How To Print Your Own T-Shirts

Make your own geek-wear

One thing you might want to use a cheap, er, inexpensive inkjet printer for is to print a transfer page to make designs for your own clothing. T-shirt transfers are easy and inexpensive ($1 to $2 per transfer sheet) and apply with heat. If you're scared of hot irons, or live the geek life where wrinkles don't matter, ask you mother for help. Offer her a t-shirt with a photo of children, grandchildren, or even the family as payment for that help.

I suggest using an inexpensive inkjet printer for your testing just in case the t-shirt transfer papers you buy are too thick and jam during print process. Transfer makers swear nothing goes wrong, but those of us who play with technology quite a bit know that anything, and everything, can go wrong. Use an expendable printer for your first batch so you're not out a lot of money if things do go wrong. If things go right, a more expensive printer, such as one that prints wider pages, may be worth the investment.

You must reverse the image before you print it on the transfer paper. Almost any photo or print mangement software will do this for you. This really applies to those images with text, of course. No sense printing an insult on your t-shirt if no one can read it and get insulted. When the image is backwards, you're ready. HP has a tutorial here.

The next step is printing directly on fabric using standard inkjet printers. Manufacturers use industrial inkjet printers for fabric, but those have industrial price tags. Using a variety of techniques, you can print directly on fabric. The best tutorial I've seen is this one, called, handily enough, Printing on Fabric (DVD exceprt). HP has a tutorial page called Print on Inket Fabric Sheets.

Get some bulk-pack t-shirts, a package or two of transfers, and have some fun. After all, if LOLcats are great on the Web, they'd be even better on a t-shirt, right? For copyright purposes, use your own cat photo and snide comments, and turn off your spell checker.

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