Cheat Sheet HTV Sizing Chart: T-Shirt Printing Hack

One of the challenges crafters and garment printers face is to determine the right size of the decal. Breaking news: size decal matters! So before you cut and press a heat transfer vinyl decal, you need to determine the proper size that’s proportionate to the t-shirt size.

Imagine how awkward it would look if the decal is too big, or if it’s too small. No matter how pretty or complicated the design is, if the design size is not proportionate to the t-shirt size, the t-shirt will look awkward. That’s why we’ve come up with this t-shirt hack, which every garment printer should take note of.

This cheat sheet guide for HTV sizing will come a long way. Although the final size of your design will depend on where you place it and your personal preference, it’s better to have the baseline idea of the figures you should follow.

Just a suggestion, pin this blog and take note of the HTV sizing below. This is just a guide, an estimated size of the HTV decals. It’s recommended to manually measure and determine the appropriate decal size. This is a good jumping off point the next time you print HTV decal on a shirt.

htv sizing

Image from PxHere

Not All Shirt Sizes are the Same

Before anything else, there’s something you need to know — not all shirt sizes are the same. Yes, you read that right. What’s a medium shirt for brand A may be different from the medium shirt of brand B. When you shop online, you’ll notice these shirts ‘Fits’:

  • Asian Fit
  • Classic Fit/Regular Fit
  • Slim Fit
  • American Size 

What does this mean? Before buying a plain shirt for you to print on, always read the product description on what kind of ‘Fit’ it is categorized. That’s why, as mentioned above, although this sheet will guide you, it is always better to take the manual measurements of the shirt for you to determine the right decal size.

Cheat Sheet HTV Sizing Chart: For Regular Fit Shirts

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, and you now know that not all shirt sizes are the same, we’ll go straight to the point. Here’s the cheat sheet for heat transfer vinyl sizing, with the measurement in inches.

Take note this is a guide for regular or classic fit shirts. This is an excellent guide especially if you’re creating family t-shirts. The sizing below is the standard center printing. That’s why the size will always depend on personal preferences. You can add or reduce one inch on the suggested measurement below:

htv sizing on shirt

Image from PxHere

For Kids

  • Below 6 months: 3x3”
  • 6-9 months: 5x5”
  • 18 months and older: 6x6”
  • 2-3 years old: 5x5”
  • 4-5 years old: 6x6”
  • Note: Place the HTV decal between one to two inches below the neckline.
htv decal size on shirt

Image from Wikimedia by Angie from Sawara, Chiba-ken, Japan

For Teens:

  • Extra Small: 6x6”
  • Small: 7x7”
  • Medium: 7x7”
  • Large: 8x8”
  • Extra Large: 9x9”
  • Note: For teen shirts, place the HTV decal at least two inches below the neckline.
htv sizing on shirt

Image from Rawpixel

For Adults:

  • Extra Small: 9x9”
  • Small: 9x9”
  • Medium: 9x9”
  • Large: 11x11”
  • Extra Large: 11x11”
  • 2XL: 12×12”
  • 3XL: 12×12”
  • 4XL: 13x13”
  • Note: For adult round shirts, place the HTV decal between two to three inches below the neckline. For adult shirts sizes 3XL and 4XL, place the HTV decal three to four inches below the neckline. For V-neck adult shirts, place the HTV decal one to two inches below the neckline.


decal size on shirt

Image from PxHere by ZyrexPl

For Other Garments and Placements:

  • Pockets: 4×4”
  • Company logo: 4×4”
  • Hats: 3x3”
  • Full back design for adults (Medium to 4XL): 11x11”
  • Sleeve for adults: 3x3”

Why Is It Better to Use HTV for T-Shirt Printing?

There are different types of the t-shirt printing process. There’s the silkscreen, sublimation, direct-to-garment print, dark transfer print, and of course heat transfer vinyl or iron on.

Of all the t-shirt printing process, why choose heat transfer vinyl printing? Here are some reasons to persuade you why heat transfer vinyl is more practical, affordable and easier to do from the comfort of your home:

  • Heat transfer printing looks better and have a high resolution output.
  • Heat transfer vinyl is available in different colors, patterns, and textures. Make sure to check out TeckWrap Craft’s heat transfer vinyl products and accessories.


heat transfer vinyl

Neon color heat transfer vinyl from TeckWrap Craft


Heat Transfer Vinyl Printing vs Other Process of Printing

Sublimation Printing

Unlike sublimation print that’s only limited to printing polyester garments, you can print heat transfer on natural fabrics and other garments.

Silkscreen Printing

Silkscreen printing has a lesser cost, however, you need a wide workshop or space. With heat transfer printing, a small workshop will do.

Direct to garment printing

Direct-to-garment printing machine costs thousands of dollars, if not more. Heat transfer vinyl printing is cheaper. With just under $400 (Cricut Joy plus EasyPress), you can start your heat transfer vinyl printing business or even just for personal use. If you want, you can even use a regular household iron as a substitute for a heat press machine.

Dark or Light Transfer Paper

When it comes to dark transfer print, there have been a lot of complaints about the quality of print it produces. Most complaints include a lot of wrinkle on the print and washes off easily. With heat transfer vinyl, you’re sure of a great quality print that does not fade easily over time.

t shirt with decals

Image from PxHere

Why Is It Important to Pick the Right HTV Size and Placement?

You may ask, why is it important to pick the right HTV decal size and its placement? There’s one answer for that: If a decal does not have the right size and placement, the t-shirt might look unprofessional. In the craft and printing industry, there are two Rs you should look out for: reputation and referrals.

Once you mess up on a project, let’s say, t-shirts that do not look professional it may affect your brand’s reputation. In return, there will be no or few referrals. You have to compete with bigger brands that sell garments. What makes you stand out from them? Why should people buy from you instead of them?

That’s why your creations, whether be it t-shirts or stickers, should look professional. As a result, your reputation as an excellent garment printer will be known to have positive reviews. At the same time, you’re going to have a lot of referrals in the long run.

Remember, when you’re just starting, let the income come second, and prioritize quality work first. That being said, proper decal size and placement should always be a priority. Raise your standards with quality control, especially with those misplaced designs and poorly pressed decals.

hyv on shirts

Image from PxHere

How to Manually Measure the HTV Placement and Size

So what’s next? As promised, you’ll learn how to manually measure the proper HTV size depending n the t-shirt you have. Let’s say you made a purchase from Etsy months ago, and completely forgot about the sizing of the clothing brand, how do you proceed?

Do you follow the guide above? It might work if it’s a regular fit shirt. But if you’re not sure if it’s American size or Asian fit, it’s better to measure it manually.

Supplies Needed

  • Ruler or measuring tape
  • Chalk
  • Household iron
shirt size measurement

Image from PxHere

It’s pretty easy, here’s what you should do if you intend to place the decal on the center front of the shirt:

  • Laythe shirt on a flat surface
  • Fold the shirt in half (lengthwise)
  • Using a household iron, iron the shirt on the folded part to create a crease. This crease serves as a guide or mark. Don’t unfold the shirt just yet.
  • Fold the s hirt in half (crosswise), and iron on the folded part to create a crease
  • When you unfold the shirt, you’ll see the center point of the shirt (where both crease lines meet). That’s the center point where you’ll place the decal.
  • Using the center point, and how big you want the design will be, start with measuring from the neckline down. Neckline distance measurements are stated above in the guide. Use chalk to mark the desired spot.
  • Do the same on both sides, depending on your design, allow at least two to three inches from the edge of the shirt. Use chalk and mark both spots.
  • The distance of the decal to the bottom of the shirt will depend on the decal size and the recent marks you placed earlier.
  • With all the marks you’ve placed, use a ruler or measuring tape to determine the right size of your decal.
  • Make sure the decal is far from the bottom of the shirt. Usually, shirts are tuck-in or the design would not be appreciated from afar.


glitter heat transfer vinyl

Neon Glitter Heat Transfer Vinyl from TeckWrap Craft

Practice, Practice, Practice!

There you have it! You don’t have to go through this process every time you print a shirt. As you go along, just by looking at the shirt and desired design you want to print, you’ll be able to determine the proper decal size for that shirt. You’ll have that ‘eye of a printer’.

An easier and shorter way to determine the HTV size is through this process: Lay the shirt on a flat surface, start with the base measurement of 12x12”. Decrease the measuring tape size inch by inch until you can visualize the design to be in the center part of the shirt. That’s how pro printers easily determine the right decal size.


heat transfer vinyl on shirts

Chameleon Heat Transfer Vinyl from TeckWrap Craft

Frequently Asked Questions

How Big Should My HTV Design Be?

How big the HTV should depend on the shirt size you have. Generally speaking, the HTV size for adult shirts should be between 9 to 13 inches. For teen shirts, recommended HTV size should be between 6 to 9 inches. For toddlers and infants, the recommended HTV size should be between 3 to 6 inches.

What Side Goes Down for HTV?

The side that goes down for HTV is the glossy or the shiny side. The shiny side is the clear carrier sheet, while the dull side is the adhesive vinyl material. In short, the dull side should face the cutting machine’s blade. On the other hand, the shindy side faces the cutting mat when the vinyl is loaded into the cutting machine.

What Size Should the Image Be on a 4x Shirt?

The recommended size on a 4XL shirt should be between 12 to 14 inches. However, the size for 4XL shirts will depend on your design and placement. It’s always best to manually measure the decal size for a professional-looking garment.

Final Thoughts

There you go! This full page of the cheat sheet and t-shirt printing tricks will go a long way. Just remember, the guide above is your basic jumpoff point, you can always adjust the decal size. Use your eyes and judgment on what is the best decal size you can print on a shirt. Have fun! One final tip, think of your customers, quality over quantity, always!



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