There are many methods of making a t-shirt, but before we get started, let’s consider a few questions. Why do you want to print a t-shirt? For yourself, or for a business? Do you already have a t-shirt design, and if so, is it addressing the right audience?

In today’s guide, you shall look at different steps of printing t-shirts. Read below to find all the DIY t-shirt making tips you need.

Reasons To Print A T-Shirt

You have to finalize the basic concept behind your t-shirt. If it’s a product launch, it will need some branding. If it is fashion merchandise still it will require some sort of branding.

If you’re making a t-shirt for personal reasons, it should communicate a singular, clear design.

Consider: is it a luxurious theme, or intended to be affordable?  If you are targeting a conservative section or aim to be classy and trendy, you need to know this.

By making this clear, the next steps are going to be a lot easier to take on.

Your Budget

Another important aspect is to settle on is your budget and the number of shirts to make.

From the beginning, you should consider how many colors will work with your design: more colors means more money. If you are tight on the budget it is a good idea to limit the color variety. Some t-shirts designs aren’t ideal for bulk printing, which means that you will need additional cost for individual printing.  So it’s sensible to finalize the budget and quantity beforehand.

If you’re going to use a die cutting machine to make your design, don’t skimp out and just get one of the inexpensive manual machines like a Sizzix. These aren’t good for mass-producing shirts, so you’ll want something from Silhouette or Cricut most likely.

Printing Options

There are three printing options available.

  • Screen printing is the master of them all. Your printer will make a screen print for all the colors in your design enabling you to print in bulk.
  • Vinyl graphics are more reliable than screen printing involving heat transfer. The result is an extremely high-quality image that doesn’t bleed or crack. It uses vinyl instead of traditional inks.
  • Direct to a garment is the third way which is the best of all the printing methods. It uses an inkjet printer to print directly on the fabric.
  • Stencils. If you have a die cutting machine, you can just check out a tutorial like this one: how to make a stencil with Cricut. Even if you don’t have a vinyl cutter yet, they aren’t too expensive and will often pay for themselves within the first few shirts you make.

Search For An Appropriate Designer

No matter how creative you are, leave the designing to the pros. You can search the internet for various designers who will give an edge to your concept. Just be clear about the ideas with them and you will find someone whose creativity will resonate with your own.

Assess Your First Design

No matter how wonderful your design looks like; its print on the t-shirt is what will make the mark. Before hitting the printer for bulk printing, thoroughly look at the sample. Ask anyone outside of your business bout the flaws so they will tell you the truth

Hit The Printer

Now is the time to realize your dream. Invest in a printer that can follow your dreams in the long run. Most printing companies welcome visitors. You can check on the facilities and benefit from their expertise.

If you’re like me and trying to stay a bit occupied with a part-time job, you might be looking for something to dip your feet in the water but not something which would occupy all of your life.

There are some general principles I’m going to offer you, and then a list of ideas that you can add on to yourself either in the comments or by dropping me an email.

Let me know what you think after you read this article, and please share this on social media if it was useful for you!

Some general principles

You should first assess what you’re already doing which could potentially make you money.

So get out some paper and make a list of all of your hobbies, no matter how silly or expensive they might be. Maybe you like painting miniature figurines, maybe you like walking your dog, maybe you really enjoy gardening. One I’ve been into recently is stenciling wood and signs.

All of these can be expensive (other than the dog, I guess), but when you change your mindset to monetizing a hobby you can start to feel the machinery working in your head.

You could buy unpainted figurines and offer a customization service through Etsy.

There are a lot of dog-walking apps out there now and you could make yourself available in your spare time to walk dogs, even bringing your own along.

For me, I actually did make a small sign-making business. I had to scale up my enterprise a bit (I purchased a Cricut cutting machine and a lot more vinyl than my partner thinks I’ll ever use, but that’s okay).

You could set up a community garden and sell a small plot to your neighbors, or offer to help them set up their own garden as a consultant.

Before the second principle, here’s a quick video to help inspire you!

(If you can’t tell, I love Ted videos)

Okay, on to the second principle.

Anything you have a passion for is a good place to start, but make sure not to corrupt what you love.

What I mean by this is, if you have something as a hobby, make sure it’s not something you want to just stay a hobby. When you bring in customers, it can bring stress along with it. You might feel the need to get things perfectly right, or worse have customers who are overly aggressive or difficult to work with.

With my stencil business, I made sure to charge enough that it would be worth my time and discourage a lot of picky customers.

It’s counter-intuitive, but the worst customers that expect the most from you are typically those who pay the least. So by charging a lot I reduce those customers right off the bat, I make sure that I’m getting compensated enough to deal with the rare difficult customer, and I limit the amount of hours I have to work. If my demand increases and I want to work less, I’ll just keep increasing my fees until it matches the time I have to allocate.

Okay, time for a quick list to give you some ideas:

List of weekend work from home jobs

These are just some I’ve come up with, but as I get more feedback from you guys out there I’ll expand the list and remove some that aren’t great so we can keep it fresh:

  • Teach something you know how to do well (like music, singing, a language)
  • Freelance write
  • Publish books on Amazon
  • Drive for Uber or Lyft
  • Data entry
  • Graphic design
  • Photography (weddings, babies)
  • Bake cookies or cupcakes
  • Gardening (help other people, sell flowers or succulants)
  • DIY crafts (use a Cricut like me to make stencils, sell candles, customized cards, this is a big category!)

Let me know if you have any other ideas, and please share any feedback you have, thanks!

~~Eric