How to Make a T-Shirt: Background

There are two main approaches to making t-shirts: screenprinting (silkscreen) and digital printing (includes direct printing and heat transfers). Traditionally, screenprinting takes the win in terms of quality, feel, and durability. As we shall see later, however, it is quite a costly, time consuming, and labor intensive method. Digital printing and heat transfers offer a flexibility that far outperform silk screened t-shirts in terms of speed, cost, and variation of colors and shading. They tend perform less well, however, in terms of durability, the way they feel (the “hand” as is the common term in the industry), and the fading that occurs over time. The direction you choose in making your own t-shirts will in the end depend on what you want out of the product, how much time you have on your hands, and what you are willing to do labor-wise to get that product made. The best approach as a beginner would be to try both techniques in order to see which process you are more comfortable with.


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