Creating custom T-shirts involves designing and applying graphics, text, or images onto a T-shirt using various methods such as screen printing, heat transfer, or direct-to-garment printing. This allows for personal expression, branding, or the creation of unique wearable art.

Description and How to Do It

To start making custom T-shirts, first decide on your design and the method you want to use for applying it to the shirt. For DIY projects, heat transfer vinyl (HTV) and iron-on transfers are accessible options that require only a design, a printer, and an iron. For more durable and professional results, screen printing or direct-to-garment (DTG) printing may be preferred, though these methods typically require specialized equipment or services.


  • Creativity and Personal Expression: Allows for the creation of unique designs that reflect personal or brand identity.
  • Skill Development: Teaches graphic design skills and techniques for various printing methods.
  • Entrepreneurship: Offers opportunities to start a business or side hustle selling custom T-shirts.
  • Community Engagement: Custom T-shirts can promote community and group identity for events, teams, or causes.

Best Age to Start

Teens and adults are best suited for making custom T-shirts, especially if using equipment like heat presses or screen printing setups. However, younger children can participate in the design process or simpler application methods with adult supervision.


  • Websites: Online tutorials and guides on T-shirt design and printing techniques.
  • YouTube: Channels dedicated to DIY T-shirt making, screen printing tutorials, and HTV application.
  • Supplies: Craft stores and online retailers offer HTV, iron-on transfer paper, blank T-shirts, and printing supplies.

Equipment and Costs

  • Blank T-shirts: $5-$20 each, depending on quality and brand.
  • Heat Transfer Vinyl or Iron-On Transfers: $10-$50 for starter packs.
  • Printer: Required for printing iron-on transfers; prices vary.
  • Heat Press or Iron: A heat press ($100-$500+) provides professional results; an iron can be used for basic projects.
  • Screen Printing Supplies: Starting kits ($50-$200+) for those interested in this method.

Starting Tips

  • Start with a simple design to familiarize yourself with the printing process.
  • Practice applying designs on scrap fabric before moving to your final T-shirt.
  • Follow application instructions carefully to ensure durability and quality of the design.

Recommended Practice Frequency

Practice as projects arise or interest dictates. Making custom T-shirts for special events, gifts, or personal use can be done as needed.

Requirements/Tasks for Mastery

  • Develop proficiency in your chosen printing method, whether HTV, screen printing, or DTG.
  • Create high-quality, durable designs that showcase creativity and skill.
  • Explore the business aspect by developing a brand, marketing, and selling custom T-shirts.

Notable T-Shirt Designers

While individual T-shirt designers may not always gain widespread fame, many graphic designers and artists are recognized for their contributions to fashion and merchandise design, creating iconic T-shirts for brands, bands, and events that capture the cultural zeitgeist.