11 Ways To Print T-shirts And Save Money

Printing all garments, not just t-shirts, can be very expensive if you don’t know how the process works. For this reason we made a list on the most efficient way you can save money on your printed order.

This list will cover tips for all printing techniques such as: Direct to garment, Screen printing, Vinyl and Embroidery. Since all print shops work in their own way, we tried to list general tips that should always apply to all printing providers.

However, the decision to drop prices is totally up to your supplier, they do not have to even if you apply all of the tips below. For this reason is good to shop around for the best deal and listen to feedback from existing customers.

Quick Links:

  1. Printing Technique
  2. Supply The Right Files
  3. Order Light Garments
  4. Use Cheap T-shirts
  5. Bulk Orders
  6. Limit Your Designs
  7. Use Less Colours
  8. Use Smaller Images
  9. Avoid Special Inks
  10. Don’t Do Rush Orders
  11. Make It Easy For Them

Printing Technique

The best way you can save money is by choosing the right print shop for your order. This requires some extra knowledge to choose the right printing technique.

For this reason we wrote a separated guide on the 2 most used ways you can print garments, Direct to Garment Vs Screen Printing. Check out the link if you want to know more about the subject or read this quick recap.

Direct to garments is ideal for smaller orders and multicolour designs, any quantity over 200+ will be expensive using this technique. Screen printing is ideal for Bulk orders and simple designs since each colour will cost you more money.

Usually, the amount you order should be enough, for you to decide on the best printing technique to use. However, this is not the only factor you should consider, since the design complexity, amount of colours you use or desired end effect can all play a role in your final decision.

Supply The Right Files

You will be charged for any extra work your print shop has to do for you. This includes removing the background or separating your design in individual layers, ready for screen printing.

We already made a guide on how to remove your background or create a design without it, Click here to read the full guide. In case you want to learn how to separate a design by the colours you can check this link instead.

Most print shops will also charge you for creating any type of design, even if you only want a simple text. This is not to make extra cash, but to avoid offering a free service, which can be abused.

Our minimum price is 5£, no matter what you need created. As mention above, this is to stop people from abusing the system. Before this minimum charge, we often got requests to make a 5-10 min free design “just to see what it look like”.

Our decision of charging 5£ eventually became permanent after this single episode. We received a large order, so we offered to create the design for free. The customer supplied the idea, and we spend 1hr to make it unique and printable.

However, multiple people were involved in this project, and they all supplied an example each. We ended up making 3 more designs, 4hrs extra of free work in total. At the end they decided on the first ever design, after we told them that we will have to start charging due to the amount of changes and requests.

This was quite frustrating, since we put 4hrs of free work into requests that were not even considered. All of this only happen because it was a free service, and they would never order 4 extra designs, if they would have to pay for them all.


Order Light Garments

The reason why lighter garments will cost less is because they don’t require an extra layer of white ink under your design. This layer is often called Under-base, or base white, and is used to increase the brightness of your design on dark garments only.

Since light garments are already bright, they don’t always require this extra layer. Each print shop will use different printing techniques so it’s worth checking with your supplier if this method will drop the printing price.

Is also worth mentioning that white garments usually cost less than black or coloured ones. Supply your own t-shirts to avoid a small price increase for the service.

White garments are also a lot easier to print, and the design usually requires a lot less work to be print ready. The extra layer that is needed for dark garments, has to be prepared/separated first, costing extra money.

Always order white t-shirts for a much easier and cheaper order.

Use Cheaper T-shirts

This is not something we really advise you to do, since it will affect the print quality and washability of your design. Use this tip only in case you have an event, so the t-shirts are promotional only, and will not be used more than 1-2 times.

In general, you can settle down for Medium quality options. They will have a very similar price range to the cheap versions, however, the quality will not affect the end result in any bad way.

Keep in mind that size of garments will affect the price, Kids t-shirts are the cheapest and over-sized tees are the most expensive. Check out the guide we wrote on the most used garments for printing, which contains a list of very good medium quality garments you can use.

Low cost garments are cheap for a reason. You can often find holes, bad stitching and very transparent look. There can be multiple issues with extremely low budget garments, try to avoid this advice, unless you know what you are buying.

Bulk Orders

Almost every print shop will charge you more for ordering small amounts of garments, and drop the price for bigger amounts.

Ask for a price list and check how much the price drops if you reach specific amounts of garments such as 50, 100, 150… This way you can add a few extra t-shirts to your order just to drop the individual garment price.

The main reason why you have to ask, and cannot find a price list for print shops, is simply because each order is totally different. There is no good way to make a single price list to cover all possible scenarios.

With so many variations it is impossible to give a 100% accurate price without checking the design and garments first, which is why almost all companies operate on a quote basis.

Besides the obvious benefit of more money, there is also another positive aspect of Bulk orders for the print shop. The time it takes to organise the order with the customers is usually longer for very small quantities, since the customer is undecided or simply doesn’t know what to order.


Limit Your Designs

You don’t need to have 2 designs on a t-shirt, sleeve logo and custom labels. All additional prints will cost you extra.

Limit yourself to a single design on the front, if you want to add your personal logo, then mix it inside the design. This way you will print 2 images at the cost of 1.

There are usually some extra charges involved, especially if you need the design to be created, or separated by colours. By ordering just one image, you cut your costs down considerably.

In the case of Screen Printing, ordering an extra design also means: your image has to be colour separated, extra screen costs for each colour, setup costs, printing costs.

Printing one side is not a bad, or cheap idea. A lot of garments have just one image on the front. You don’t need to cover the entire t-shirt, and look like a Formula 1 driver, to stand out.

Use Less Colours

This advice is for Screen Printing only, since Direct to Garment printing technique doesn’t care about the amount of colours you use. Each individual colour you add to your design will cost you additional setup, screens and colour separation costs.

Even removing a single colour from your design can save you a lot of money. In addition to this, you can use the colour of your garment to your advantage, this way you won’t have to sacrifice too much on quality, and still save a bit extra cash.

If you have a lot of colours, and don’t want to remove any of them, then change your printing technique to DTG Printing. This was you can still print colourful images without the need to pay extra money.


Use Smaller Images

If you plan on using DTG Printing technique, then order a smaller size design. Inks for DTG are expensive, your print shop will charge you more for big size images, at the same time they will drop the price for small size logos.

You don’t need to cover the entire garment to make the right impact, often small images will stand out just as much as the big ones.

Make a preview in different sizes to check how your design will perform. You will often find that a single design can be printed in many different sizes and even as a left chest, which is the cheapest option available.

Another aspect of printing smaller designs is the time it takes, naturally they will print faster than big images. Small images are also easier to produce.

Another aspect of printing smaller designs is the time it takes, naturally they will print faster than big images. Small images are also easier to produce.

Print shops Love small images and more often than not, will drop the price to make sure you print it with them, giving you a win-win situation.

Avoid Special Inks

This advice is for Screen Printing and Vinyl ,since Direct to garment can only use 1 type of inks. Special effects such as: Reflective, Gold, Glitter or glow in the dark are awesome, but they come at a cost.

Not only in material, but also in extra screens cost, since they often require a different approach than standard inks. Single colour design on white garments is the cheapest option you can order from your local print shop.

Don’t Do Rush Orders

Same as with a lot of different businesses, if you want something done sooner, you have to pay a higher price. Even asking for a shorter deadline is usually not a good idea. Mistakes, late deliveries, and bad communication can often delay your order by quite a few days.

Allow yourself at least 2 weeks before expecting your order to be with you, it will almost always arrive a lot sooner than this so be patience. Adding extra stress to your supplier has never resulted in better treatment or even faster turnaround times.

Considering the amount of different garments available online, most print shops prefer to order the t-shirts once they have been approved by the customer. This saves storage time and decrease costs.

In some cases, due to sudden lack of stock, or just delivery delays, your print shop will have issues getting your garments delivered to them for printing. Understand this and order in advance only.

Make It Easy For Them

This is not always applicable, however, is best to keep things simple and fast, after all, time is money. Approach your print shop with your own previews, garments, positioning and size already showing.

This will make the process of ordering much faster and will give you a bigger chance to get a discount when you ask for one.

Some print shops will keep the price slightly lower just because you are a good customer and very easy to deal with. This is also true if your order takes over a month to finalise, with countless hours of emailing, it will simply not be worth the time for your supplier.

If your order takes 25 emails, 6 changes and over 2 months in total time, you won’t be able to get a good price. Make it easy for your supplier to complete your order, and they will treat you better with fast turnaround time and better prices.

Communication is key, be polite, nobody like a rude customer. You will often find that you will even get a faster reply if you present yourself professionally, with good grammar and respect towards your print shop.

We are a London T-shirt printing shop. If you want to place an order with us then Click this link and fill in the quick contact form.