What Are the Best Tips for Making a DIY T-Shirt?

Dan Cavallari

Making a DIY t-shirt may involve sewing a shirt together from scratch, or it may involve simply taking an existing t-shirt and customizing it with a personalized design. When making a DIY t-shirt from scratch, it is important to research different stitching methods and techniques; it may be useful to find a shirt pattern from which to cut material for specific t-shirt sizes, or to find out how to measure for shirt size properly. Either way, the first step of any DIY project should be obtaining the proper measurements, double-checking those measurements, and cutting the materials carefully and properly.

A plain t-shirt.
A plain t-shirt.

A sewing machine will probably be necessary to make a DIY t-shirt from scratch, though the process can be done by hand. This will take much longer, and a sewing machine can make the process far simpler. If the person making the DIY t-shirt has never used a sewing machine before, it will be necessary to learn how to properly thread the needle and the bobbin to ensure a strong stitch and prevent any damage to the machine itself. A person new to sewing should practice on scrap materials several times before attempting to sew the t-shirt together with better quality materials.

An iron is required to make a DIY t-shirt.
An iron is required to make a DIY t-shirt.

Once the t-shirt is sewn, the do-it-yourselfer will have plenty of options for design methods. Screen printing and heat transfer are the two most common methods; heat transfer is perhaps the easiest method of adding a design to a t-shirt, as the designs are basically ironed onto the shirt within minutes. Making a DIY t-shirt with this design will, however, lead to a design that can peel or wear off fairly quickly. For more lasting results, screen printing is one of the better options.

Screen printing is done by burning an image onto a specially coated silkscreen. These screens can often be purchased at craft stores, and some come in kits with the proper ink for screen printing. Once the image is properly burned into the screen, the ink can be applied. The t-shirt is positioned beneath the screen, and ink is placed on the other side of the screen. A squeegee is then used to force the ink through the burned openings while preventing ink from seeping through the rest of the screen. The result is the image burned on the screen inked onto the t-shirt.

Screen printing is a process used to print on a variety of surfaces, including shirts.
Screen printing is a process used to print on a variety of surfaces, including shirts.

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Discussion Comments


I have a relative who knows how to sew. She turned basic, cheap t-shirts into customized ones for a friend's business by sewing his logo onto the t-shirts he needed for his staff. This is a great way to save money, because it can be quite expensive to have t-shirts customized with logos.


I buy basic white t-shirts and dye them into the colors that I want. Since white t-shirts and dye are inexpensive, this is an easy way to make DIY t-shirts and save money at the same time.

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