Insider tips for your merch printing job

One of the beauties of creating your own custom merch is the freedom. After all, it’s up to you: the design, the thickness of the garment, the labels. It’s a world of possibility, where there’s all the scope to create something to fit your product, campaign, or business – whatever it is your personalised t-shirts are for. 

If you’re new to the t-shirt printing process, however, it can all seem a bit overwhelming. There are a lot of options to choose between, and it can seem like your idea for promotional tees has all of a sudden gotten more complicated than you anticipated.

But not to fear: our staff at ICON are happy to discuss any options for prospective orders, and can help identify what might be best to bring your idea to life. And what’s more, we’ve rounded up five tips on how you can get great results out of your custom t-shirt, or how to do something a little different.

5 insider tricks to create quality printed t-shirts

1. Get detailed designs with screen printing – by using a half-tone print

The typical screen print job involves simple “spot colour” designs, where the screens used have different sized holes for the ink to pass through onto the garment, but in a pattern which is consistent. For many designs, ones that are simple and clear, this is exactly what you want. 

However, if you’d like to use screen printing for a design that has more visual depth, or is more detailed, then one option can be half-tone printing. In this method, the screen used to print the design has holes for the ink to pass through that are consistently sized, but varying their placement. 

To put it simply, this means dots are clustered together in darker sections of the image, and more dispersed in lighter sections. For this reason, it can be used to create tonal variation in your design. 

2. Simplify photos for screen printing

Creating a simplified, artworked version of a photo can be the best way to screen print it onto a t-shirt. As well as making it cheaper and simpler to screen print, it also adds a flavour of originality to your merch. Rather than exactly reproducing the image, you’ve given it a twist to show it in a different light. If it’s a cult or famous photo, especially, it’s a way of stamping your own identity onto it

If you are dead set on an exact reproduction of the photo, then direct-to-garment (DTG) printing is the way to go. (Head here for more on printing photos.) Additionally, though, you may be able to achieve a realistic screen print of your photo using the half-tone method above. 

3. Make a statement with 3D puff

Sometimes, you just want to have something that’s loud and attention-grabbing. Say hello to 3D puff: as the name suggests, this is a 3D, chunky material that you can use for a logo or design on your t-shirt. It’s bold and in your face, and could be ideal for a brand that’s got a playful side.

4. Screen print on inside neck

Adding your own labels to your t-shirts can be a great way to really personalise them. However, for smaller orders (below 500 units), it’s not possible to use woven labels – the more premium type.

One solution, however, is screen printing on the inside neck of the t-shirts instead. This is possible on small orders (of 20 units and above), and still allows you to add an extra stamp of originality to your product. 

(Head here for more on custom labels.)

5. Create something classy with embroidery

Embroidery can be a great way to add a touch of class to a t-shirt. People often associate embroidery with baseball caps, but it can be a great choice for some custom t-shirts too. In particular, if you have a small, simple logo or a neat little design, stitching it into a t-shirt can be a wonderful touch.

Want to print custom t-shirts for your business? ICON Printing offer fast turnaround printing with an emphasis on providing sustainable and eco-friendly options. We count clients ranging from the Tate to Boiler Room and WeWork. Get a quote in 2 minutes online.