Printing design on T‐Shirts : How to Design your Own

Printing design on T‐Shirts is an ever involving process which permits a creative person to design his own T-shirts. It should get easier as the person get into the practice of doing it which might felt tricky at first. Transfer printing is the best choice for a newbie and a not-so-regular printing which may be termed as a one-time project.

Screen printing requires more specialized supplies and permits to print a large number of shirts in one go from a single image. Inkodye is one o those techniques option for quick one-time printing which is more substantial than heat press on prints.

Methods used for printing creative t-shirts are :-

  • Printing design on T‐Shirts by Transfer Paper
  • Printing design on T‐Shirts with Inkodye

Printing design on T‐Shirts by Transfer Paper

Purchase T-shirt transfer paper. Use transfer paper to do dye sublimation printing. It is known as one of the most popular methods among all the other printing ways. Special heat transfer paper can be found anywhere at any wholesale stationary shop. There are two kinds of transfer paper available in the market. First one is suitable for white or pastel shirts, and other one is suitable for darker ones. Dye sublimation printing is method of printing out the image and using heat to infuse the image onto a surface like t-shirts. Mostly transfer paper is of same size as a regular printer paper like Letter size or A4. Before buying, ensure the size printer can handle it.
Light transfer paper is used for light or white shirts. Dark transfer paper is used for darker.

Select a high quality image as a design. Use any image saved on computer. When only having the image in a physical form, it is better to scan it and save it to the computer in the form of a jpeg file. Or, take a photograph and save it to the computer. In case the shirts are to be sold through online T-shirt business, try to be original with designs or photos.

Mirror the image for light-colored shirts. Transfer paper for light-colored paper helps in creating a mirror image on the shirt. Look for a “mirror” setting in the print options window, or flip the image in MS Paint. Text of the design will be unreadable in case the step is skipped. No need to reverse the image in case of darker shirts. Transfer paper takes cares of transferring of image exactly as it appears.

Print design onto the paper. Do check the preview to confirm the perfect fit onto the paper before printing. Select “fit to scale” in the print options for large photo. Scale the image down thru an editing program. While printing with transfer paper, an inkjet printer is required. Print onto the blank side when two sides of transfer paper look different. One side may have a design, logo, or thermal indicators on it. When the breadth is more than length it is better to switch to “landscape mode.”

Cut out the image. Cut out the image to create a clean image. Use a ruler and an Exacto knife to get an exact and perfect cut.

Cover a hard, flat surface with a cotton pillowcase. Clear a table or countertop by cleaning and drying it. Lay a cotton pillowcase over this surface. Cover the space to lay out the area of T-shirt to be printed. Most ironing boards are not suitable as they have metal bars or grating on the surface. Use a surface which is able to withstand heat. Never iron over a laminate countertop. A cutting board is also suitable.

Set iron as a heat press. Do check the instructions of transfer paper. Get the heat settings to work best for the product. Select the “cotton” or high-temperature setting. Select “dry” and there should be no steam. Use an iron with at least 1200 watts of power for best results.

Iron the shirt. Place the shirt over the pillowcase to iron until completely flat. No wrinkles should remain to show up in the transferred image.

Place the paper onto the shirt. Transfer paper for light shirts should place the image face down. Transfer paper for dark shirts should place the image faceup. Check for the center of T-shirt neckline. Place the image face down to allow transfer.

Iron the shirt. Press the iron firmly, pushing down with significant pressure. Heat press to transfer image onto the shirt. Iron from 30 seconds to several minutes, according to the instructions specifically given on the transfer paper.

Let the area cool to peel the paper off. Let it cool for at least a few minutes for temperature to to reach room temperature. Creating own custom T-shirt is such a great experience! Peel off the paper to get the image revealed underneath. Printing design on T‐Shirts by transfer paper will give you a creative satisfaction.

Printing design on T‐Shirts with Inkodye

Lay shirt on a flat surface and iron it. Iron shirt to smooth out any wrinkles that could mess up the ink transfer for the best results. Inkodye works best with cotton shirts by setting iron to the cotton setting. Iron the shirt to remove wrinkles, especially around the area to print. Use a dry iron.

Insert a piece of foam core or cardboard into your shirt. Place the cardboard inside shirt and smooth out the area again. Cardboard works well as it is flat. The ink will not bleed through to the other side of the shirt. And you may just discard it away.

Create a frame where you want to place the image. Use a cardboard or plastic frame or blue painter’s tape to tape off the area. The area inside the frame will be painted to ensure no ink gets outside of the area. Ensure not to tape the image down or will get stuck. Run fingernail along the taped edges to ensure there are no gaps.

Pour Inkodye into bowl. Ensure to shake the bottle well before use. Bowl must not be absorbent. Prefer a steel bowl. Get a well ventilated room not exposed to natural light. About 2.5 tablespoons (40 ml) can coat an 11X11” cotton square.

Apply Inkodye to shirt. Coat brush or roller with the dye. Use edges of bowl to get excess dye off the brush to avoid dripping. Apply the dye to shirt. Use a steady hand for applying. Never soak shirt to let the paint bleed underneath the edges of frame. Inkodye is fairly colorless therefore pay more attention while applying. Take a paper towel to blot the area to soak up any excess dye.

Remove the frame to see the painted area. Cover the area no longer needed in the frame. Keep the frame on using tape.

Place negative on the inked part. Press down negative onto shirt to help it stick to the dyed area. Smooth out the area with hands. Negative should make good contact with the dye. Use straight pins on the edges to keep it in place. Place a piece of acetate over the negative, alternatively.

Expose print to direct sunlight. Bring the shirt with the negative on it outside and soak up the sun to dry to transfer the image. Expose print to direct sunlight for 10-15 minutes. Do it during 11:00 am to 3:00 pm. On a cloudy day expose print for longer. The image darken after about five minutes.

Remove the negative. It is best to remove negative in a space that is not brightly lit. Remove the negative in subdued lighting to keep the print intact.

Wash the shirt. Wash shirt in the washing machine or wash with hand. to remove extra Inkodye from shirt and make print look nice and fresh. Better to use warm to hot water. Wash it twice to remove remaining the residue. After shirt is clean, it is perfectly ready to wear! Printing design on T‐shirts with Inkodye will give you a satisfaction of your design creativity, too.

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