Shirt Making – Simple Steps Anyone Can Do

Tshirts with mom quotes, beer or wine quotes and kid related images or quotes are all the rage these days.  They are super popular on sites like Zulily and Etsy.

Disclaimer: some links are affiliate links where if you click through and make a purchase I will receive a small referral at no additional cost to you.

I was initially intimated by them thinking eeehhh, I don’t know it seems pretty complicated.  And I’m a crafty DIY person so I’m guessing a lot of people think it’s impossible.  Well, nothing is impossible…where there is a will there is a way.

On Zulily shirts range for kids and women between $12 to over $20 and Etsy is fairly similar.   I had purchased a bunch of shirts for JP from Zulily and they were all fine but I was thinking man, could I have saved some money doing it myself.  Then Halloween came and he was Catboy from PJ Masks.  I wanted an Owlette shirt for me and a Gekko shirt for my husband but I didn’t want the full character.  I just wanted the mask on ours.  I couldn’t find them so I thought well I guess now is the time I make my first shirt.  There are a ton of places to buy shirts fairly inexpensively and also a ton of places to get the vinyl.

Myvinyldirect.com is one of my favorite places to buy vinyl from.  They also have a ton of ‘blank’ items that you can personalize so it’s a 1 stop shop.

My Vinyl Direct

Another good one is HappyCrafters.com  I’ve found they have rolls of HTV and most things are less expensive if you buy more bulk style.  They also have blank shirts.  While they aren’t the cheapest price on those sometimes 1 stop shopping is worth an extra few dollars.  It just depends on what you need.

happy-crafters-vinyl

For blank shirts I use Shirtmax.com.  They have a huge selection and good prices.   Another good site is Jiffyshirts.com.  They also have a huge selection and decent prices.

You can also find free svg/png/jpg files online.  Just be careful, sometimes people offer free for personal use but have a different paid option for a commercial license if you are going to be selling anything.  LoveSVG.com is a great place for freebies for personal use.

My first shirts were our Owlette and Gekko shirts and it really was easy and worked just like it was supposed to.

PJ Masks (1)

I’ll do a step by step process in text.  So many of the tutorials I found were video and I personally don’t like to watch videos when learning a lot of this.  First when JP hears sound he has to see what I’m doing and then it’s just all over because he has to then touch the phone and is distracted from his playing.  Second, and no offense to anyone who has video tutorials I just don’t have the patience.  So often there is lack of planning the project or a lot of random talk and I just don’t want to sit and wait for you to decide which font to use and go through 5 or 6 before it looks right or oops, that weld didn’t work how I thought it would lets undo.  I want to be able to quickly read do x, y, z and you are done.

The supplies you’ll need are:

  1. Shirt
  2. HTV in color(s) of your choice
  3. Iron or heat press
  4. Teflon page/sheet
  5. Tape measure

I will make a couple of assumptions in that you know how to get an image or text into your software and know basic things like welding words.  I have a Cricut Explore Air 2 so my software is Design Space.  If you do need more help with the basics of Design Space just contact me and I will answer any questions.   On the left side of Design space where you create new projects, add images, shapes, text etc. there is a templates option.  There are shirt templates and you pick mens, womens, kids and you have a guide for sizes and placement.  I still measure the actual shirt though just to be sure.

When you click ‘make’ you need to make sure you mirror your image.  This is what it looks like in Design Space.  MAKE SURE YOU DO IT INDIVIDUALLY FOR EACH MAT/COLOR.

shirts1shirts2

**ASSUMPTION**

These are for plain/standard HTV and you aren’t fancy with printed or glitter HTV yet.

When you click continue you want to make sure the dial on the machine is set to Iron On.  It will prompt you here to make sure you mirror.  It also reminds you to place the HTV shiny side down on the mat.  This may seem backwards but don’t think about it just listen and put the shiny side down.

select mode

Now, if you are venturing out with other types of HTV pay attention to directions on where you got it.  The buffalo plaid shirts I did for Christmas had directions online that reminded me you don’t mirror or place the HTV pattern/shiny side down.  It’s cut regularly and you should also have ordered a special ‘top’ layer used for adhering.  It’s not as complicated as it sounds just pay attention when you order and the site should provide you with any ‘extra’s’ or special instructions.

If you are using glitter HTV you will notice that it feels much thicker.  For this to cut properly you need to turn the dial to ‘custom’ and then on your computer screen it will have a bunch of pre-loaded material options and glitter iron on is one of them.  I’ve never had issues using any of the settings designated for the material I was using.

Now your items are cut and it’s time to weed.  Depending on your design you will want to trim each word or image as close as possible because you don’t want any overlap when you lay the letters down.  You need to make sure you don’t have any vinyl from another section on top of the ‘plastic’ from another section.   My words on the Manic MOM-DAY shirt were all cut as separate words so I had to trim closely so I didn’t have that overlap.  If you have 1 single design you don’t need to worry as much about this.  Back to weeding…you need to weed out what will not go on the shirt.  You need to leave anything that it going on the shirt stuck in it’s original form.  Make sure to get all of the middles of o’s, d’s etc.

shirt prepdirections

You can see in this MOM BOSS one I have it all 1 so I didn’t have to do a lot of trimming, it all just depends on the design and colors you have.

I find it hard to get the proper pressure using an ironing board without breaking it so I lay an old towel on the counter.  Most HTV will have the actual directions for pressure, temperature, cold/warm peel on the site you order from but in my experience it’s generally all about the same.

We have 2 irons and on the one that is newer and a better quality iron the wool setting works.  On the older iron it needs to be warmer and on the cotton setting.  Make sure all steam functionality is off.  You layer the teflon sheet over the design and apply a lot of pressure.  Do not move the iron around as if you are ironing clothing.  Just press and put your body weight on top of the iron and hold for about 30 seconds, lift and repeat this process until the entire design is fully pressed.  You know it’s complete when you can see the fiber pattern through the HTV.  If the HTV still looks nice and flat then it isn’t pressed into the material enough.

For warm peel HTV as soon as you are done pressing carefully remove the clear layer.  Be careful because it could be hot.  For cool peel let it sit for a bit and cool down before you remove the clear layer.

It’s not an exact science so those are general guidelines.  It all depends on the heat setting, pressure and material of the shirt.  Sometimes it goes quickly and sometimes I do need to press and re-press more than once in order to get those good fiber patterns in the HTV for the good seal.

Hopefully those directions help you and enjoy some of the designs I’ve done below.

mom boss

manic momday

Livin on a prayervalentine shirtBuffalo Plaid (1)egg hunting shirt

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