How do I design a t-shirt?

How Do I Design a T-Shirt?

So you want to design your own custom t-shirt, huh? You’ve come to the right place. STL Shirt Co. is a St. Louis screen printing and custom design authority. With a team of extensively trained, union-member screen printers and talented professional designers, we can make your wildest custom screen printing t-shirt dreams into a reality.

Our customers choose STL Shirt Co for their screen printing needs because they recognize our commitment to craftsmanship, quality materials, and personalized customer service. Whether you already have a logo made up that you want to get onto shirts or you would prefer to leave all the designing to us, we are here to meet your custom screen printing needs from beginning to end. You can begin right now by calling us at 636-926-2777, texting us at 636-099-0162, or requesting a quote online.

How To Design a T-Shirt

Unless you’re a fashion designer by trade, it’s not every day you get a chance to dictate exactly what the apparel in your wardrobe looks like. When you’re lucky enough to have an event that calls for custom t-shirts, it can be a lot of fun to create the design yourself. But it can also be daunting. STL Shirt Co. is here to assist you with your screen printing order in St. Louis or anywhere in the United States and can be as involved or as hands-off as you’d like. Send in your own completed design image file for us to screen print, have us create the design for you, or go somewhere in between by giving us a starting point and referring to our team to tweak the details.

Elements of T-Shirt Design


When designing a logo for screen printing on a shirt or other type of apparel, size matters. To determine the right sizing for your image, you’ll have to think about what type of apparel you will be printing on. Do you want crew-neck t-shirts, v neck t-shirts, tanks, hoodies, long-sleeved tees? All of the above? The sizing for a design printed on a tank top may need to be different than one going on a hoodie.

There are a couple of things to consider with size and screen printing. First, the plastisol ink used in screen printing has a texture. We use quality inks with a soft hand-feel, but a huge, solid area of ink can be stiff and may not be the most comfortable. Second, many logos are circular or square in shape, and they usually appear larger than they are. Go against your instinct and make your logo slightly smaller.

Pro tip: cut out a sketch or print of your design on a piece of paper and hold it up against your shirt. Look in the mirror to get a sense of how the design will look in that size.

Location and Placement

Design location placement in screen printing also depends on the style of apparel you will be ordering. Location in screen printing design describes where on the garment your design is. Examples of common locations are full front, full back, left breast, sleeve, etc. Obviously, some locations are applicable to some garment styles and not others. (If you want a sleeve print on a tank top, we’ll refer you to the nearest tattoo shop).

Placement, then, refers to the specific metrics within the location where the design is printed. Count on our screen printing team to make sure your designs are printed in correct alignment and not off-center or at an angle.


Most (but not all) custom shirt designs include some amount of text. No pressure, but the typeface (the font) you select has as much impact on your message as the words it displays. Take your time to explore options and pick the ones that speak to you the most. A basketball team jersey calls for a much different typeface than what would be appropriate on a corporate work uniform or a bridal shower tee. Add an extra level of interest by using multiple fonts, but be sure to limit yourself to just two or three.


Here comes the fun part: picking out the pretty colors! Remember that you have the garment color to select in addition to the ink colors for the print. For most uses, screen-printed apparel is best with bold colors in high contrast from the color of the shirt material. As a rule of thumb, light-colored t-shirts look best with dark-colored ink and dark-colored shirts work best with light ink colors.

For the ink colors in your design, bust out the good ol’ color wheel and brush up on your basic color theory. Screen-printed designs work best with a limited number of colors. Again, three is the magic number here. There are some exceptions, but designs with many colors get difficult and costly.

Pro tip: If you are working with a brand, team, or other entity with specific colors already established, ask our team about color matching! We will work to get you the exact ink color you need.


Sometimes the hardest part of designing a custom screen printing logo is knowing when to say when. Be careful not to over-design your logo for your t-shirt. Less is often more. It is easier to make out, more effective, and usually looks a lot better. Make use of negative space and use details sparingly. After all, you want people to be able to make out what your custom shirt is about, and the human brain can only process so much information at once.

Design Custom T-Shirts | STL Shirt Co

Get your custom screen printed apparel from STL Shirt Co. We will work with you to make sure the finished product exceeds your expectations in quality and style. If you want to try your hand at designing your own t-shirt logo, be our guest! If you’d like a little extra design help from our professional designers or want to hand over the creative reigns to us completely, we’ve got your back too!

At STL Shirt Co, screen printing is our passion and we are dedicated to making every shirt, hoodie, hat, and other product we print look amazing. If you have more questions about designing a logo for your custom order or would like to place an order today, contact us today. Simply fill out this form or give us a call now. Happy designing!