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Step-by-Step Guide to Starting a T-shirt Printing Business
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Step-by-Step Guide to Starting a T-shirt Printing Business

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Summary: To understand the basics of T-shirt printing from start to finish, there are many factors to consider before starting. This is a guide that walks you through the process of printing T-shirts - choosing the right T-shirt printing technique, selecting the correct sample fabrics and finalizing designs for your brand’s needs.  This will set you on the way to start the T-shirt printing business.

Whether you are starting an online T-shirt printing business or adding a range of custom-printed T-shirts to your brand, it's important to understand the basics of fabric printing.  Getting an in-depth understanding of T-shirt printing will allow you to venture into the printed T-shirt market. 

Step 1 - Choose a Design 

Choose a popular, attractive design that fits your brand’s style image. Ask yourself a few questions before finalizing the design. What do you want your T-shirt to say about your brand? Who is the target audience? 

Collaborate with a graphic designer to create a design that mirrors your brand’s identity or offering. Decide whether it is a graphic illustration, brand logo, words, or a mix of all. For some design inspiration for printed T-shirts, check these out!

Choose a Design

Step 2 - Understand Your Quantity and Budget

Before printing, determine the quantity and budget. Placing an order for a large quantity will lower the cost of each T-shirt. Order in bulk particularly if you plan to sell online. 

Printing T-shirts can usually cost between $15 to $30 for printing a single piece. For bulk printing, the cost comes down considerably between $5 - $10. The approximate rates will help you decide on the T-shirt printing budget. The prices will change depending on the printing method, fabric quality and quantity size. 

Step 3 - Choose Your Printing Technique

Choosing the right method for your requirement for printed T-shirts, there are several factors to consider. Different printing procedures have different costs, finish quality, production time and fabric types. 

The three popular techniques of T-shirt printing are: 

  1. Screen Printing - Screen printing can be done manually or by mechanical printing. Either way, this technique is widely used for commercial T-shirt printing. Original screens of the T-shirt design are made for printing true to the original design and in larger quantities.
  2. Vinyl Printing - Tees with vinyl graphics are developed through transfer printing. This gives a bolder, more vibrant look and texture compared to screen printing. Vinyl is more long-lasting than ink, and this technique is best for simple graphics like plain shapes or text-based designs.
  3. Direct-to-Garment - This process of printing directly is a more recent development using inkjet printing. In DTG printing, ink is sprayed onto the fabric, much like inkjet printing on paper. 
techniques of T-shirt printing

Step 4 - Pick the Right Fabric & T-shirt Style

100% cotton tees are a favorite among consumers. For a softer option, pick blends with 50% polyester and 50% cotton, which is cheaper than pure cotton. 

While selecting the T-shirt style, pick something that the target audience favors. If you are starting a new business and don’t know the pulse of your customer, go with the crew neck style in neutral colors; they are a safe bet.

Step 5 - Finalize a Printer For Your Needs

Once you’ve decided on your design, funding, and printing technique, find a printer with the best deal. When finalizing a T-shirt printer, check out: 

  • Type of printing technique used
  • Cost of base T-shirts and printing cost 
  • Turnaround time for printing 
  • Styles of T-shirts, sizes, fabrics, and colors
  • MOQ or the minimum order quantity required 
  • Confirm if the printer provides a test sample before printing the entire quantity


Step 6 - Sharing Designs & Requirements 

Finally share your T-shirt design with the printer in vector formats, such as AI, PDF, or EPS files. Finalize the printing color codes with the graphic designer as part of the instructions given to the printer. The color codes are known as CMYK, Pantone or custom colors. 

Step 7 - Doing a Final Quality Control 

Once the job is passed on to the printer, ensure there is a test-printed T-shirt as the first sample. This ensures that printing is up to the mark. Once the sample is approved, the printer will print the rest of the ordered quantity. 

T-shirt printing is easy – it needs a basic understanding of the process to achieve what is best for your brand. 

Key Takeaways:

  • T-shirting printing is not a daunting task. It is easy to start a fashion brand with printed t-shirts as graphic tees are always in style. 
  • Remember three main aspects - your designs need to stand out, the fabric needs to be high-quality and your printer has the professional qualifications to achieve what you need.  

Fashinza can help you scale your T-shirt printing company business by connecting you to verified suppliers of T-shirts and printers. Choose Fashinza’s custom T-shirt manufacturing to create trending and premium-quality designs.

Call us today to partner with us.

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