Choosing a T-shirt printing technique

Properly preparing graphics for a t-shirt is a big challenge for a novice designer. General knowledge of the use of programs is not enough to properly transfer the pattern to the material. Already at the first contact with the t-shirt shop in Dallas, you will be inundated with a lot of questions related to printing technology. There are several basic methods of marking clothes – screen printing, thermal transfer, sublimation, and digital printing (DTG).

Each of them has different requirements for the preparation of graphics and the accepted file format. If you want to save on a possible surcharge for adapting your pattern, take advantage of our tips.

For proper printing, you need knowledge related to production processes. It is necessary already at the project creation level, which should take into account the possibilities and limitations of the selected printing technique. Where to start?

Choosing a T-shirt printing technique

The marking method is selected based on several guidelines. An employee of the t-shirt shop in Dallas where you will carry out the order will ask for them. Be prepared to identify. Clothing material (e.g. polyester, cotton) and the type of shirts (e.g. polo, long-sleeve) on which you want to create prints. This is a very important question because not all techniques can be implemented, for example, on cotton.

Colors of the ordered clothes

Expenditures (it is good to specify how many pieces of T-shirts you will need right away. Some techniques, e.g. screen printing, are profitable for larger quantities, others, e.g. DTG, are recommended for single pieces).

Once you’ve gathered this information, the question comes back, which type of coding to choose?

I will describe some of the most popular printing techniques. I’ll start with the low-cost ones. Thanks to this summary, you should find out which technique to use and how to prepare the project.


A printing technique that you can do from 1 piece. You can use it to order a sample copy to see how the projects look in reality (and you won’t pay a fortune). You can choose from a smooth FLEX or FLOCK foil with a fluffy structure. Thermal transfer (i.e. the method of applying flex and flock foils) allows printing on cotton and polyester clothing (e.g. sportswear), in any color.

When combining polyester clothing and flex foil, remember to use a special foil with a blocker. Although it is more expensive than traditional material, it prevents the color of the foil from mixing with the color of clothing (so-called dye migration).

Projects for printing with flex and flock foils should be as simple as possible – this is due to several technical limitations. Graphic elements are cut on a plotter, then manually “selected” and welded on a thermal transfer press. Inscriptions, logotypes, and graphic signs in full colors are perfect for this.

In the case of flex/flock foil, the fewer colors the better. The t-shirt shop dallas may add additional costs if the project is complex. This is related to the production process (each color is cut from a different foil, and elements must be joined together manually).
Please note that the technique does not allow you to print shadows, gradients, halftones, very small lines, or dots.

How should a project be prepared for printing with flex and flock foil?

File Format
Vector – each element is cut on a cutting plotter, there are no exceptions here.

They are selected on the basis of flex and flock film templates (ask for them at the t-shirt shop in Dallas where you plan to carry out your project ).

Minimum size of elements (point, line thickness)
Each printing house may have different requirements (read them before starting the design). The size of the point on the flex foil can vary between 0.7 – 1.5 mm. With flock foil, due to its thickness, these values ​​will be slightly higher.

Level of complexity
The technique gives the possibility of printing elements in full colors, without tonal transitions, chiaroscuro, and rasters.

The size of the print
It also depends on the t-shirt shop in Dallas and its technical capabilities.

The maximum size determines the width of the cutter and the press on which a single print is applied. If the design allows it, it can be divided into parts and welded several times. Please note that this will be an additional cost and not every printing house will undertake such a challenge.


Sublimation is great for marking sportswear. The print, unlike the foil, is imperceptible, embedded in the structure of the material. Thanks to this, the clothing retains its breathable properties and does not embarrass.

This is not the only advantage of sublimation. Its main advantage is the ability to print multi-color, very complex projects. Added to this is durability – most printing houses will describe it as indestructible T-shirts can be washed at high temperatures, stretched, and crumpled. You will sooner damage the structure of the clothing than the print applied to it.

Is sublimation the perfect technique? Not necessarily. There are many technical limitations behind the great quality of the print.

First of all, the material – preferably POLYESTER in WHITE. Theoretically, you can use the technique with other colors of clothing. It should be remembered, however, that the color of the material will mix with the colors of the project (e.g. a blue inscription on a yellow T-shirt will create a greenish tint).

A good solution is to use sublimation for black prints on colored clothes. We can transfer such projects without any worries because the prints will be equally visible on different materials. The sublimation technique is not recommended for graphics on black T-shirts (the print will be invisible in this case).

One of the biggest limitations of sublimation is the fact that it cannot be used for cotton clothing (the print does not bind to the material). However, several products specifically designed for this technique have appeared in the advertising clothing market. Their composition is a special blend of polyester and cotton, and the structure of the clothing itself resembles a natural material. Nice solution, but you still need to remember the color of the material.

Sublimation printing gives great opportunities for graphic designers because projects can be as complicated as possible. When using the sublimation technique, tonal transitions are not scary, and the price and the number of colors in the project are almost unlimited (printing with CMYK). All these elements do not affect the price of the print, so we can let our imagination run wild when designing.