Who doesn’t love a good t-shirt? It’s a simple, practical, everyday outfit choice. T-shirts, however, have come a long way from the ones given to you in elementary school. While the class tee was a nice memento, having everyone’s signature on the back is a bit outdated. 

Designing a custom t shirt takes a certain level of skill. It isn’t just slapping a logo on and calling it a day. That said, you don’t have to be a designer to create an awesome-looking shirt either. With the right mindset and a few strategies in place, you can come out with a final product you’re proud of.  

In need of some thought starters? Look no further. Below are four things to consider when designing a custom t-shirt. Consider these tips your “need-to-knows” for t-shirt ideation, creation, and production. 

Know Your Purpose

Before you even think about creation or design work, know your purpose. Why are you creating a t-shirt in the first place? Is there a deadline for creating the shirt, such as an event? If so, how much time do you have and how quickly will you need to get it into the hands of the consumers? Asking yourself these questions is important as it will dictate your design, t-shirt selection, and production timeline. 

Knowing your purpose also means considering who is going to be wearing your shirt. If you are creating it for a family event, then you need to ensure the design works well for everyone. The shirt that Grandpa Joe wears also needs to look good on your little nieces and nephews. If you’re creating shirts for your business, they again need to be age and size appropriate. 

Creating an inclusive design is a sure way that it will become a favorite for every person. List out your goals and themes with inclusivity in mind. Think about the emotion you want every wearer to feel when they decide to wear the shirt. It may sound a tad excessive at first, but this mindset can help inspire you as you go forth with your t-shirt creation. 

Pick High Quality 

Quality is of the utmost importance. Think of the t-shirt in your drawer that you wear time and time again. What is it that you love most about it? It’s likely a high-quality, feel-good shirt. You feel happy wearing it, and love the way it fits your body. 

One of the first steps of creating a shirt is to think about quality. Let’s say you are designing shirts for your business. Sure, you could go the cheaper route, but at the end of the day do you want your employees to actually wear it? Look for a shirt that has a nice feel or good quality thread count. This ensures your shirt will last through multiple wears as well as wash cycles. 

Also, be sure to read reviews. Pick a shirt that has positive reviews, particularly looking for those that comment on how their final design turned out. Some shirts may feel great to the touch but may not be great for screen printing. Ask for a sample of the shirt, or multiple shirts, so you don’t end up printing hundreds of logos on shirts that you don’t particularly like. 

Think Simply

To put it simply, a cluttered shirt is a busy shirt. Similar to your logo creation, keeping your t-shirt design simple is key. You don’t want the main message or primary focus to get lost. People wearing your shirt will be more likely to re-wear a simple design that isn’t too loud. This is still true if the custom t-shirt is for a particular event like a family reunion or marathon. 

To make sure a design is simple, think about creating it in black and white to start. This ensures you won’t go overboard on the color selection. It also ensures the final design is legible. Then, add color slowly until you achieve your final look.

Many online t-shirt companies will allow you to preview the design on their site. While it may look great online, it could be deceiving. Ask for others’ opinions about the final design. They may be able to point out something that you didn’t see at first. For instance, if they can’t read the words because of the fancy font you chose, you may want to rethink it.

Print with Ease and Distribute 

You’ve thought about your “why,” selected a high-quality shirt and even created an attractive design. Now, comes the fun part — printing! Nobody wants to get to this last step only to be disappointed with the turnaround times or production process. The key is to read through your chosen designer’s rules first. This can help avoid any possible hiccups during this final stage. 

Be sure to read through the guidelines set by your local supplier or online design and print shop. They may have specific image specifications that you will need to follow. You may be able to buy the shirts directly from them, or you may have to buy them yourself first. If the latter is the case, be sure to select shirts they are comfortable printing on. You don’t want any of your purchased shirts to go to waste because the printer isn’t comfortable with that material or style. 

This is a less likely case if the printers use high-quality technology that works the best for all types of t-shirts like the Prestige DTF printer, for example.

Once your shirts are completed, you of course need to distribute them. If you are a business owner, this could look like handing them out at your company’s next big event or meeting. If the shirts are for a gathering or local event, then you likely already have thought about distribution. If they are for a smaller event, of course, you want to have everyone’s desired size ahead of time, so everyone has a shirt they really love and will continue to wear. 


Custom t-shirt creation can be a fun process, as long as you plan ahead. Think about who will be wearing your final product and how you can create a design that will resonate for years to come. As long as you follow these tips, your shirt is bound to become a favorite. 


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