Graphic and Embroidery on Shirts

When you decide that you want a specially designed t-shirt, there are two ways you can have it done.  You can do graphic t-shirt printing or have some embroidered on the t-shirt.  Both can be located somewhere on the t-shirt but each one has its own method of being put on the t-shirt.

Graphic designs

Generally, with a graphic design, it is some type of image.  The image could be a licensed character from a television show or movie, random art, musical band, or even a company logo.  Some have started a business doing graphic tshirt printing and selling them at festivals and arts and craft shows.

One method to use that does not require special equipment that is easy to do at home if you just want to make a few graphic t-shirts is to iron on the design.  You will just need to print your design onto t-shirt transfer paper.  You will need light transfer paper for white or light-colored t-shirts and dark transfer paper for your dark shirts.  You will also need an inkjet printer.

Once you have printed your design, put a cotton pillowcase on the table or wherever you are going to do the work. Put your t-shirt on top of the pillowcase and center your design on the t-shirt, printed side down.  Turn your iron onto cotton or high setting, making sure that you turn off the steam.  Before you iron the print onto the t-shirt, make sure that there are no wrinkles in the t-shirt.  You can iron the t-shirt first if you need to.

Once you have everything set, you press the iron down onto the transfer paper and hold it there for at least a minute before you start to gently iron over the transfer, being careful you do not move the transfer.  Always keep constant heat on the transfer to make sure it transfers to the t-shirt.  When the paper cools to room temperature you can peel the paper off.  Now you have a graphic t-shirt.


Shirt embroidery can be a bit time-consuming.  You will need to iron the print onto the t-shirt, then use a hoop to stretch the material so it will be taunt for you to embroidery.  If it is a big pattern, you will have to move the hoop several times to be able to embroidery the entire design.  You will need to use a round-end or ball-point needle with single thread embroidery thread.  If you have never embroidered before, this might be a bit difficult for you to do.  It is best to practice on scrap fabric before you try to do your t-shirt.


Shirt embroidery a design on a t-shirt is not the way to go if you want to have the t-shirt done quickly, even if you are an experienced embroiderer.  If you have a sewing machine that embroiders, then the job would be quicker.  For a graphic t-shirt, using the iron-on method would be the way to go.