Tips for Creating an Affordable and Effective T-Shirt Design

Not everyone is a professional graphic designer.  That’s ok!  You can still create great designs that are interesting, and most importantly relevant to your purpose.  From plain text, to clipart and fun features, anything goes in the world of t-shirts.  Here are some tips and tricks for creating designs that work for your event, and your budget.  All the designs shown are meant to be easy to achieve using our online design studio.


T-Shirt Color and Print Color

Your t-shirt color and print color are possibly the most important aspects of the t-shirt design.  The colors you choose will be the first impression before your design is even noticed by the person seeing it.  Think about your audience, are they mostly female? Mostly male? Younger? General population?  What mood are you trying to convey?  These are all things to consider when choosing your t-shirt color and print color.  Our online t-shirt designer allows you to seamlessly change shirt colors, and print colors on text and clipart so you can see your design in many different color combinations.

We are here to help you through the process.  We’ve processed thousands or orders of every subject matter imaginable, and we can tell you what other people have done, and what colors are popular for certain groups or subjects.  For instance, if you needed a shirt for an Elementary School outing to the Zoo, A good suggestion might be a bright shirt color and bright print color that will make the kids happy, and keep them highly visible to their chaperones!  These two shirts pictured have the exact same design, and are the exact same price.  Both are completely fine, but for this particular job, I like the brighter colors




The style of the font will definitely set the tone for the design.  In our online design studio, you can choose from several fonts that all have unique characteristics that will give your design just the right feel.  Feel free to mix and match the fonts for added layers of interest.

If you’re doing the design on your own, offline, there are nearly unlimited options for fonts.  There are websites online that offer open source and freeware fonts that can be used free for any purpose, and come in every shape and style you could imagine.   and are two places where you can browse for fonts.

What do you want the overall feel of the design to be?  Fun?  Corporate?  Retro?  The fonts themselves can become the design if you use something with enough character.   Here’s an example of two designs including the same color scheme, and design elements.  The only difference is the use of more decorative fonts.  It makes a big difference!




Both of the above samples use clipart as a feature in the design.  While you can definitely do font-only based designs, adding clipart can give the design more depth, and add to the relevancy of your topic.  T-Shirt Cloud’s online design studio features over 100,000 pieces of unique clipart that cover a wide ranging variety of categories.  Clipart can really bring a design to life.  Let’s take a look at a design that uses only text, and then compare that to a similar design, but using clipart to amp it up!





This image for Ryan’s Landscaping shows a little bit of what you can do with layout.  It’s very common to stack everything along the centerline, and that is completely fine!  It’s how many t-shirt designs are done.  However, if you are looking for added visual interest, or if you just want something different, definitely play around with the layout.  In the image above, you can see I’ve put “Ryan’s” off to the left, and the clipart of the tree off to the right.   You can do this with text-only designs too.  Try rotating some of the text vertical, or moving something off center.





Add Distress

There is a feature in the design studio called Add Distress.  This feature applies a distress filter automatically on top of any element in your design and it is a really cool feature that can instantly give any design a retro edge.  Distress can be especially useful to break up a really heavy design.  This is perfect when printing on Triblends, or Poly-Cotton styles that are really lightweight.  Breaking up the print area creates a lighter laydown of ink and that’s a good thing.  Check out these two designs.  They are identical with the exception of the distress filter being applied.




Using the Shirt Color in the Design

Using the shirt color in the design has two benefits.  Similarly to the distress feature, using the t-shirt in the design, often referred to as “knock-out”, can create a lighter print which is great for lightweight garments, or 100% Polyester shirts.  Another great benefit to using the shirt color in the design is that it can create a similar effect as using a 2nd print color without the cost!  Here is an example that illustrate these two benefits.

On a 100% Polyester shirt such as the Hanes 4820  It’s important to keep a light print.  In the first option, you have the red and white stop sign printed in solid ink on the front of the shirt.  On this fabric that is meant to be light and comfortable, in some ways, it defeats the purpose if you print a thick heavy deposit of ink right on the chest.  The second option uses a red shirt so that can act as the red in the stop sign.  This way, the shirt remains light and flexible in that are and will be much more comfortable.  It also reduces a 2-color print to a 1-color print which is beneficial if you are looking to reduce costs.





Text Features (Outline, shape)

Sometimes text is all you need to get your point across.  With our online t-shirt designer, you can use the Text Shape and Outline features to add depth and interest to your text-only design.  Check it out!



Have Fun, and try new things!!

Most importantly, in design, it’s best to just try new things and to have fun.  This is your design, and you should feel free to make it your own.  Anything goes, and if you like it, go for it!  As always, if you run into trouble or you need personal assistance, give us a call.  We love to talk about designs and we’re always happy to help!


Thanks for reading, now get designing!







How to Fold a Dollar into a T-Shirt


IMG_1636 IMG_1635


T-shirts are a great way to make money.  What you may not know is that money is also a great way to make t-shirts!   All jokes aside, t-shirts can raise awareness and make real money for your business or group.  T-Shirts can be sold retail, they can be wearable advertising for your business, or they can be used to promote an idea or product.  Any way you look at it, t-shirts are a great investment.

Here’s a handy guide to making your own t-shirt out of a dollar:

Step 1


Start with a dollar bill.


Step 2 and 3

Step2 Step3

Folding to meet at the horizontal center, fold the bottom up, and the top down


Step 4 and 5

Step4 Step5

On the left side, keeping the fold seam facing up, fold under the small edge where the printing on the bill starts.


Step 6


Keeping the original fold seam facing up, and working with the small folded edge, fold the two corners in until they are touching at the center, creating a collar-like shape.


Step 7 and 8

Step7 Step8

From the bottom, fold upwards twice, folding the bill into thirds.  The last fold should fit just under the collar fold.  You can now start to see the t-shirt shape taking place.


Step 9 and 10

Step9 Step10

Unfold those last two folds and locate the seam at lower third.


The next step is the most difficult and may take some practice.  Just give it a try a few times, and you will start to see what what you are creating.


Step 11 and 12

Step11 Step12

At that horizontal fold line, make a pinch at both flaps and pull them out, at the same time folding up the bottom of the bill upwards so that the corners of that pinch end up outside the edges.


Final Step



Fold the bottom up one more time (you are re-folding along those thirds you created before) tucking the end under the collar shape.  You now have the completed t-shirt!

Try it for youself, and post images of your completed t-shirt in the comments section below.  If you have any questions about real t-shirts, visit us online.


How to use the new designer app


Our new online design app has been a really fun project for us to put together and we really hope you enjoy using it.  One of the best ways to use the designer is to just start playing around with the different tabs and edit features.  You really can’t do anything wrong.  Here’s a breakdown of each tab and edit feature:




The home tab is where you start with the blank shirt.  You initially have the option to add new text, or add new art.  The new art option includes adding clipart from our collection, or uploading your own artwork.  We’ll discuss both options further in their respective tab descriptions.  The home tab is also where you’ll eventually see your design layers.  There’s nothing there when you first start with the blank shirt, but as you add elements to your design, the layers will be there with additional options to adjust and/or edit each element.

Change Item



The change item tab gives you the opportunity to choose a different shirt color, or a totally new item.  This is a great tab to return to once you’ve done your design as you can see it on different shirt colors at the click of a button!

Add Text


The add text tab is where you can add any text.  The current version of the designer lets you add one line of text at a time, so if you’ll have multiple lines, type the first line into the box and hit go.  The text will appear on the shirt and you can now start making adjustments.  Depending on the number of words in the text line, you may want to adjust the size of the text first (“adjust the text size” up and down arrows on the left) so that it appears fully within the bounding box.

The first edit feature on the left is the font.  Click on the font button to reveal the available font styles and click one to select it. (subsequent lines of text will show up in the same chosen font.)  You may want to select your print color at some point.

The color boxes on the left are our stock print colors, so choose that and then go back up to the edit features.

Next up is text shape, where you can add arch up, arch down, covex/concave, wave or wedge.

The distress button adds a distress filter to your image.  Feel free to give it a try, if you don’t like it you can simply click the button again to remove it.

The last edit button on that row is for an optional outline color.  This can give text a real standout look on the t-shirt, adding depth.  This feature works best with larger text, you probably don’t want to use it for very small text.

Next, you have the size and rotate tools.  You may have already used the size too, feel free to play with that some more to get it right where you want it after using the other edit features.  The rotate text option lets you rotate around 360º. (Rotate will start rotating clockwise if you start from 0 and go up)

You can continue to add lines of text as you need them, making adjustments as you go.  At anytime, you can select a line of text and click on the trash can by the text box to delete that line.  Be careful, this can not be undone!

The Alignment tools at the bottom allow you to center the text to the bounding box, layer up and down (for designs that have multiple elements that are in the same space) and mirror which mirror-reverses whatever is selected.  These alignment tools are present on both the text tab and the artwork tab which is up next…

Add Artwork


The add artwork tab allows you to add clipart or upload your own artwork.  To add clipart, either use the search box to search for a term such as “daisy” or “heart”, or you can narrow it down by clicking on suggested categories below.  Once you have found the desired clipart, just click on it and it will appear on the shirt.  Just click and drag the clipart to any position within the bounding box.

On the left, you’ll see your edit features appear.  You can add distress, which will add a distress filter over the artwork just as mentioned in the text section.  Again, to remove the distress, just click the button again.  At any time you can also delete the clipart using the delete clipart button.

You can select the print color for the clipart using the stock print color boxes.

Next, you can adjust the size of the clipart up or down using the slider

Then, if needed, you can rotate the design up to 360º.  (Rotate will start rotating clockwise if you start from 0 and go up)

Just as mentioned above, the Alignment tools at the bottom allow you to center the text to the bounding box, layer up and down (for designs that have multiple elements that are in the same space) and mirror which mirror-reverses whatever is selected.

Get Pricing


Next up on the upper tabs, is get pricing.  In this screen, you will enter your desired sizes and as your quantity increases, you’ll see the pricing change.  We have price breaks at 12, 24, 48, 100, 150, 200, and 500.  If you get close to a price break, it’s usually a better deal to add a few shirts to get the price break.  As you enter sizes you’ll also see the pricing information updated in the summary box.

Open Design

The next tab, the open design tab is for those who have previously saved a design.  Once logged in, you’ll be able to pull up a previous design from your account.

Save Design

If you’re not ready to place an order at this point, you can save the design by clicking on the save design tab.  This feature allows you to save your design without completing an order.  You do need to be logged in for this feature and it will prompt you to do so.  If you don’t yet have an account, you can register at that point.


You may have noticed that there is a small box at the lower right of the t-shirt that shows a summary of what you’ve created so far.  It will tell you how many print colors you have on the front and back and will give you the price per piece once you enter sizes.  It is also where you see the place order button which you will use once we finish up the design and ordering details.  At any point you are ready to place an order, click on the place order button at the lower right.  If you’re not logged in it will prompt you before proceeding to the order details page.

As always, give us a call or send us an email if you have any questions along the way.