Every crafter loves making things they can wear to show off their individuality and personality where ever they go, and one of the most striking ways to do this is to create a T-shirt that lets the whole world see your designs.
There are many, many ways to customise a T-shirt from getting out the needle and thread right through to tie-dying. This guide however is about ways to print T-shirts with your own images and designs.
Selecting a T-Shirt
Most T-shirt printers agree that cotton shirts work best, the thicker the better as that gives more substance to absorb inks. However cotton is not essential and you should be able to get good results from whichever style of shirt you prefer.
Selecting the paints
The kinds of paints you choose really depend on the effect you’re hoping to achieve. The best results can probably be achieved using screen printing inks however they do come with some drawbacks. Screen printing inks are very thick and are really only suited to stencilling so if you wanted to paint your t shirt with a brush they might not be for you. Screen printing inks are also a little harder to find and may need a trip to a specialist shop or online.
For many beginners the go to choice is probably fabric paints, as these are easy to work with and fairly easy to find, however your results will not be as bold and professional looking than if you had used screen printing inks.
A final option is to use fabric pens or even permanent markers, the ink from these pens is long lasting and creating the shirts is really easy, however the designs are unlikely to jump out of the shirt and the results are likely to appear homemade.
Preparing the shirt
T-shirt printers who sell the shirts normally prefer not to prewash a shirt as they feel it takes away the new feel of the shirt, however if the shirt is just for you consider washing it first as the shirt may shrink a little and this could affect your design.
You should defiantly iron the area you plan to put a design on as any wrinkles that happened to be in the shirt as you created it will end up there forever after you introduce paint.
Creating the design
This bit is really where your creativity takes over some things to bear in mind though:
- The paint really doesn’t need to be particularly thick
- If you’re using screen printing inks you will get best results using a stencil and applying the ink with a squeegee. As with all stencilling work out which colours need to be on top of others and paint them one at a time allowing the layers underneath to dry first.
Setting the design
To make sure the paint or ink doesn’t simply wash out you need to set the design. To do this let the paint dry completely and then place some baking paper over the design and iron it with a very hot iron. It is important to iron every area of the design for three to four minutes, as the iron is very hot ensure you keep the iron moving so as not to burn the T-Shirt. Make sure your iron does not use steam. Once the design is set your T-shirt should be fine to wash and wear as you would any other T-shirt.
The easy alternative
If you have a particularly complicated design in mind one solution could be to create it on paper or whatever medium you are most comfortable with, take a photograph of your design and then find a company that prints Personalised T-Shirts. Although this perhaps takes some of the individuality out of your designs it simplifies the whole process and can leave you with long lasting designs that are sure to stand out.
Taking it further
If you get into T-shirt printing there are a whole range of tools to improve your results, screens to use in screen printing and heat presses are used to create most commercially available printed T-Shirts.
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