There are many dos and do nots when it comes to getting the finished product you want from a custom screen-printed T-shirt. The best way to avoid getting off-track is to think things through and plan well from the beginning. We all know how valuable taking a process step-by-step can be. Whether the results you want from your T-shirt are in marketing recognition or motivation, in dollars or the spirit of a common cause, there are actions to take so your T-shirt design hits the mark. Discover how to design and order custom t-shirts fast and right.

The Design Phase

An experienced, professional graphic designer will help you create a logo or design that accomplishes your main overall goals: communicating your message and promoting your organization, brand or cause. You must understand what kind of design may appeal to your target audience in the first place. Nobody knows them better than you do. Share this information. A designer is trained to translate this knowledge visually.

Creating a Logo from Scratch

If you need to create a logo from scratch, express any ideas in your mind to the designer. You want your design to stand out and appeal to your particular market. If you have an existing logo, a professional can envision how it will translate to a T-shirt. The designer will give you impressions on whether or not your logo is powerful enough for the medium of a T-shirt. Perhaps there are ways it can be stylized or simplified for even more impact.

Simple Mistakes to Avoid

Consider a few simple mistakes to avoid. For example, if you are creating a new design and are taken with an image you want to incorporate, be sure it is one you own or have the rights to use.

Design to Scale

Be sure that the logo will be the right size for reproduction. It cannot look too large or small on the front of different sizes of T-shirt. Find the right proportion that will translate to the full-size range of your order. With sizes for women, be sure the logo won’t get stretched out or sit in unflattering ways.

Image Quality

Talk to the printer to be sure you understand that company’s needs. Confirm that you are getting them the type of file for best results. This is usually a kind of vector file, a format which ensures there is no loss of image quality when the image is resized.


Discuss ideas with the designer and printer for the best schedule to get you the best results. Although, when necessary, screen printing can be done quickly, give yourself time for reviewing and approving designs before the shirts go into final production.


Both of these professionals will be sure you get the most from any text in your design. You want it to really “pop” when people read it. Your designer will advise you if too many words clutter your intent. Would an image (acquired or custom-designed) convey it better? Don’t make people strain to read what you need them to. If the fonts and letters are not clear – too skinny, too fat, too curvy – they can be adjusted.


There are more color choices than ever before in custom T-shirts. Be sure the color you pick is appealing and one that supports your message. Neon lime may be right for a fun event, but not for a serious cause. Decide if the color needs to be gender neutral or can have specific gender appeal. Have no more than two or three colors in your graphic, or it will become muddled to the viewer. Be sure to find sharp contrasts within the color palette of your logo and shirt so it is easy to read. If your brand has a particular Pantone color, bring that number to your printer, so you’ll get the closest match possible.


Pick the level of quality for comfort, style, and price that plays to your best advantage. Is the shirt for an ongoing marketing effort? Is it for a one-time event? How fashionable must it be if you want people to keep wearing it? Have a basic understanding of the different T-shirt fabrics because not all of them are suitable for screen printing.

The Order Is In: Review, Revision, and Approval

When working with a professional designer and printer, you should already avoid the design and ordering pitfalls.

Check for Minor Errors

Even so, look at a mock-up as close to the finished product as possible, if time allows. Check it once more for accuracy, including all spellings, letters, and words. This is your final chance to catch any small mistakes.

Taking a few extra minutes to review your order along the way will help you get custom t-shirts everyone will want to wear.

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