How To Design A Shirt On A Budget


If you’re trying to design a shirt on a budget, this article is for you! It will not only keep you on financial track, but also save you loads of time. This list includes things such as checking for hidden fees, minimizing your colors as well as our best kept secret!

Build your inventory

Start building up your vector art inventory so you can pull from it for a later project. T-shirt design services or freelance designers can cost upwards of $500 and more, so if you have the skills and capacity to do it, save yourself the money and start creating for fun in your free time. Down the road, you could potentially combine two or more ideas into one to design the perfect shirt for your budget.

Check for hidden fees

While looking for a t-shirt screen-printing company, make sure to check the small copy for hidden fees. If you want to design a shirt for cheap, check for charges like “setup”, “startup” or “screen fees”. Believe it or not a lot of promotional printers add on an additional fee to your base cost for multiple colors, locations, sizes, etc. and you might not see it until it’s too late. When you receive a quote, look it over carefully to make sure there there’s no surprises!


Submit proper art files

Submitting proper art files will eliminate any additional art cost when you’re trying to design a shirt on a budget. A proper art file usually consist of a print ready file such as an ai, eps or PDF. Also, before you submit your files, make sure the fonts are “converted to outlines” or attached to your order, all linked images are embedded and the text in your design is legible. Looking over and checking off these details will set your shirt up for success

Choose the right shirt

The “right” shirt is obviously one that fits your budget, but it also means choosing a brand that’s good quality and will last. We’ve said it before: it can seem expensive to pay for custom printed t shirts, but it’s more expensive to pay for a shirt that no one is going to wear. So what kind of shirts do people actually want to wear? They want super soft, long lasting and memorable t-shirts. There’s a good number of products that fall into this category, but if you’re looking for something more specific, we can help you find it.

Minimize colors and locations

It is possible to print anywhere from 1 to 12 colors on your t-shirt here at Real Thread. Depending on your t-shirt printing budget, you can add or reduce the total number of colors and locations in your design to meet your needs. The more colors, the more expensive. Keep in mind there are other shortcuts to “add” more colors without adding cost. One of the coolest ways to do this is by using negative space (or in this case the t-shirt color) in the design as an additional color.


Finalize your turnaround time

The standard turnaround time at Real Thread is 10 business days. The term “standard” refers to orders that do not include additional services such as tag printing. Adding additional services only add a day or two to your final turnaround time. If you know what date you need your shirts by, our team can work with you to figure out when you need to order by to get them in time. Ordering with time to spare will help you avoid any last minute rush fees, save your money and keep you on track with your budget.

Hit price breaks (BEST KEPT SECRET!)

Increasing your total number of shirts might not only help you stay on budget, but it could also save you money when designing your next shirt on a budget! Yep, that’s right - adding another shirt or two might bump you up to the next price break which can drop the price per shirt down. For instance, if you’ve requested 48 shirts with a 1 color front on Next Level Apparel, you’re looking at about $9.76/shirt. By increasing your total number of shirts to 50 (adding 2 more pieces), the price will drop down to $7.59/shirt. We’re not making this stuff up folks; check out the quick quote calculator here.


Download free resources

If you’re designing a t shirt on a budget, find and use all the free resources you can to create printed tags, hem tags, textures and more! Just pop in your logo and website, submit with the rest of your art and you’re good to go.

Now that you know all the tricks of the trade for staying on track with your shirt budget, you will be able to confidently place your order, knowing you’ve saved money and time. Pull from your vector art inventory, download some free resources and start building your next shirt now!


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