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HomeDIYFashion Your Own Style: DIY Apparel Printing Basics

Fashion Your Own Style: DIY Apparel Printing Basics

Fashion Your Own Style: DIY Apparel Printing Basics

Are you tired of seeing the same old designs on all your clothes? Want to have personalized apparel that no one else has? Look no further than DIY apparel printing! Not only is it a creative outlet, but it’s also an easy way to show off your unique style. Here are some basics to get you started:

Choosing Your Material

The first step in DIY apparel printing is choosing what material you want to print on. Common choices include t-shirts, tote bags, and hats. Keep in mind that different materials may require different types of ink or printing methods.


T-shirts are the most popular choice for DIY printing. They come in a variety of colors and styles, and can be purchased at most craft stores or online. Cotton t-shirts are ideal for printing on because they absorb ink well and are easy to work with.

Tote Bags

Tote bags are a great alternative to t-shirts. They can be used for carrying groceries or as a fashion accessory. Canvas tote bags are a good choice because they are durable and hold up well under printing.


If you’re feeling adventurous, try printing on a hat! Baseball caps are the most common choice, but any style will work. Keep in mind that hats may require a different type of ink or printing method.

Choosing Your Ink

Once you’ve chosen your material, it’s time to pick your ink. There are two main types of ink: screen printing ink and heat transfer vinyl.

Screen Printing Ink

Screen printing ink is the most common type of ink used for DIY apparel printing. It is applied to the fabric using a stencil and a squeegee. Screen printing ink is ideal for large batches of prints because it’s fast and efficient.

Heat Transfer Vinyl

Heat transfer vinyl (HTV) is another popular option for DIY printing. It’s applied to the fabric using heat and pressure. HTV is ideal for smaller batches of prints because each print needs to be done individually.

Preparing Your Design

Before you start printing, you need to prepare your design. This can be done using a computer program or by hand.

Computer Programs

If you’re using a computer program, make sure to use a vector image. Vector images can be resized without losing quality, which is important for printing. Popular programs for designing apparel include Adobe Illustrator and CorelDRAW.

By Hand

If you’re drawing your design by hand, make sure to use a permanent marker or ink. Pencil marks will not show up on the fabric. You can also use stencils if you’re not confident in your drawing skills.

Printing Your Design

Now it’s time to print your design! Here’s how to do it using both screen printing ink and HTV.

Screen Printing Ink

  1. Create a stencil of your design using a piece of paper, stencil film, or a vinyl cutter.
  2. Place your fabric on a flat surface and secure it with tape or a screen printing frame.
  3. Place your stencil on top of the fabric, making sure it’s centered and secure.
  4. Apply a small amount of ink to the top of the stencil.
  5. Drag a squeegee across the stencil, applying pressure to transfer the ink onto the fabric.
  6. Lift the stencil and allow the ink to dry before washing.

Heat Transfer Vinyl

  1. Cut your design out of the HTV using a vinyl cutter.
  2. Peel away the excess vinyl, leaving only your design on the backing.
  3. Preheat your fabric for 2-3 seconds.
  4. Place your design face down on your fabric.
  5. Apply heat and pressure using an iron or a heat press for 20-30 seconds.
  6. Peel away the backing, leaving your design on the fabric.


DIY apparel printing is a fun and easy way to express yourself through fashion. With just a few supplies and some creativity, you can have personalized apparel that no one else has. Remember to choose your material and ink carefully, prepare your design, and follow the printing instructions closely. So go ahead, and let your creativity run wild!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What kind of ink is best for printing on dark fabric?

A: White or light-colored ink is best for printing on dark fabric. This is because dark ink will not show up well on dark fabric.

Q: Can I print on polyester fabric?

A: Yes, but you may need a different type of ink or printing method. Polyester fabric has a slick surface that can make it difficult for ink to adhere to.

Q: How do I wash my printed apparel?

A: Wash your apparel inside out in cold water and hang dry. Avoid using bleach or fabric softeners.

Q: Can I reuse my stencil or vinyl?

A: Yes, with proper care, stencils and vinyl can be reused multiple times.

Q: Can I print photographs on my apparel?

A: Yes, but you will need a different type of ink or printing method. Photographs require a higher level of detail than simple designs.

Q: Can I print on leather or suede fabric?

A: Yes, but you will need a different type of ink or printing method. Leather and suede fabric require a special ink that can adhere to the surface.

Q: Can I print on my shoes?

A: Yes, but you will need a different type of ink or printing method. Shoes require a specialized ink that can handle the surface.


  • “DIY Apparel Printing 101” by The Spruce Crafts
  • “How to Screen Print T-Shirts at Home” by The DIY Mommy
  • “How to Customize Tote Bags With Heat Transfer Vinyl” by The Crafty Blog Stalker


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