How to Make Your Own Custom T-Shirts at Home

    by V. L. Hamlin

    About the Author

    V. L. Hamlin is a freelance writer residing in upstate New York. She graduated from the State University of New York at Delhi in 2000 with a liberal arts degree and concentrated studies in literature and psychology. She has been writing online since 2006 and is currently a freelance writer for Associated Content and Demand Media.


    One of the easiest ways to make your own custom T-shirt designs at home is with iron-on transfer paper. Without any special equipment, you can customize your shirts with digital pictures, graphics and clip art. If you're designing T-shirts for family reunions, class field trips or family vacations, personalize them with names, dates, sayings, phrases or your own custom artwork.

    Things You'll Need

    • T-shirts
    • Word processing, desktop publishing or photo editing software
    • Printer
    • Scissors
    • Iron
    • Iron-on transfer paper

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    Pre-wash and dry your T-shirt as directed on the label to prepare it for the design.

    Upload, download or create a graphic for your T-shirt using word processing, desktop publishing or photo editing software.

    Add text to the design, such as favorite phrases, sayings or personalization. Consider different fonts, sizes and colors for the text.

    Use software functions or print settings to flip the entire graphic horizontally so that you can print a mirror image of the final design. Choose the print settings recommended by the iron-on transfer paper manufacturer.

    Insert a sheet of iron-on transfer paper into your printer, according to the directions on the packaging. Print your design on the iron-on transfer paper.

    Use scissors to cut out your design. Remove as much excess paper as possible without harming the design.

    Preheat iron to its highest setting. Don't use steam.

    Lay a T-shirt flat on an ironing board. Position the printed transfer over the T-shirt with the design facing down. Make sure it is in the center, or whatever position you desire. Press the back of the transfer paper with a hot iron, following the provided directions.

    Allow the paper to cool and then peel the paper backing away from the design.

    • Test the alignment of your design by first printing it out on plain paper.
    • Turn your shirt inside out when washing to prevent fading of the design.
    • Use a 100 percent cotton T-shirt for the best results.