Step by Step Guide to Printing T-shirts at Home

Posted by needtshirtsnow 04/17/2023 0 Comment(s)

Step by Step Guide to Printing T-shirts at Home



The popularity of printing t-shirts at home


Printing t-shirts at home has become increasingly popular among people of all ages and backgrounds. This trend has been fueled by the mass availability of affordable materials and printing equipment, combined with the growing desire for personalization and self-expression.


One of the biggest reasons for the popularity of printing t-shirts at home is the ability to create custom designs that reflect your unique personality and style. No longer are we limited to the generic T-shirts available in stores. With the right materials and tools, we can create our own designs that reflect our interests, passions, and beliefs.


Another reason for the popularity of home t-shirt printing is the economic benefits it provides. Buying a plain t-shirt and printing on it at home can be significantly cheaper than buying a custom-designed shirt from a store. It’s a great way to save money while still being fashion-forward and up-to-date.


Furthermore, the process is relatively easy and straightforward. Even if you’re not experienced with designing and printing, there are plenty of tutorials and user-friendly resources available online. With a little bit of practice and patience, anyone can create their own custom t-shirts in the comfort of their home.


In addition to being a fun and creative activity, printing t-shirts at home can also be a great business opportunity. Many individuals and small businesses have started selling their custom t-shirts online, at craft fairs, or through social media. With access to affordable materials and a variety of online marketplaces, it has never been easier to start your own t-shirt printing business.


In conclusion, printing t-shirts at home has become incredibly popular due to the ease, affordability, and creativity it provides. Whether you’re looking to express your own unique style, save money, or launch your own business, home t-shirt printing has something to offer for everyone. So why not try it out for yourself and see where your creativity takes you?


What do I need to print T-shirts at home?

  • A Design
  • T-shirts (cotton or cotton/poly blend)
  • Transfer paper (for inkjet or laser printers)
  • Ink (compatible with your printer and transfer paper)
  • Printer (inkjet or laser)
  • Heat press or iron


How are Graphics put on shirts?

The Graphic design is an important part of t-shirt printing. You can either hire a graphic designer to create the graphics for your t-shirts, or you can buy your designs online, or just learn how to create them yourself. There are websites such as Fiverr where you can find a graphic designer to create for you. Software such as adobe photoshop is ideal to learn. Especially Adobe Illustrator.

When designing your graphic design, you want to make sure that you have the correct dimensions for graphic tee designs. Depending on if your graphic is a PNG or Jpeg or Pdf will make a difference in the print quality when it is time to print.


The Best T-shirts for T-shirt printing


The T-shirts that you decide to use will mainly depend on the Method of printing that you are using. 100% cotton shirts usually work well with water-based inks. If you are using Screen printed transfers, then it will not matter if you are using cotton or poly shirts. If the method you are printing is sublimation, then you will need to use 100% poly shirts. There is also other printing methods such as vinyl and Embroidery. You will also be able to use cotton and poly shirts with both of those methods.


What printer do I need to print shirts at home?


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There are several different options that you can use for printing shirts at home. You can outsource the printing altogether. The best t-shirt shirt printing methods include,


Any of these shirt printing methods you can achieve at home. While with some it may make more sense just to let a professional do it if you are only doing this for a hobby.


Screen Printing Shirts at home


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Out of the list Screen printing will be the most difficult to learn and take up the most space in your home. While it’s achievable it may not be worth the hassle that comes with it. You will learn how to screen print. The main advantage of screen printing is being able to print out large volumes of shirts at a lower cost. The Disadvantage is the process is tedious and you are more prone to making a mess in your house and the equipment that is needed will take up a larger footprint.


Sublimation Printing at Home


Sublimation printers come in all different sizes and prices. You can purchase a fairly cheap inkjet printer that’s been converted to use sublimation dye inks. One of the disadvantages of using sublimation printing at home is that you cannot print on 100% cotton t-shirts. You also cannot print on shirts that are dark such as a black T-shirt. Only Light color shirts. You however can print on other items besides T-shirts such as coffee mugs, cups, and more.


Vinyl Cutters for printing at home


These types of printers are the most common for people printing shirts at home. You can purchase a small tabletop printer and there is no ink involved. You just upload your design into the software and the plotter cuts out your design. After the design is complete you will need to weave away the access vinyl from the transfer and Heat press the design onto your apparel. The disadvantage of using a vinyl cutter is that you are limited in what you can print. Full digital color pictures are not going to be printed using this machine.


Direct To Garment Printers for in-home printing


This is the type of printer we use to print custom tees. They have desktop-size garment printers that are available to print shirts in your home. With these printers, you can print full-color graphics and photos. You can print on a large range of items besides T-shirts also. The downside is that the printers are expensive, and the ink is problematic. If you do not use these printers every day to put out a large volume of shirts, then you will end up with expensive problems.


Direct to Film printing at home


This is a new printing option. These printers started out as direct-to-garment printing but now there are printers printing directly to the film. The inks are still water-based inks, and the price of the printers are comparable to DTG printers. The advantage is that you can print out a bunch of designs and later heat press the film on the shirt only when you need to.


Embroidery for at-home printing


You can find cheaper embroidery machines on the market that you can embroider directly onto patches that you can later heat press on a shirt. You can also embroider the shirts directly. The advantage is that embroidery is often a premium service. The disadvantage is that it will most likely be time-consuming.



The Transfer Paper used for Printing Shirts at Home


There are several different options. You can use vinyl, inkjet transfer sheets, Screenprint plastisol transfers, Direct to Film sheets (These are printed using a DTG Printer or a DTF Printer), and Sublimation transfers. You can either print them yourself or outsource and have them printed and shipped to you by a T-shirt printing company.


After your Graphic design is complete and ready the next step will be Printing your Graphic design onto ink Transfer paper. After that is done you are on to positioning your graphic design correctly onto the t-shirt. Personally, I position it differently depending on the size of the shirt. It varies if it's an Adult large and a toddler tee. If your transfer sheet is not aligned with the shirt correctly you may find the need to reprint another shirt.



What ink is used for Printing T-shirts?


Inks used for Screen Printing


If you are going the screen-printing route then most likely you will be using plastisol ink, but you can also have screen printing with water-based inks. The difference in the inks is the feel and durability of the print once it is on your garment.


Inks used for Inkjet Transfers


The ink used for inkjet printers is both water-based inks and Sublimation Disperse Dyes. Both can be printed onto Transfer sheets and used to transfer the ink to your T-shirt.


Why do you need a heat press and not an iron for printing at home


The final step after you have printed your design either directly to the t-shirt or onto the film you will need to cure the ink. This process will make a difference in your design coming off, washing off, fading, and more. Most of the curing methods need a high temperature of around 350 degrees F. It also needs consistent pressure and a timeframe that it will take to cure the ink. Using an iron, you might be able to achieve getting the film to stick, “maybe” but it will not give you professional results.

You will want a premium and professional Heat Press that is built to have even temperature across the entire heating element. If you buy a budget heat press, it’s possible it may look professional but you won't get the same results. Most likely a cheap heating element was used, and different sides will have different temperatures resulting in scorching your shirts or not applying the correct temperature to cure the ink. You can find the Best Heat Presses for shirt printing Here


The Printing Process for home t-shirt Printing



  1. Find a Blank Tee shirt
  2. Design your Graphic
  3. Print You Graphic onto the Transfer or Shirt
  4. Cure the Ink with a Heat Press



The Conclusion about printing shirts at home


Creating shirts at home can be exciting and an awesome way to express yourself. One of the methods that used to be used a lot while I was growing up was tie dye. We have come a long way from then. That’s how easy the printing method is for printing shirts at home. Well, it actually sounds a lot easier than it is but I hope that encourages you to get started. Now that you know the best t-shirt printing methods you are almost there.


If you have any experience printing shirts from home I look forward to hearing your tips and experiences in the comment section below. Also, feel free to ask any questions that you may have or if see that I have missed anything. Thanks a lot. Stay tuned for the next Post.


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