Categories : DIY Tee Shirt Printing Shirt Printing

DIY Tee Shirt Printing – Some Ideas About Printing Your Own

If you are considering tee shirt printing for a project you have in mind, one of the possibilities that you may have had come to mind is to print your own. This article will explain the positives and negatives between doing it yourself and having a tee shirt printer such as Tshirts Canada make your custom tshirts.


DIY Tee Shirt Printing – Do It Yourself

Your first consideration is what color of t-shirts will you be using for your  printing? There are no major issues when using white tee shirts.

However, when you are doing printing on light color shirts consider that there is no white ink in your printer therefore if you had a picture with three people that are wearing white t-shirts and there were white clouds in the sky then each of the white areas in the photo would be the same color as the t-shirt . If you have light blue tee shirts then the tee shirts on the people in your photo and the clouds would be light blue.

Another issue to think about when printing on light color tee shirts is the ink from your printer and the t-shirt colour will to some extent blend together. One time I printed light blue ink on bright yellow t-shirts. That part of the shirt turned greenish. This is like when we were young and would color with red crayons and yellow crayons to get orange. This only happens with lighter ink colours on bright light coloured t-shirts. The shading is not usually significant but it is something to be aware of. Darker ink colors are really not affected.

The tee shirt transfer paper you would buy would be for white or light colour shirts. If you prefer to print on black or any dark t-shirt you would need to buy t-shirt transfer paper specifically designed for t-shirt printing on dark colors.

Printing your transfers can be done with an inkjet or a laser printer. But, before you print your transfer you must flip the image backwards so that when it is printed it will view correctly. With some software programs this is a piece of cake since they have a “mirror” or “flip” setting. With software programs such as Word this is normally a little more difficult. To be certain that you have successfully reversed the image, print a copy and put it in front of a mirror. This is how it will print on your project.

To get the best results you need to be sure to set your printer to the right paper setting. Usually, you’ll set it to heavy or card stock.

To achieve a better print you need to trim away the area of the image that is not needed. For example; if you had a picture of our planet and “Earth Day” in writing directly below it, you would trim around the outside of all of the printed area. Often with t-shirt transfers there is a a yellowish hue around the image. This is from the coating on the transfer paper that adheres the ink to the shirt.

A good t-shirt printer will cut away this excess but even more importantly will have a printer/t-shirt transfer combination that when the tee shirt is printed the unprinted parts are essentially transparent and not an issue.

When it comes to pressing your transfer onto the shirt, if you are using a hand iron you need to follow the instructions to get the best results.

When I first began making t-shirts back in the ’90s it took eleven minutes of pressing time with an iron and even then about half of the shirts still had ink left on the paper. Because the results weren’t to my satisfaction I purchased a heat press. A heat press is a machine designed specifically for custom shirt printing. You can choose the desired temperature you want and then press for the number of seconds called for.

photo of a heat press

The heat press that I and many other professional t-shirt printers use allows the temperature, time and pressure to be set. This gives an awesome looking result time after time.

Just as a note, the transfer paper that is used by professional t-shirt printers need to be pressed on with a commercial heat press. You are not able to iron these transfers on.

The materials that you’ll need to make your custom printed tshirts besides a computer and a printer, naturally will be tee shirts. You’ll probably want to use either 100% cotton t-shirts that are preshrunk or 50/50 t-shirts.

You’ll also need tee shirt transfer paper for your different tee shirt projects. You can purchase this specialty paper at places like Office Depot, Staples, Office Max, craft stores like Michael’s and Wal-Mart. If you have an inkjet printer be sure to get paper for an inkjet printer and likewise if you have a laser printer.

Read the printing guidelines that come with your transfer paper. The closer you follow the instructions the better your finished t-shirt  will look.

To sum things up, designing and printing your own custom shirts is not only enjoyable but it gives you the added ability to make personalized t-shirts.

There are websites that allow you to create you own designs online or you can take one of your computer software programs and design it on your home computer.


DIY Tee Shirt Printing – Photos

If you are adding photos to you’ll want to use a resolution of about 300 dpi (dots per inch) at the full printing size. If you aren’t sure what this is about then do a print of your image on a piece of paper and see if your image looks clear.

You likely already have a program on your computer that will get you going with your printing project.

I’ve had designs sent to me in Word, Power Point, Illustrator, Excel, Publisher Corel Draw, jpegs, bmps, pdf, Photo Shop, eps, virtually every format there is. So use what you have to do your design.

If you decide to have a t-shirt printing company such as ours, be sure to let them know all of the particulars they’ll need to know to give you a quote. They will need to know what you want printed, where you want the printing, the color of the shirts, how many shirts you’d like, the postal code where you live and when you would need the shirts. This will allow them to give you an accurate quote.

T-shirt printers can purchase the supplies they need from wholesalers and in bulk so it is likely that your t-shirts can be made for less than you could produce the shirts yourself.

You will get better quality printed tshirts from a good commercial printer since the norm is to use quality t-shirts such as Gildan “Ultra” or similar for their t-shirts and as I mentioned before the t-shirt transfer paper is a commercial grade and it is applied to the t-shirt using a commercial heat press which would be set to the recommended amount of heat, time and pressure creating excellent tee shirt printing results.