printer. There are different ways to achieve this however we are going to concentrate on using tee shirt transfers.

This process starts by using tee shirt transfer paper. This is a special, coated paper that is made specifically to be printed on and then pressed onto the tee shirt. There are two basic types of this paper; one for printing on white and light coloured fabrics and another for printing on black or any other dark color shirts.

photo of a heat pressThis is the same process where you can purchase t-shirt transfer paper at places like Staples and Wal-Mart, etc. and then press it onto the t-shirt yourself. The difference is, good t-shirt printers use high grade transfer paper and apply the transfers to the t-shirts using a commercial heat press. This combination plus the expertise of the t-shirt printer gives an excellent looking and durable t-shirt

There are numerous pros and a few cons to digital printing using transfers.

The first benefit is that if you need one unique or simply a few then this method is perfect. You make only what you need. Many tshirt printing processes such as screen printing require a minimum number of shirts.

The next advantage is that you can have full color printing. Since your design is printed with an inkjet or a color laser you are able to have as many colors as you like. This will allow for photos or graphics with gradient fills (blending from one color or shade to another color or shade) to easily be used.

Third. There is no setup involved. Unlike screen printing there is no additional preparation needed in the printing of digital t-shirt transfers. You simply adjust your image to the size you want on the t-shirt. You then “mirror” or “flip” your images so that when it is pressed onto the t-shirt it will be correct. Then print.

And probably one of the best benefits to this form of tee shirt printing is that the t-shirts can easily be personalized.

If you want personalized t-shirts for a wedding you can make a shirt for the bride, another for the mother of the bride, one for the maid of honour and some for the bridesmaids and any other members of the party.

If you have a team you can print your team logo on the chest of the t-shirts and then each players name and their number on the back.

Or if you operate a business and you want your logo printed with the persons name or position incorporated into the logo, this is easy to do.

Now, the biggest disadvantage is that there is no white ink in this process. So, if you were to print the Canadian flag on a light blue t-shirt the flag would be red and light blue instead of red and white. However, there is a t-shirt transfer paper designed especially for printing on dark t-shirts that solves this problem.

Another negative is that if they a not washed properly, the image can fade. The easiest way to avoid this is to turn the t-shirt inside out and wash the t-shirt in cold water with a mild detergent, no bleach or bleach additives or fabric softener. Then hang the t-shirt to dry.

Now I would like to mention that in this article I have often compared t-shirt transfer printing to screen printing. Screen printing has two advantages. You can use white ink and the ink used in screen printing is especially made for fabric.

To sum it up, printing white or light color t-shirts with t-shirt transfers as the custom tee shirt printing method allows for flexibility and cost effectiveness for printing t-shirts that require multiple colors, personalization or simply a few shirts.