How to Print Shirts at Home

There are many special days when a t-shirt is a must needed for the celebration. Wouldn’t it be great if we could print our shirts at home? Surely it does!  Frankly, most people are not aware of how easy it is to print shirts at home.

All you need are a couple of tools and an instructional guide to making your own t-shirt design. There are lots of methods of making shirts. But here we are about to share the easiest and most interesting one.

Just go through this, you will be able to know how to print shirts at home on your own. Besides this, there are also other similar methods you may give a try.

What Is T-Shirt Printing?

t shirt design

T-shirt printing is a process of printing art, image, typography, or colors on t-shirts following different methods. Anybody can do this following DIY (Do it yourself) or professional methods.

Printing T-shirts is popular because it’s easy, convenient, and practical. Almost everyone can do this at home if they have the right tools.

What Is The Best Print Method for T-Shirts?

T-shirt printing consists of a few simple and effective methods. Some are incredibly easy, and some are a bit more challenging. For instance, Stenciling, heat press printing, spray painting, and airbrushing are quite easy, reasonable, and time-saving.

In contrast, DIY sublimation, screen printing, vinyl cutting, DTG, or direct-to-garment printing are quite difficult. The reason is you have to manage a t-shirt printing machine to execute these techniques.

Furthermore, these printing methods are time-consuming. You need to follow a series of steps to get the result.

The following chart summarizes the characteristics of all printing methods:

MethodTimeQualityCosting
StencilingLowMediumLow
Heat press printingLowMediumLow
Spray paintingLowLowLow
AirbrushingHighHighLow
DIY sublimationHighMediumHigh
Screen printingHighHighExtremely High
Vinyl cuttingMediumHIghMedium
DTG or direct to garment printingLowHighHigh

According to the characteristics of these printing methods, ‘Heat press printing’ is the easiest one. In addition, it requires fewer tools to complete the process. So, you will get a reasonable quality at a low price without wasting much time.

However, if anybody wants the best quality at a lower price, they should probably go for Airbrushing. But Airbrushing is a little complicated, it requires some set of skills, and it consumes a good amount of time.

Apparently, the answer depends on what you need. Overall, there is no better option than ‘heat press printing.’ Additionally, anyone can do it at home within a short timeframe.

What Is Needed to Print Shirts at Home?

iron print shirts

Frankly, you don’t need to buy any expensive tools to print shirts at home, especially when we are following the heat press methods.

The tool we are about to share here is very basic, and it’s required for almost all methods.

Let’s check out the list.

A White Readymade T-shirt:

The first thing you have to manage is a white t-shirt that can be fitted to your body. Make sure your t-shirt is made of cotton because cotton captures the design from the transfer paper very nicely.

However, if it is nylon or polyester, then you will have problems. Either the color won’t engage properly, or the design will be removed too soon.

PC (Personal Computer):

This is a must-needed tool for almost all the methods. Whatever methods you follow, you always need a design. And without a desktop or laptop, it won’t be possible.

So, get a PC that has the minimum configuration to run graphics designing software. The PC will also help you to adjust the design size and print through the printer.

Graphics Designing Software:

Better install the Illustrator graphic software on your PC because this is the best for editing and other customizing. Photoshop is also great, but Illustrator is preferable for this job.

Printer:

This thing will be needed to print out your preferable design into the transfer paper. Make sure the printer has the color printing option. Otherwise, you will get the black & white design.

Better get a current generation printer because it will give you the best quality. A normal printer won’t give you the highest quality. So, it’s up to you.

Iron or Heat Press Machine:

If you want a professional result, a heat press machine is essential. But if you want to save some money, iron can be the best replacement for a heat press machine.

If you are able to do the heat pressing appropriately, the quality won’t drop even with iron. But if budget is not an issue and you often want to print t-shirts at home, then get a good quality heat press machine.

Transfer Paper:

This is essential stuff for the heat press methods. Get the best t-shirt transfer paper for a clean finish. Normal transfer paper can’t deliver the image to the t-shirt properly.

Scissor:

You will probably cut the design from the transfer paper. So, it will be needed that time.

Iron Table:

An iron table will save you from damaging the printing. People usually iron the t-shirt on the bed or the normal table. That’s not the right way.

Towel/Clothes:

For testing the heat of the iron.

What Type of Paper Do You Use to Print on Shirts?

The paper type depends on the shirt’s material. If you don’t use suitable T-shirt transfer papers, you won’t get the expected result.

Sublimation paper is obviously required if your t-shirt material is polyester. It is better not to use regular transfer paper because it won’t work properly on polyester.

Similarly, you need to use heat transfer paper for heat press methods. Additionally, this paper can be used for more materials such as canvas, hard clothes, and normal surfaces.

For fabric materials, people usually use sheets. You need to use the deep sheet for deep color, and for soft color, get the regular sheets.

Heat press vinyl is also a great medium for transferring the print to shirts. Technically this does not seem like a regular transfer paper. But people mostly use this for print on fabric materials.

Usually, it doesn’t print the design on your shirt. You have to separate the design from the paper and then place this onto the shirt.

There are also some other transfer papers like cold peel transfer paper or plastisol transfer paper, but those are for professional work.

You can’t use them while printing t-shirts at home.

How to Print Shirts at Home?

iron on design tshirt

T-shirt printing may seem like a difficult process, but it isn’t that hard. Following some effective processes, anybody can print their own shirt at home. Here we are sharing the ‘Heat press printing’ process because it’s easy and doesn’t take much time.

Let’s take a look at the steps.

Step 1: Prepare the T-shirt Design

The first step would be creating a design and customizing it according to the t-shirt size. You can download your preferable design from the internet, or you can create your own using illustrator or photoshop.

Now transfer the design to your graphics designing software. Quick tip – when you open a file, select the A4 size because it’s suitable. You can set height 21 cm and width 29 cm. The most important thing is selecting color mode. There are two color modes one is CMYK, and another is RGB.

Since you are going to print the design, select the CMYK.

Now edit your design. Work on color, add text if you want, and fix the size. When you select the size, first measure your shirt. Decide how big or small your design would be, and then select. 6-inch x 10 inch is a popular size for t-shirt design. But you can make it bigger.

Step 2: Print the Design

Before printing the picture, first prepare your printer by setting up the pages. Put the heat transfer page on the printer, replacing the regular page.

Now get into the software. Select your printer’s model before clicking on the ‘print’ button. Set the color correction on ‘automatic’ and quality ‘high.’ Now you are set to go. Click the ‘print’ button and get the printed design.

Step 3: Cut the Design

Your design is ready, right! Now you have to cut the design following the edge. You can use a scissor, blade, or paper cutter to cut the design.

This part is very important because if you don’t cut the design or forget to remove the excess paper, it will create a shade on your shirt after the print. In addition, you have to cut the paper very lightly.

On the bottom, there is a layer of the sticker; you have to cut the paper without damaging that sticker. So, don’t hurry, gently do the work. Once it is done, remove the paper from the sticker.

Step 4: Heat Pressing

This is the main part of this operation. In this step, you have to prepare the iron. But before that, place your t-shirt on the iron table. The iron table is safe when you are heat pressing.

Well, now prepare your iron. Turn the heat to the maximum level. If there is the steam mode, then turn it off and start the dry mode. Place a towel beside the iron so that you can test the temperature.

Now quickly place your design on top of your shirt. Make sure there is a 3-centimeter gap between the neckline and the design. The design should be placed on the center of the shirt if you are having trouble placing it in the middle. Get away from design, and watch it from a distance. Then you will understand pretty easily.

Finally, place a blank white paper on top of your design. It will save your design from burning.

Now start heat pressing means keep ironing the shirt properly for 3 minutes. Don’t even miss a corner. When the first round is done, take a 30-second break and iron the shirt again for 2 minutes. In this stage, your design should be appropriately attached to the shirt.

Check all the edges to see if any of them are loose. If you think some parts are not properly attached, repeat the ironing procedure one more time.

By now, it should be done. Once it is completed, give it a rest for 10 minutes. After that, you are ready to wear your shirt.

3 Quick Tips to Avoid Trouble

  1. Do not wash your t-shirt just after the heat pressing or ironing. It might damage your design or defect the color.
  2. Never iron the design (transfer paper) without using the blank white paper. If you iron that directly without the paper, the design will burn or get damaged very badly.
  3. Don’t forget to stop the steam mode of your iron, it will never let your design attach to the t-shirt properly.

What’s Better Heat Press or Screen Printing?

Frankly speaking, you will get a better quality design if you follow the ‘screen printing’ methods over ‘heat press.’ But who wants to take a lot of responsibility just to print a t-shirt?

Almost nobody, If anybody does that, he will probably be planning to make a bulk of the product.

If you see closely, screen printing requires a lot of processes. Additionally, you have to manage a lot of tools and machines. Besides managing expensive color, design, and getting a screen is an extra pressure. Moreover, you have to be skillful to do that; otherwise, it will be a blunder.

On the other hand, a heat press requires just a few processes. No involvement of heavy machinery. The design will be editable through the computer. So, this way is more convenient than screen printing.

In terms of quality, the screen printing method is a clear winner. However, if we talk about convenience and other stuff, there is no other choice better than ‘heat press’ methods.

So, it’s your call. Since you want to do it at home, ‘heat press’ will be suitable.

Which One Is Best Between Heat Press And Hand Spray?

From our point of view, both are equally great. First of all, they are not similar in any way. So, the comparison is not fair. But in terms of style and other factors, they both seem outstanding.

When you are planning to do the heat press, you have to make an arrangement for the methods. You need to allocate some tools and machinery to achieve the goal. Here it doesn’t require much skill, but you need some time to finish the process.

But in ‘hand spray’ methods, you don’t need many tools, but you need to be super skillful. Because this method is all about art if you know how to design or draw, you really should give it a try.

So, if you want to save money and time, you should choose the hand spray method over the heat press.

How Much Does It Cost to Make a T-Shirt at Home?

pull up design paper

Different factors affect prices. Let’s see where the money goes when you make t-shirts.

Quantity Wise:

The cost of making the t-shirt primarily depends on the quantity. Although other factors vary, the per-product cost will decrease if your quantity increases. But when your quantity is very less, you have to pay more for each t-shirt.

Initially, when you are planning to make just one or two t-shirts at home, you have to spend at least $10 to $20 for each t-shirt. Once you increase the quantity, your price for each t-shirt will decrease by almost 50%.

So, now your one t-shirt will cost 4$ to $5. That will be very reasonable.

Quality Wise:

In the previous section, we were talking about the least quality product. That’s why the cost was extremely less. If you increase the quality of the product, you have to increase your budget.

A white (colorless) low-quality t-shirt material is very cheap. When you switch it with colorful great quality material, you have to add extra $2/$3 dollars per shirt. It also depends on what type of color you are using. If it is expensive, then you have to pay more.

Feature Wise:

If you do not like plain t-shirts, you will probably have to add some features to them. For example, a pocket is a feature for a t-shirt, or if you want to add any badge or strap, that will add some extra cost.

Other than that, full sleeve t-shirts cost more than half sleeve shirts. There are so many things you can change in your shirt. So, every time you add something, your cost will increase.

Final Word

Hopefully, now you understand how to print shirts at home by following just a few simple steps. Honestly, people think printing shirts at home is near impossible, so they spend money on different printing shops.

Here we have given ideas about different printing methods. Especially heat press printing methods, screenprint methods, and hand spray methods. But among them, heat press printing is the easiest and time-saving method.

Additionally, we have shown the whole heat press methods step by step. So that you can follow this and make your own designed shirts at home.

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About Tom

Tom is a blogger and artist who also loves technology. He spends his days blogging about the latest developments in the world of art, and he enjoys sharing his thoughts with readers on what it means to be an artist today. Tom has always been interested in technology - but it wasn't until he was 13 years old that he discovered how much fun making websites could be! Tom is a fun-loving, adventure seeking creative type. He enjoys reviewing art products and technology gadgets on his blog and has been doing so for over 5 years now! He spends most of his time in the studio, at the beach, or out exploring new places.

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