As the Livewire T-Shirt Design Competition continues, let’s have a look at how you can actually make t-shirts. There are a couple of different methods that can be used to get your image onto a shirt, each with their own Pros and Cons.
First up is screen printing, an oldy and a goody. This technique requires you to create a stencil (or template), which is then held in place by the mesh screen. Next you pour ink all over it and use a squeegee to press down and ensure that the ink spreads all over the screen. Excess ink will be wiped away, and then you take the screen off and voila!
It works great for images that are a single colour, or only a few. Since each colour needs its own screen images with lots of colours will be difficult and time consuming to transfer. The quality you get is gorgeous, but it’s expensive for anything other than mass production. Once again, every new print will need its own screen prepared. If you’re looking to make a ton of the same shirt though it’s awesome.
It takes a bit of learning and having the tools on hand, but you can DIY screen printing if you want.
Direct To Garment (DTG)
Next is a rather new technique, called Direct To Garment printing. DTG works a lot like a normal printer, but instead of paper you feed it t-shirts. This allows you to print full colour images super easily, and also makes one off prints quite viable.
This isn’t great as a DIY option, as you’ll need the expensive printer on hand. If you outsource your printing to one of the many t-shirt printers around though this is most likely what it will be.
The last of the options we’ll look at is Transfer Paper, this is one you may have tried at some point. Transfer paper works by printing your image onto the paper and then using heat to transfer it onto the fabric. For a professional job there are sandwich press style machines to put your shirt in, but your ironing board at home can also work. This technique is dead simple to use, and it allows for full colour printing. The major drawback is you need to make sure to use a fabric that can take the heat.
This one is totally DIY compatible, just remember to print your design reversed!
I hope this inspires you to enter the competition if you haven’t already, remember entries close at 11:59pm AEST on July 31st!