6 Easy Steps for T-shirt Project

T-shirt is part of our daily life no matter you are from a high profile corporate or the normal person on the street. Do you know the T-shirt you are wearing is also part of your identity? Yes, it is!

Do you have wonderful ideas or design and wanted to print on the T-shirt? Do you hate mainstream design? Are you looking for an alternative means of promoting your business, or making some side income with clothing design? Or you are attending a family gathering and need something symbolic for your group?

Clothing is the first step to building a character. – by Sylvester Stallone

This Step-by-step Guide to T-Shirt Design, will run through each step of the design process, from the development of an idea to getting your shirt mass-produced. No matter how much (or how little) experience you have, these t-shirt design tips will give you everything you need to know.

How to design a t-shirt in 6 steps

Objective of having a T-shirt

A customised T-shirt is a great way for branding, either for personal or for the corporate. If you’re using T-shirts for promotion or company image, branding is the top objective. For personal, you might use it to commemorate some event or symbolise a gathering.

Firstly, list the key themes, styles, character and traits you would like to survey to aid your design process later on.

To get the most effective T-shirt for corporate promotion, put personal preference aside and rely more on real, quantifiable data. Who are your target clients/customers? What brand spirit do they want to do business with?

Here are four t-shirt goals to help guide your design process.

  1. Promotional gift
  2. Internal company team identity
  3. Merchandise
  4. Souvenier
Set your budget and quantity

IMPORTANT. How much you can spend and how many T-shirts you need will impact your design and material.

  1. Your budget and quantity will help to determine how many colours for your design.
  2. Not all design can be printed with the same printing technology, some might cost more.
  3. Rule of thumb, K.I.S.S – Keep it sweet and simple, conserve colours to save cost.

The number of shirts you need will also influence your printing method. Some methods such as silk screen printing are ideal for printing in bulk while some others might have a higher cost per shirt and are better for small orders such as heat transfer. Read more at Coffeeprint T-shirt Printing Technology to find out the difference.

Before you begin to think about designing or printing, plan your budget and quantity accordingly.

Know your printing technology

There are a lot of things to consider when you’re looking for the best printing method for you. Remember, there is no best method but only the most suitable method.

Cost, appearance, production time, materials—they’re all important. The more you know about each method, the easier it will be to decide which one is best for you.

We will only summarise all the popular printing method here, please refer to our post on Coffeeprint T-shirt Printing Technology for detail.


1. Silk Screen Printing

Best for: Group/bulk order, very few specific colours design

2. Heat Transfer Printing

Best for: Durability, vibrant dynamic colours, smaller logos or text-based areas.

3. Direct to Garment Printing

Best for: Comfort, overall value and larger logos or photos.

4. Sublimation Printing

Best for: Full cloth design, large order, promotional events or celebrations.

5. Embroidery

Best for: Higher-quality items like button-down shirts, uniforms, polos, jackets and caps.

Draw sketch and design prototype

Now, start with a pen to sketch some draft. Make sure you don’t skip this part. Spend more time, the more detail it is, the smoother the process to discuss with your printer later on.

 As you’re brainstorming, here are some tips to help focus your creativity.

T-shirt Types

Put yourself in the audience shoes and your intended goals to achieve. Try to imagine this, a tube top might not be the best promotion suit for an accounting firm.

As you start sketching out ideas, make sure it will translate to the actual size. Design using an A4 paper physically can safely place your designs on a shirt.

However, you don’t need to fill the whole canvas. Just make sure the proportion is right and you get a feel of it.

Once you have your design, consider how it will look on larger and smaller shirt sizes. Tips: make sure the design can fit both S and L nicely. If you choose a screen printing process, different sizes may require different screens (template), which means additional costs.

Style and imagery

Be daring with your imagination and refine with your practicality.

Remind yourself:

What is your brand?
Who is your market?
Why are you designing a shirt in the first place?

Tips: Pinterest, Instagram and Shutterstock could come in handy to help you generate some inspiration.

T-shirt Typography

A picture speaks a thousand words. A font type carries a million weight. Imagine Facebook changing its font style to Coca-Cola font. How do you feel?

T-shirts offer more of an opportunity than other areas of graphic design to play with crazy display fonts but do keep readability in mind. Make sure your message is clearly communicated in the desired way and “feel”.

Hire an expert

Still don’t find the right tune for your desired T-shirt? Hire a professional designer from Coffeeprint to help you streamline the branding exercise to match your T-shirt, promotional gift, business card and much more.

Find artwork designer

So now, you might have all your wonderful design ready on a piece of paper. What’s next?

Get in touch with a Coffeeprint agent via live chat or e-mail to get the information right.

You probably need:

T-shirt design in vector format. This will likely be an Adobe Illustrator (AI), PDF, or EPS file. You’ll need one for each different t-shirt design you’re creating.

Colour codes. If you need custom colours, make sure you have the Pantone or CMYK colour codes so that everything turns out looking like you want.

No idea how to turn in into complete artwork files? Get in touch for our professional services.

Get a reputable and reliable printing partner

Look no further! Get in touch with any of Coffeeprint Live Chat agent or send us a bulk request e-mail if you need to order in huge quantity.

  1. Request for a sample if you need it. We provide free sample for any order above 50 pcs.
  2. No hidden cost. You pay for what you asked.
  3. Free delivery to Peninsular Malaysia.

You’re ready to go!

Leave a Reply