So you want to design a custom shirt but don’t want to pay too much for your order. Don’t worry, this guide has all the information you need to design a custom shirt that won’t cost you very much.
Saving Money on Your Custom T-Shirts
Color Matters, A lot
If you plan on ordering a decent sized order (lets say 12 or more custom shirts), then having less colors in your design will help make your order come out cheaper. This is because when orders are big, it allows you the option of putting your design on your shirt through screen printing.
Screen printing has cheap printing costs, but a large setup cost that depends on how many colors go into your design. If you only have 1 color, the setup cost is small and your shirt prints will not cost you very much. If you have many colors, the setup cost will be expensive and will end up hurting your wallet way more than a single solid color print would.
Usually if you have many colors in your design (lets say 5 or more), the screen print setup cost is normally very high and printers will opt to digitally print your design. A digital print has no setup cost and allows for unlimited colors on your design, but the cost of each print is considerably higher than the cost of a screen print.
So in general, if you plan on ordering about 12 or more custom shirts, make sure your design only uses 1 or 2 solid colors to save money on the printing cost. If you are just making a small order (less than 12) shirts, feel free to go wild and have as many gradients and colors as you want on your design, because chances are it will be digital printed custom t-shirt. To learn more about colors, check out my guide on color advice.
The Shirt Color Matters too
Screen printing on dark colored shirts usually costs more than printing on light colored shirts. The reasoning behind this is that to display ink colors in their full vibrance on dark garments, a ink underlay is required. The ink underlay is put on, and then your design’s true colors are put on over it. Many screen printers call this process “flash”, and it adds a small cost to each print.
If your design requires a digital print, it is normally not even possible to digitally print on a dark shirt. This means that if you’re design uses many colors (5 and up), print it on a light colored shirt. If you want to print it on a dark shirt, it will require screen printing and the huge setup fee will probably cause the overall price to be much higher than if you were to print it on a light shirt with digital printing.
In general, printing your design on light colored shirts is cheaper than dark colored shirts (as a sidenote, light colored shirts are normally cheaper than dark colored shirts as well).
The Number of Prints matters as well
If you only have one design that goes on the front, then your shirt will only require one print. If you have another design that you want to place on the back, your shirt will require two prints. If you have yet another one that you wish to place on the sleeve, the shirt will need three prints.
Each print that your shirt requires costs money, so limit how many places you plan on printing on. Usually shirt printers can fit prints within a 12′ by 18′ rectangle, so keep your custom shirt design within those proportions to avoid paying more.
If you have any other questions, usually custom shirt companies have representatives who are willing to help you make your design as high-quality and affordable as possible.
Remember, to save money, make sure your design uses as few colors as possible and print it on light colored shirts. I hope this guide helped you understand the relationship between your custom t-shirt design, and the cost associated with it.