How to Print T-Shirts

Choose t-shirt colors carefully so they do not clash with your design.
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Customized t-shirts are used for a many reasons, from personal use and gifts to uniforms for teams and organizations. Buying customized t-shirts from companies them print them for you can be expensive, especially if you need many at a time. An alternative option is to print your own design to plain cotton t-shirts at home with an ink jet printer. The primary supply you need to buy is fabric transfer paper, which is found in most office and craft supply stores.

Wash and dry the t-shirts to make sure they are clean and have shrunk.

Create your t-shirt design with creative software such as Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Word, PowerPoint or the software that your fabric transfer instructions recommend.

Flip the image you have created, if your product instructions advise you to. This is usually necessary for light t-shirts. The creative software you are using may be able to flip the image. If not, choose "mirror image" or "reverse image" in your ink jet printer settings.

Print your image onto a piece of printer paper to test if the image is flipped correctly.

Print your image onto a fabric transfer sheet, feeding one into the printer at a time.

Cut the image out of the transfer sheet, trimming off all excess material and leaving rounded edges.

Find a hard, heat-resistant surface and place a pillow case on top. Lay the t-shirt out flat on the pillow case. Plug in an iron nearby and set it to a high or cotton setting. Let the iron preheat for five minutes.

Iron the t-shirt and pillow case to remove all wrinkles and moisture. Put your fabric transfer, image facing down, onto the desired location of the t-shirt. Smooth the iron over the back of the transfer sheet, applying strong, direct pressure with both hands. Make slow, 20-second passes from left to right, then top to bottom. Repeat for a few minutes or as directed by your transfer sheet product instructions.

Wait for the t-shirt to cool. Then carefully remove the transfer sheet paper with a slow, peeling motion.

Wash the t-shirt before wearing.


Do not use an ironing board as your surface.

Do not use an iron with water in it.

About the Author

Heather Dewar is a writer and homeschooling mother. She has been writing professionally since 2007, specializing in wellness, parenting, child development and education topics. She has worked professionally in the fields of early childhood education and massage therapy. Dewar is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in special education.