Having custom-designed shirts for your business or organization can be a great way to present a uniform, professional image. Whether you need polo shirts for your staff or want t-shirts for an event, figuring out how to design and order custom shirts can seem daunting if you’ve never done it before. With some planning and the right approach, the process is pretty straightforward. Here is an in-depth look at how to design and order custom work shirts.
Choose the Right Shirt Style
The first step is deciding what style of shirt you want. Some popular options include:
Polo shirts are a go-to choice for many businesses and organizations. They have a classic, professional look with a collar and typically 2-3 buttons at the neck. Polo shirts work well for both business casual and more formal uniforms. They allow you to showcase a logo prominently on the left chest area.
Button Down Shirts
A traditional button down dress shirt can also be a nice uniform option. This style looks more formal than a polo. It works best in professional settings where employees need to look their sharpest. Button downs allow you to add a logo near the pocket or sleeves without detracting from the dressier look.
For more casual needs, t-shirts are a frequent choice. They come in a wide range of fits and styles, from basic inexpensive cotton tees to higher-quality performance shirts. T-shirts are great for events, promotions, or everyday wear. A t-shirt provides a large “blank canvas” for including custom designs, logos, and text.
Once you determine the base shirt style, you’ll need to pick colors and fabrics. Solid, neutral colors like white, black, gray, or navy are good choices for business uniforms. Pastels and brighter colors work for situations where you want something more eye-catching.
For fabrics, 100% preshrunk cotton is an affordable option that breathes well. Polyester blends add durability and wrinkle resistance. Performance fabrics like moisture-wicking polyester are ideal for athletic uses.
Choose a Reputable Provider
The company you order the shirts from is one of the most important decisions. Check reviews and testimonials to verify quality and service. Here are signs of a good custom shirt provider:
- Wide range of shirt brands and styles – You want lots of options to choose from.
- Digitizing logos and artwork – They should handle converting your designs to embroider them or print them on shirts.
- Fast turnaround – Choose a provider that can deliver shirts in 1-2 weeks after ordering.
- Quality materials and construction – Make sure they use name brand shirt fabrics that hold up over time.
- Good customer service – Look for responsiveness if any issues come up.
- Competitive pricing – Compare shirt costs between companies, factoring in quantities and customization.
- Order individual shirts – For small needs, you should be able to order just a few shirts at a time.
Order a single sample shirt first before buying in bulk. This lets you see the quality firsthand before committing to a large order.
Design Your Shirt Artwork
The fun part is figuring out your custom work shirts design! Here are some tips for coming up with artwork that looks professional:
Keep the Design Simple
Resist cluttering the shirt with too many elements. A clean, straightforward design has more impact. Focus on one or two prominent logos or graphics. Avoid tiny details that get lost at smaller sizes.
Use an Icon or Logo
An immediately recognizable icon or logo is an easy way to make shirts look uniform and branded. Scalable vector art works best, especially for small logos on the chest or sleeves.
Use High Contrast Colors
Make sure colors contrast well so the design is legible. Dark logos on light shirts provide the best visibility. Don’t use colors that blend together.
Put some thought into logo and design placement. On polos, the left chest is ideal for logos. On t-shirts, center chest and large back prints both work well.
Include Essential Text
Keep text minimal. Only include essential names, slogans, event details, or establishment info. Use a simple, readable font at a large enough size.
Any images used need high resolution to print clearly. Pixelated images will degrade in quality. Ask your shirt provider for recommended specifications.
Double and triple check the design for any typos or errors. It can be costly to reorder shirts with corrections. Ask others to proof it too.
Having a professional graphic designer create your shirt art is worthwhile for the best results. An experienced designer can handle technical aspects like image resolution, color formatting, and scaling. If you want to DIY it, use shirt design software or sites like Canva that simplify the process.
Choose Your Printing Method
Two main methods are used to apply designs and logos onto shirts: screen printing and embroidery. Each has pros and cons to consider.
Screen printing applies designs directly to the shirt fabric using stencils and ink. The positives of screen printing include:
- Works well on all shirt fabrics and styles.
- Provides bright, vibrant colors that hold up over time.
- Cost-effective for bulk orders and large print areas like full back designs.
- Can print photorealistic images.
The limitations are that screen printing isn’t great for fine detail, small logos, or intricate designs. There is also a setup cost for creating screens.
Embroidery sews thread logos and designs into the shirt material. The advantages of embroidery:
- Provides a 3D textured feel.
- Works well for small logos with fine details.
- Allows you to match or complement the shirt color in the design.
- Setup costs are low.
The downsides is that embroidery has a more limited range of colors and can’t match the photorealism of screen printing. It also doesn’t work as well on very lightweight or stretchy fabrics.
Many shirt providers offer both options so you can mix and match. For example, you may want a large screened design on the back with an embroidered logo on the front. Discuss the pros and cons with your shirt company to determine the best printing method for your artwork.
Pick Size Ranges and Quantities
Decide which sizes you need and how many of each. Order a few extra shirts in popular sizes. It’s inconvenient if you end up short on the sizes people need most.
Consider who will be wearing the shirts to choose appropriate sizes. Order womens sizes if needed. Model your quantities on past shirt orders or current staffing numbers if it’s for uniforms.
Allow for growth if ordering shirts for an expanding organization or a large event. You don’t want to reorder repeatedly. Ordering shirts in bulk usually provides the best pricing.
Allow Time for Production and Delivery
Factor in production time when setting your order date. Most shirt printers need 1-2 weeks to complete an order and ship it out. Allow extra time if you need to proof the design or provide feedback on an initial sample.
Rush printing is usually available for an upcharge if you need shirts faster. This guarantees a quicker 3-5 day turnaround in most cases. Only rush order if needed though, as the expedited costs can be steep.
Account for shipping transit days in your timeline as well. If shirts are coming from across the country, plan for up to 5 business days for standard shipping.
Order shirts 4-6 weeks in advance whenever possible, or longer if it’s for a major event. This prevents stressful last minute scrambling to get shirts in time.
Follow Up and Provide Feedback
Check in with your shirt provider to confirm order details and provide any feedback needed. Once you approve the final design, double check the listed quantities, sizes, colors and printing method.
When shirts arrive, inspect them carefully and have staff try them on. Give feedback on sizing and fit. Point out any printing flaws or defects promptly so replacements can be sent.
Providing clear feedback sets you up for success on future orders. The shirt company can tweak sizing recommendations and production to meet your needs.
Carefully Store and Handle Shirts
Take steps to keep custom shirts looking their best:
- Follow washing instructions – Heed care labels to avoid shrinking or fading.
- Dry thoroughly – Remove shirts from the dryer promptly to prevent over-drying.
- Limit harsh detergents – Gentle detergents help retain bright colors.
- Avoid high heat drying – Line dry embellished or printed shirts when possible.
- Use fabric steamers – Gently steam wrinkled shirts instead of ironing over prints.
- Store properly – Fold printed designs inward to prevent cracking over time.
With some forethought and planning, designing custom shirts for your needs is a very manageable process! Leverage the expertise of a reputable shirt printing provider to make the process seamless from concept to delivery. Your organization will look its professional best.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the turnaround time for custom printed shirts?
Most shirt printers need 1-2 weeks to produce and ship an order of custom shirts. Rush printing in 3-5 days is available for an extra fee. Order shirts 4-6 weeks in advance when possible to ensure timely delivery.
How many shirt styles and colors can we choose from?
Good shirt companies offer multiple shirt brands, a wide range of sizes, and many color options. Solid neutral colors work best for uniform programs. Pastels, brights and heathers provide more variety.
What file formats do you need for printing shirt designs?
Vector artwork in EPS, AI, or PDF formats gives the best printing results, especially for logos. Raster images should be high resolution, usually 300dpi at full print size as a PNG or JPG.
What’s the best way to print fine text and detailed logos?
Embroidery is preferable over screen printing for printing fine text and intricate details. The thread offers sharper definition on small elements. Screen printing can lose some detail.
Is there a minimum or maximum order quantity?
Many printers let you order individual shirts for small needs. Order minimums are usually around 12-24 pieces for bulk discount pricing. There’s typically no max order limit beyond inventory availability.
Summary and Conclusion
Designing custom work shirts for your organization, business, or event might seem complicated at first. But with some planning and guidance from an experienced shirt printing provider, it’s a very smooth, straightforward process.
The most important steps are:
- Deciding what shirt style fits your needs, such as polos, button downs, or t-shirts. Consider colors, sizing, and fabrics too.
- Researching and picking a reputable shirt printing company that offers quality materials, good service, and competitive pricing.
- Coming up with a simple, clean shirt design that uses logos, graphics, and minimal text in a high-contrast, legible layout.
- Choosing the printing method that works best for your artwork – screen printing or embroidery.
- Allowing plenty of time for production and shipping when you place your order.
- Providing clear feedback to your shirt company and properly caring for the shirts when you receive them.
By venturing into the realm of business online and making money safe, your organization can not only thrive in the digital landscape but also enhance its professional image through attention to detail, exemplified by custom-designed work shirts that proudly showcase your brand in a polished and memorable way.