How to Make Custom Shirts at Home: Start Your T-Shirt Printing Business Now!

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If you want to learn how to make custom shirts at home, then you've landed on the right page. Yes, printing shirts at home is possible with a minimum investment. From the comfort of your home, you can print custom shirts and give this to your family and friends.

Do you know the best part? As soon as you learn how to print on shirts, you can start your own t-shirt printing business! If you have no idea how to start printing shirts at home, read further because this one’s for you.


Custom Shirts at Home:

Custom-printed shirts using TeckWrap Craft’s Ombré Glitter Heat Transfer Vinyl

What are the t-shirt printing techniques?

If you plan to venture into the t-shirt printing industry, you should be familiar with the t-shirt printing methods. You should be aware of the t-shirt printing methods so you can make an informed decision on which path to take.

The three t-shirt printing methods

  • Screen printing
  • Heat transfer printing
  • Direct-to-garment

You need to know the pros and cons of each printing method and have a better understanding of each process. As you read along, try to figure out which printing method best suits you.

Custom Shirts at Home:

Custom-printed shirt using TeckWrap Craft’s Puff Heat Transfer Vinyl

  1. Screen Printing

The most common and oldest t-shirt printing technique is screen printing or silkscreen. Silkscreen printing has stood the test of time by t-shirt entrepreneurs. It can produce long-lasting and durable prints not only on shirts but on other items like mugs, caps, and canvas as well.

Screen printing requires the use of mesh screens and printing inks. But what does screen printing require? A wide workspace especially for shirts with complex designs, consisting of three or more colors. Not to mention, complex designs are labor-intensive and time-consuming.

Image from PxHere



  • Cost-efficient for simple designs and large batches
  • The materials used are cheap
  • Durable and long-lasting prints


  • Labor-intensive
  • Time-consuming especially for complex designs
  • You need a wide workspace

Heat Transfer Printing

Another t-shirt printing method that's probably the most recommended technique for beginners is heat transfer printing. What does heat transfer printing mean? The name says it all. The print transfers to the garment when the heat transfer paper or vinyl is exposed to heat.

Heat transfer printing has many techniques as well. These are:

  • Sublimation printing
  • Heat transfer vinyl printing
  • Printable heat transfer vinyl printing
  • Transfer paper printing (using dark or light transfer paper)


If you have limited space at home, heat transfer printing is your best option as it won’t take up too much space. Many start-up t-shirt shops begin with heat transfer printing because it’s easy. Furthermore, heat transfer printing is best for shirts with multiple colors and for on-demand orders.


  • Able to produce full-color images
  • Quick printing process
  • Does not require too much space at home
  • You can accept print-on-demand orders


  • Low-quality print if you do not use a high-resolution image
  • Limitations on the garment and compatible heat transfer printing method

Direct-To-Garment (DTG) Printing

The easiest, but probably the most expensive t-shirt printing technique is direct-to-garment or DTG printing. In this printing method, you need to invest in a DTG printer, which you’ll need more than $1,000 to invest.

A DTG printer is much like an inkjet printer. But instead of printing on paper, you can print directly on the garment. Even though a DTG printer costs a thousand bucks, many t-shirt printers love it because of the full-colored image quality it can print on shirts.


YouTube Source: Epson SureColor 4720 printheads Direct To Garment Printing T-shirt printing machine EraSmart by EraSmart



  • Full-color image printing
  • Great for on-demand or small orders
  • Fast printing process
  • No cracking or fading of the print


  • Costly for large orders
  • Costly start-up capital

What are the best printing methods for beginners?

If you’re a beginner in the t-shirt printing industry and plan to print shirts at home, the best printing methods you can opt for are heat transfer vinyl and sublimation printing. Why are these the best methods for start-up printers?

The printing instructions are easy to do especially for DIYers. Plus the start-up costs are relatively affordable. For both heat transfer printing methods, the machines you have to invest in are:

  • Heat press machine
  • Cutting machine
  • Inkjet printer for sublimation printing

Are you ready to start printing t-shirts? Then you have to take down notes of the next parts of this article. In the next parts of this post, you’ll learn the step-by-step guide on how to print on shirts and the materials you’re going to need.

Step-By-Step Method of Heat Transfer Vinyl Printing

Heat transfer vinyl printing is a printing technique that uses heat transfer vinyl that’s cut into the shape of your design. A heat transfer vinyl contains a heat-activated adhesive backing that transfers into the garment when pressed using the heat press machine. To start off, you need to gather these supplies:

What are the supplies needed for heat transfer vinyl printing?

  • Cutting machine
  • Cutting mat
  • A plain t-shirt
  • Heat transfer vinyl of your choice
  • Weeding tool
  • Heat press machine or EasyPress machine
  • Teflon sheet

Heat Transfer Vinyl Printing Step-By-Step Guide

  • Create your design on your cutting machine’s design software
  • Don’t forget to mirror the design!
  • Load the heat transfer vinyl on the cutting machine
  • Test cut!
  • Weed the excess heat transfer vinyl you don’t want to be transferred on your garment. It is best to work on a flat surface for easy weeding.
  • Set the heat press machine to the right temperature and time settings
  • The temperature and time differ on the heat transfer vinyl you’re using. Check out this post for your reference: Heat Press Temperature Guide for Vinyl
  • Pre-press the t-shirt for 5 to 10 seconds to wick away the moisture on the fabric
  • Press the heat transfer vinyl on the shirt
  • Remove the carrier sheet


Heat transfer vinyl printing instructions using TeckWrap Craft’s Ombré Glitter Heat Transfer Vinyl


Why choose heat transfer vinyl printing?

Do you know the best thing about heat transfer vinyl printing? There are no limits on the t-shirt color and fabric you can print into. You can print on dark or light-colored shirts, whether it’s made of cotton or polyester.

Furthermore, you can print heat transfer vinyl on other garments aside from t-shirts. You can print heat transfer vinyl on canvas tote bags, denim jackets, and even a cotton pillowcase. What’s great about heat transfer vinyl printing is the variety of choices when it comes to patterns, textures, and colors.

In case you’re not aware, there are different kinds of heat transfer vinyl available at TeckWrap Craft. You can choose from the simple Flock HTV or bring in some shining shimmering splendid using TeckWrap Craft’s glitter HTV.

Custom Shirts at Home: Business

Custom-printed shirt using TeckWrap Craft’s Patterned Heat Transfer Vinyl

Step-By-Step Method of Sublimation Printing

Another way to make custom shirts at home is through sublimation printing. For sublimation printing, what you need are inkjet printers with dye sublimation ink and sublimation paper. Sublimation printing is recommended if you want to print shirts with a full-color design.

Originally, sublimation printing was recommended to print on light-colored polyester shirts. Well not anymore because there’s a way around it. You can sublimate on dark-colored shirts by pressing heat transfer vinyl first. But hold your horses and we’ll take this one step at a time. This part will be discussed in the following sections.

What are the supplies needed for sublimation printing?

  • Heat press machine
  • Inkjet printer with dye sublimation ink
  • Sublimation paper
  • Thermal transfer tape
  • Scissors
  • Teflon sheet, butcher paper, or parchment paper
  • Your garment of choice
  • If you want to print on dark shirts, you’ll need a cutting machine and heat transfer vinyl.

Sublimation Printing Step-By-Step Guide

  • On your computer’s image editing program, print your design on the sublimation paper
  • Mirror image!
  • Choose the best settings or printer quality (found on the print options window)
  • It is best to use high-resolution vector images
  • Using your scissors, cut the excess part of the sublimation paper which is not included in the printed image.
  • Pre-press the garment for 5-10 seconds
  • Set the heat press time and temperature at 35 to 40 seconds at 200 to 205 °C
  • Place the sublimation paper on the garment and make sure to align it correctly.
  • Use thermal transfer tape to securely place the sublimation print.
  • Place a Teflon sheet, butcher paper, or parchment paper above the sublimation paper.
  • Press the shirt and printed image on the heat press machine using medium pressure
  • Let the garment cool off before removing the printed image
  • You’re done sublimating!

The instruction stated above is applicable for direct sublimation on polyester and light-colored shirts. If you want to sublimate on cotton or darker shirts, you can’t directly sublimate on it. Instead, you can press heat transfer vinyl on the shirt first, then sublimate over it.

Here’s How to Print Using HTV and Sublimation Paper

  • Follow the same instructions stated above except for the part directly sublimating on the shirt.
  • On your cutting machine, cut the heat transfer vinyl to the exact size of the sublimation print. Check out this video 
  • As for the type of heat transfer vinyl to use, it is recommended to use plain white flock heat transfer vinyl or white glitter heat transfer vinyl
  • As usual, pre-press the shirt for 5 to 10 seconds
  • Press the heat transfer vinyl on the garment first. As for the heat press time and temperature settings, use 175 to 180 °C and press for 30 to 35 seconds using medium pressure.
  • Let the heat transfer vinyl cool off before sublimating over it
  • Place the image face down to the heat transfer vinyl
  • Place the sublimation print over the heat transfer vinyl
  • Secure it using a thermal transfer tape so the print won’t move while pressing (which can cause ghosting)
  • Place a Teflon sheet, butcher paper, or parchment paper above the sublimation paper.
  • Set the heat press time and temperature at 35 to 40 seconds at 200 to 205 °C
  • Press the sublimation print on the heat transfer vinyl
  • You’re done!

That’s why if other crafters or what you’ve read on other blogs that you can’t sublimate on cotton shirts, that’s not true. There’s a way around it using heat transfer vinyl. It is a proven technique and one of the popular methods many crafters use.

Why choose sublimation printing?

There are plenty of reasons why you’ll love sublimation printing. Aside from custom-printing on shirts, you can sublimate on other products as well. You can custom print using sublimation on mugs, mouse pads, canvas bags, keychains, and many more.

There are plenty of substrates available you can print on, which means more custom-printed products you can offer to your future clients. Furthermore, you’ll love sublimation printing because it’s easy to learn, has low material cost, and you can print full-colored images in a jiff.


Custom Shirts Business at Home

Custom-printed merchandise using TeckWrap Craft’s Sublimation Paper

Tips on How to Make Custom Shirts at Home

Whether you plan to custom print your own t-shirts at home or plan to start up a t-shirt company, you need to know the best tips and tricks in order to be efficient and offer nothing but the best products, and custom t-shirts like a professional. So here are some tips and tricks to remember when printing shirts at home.

Use High-Resolution Images

If you choose the path of heat transfer printing, whether it be sublimation or transfer paper printing, for full-colored images, always choose images or vectors of the highest resolution. Avoid printing pixelated, jagged, or blurry images.

Poorly printed image affects the outcome of the print on the transferred image. If you want to be a professional t-shirt printer, you want the images to look professional, and using high-quality images is the first step.

Use Quality Materials

If you want your finished shirt to look professional, it is best to use quality materials. If you want high-quality products of heat transfer vinyl, check out TeckWrap Craft’s selection of heat transfer vinyl products.

At TeckWrap Craft’s site, you can find many selections from glow-in-the-dark HTV, glitter, flock, and many more. As for the sublimation paper, you want ink-saving, fast-drying, and the highest transfer rate. TeckWrap Craft also offers sublimation paper and you can expect it to have a 98% transfer rate.

As for the shirts, use high-quality t-shirt brands. Remember that potential clients buy t-shirts to wear them all the time. That’s why shirts and their prints should last for years to come and even after several washes.

custom shirt making business at home using vinyl

Custom-printed shirt using TeckWrap Craft’s Neon Glitter Heat Transfer Vinyl

Create Your Own Designs

When printing a custom t-shirt always remember to use original designs. Don’t just download images you see on the internet as this may cause copyright issues in the future. When choosing the designs, you can download free vector images, purchase designs, or create one of your own.

If you have extraordinary editing skills, you can make your own designs using the cutting machine’s design software or Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop. However, if you’re out of creative juices or not confident in your editing skills, you can always join design communities or download free designs you can print on your shirts.

If you want to go big and want extraordinary designs, then you can hire a designer to create detailed images to print on your shirts. Outsourcing professional help from a graphic designer to create a beautiful t-shirt design may attract more customers who’d want to purchase your shirt.

Create a T-Shirt Mock-up Design

Part of being a t-shirt printer, especially if you want to sell custom shirts, is to learn how to create a mock-up shirt design just like the image below. Mock-up images are helpful so your customer may see what the final product is expected to look like.

Creating a mock-up shirt design is helpful, especially when sending quotations and product templates to your clients, especially for bulk orders. If possible, print the actual design on the shirt, and take photos of the product.

custom shirts at home
Image from Flickr by Peter Morville


Learn How to Sell Custom T-Shirts

Printing shirts may start out as a fun project, but in the long run, you’ll realize that it’s a great way to earn extra bucks. It’s not just a few bucks, but earn big bucks in this industry! That’s why if you want to start a shirt business, you must learn how to sell your products. Here are a few ideas:

Sell Online

Start selling shirts online through different platforms like Amazon, Etsy, Instagram, and other e-Commerce sites. In the future, you can set up your own website for your online t-shirt business.

Accept Print-on Demand Orders

Market your t-shirt printing services to friends, family, and colleagues. This way, if they need custom shirts for special occasions, they can contact you to avail of your services.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do I need to print shirts at home?

To print shirts at home, you’ll need a heat press machine and cutting machine if you opt to try heat transfer vinyl printing. If you opt to print shirts using the sublimation printing method, you’ll need an inkjet printer with dye sublimation ink, a heat press machine, and sublimation paper to custom print on shirts.

How do I design my own T-shirt?

To design your own shirt, you want to start by creating a layout using photo editing software like Adobe Illustrator. If you are unable to create designs for your shirts, you can hire a professional graphic designer or download free vector images.

Create Your Custom Shirts at Home Now!

With the information you learned above, you can now create custom shirts at home and start your own t-shirt business. If you’re just starting out, you can start printing shirts through heat transfer vinyl printing and sublimation printing.

With minimum investment and a small workplace at home, you can set up your shop and start accepting orders. Start by investing in a heat press machine, cutting machine, and inkjet printer for sublimation printing. Furthermore, start studying how to create shirts and designs by enhancing your graphic design skills.

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