Your guide to online t-shirt printing

Your guide to Online T-Shirt Printing

Creating and ordering your custom T-shirt online is no small feat. From the initial concept to the final product, the journey is filled with numerous decisions that can significantly impact the final result. This guide aims to simplify the process, providing a step-by-step easy guide to help you design and print a T-shirt that reflects your vision.

Step 1: Identify Your Purpose

Before you dive into the design process, it’s crucial to establish why you need a T-shirt. The purpose will dictate various aspects of the design process, from the budget to the style. Whether you’re creating promotional merchandise, uniform for your staff, mementos for a special event, or launching a clothing line, defining the why will guide the rest of your journey. Everything in your process will heavily depend on the reason why you need to print t-shirts, but we are sure you already know this yourself.

Step 2: Set Your Budget and Quantity

Your budget and the number of T-shirts you intend to produce will dictate decisions like the printing method and the number of colors you can use. Remember, the more T-shirts you print, the lower the cost per unit. Be sure to factor in sizes and consider the possibility that certain sizes might cost more than others. Asking your printer for a specific price is not something we can recommend, since printing t-shirts has a very specific cost that is always calculated in your final quote. From equipment and ink, to staff and rent. Your online printing supplier will have all of those factors already included in your quote, so asking for a specific price almost always doesn’t work. We recommend to search for a different company rather than trying to negotiate a discount. There is always someone able to do the job at a lower price however, remember that lower price more often than not means lower quality!

Step 3: Understand Your Printing Options

When it comes to T-shirt printing, there are several methods to choose from, each with its strengths and weaknesses. The most common methods include screen printing, vinyl graphics, and direct-to-garment (DTG) printing. If you are reading this guide we can assume you need help with your order, or just wish to understand more about printing t-shirts online, in this case Direct-to-garment will almost always be your best option. It requires a lot less knowledge from the customer point of view, it usually costs less, and it can print unlimited colors. This means, it fits almost all types of designs.

Screen Printing

Screen printing is the industry standard for bulk T-shirt printing. This method allows you to print in big numbers, making it ideal for large orders. However, each color or design revision requires a new screen, which can increase costs for colorful or intricate designs. Due to setup costs, and the difficulty in making your design look good on the garment, this option is usually limited to experienced customers or big companies with big budgets.

Vinyl Graphics

Vinyl graphics involve transferring a design onto a T-shirt using heat. This method produces vibrant, durable designs that stand out. However, it’s not cost-effective for large orders or designs with multiple colors. The end effect is like a big sticker on your garment, which is why is not often used, or liked.

Direct-to-Garment (DTG) Printing

DTG printing, a newer option in the market, uses inkjet printing technology to print directly onto the fabric. It’s excellent for highly detailed designs with many colors. However, it’s not as cost-effective for large orders of 200+ t-shirts. If you are just starting out and you need less than 200 t-shirts, then you will always go with DTG.

Your Design Concept for online t-shirt printing

Step 4: Brainstorm Your Design Concept

Now let’s get to the fun part – the design! Start by reflecting on your brand, target audience, and the message you want your T-shirt to convey. Consider the style, color, typography, and any special printing techniques you might want to use. We often recommend searching the internet for ideas, and just ideas, do not copy from other creators as you can get in trouble with copyright law. Our print shop offers design services, click here if you want to know more about getting help from us. Alternatively you can check out this guide we made on how to create a t-shirt design free of charge.

T-Shirt Styles

There are various types of T-shirts to choose from, including standard tees, polo shirts, long-sleeved shirts, and tank tops. The style you choose should align with your target audience and the purpose of your T-shirt. This is usually not something that takes a lot of effort to understand and chose, as it almost always come down to budget, which is why we made this guide on the most used garments for printing.

Imagery and Colors

The images and colors you use in your design will play a crucial role in conveying your message. Keep in mind that different colors can evoke different emotions and perceptions. Also, consider how your design will look on different colored T-shirts. While creating your design, try changing your background color to better understand how your design will look on a different t-shirt. You can also try asking your print shop to preview your finished product on multiple colored t-shirts.


The font you choose can significantly impact your design. For instance, serif fonts tend to look more traditional, while sans-serif fonts have a modern vibe. Whatever you choose, ensure that any text on your design is legible. There are thousands of free fonts you can download and preview online, have a look yourself with a quick google search, this might just change your entire design.

Specialty Printing Techniques

If you want to add a unique touch to your design, consider using specialty printing techniques like foil, high-density, or gel printing. Just expect to be charged a lot for your order, as those setups are usually very expensive, so we do not recommend using them, unless you have experience with such orders.

Collaborate with a Designer for your online t-shirt printing order

Step 5: Collaborate with a Designer

Unless you’re a skilled graphic designer, you’ll likely need to collaborate with a professional to bring your design to life. A good designer will take your ideas and translate them into a design that not only looks good but also works well for printing. Like mentioned before, you can ask our friendly team if you are struggling with the design, and we will be very happy to help you.

Step 6: Review Your Design

Once you have a draft of your design, it’s time to review it. Does it convey the message you want? Does it appeal to your target audience? Is it consistent with your brand? If it’s not quite right, don’t be afraid to go back to the drawing board. Make sure to preview your finished artwork on the t-shirt, sometimes your art will look amazing on your screen, but terrible when printed on a garment. This is also why we recommend questioning your design artist if he has experience with t-shirt designs.

Step 7: Prepare for Printing

Once you’re happy with your design, you’ll need to prepare it for printing. This involves getting the right files from your designer, usually in a vector format like AI, PDF, or EPS. You may also need the specific Pantone or CMYK color codes to ensure the colors turn out as expected, this is only required for screen printing. DTG takes the color information directly from each pixel to recreate your design perfectly on the garment, yet another reason why it is favorite by so many customers.

Step 8: Choose a Printer

Finally, it’s time to find a printer that can bring your design to life. Look for a printer that offers the printing technique you want at a price you can afford. Also, consider factors like the turnaround time, customer service, and any additional services they might offer. Remember, bigger famous print shop you always see online usually do not produce the best quality. Choosing your local small/medium size print shop, more often than not, will give you the best service and end result.


Step 9: Check the Proof

Before your T-shirts go into production, your printer should provide a proof for you to review. This is your opportunity to catch any potential issues before they become costly mistakes. Many small details go into your printed order and your print shop should be using previews, just like the one above, to ensure your online order is exactly as you plan it to be. After all, you won’t physically see the finished product until it’s already too late to make changes. If you plan on printing big amounts, then ask for a sample run. This might cost you a bit more however, being able to print 1 single t-shirt to physically check it, will keep your mind as ease.

Step 10: Receive Your T-Shirts

Once your T-shirts have been printed, they’re ready for pickup or delivery. Check the quality of the print and the accuracy of the design. If everything meets your standards, congratulate yourself on a job well done!

Step 11: Distribute Your T-Shirts

Whether you’re selling your T-shirts or giving them away as promotional items, you’ll need a plan for distribution. This might involve setting up an online store, attending events, or mailing them out to customers. For most of the options, social media will be key, especially if you wish to start a clothing brand and sell online.

Step 12: Gather Feedback

Once your T-shirts are out in the world, gather feedback from those who receive them. This will give you valuable insights that you can use to improve your future T-shirt designs. Being active on social media, interacting with your customers will bring you many positive benefits. Remember, without customers, your brand & ideas will never grow to become a dream.

Wrapping Up

Designing and printing a T-shirt online involves a lot of decision-making and planning, but the payoff can be enormous. Whether you’re promoting your brand, commemorating an event, or launching a clothing line, a well-designed T-shirt can make a powerful statement. So take your time, follow these steps, and create a T-shirt that you can be proud of.

Remember, the journey of creating a custom T-shirt is a creative process. It’s an opportunity to express your vision and make a lasting impression. So embrace the process, and happy designing!

If you need help with any of the above steps, more information, or simply want to ask us a question, then CLICK HERE and get in touch with our friendly team. We are an online t-shirt printing shop that specializes with Direct to garment printing and colourful design creation. Talk to you soon!