How To Put A Picture On A Shirt

It is no surprise that making your own shirts has become an increasingly popular practice, seeing as there is a whole world of creating custom clothing options out there and so many different ways to go about making or buying them. 

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If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to create your own custom t-shirts, then this article is going to be perfect for you!

We’ll show you how to put a picture on a shirt using a wide range of techniques, from screen printing to embroidery.

You don’t have to be adept at arts and crafts in order to create your own shirts, as you will see throughout this article. In fact, we think it may even be easier than you might imagine! 

First, let’s take a look at some of the general history in regard to shirt making before we go into how you can go about creating your own.

How To Put A Picture On A Shirt

The History Of The Shirt

Have you ever wondered about how our everyday items got their humble beginnings? The shirt is worn every day as it can get, so it probably isn’t something that you think about in terms of origin stories.

But that doesn’t make it any less interesting!  

Shirts have been around since ancient times, but they started becoming more common during the Middle Ages. During this time period, people wore long-sleeved tunics or cloaks with short sleeves.

As time went by, however, people began wearing shorter-sleeved garments, which eventually led to the development of the modern-day shirt.

During the Renaissance era, people were very interested in fashion and art, and they wanted to express themselves through their clothing. This was when the first printed designs came into existence.

By the 17th century, people had begun to wear shirts with collars, which helped to distinguish them from other men.

During the 19th century, people began to wear vests over their shirts, which made them feel more comfortable while working outside.

The 20th century saw the introduction of the button-down collar, which was a huge step forward in terms of comfort. 

The History Of Shirt Making

As mentioned above, shirts have been around for thousands of years. However, they didn’t start being mass-produced until the early 1900s.

At this point, companies like Levi Strauss & Co. became extremely successful because they were able to produce high-quality products at affordable prices.

Today, there are several methods available when it comes to making shirts and putting your own pictures on them.

You don’t need any special skills in order to make these types of items, and we’ve got all the information you need right here. So let’s get started!

Screen Printing

This method involves using a stencil to transfer ink onto a piece of fabric. It works best if you want to use a simple design, such as a logo or monogram.

Screen printing is fairly inexpensive, and it allows you to print up to 10 colors at one time.

To begin, you’ll need to find a suitable fabric. Then, cut out the shape of the image you want to use. Next, place the stencil on top of the fabric, and trace the outline of the design with a permanent marker.

Remove the stencil, and apply the ink to the backside of the fabric. Repeat this process until you’ve covered the entire area you want to print. Finally, iron the fabric to ensure that the ink has completely dried.

What You Will Need To Screen Print Your Own Shirts

  • Fabric
  • Permanent Marker
  • Stencil
  • Ironing Board
  • Iron
  • Paper Towels

You can also screen print directly onto t-shirts, sweatshirts, jackets, hats, bags, and just about anything else you can think of.

Direct To Garment (DTG) Printing

With this method, you can transfer an image directly onto the material itself. This means that you won’t have to worry about the ink bleeding through the fabric.

To begin, choose a piece of cloth that will work well with your design. Once you’ve picked the fabric, take a look at the instructions included with your product.

These should tell you how many times you’ll need the ink to cover the entire surface.

Next, prepare the fabric by cutting out the shape of your design. If you’re planning on using a pattern, then you’ll need tracing paper to help you draw the lines.

Otherwise, you can simply use scissors to cut out the shape.

Next, place the fabric face down on a flat surface. Place the stencil on top, and trace the outlines of the design with a pencil. Remove the stencil and apply the ink to both sides of the fabric.

Repeat the process until you’re done. Finally, iron the fabric to remove any excess ink.

What You Will Need For Direct To Garment Printing

  • Fabric (preferably cotton)
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Inkjet Printer
  • Tape Measure
  • Tracing Paper
  • Iron
  • Ironing Board

Felt Painting

If you’re looking to add a unique, personal and artistic touch to your shirts, then felt painting could be just what you’re after. This technique involves applying paint directly onto the surface of the material.

Felt painting is great for adding details, such as flowers or animals.

You’ll need to choose a color palette that matches the theme of your shirt. Then, carefully remove the backing paper from the felt.

Place the felt on top of the desired section of the shirt, and press firmly so that the paint adheres to the fabric. Once the paint has dried, you can either leave it alone or go ahead and embellish it further.

Once you’ve finished painting the shirt, you can sew the pieces together if necessary. Alternatively, you can hot glue each individual piece in place.

If you choose the hot glue route, make sure to allow plenty of time for the glue to dry before wearing the shirt, and be extra careful not to burn yourself. 

What You Will Need For Felt Painting

  • Felt
  • Paintbrush
  • Paint Palette
  • Shirt
  • Backing Paper
  • Sewing Machine
  • Thread
  • Needle
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Glue Sticks



Embroidering is another popular way to put your own picture on a shirt. This method requires you to use thread to stitch an intricate pattern onto the fabric.

If you’re not familiar with embroidery, then you might want to consider taking some classes before attempting this project!

First, you’ll want to create a template by tracing the design you want to use onto card stock. Cut out the shape of the design, and glue the template onto the front of the shirt.

Next, take a pair of scissors and carefully cut along the lines of the template. Make sure to keep the edges straight, otherwise the stitches will look messy.

Next, take a needle and thread, and sew through the holes left behind by the scissors. Once the stitching is complete, you can trim off the excess threads.

Now, you can simply wash away the remaining pieces of paper, and enjoy your new creation.

What Materials You Will Need To Embroider A Shirt

  • Cardboard Template
  • Scissors
  • Needle
  • Thread
  • Shirt

Permanent Markers

Another option you may want to explore is using permanent markers. These work well for creating designs that won’t fade over time.

The only downside to this method is that you’ll need a steady hand to avoid smudging the ink.

The first step is to draw the design you want to have printed on your shirt. Then, place the stencil over the design, and trace its outlines with a permanent marker.

After removing the stencil, you can start transferring the ink to the fabric.

Once the ink has been applied, you can repeat the process until you’re satisfied with the results. You should also make sure to clean the ink off the stencil regularly.

What You Will Need To Create A Shirt With Permanent Markers

  • Designs
  • Permanent Marker Pen
  • Stencil
  • Fabric
  • Clean-up Brush
  • Washcloth


Finally, you may want to try using a stencil. Stencils are available in many different shapes and sizes. They come in handy when you want to create a specific design without having to worry about ruining your shirt.

For example, if you’d like to create a flower-themed shirt, then you can use a stencil to transfer the petals of a rose onto the fabric. 

What You Will Need To Create Your Own Shirt Via Stencils

  • Designs
  • Stencil
  • Fabric
  • Cleaning Cloth
  • Clean-up Brush
  • Iron

Transferring Images Using Heat Transfer Paper

Heat transfer paper is another excellent choice for transferring images onto clothing. It works in much the same way as regular heat transfer paper.

The only difference is that you’ll be using a special kind of paper instead. The best part about heat transfer paper is that it comes in many different colors.

So, if you don’t like the color of the original print, you can always change it. To create a custom image, you’ll need to follow these steps:

First, you’ll need a piece of heat transfer paper. Next, you’ll need an inkjet printer. Finally, you’ll need some blank pieces of cloth. Place the heat transfer paper onto the backside of the blank shirt.

Then, press the heat transfer paper firmly against the front side of the shirt. When you remove the heat transfer paper, you’ll see the image appear on the shirt.

Now, you just need to iron the new image onto the shirt.

What You Will Need To Create Your Own Shirt With Heat Transfer Paper

  • Inkjet Printer
  • Blank Piece Of Fabric
  • Heat Transfer Paper
  • Iron

Using Fabric Paint

Another way to transfer images onto clothing is to use fabric paints. These paints are designed specifically for transferring images onto fabrics.

You can also use them to decorate items such as pillows, curtains, and rugs.

To start, you’ll place a small amount of fabric paint onto a clean surface. Then, carefully spread the paint over the entire area where you want to transfer the image. Finally, wait until the paint has dried completely. 

Now, you can take the design you printed onto paper, and place it on top of the painted fabric. Once again, you should hold the design firmly against the fabric while pressing down.

When you lift the design away, you’re left with a permanent picture on the fabric.

What You Will Need To Make Your Own Shirt with Fabric Paint

  • Fabric Paint
  • Clean Surface
  • Design Printed Onto Paper
  • Image Transfer
  • Paint Brush
  • Iron

Wax Paper

Wax paper is also a viable method of transferring images onto shirts. This type of paper has been around since ancient times and was used by people who wanted to make their own clothes.

Wax paper is made from wax coated on both sides of a thin sheet of paper. Because wax paper is so durable, it’s perfect for creating temporary designs.

To begin, you’ll need to cut out your desired design. Then, apply a layer of wax paper to one side of the design. Press the other side of the design into the wax paper.

Wait until the wax paper dries completely before removing the design. Now, you can use this design to create a unique shirt.

What You’ll Need To Make Your Own Shirts With Wax Paper

  • Cut Out Design
  • Paper Towel
  • Pencil
  • Wax Paper
  • Iron

Vinyl Decal Printing

You can also put vinyl decals on your shirt. Vinyl decals are available at most stores that sell T-shirts. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and can even be customized.

The first step in making a vinyl decal is to choose a shape or design that you’d like to have on your shirt. Then, you’ll need to find a suitable location for placing the decal.

For example, you could place the decal on the inside of the collar. Or, you could place it on the outside of the sleeve.

Once you’ve selected a spot for the decal, you’ll need to decide whether you want to print the decal directly onto the shirt or if you want to add another layer between the shirt and the decal.

If you’re printing the decal directly onto your shirt, then you will need to prepare the shirt first.

Next, you’ll need to select a color for the decal. The best colors to use are those that match the color of your shirt. However, you can also use any color you wish.

After choosing a color, you’ll need to heat up the decal using an iron. This allows the ink to melt and stick to the shirt. If you don’t want to use an iron, you can simply spray the decal with water.

This will help the ink adhere to the shirt.

Finally, remove the decal from the iron and gently peel off the backing material. Place the decal on the front of your shirt. Be sure not to leave any air bubbles underneath the decal.

Otherwise, the decal may peel off when you wash your shirt. Cotton swabs are great tools for cleaning up after vinyl decal printing.

Cotton swabs are similar to Q-tips, but they’re longer. Use them to clean up any excess ink that might remain on the surface of the decal.

What You Will Need To Transfer An Image Onto A Shirt Via Vinyl Decal Printing

  • Shirt
  • Decal Maker
  • Inkjet Printer
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Glue Stick
  • Iron
  • Cotton Swabs
  • Iron

Parchment Paper

Another option for creating custom apparel is parchment paper. Parchment paper is made out of cellulose fibers and vegetable oil. As a result, it creates a smooth finish when applied to a fabric.

This means that you won’t have to worry about wrinkles or creases while applying the material. Plus, you can use parchment paper to make everything from simple decorations to intricate patterns.

To begin, simply cut the parchment paper into strips. Then, place each strip onto the shirt. Once you’ve completed this step, you can start adding additional layers of parchment paper until you get the desired effect.

You can also use parchment paper to transfer images onto other types of materials. For example, you could use it to transfer images onto wallpaper, wood, glass, plastic, metal, canvas, and leather.

What You Will Need To Transfer An Image Onto A Shirt With Parchment Paper

  • Parchment Paper
  • Sewing machine
  • Iron
  • Shirt

Using Regular Paint

Using Regular Paint

One final method for making custom shirts involves painting them directly. In fact, this technique was used in Ancient Egypt.

It involved placing an image onto a piece of linen and then covering it with a mixture of water and pigment. The resulting cloth would be worn by royalty.

Of course, modern versions of this process involve using a variety of different techniques. For instance, you might choose to spray paint the shirt instead of using traditional paints.

Or, you could print the image directly onto the fabric using inkjet printers.

Regardless of which method you decide to use, you will need to follow some basic steps. First, you will need to clean the shirt thoroughly. Next, you will need to create a stencil.

Finally, you will need to apply the paint to the shirt. Here is a handy step-by-step when it comes to using regular paint.

What You Will Need To Transfer An Image Onto A Shirt With Paint

  • Clean Shirt
  • Stencil
  • Spray Gun
  • Inkjet Printer
  • Painter’s Tape
  • Pencil
  • Brush

A Cricut Machine

If you really want to go above and beyond, you can even use a Cricut machine to create a custom shirt. These machines work much like a printer does.

However, they also come equipped with a number of cutting tools. This means that you can use them to make custom designs on any type of material. 

This includes fabric, vinyl, cardboard, paper, and even wood. Of course, these machines cost quite a bit. But, if you plan on creating a lot of custom shirts, you will likely find that they are worth the investment.

Which Cricut Machine Is Best For Making Custom Shirts?

There are a few different Cricut models, but there are only a few that you can effectively use to make your own custom shirts.

The best Cricut for this is the Cricut Explore Air 2 because it has a built-in cutting mat and is able to cut fabric. 

The second option is the Cricut Maker Select, which is also great for this purpose. Both machines are fairly easy to use and offer a lot of options, as well as being able to cut through multiple layers of fabric at once.

How To Make A Custom Shirt With A Cricut Machine

Step 1 – Choose Fabric

First, you will need to decide what kind of fabric you would like to use. Some people prefer to use plain white cotton t-shirts. Others prefer to use patterned fabrics.

Whatever fabric you choose, you will need to ensure that it is thick enough so that it doesn’t tear easily. 

It’s important to note that the thicker the fabric, the longer it will take to dry after printing.

Step 2 – Cut Out The Image

Once you have selected your fabric, you will need to cut out the shape of the design you want to create. To do this, you will need to open up your Cricut machine. Next, you’ll select your Create Scrapbooking cartridge. 

After selecting the cartridge, you will click on the “Create” button. When prompted, you will need to set the size and orientation of the image. When done, you will be ready to start creating your custom shirt.

Step 3 – Print Your Design

Now that you have created your design, you will need to print it onto the fabric. To do this with the Cricut Explore, you will first need to turn on the printer.

Next, you will load the appropriate cartridge into the machine. Once loaded, you will place the fabric over the cutting bed. 

Now, you will need to position the fabric so that the design lines up correctly. Make sure that the top edge of the fabric is aligned with the bottom edge of the cutting bed.

Finally, you will press the Start/Resume button. After pressing the button, the machine will begin to work its magic.

Step 4 – Prepare The Back Of The T-Shirt

Before you go any further, you will need to prepare the back of the t-shirt. In order to do this, you will first need scissors. Next, you’ll need to cut away some of the excess fabric from the edges of the shirt. 

Cutting away the extra fabric allows the printed design to show through better. You should try to keep the cuts as small as possible. This way, you won’t have to worry about ruining the shirt when you put it together later.

Step 5 – Sew It All Together

Now that you have prepared everything, it’s time to sew the pieces together. For this step, you will need an iron and sewing thread. Begin by placing one side of the shirt over the other.

Then, align the two sides so that they line up perfectly. Next, you should pin them in place. 

If you’re using a regular sewing machine, you may need to adjust the stitch length. However, if you’re using a serger machine, then you shouldn’t need to make any adjustments.

Step 6 – Finish Up!

At this point, you should be finished putting the shirt together. However, there are still a few things left to do before the final product is complete.

First, you will need to hem the raw edges of the shirt. This will help prevent fraying and give the shirt a professional look. Second, you will need to finish off the sleeves. The easiest way to do this is to use bias tape. 

Bias tape is essentially a strip of material that has been folded in half. The end result is a piece of fabric that is slightly wider than the width of the sleeve.

Using a seam ripper, cut along the fold of the bias tape. Next, fold the tape down and secure it with pins.

Lastly, trim away the excess tape and your custom t-shirt should be complete! 

What You Will Need To Make A Custom Shirt With A Cricut Machine

  • Cricut Machine 
  • Fabric
  • Cardboard
  • Paper
  • Paint
  • Scissors
  • Glue Stick

Buying A Custom Shirt Online

Buying A Custom Shirt Online

Another way of obtaining a shirt with a custom image is to buy it online. Many companies offer this service. They will take care of the printing, cutting, and sewing.

All you need to do is provide them with the design, and they will take care of the rest.

Of course, there are many benefits to buying your shirt online. One benefit is convenience. Buying shirts online means that you don’t have to leave home to get them.

Another benefit is cost savings. Since you aren’t paying for all sorts of different materials or machines, you can save money.

Of course, there are drawbacks as well. For one thing, you may not always receive exactly what you ordered. This happens because most companies only print up to 10 shirts at a time.

Also, since you aren’t ordering directly from the manufacturer, you’ll never know how long it takes for your shirt to arrive.

Transferring A Photograph Onto A Shirt

If it’s a photograph that you want to put on a shirt, then you can transfer it directly onto the shirt. You will need a special type of printer called a heat press.

A heat press allows you to apply heat to paper or plastic. Then, you can remove the paper or plastic from the heat press and use it to create something new. 

To begin transferring the picture onto the shirt, first prepare the shirt. This means removing any labels or designs from the shirt. Next, lay out the shirt on top of the paper or plastic.

Then, place the heat press over the shirt. Finally, set the temperature control dial to high. 

Once the heat press is ready, start pressing the button. Continue pressing until the entire shirt is covered with the photo. When done, remove the shirt from the heat press and let it cool.

Now, you can iron the shirt to ensure that the transferred design stays flat. After that, you can wear the shirt proudly!

What You Will Need To Transfer A Photo To A Shirt With A Heat Press

  • Heat Press
  • Shirt
  • Photo (Optional)
  • Ironing Board
  • Printed Paper
  • Pencil
  • Tape

Now that we have looked at a wide variety of different ways to transfer images onto a shirt, let’s have a look at what materials are the best to use when creating your own shirts. 

Is There A Material That Is Best For Making A Custom Shirt?

There are many types of material that you can use to make a shirt. Some of these include vinyl, canvas, leather, and even felt. Each material has its advantages and disadvantages.

So, which one is the best option for making a custom shirt?

The answer depends on what kind of shirt you want to make. If you want to make a simple T-Shirt, then a plain white cotton shirt would be perfect.

However, if you want to make an embroidered shirt, then you should go for a fabric like velvet or silk. These fabrics are very expensive, but they also last much longer than other fabrics.

In addition, if you want to create a unique design, then you should choose a material that is easy to work with.

For example, if you want to transfer a photograph onto a shirt, then you should use a material that is flexible enough to do this. But, if you want to sew a custom shirt, then you should pick something that is sturdy.

So, in conclusion, the best material to use when making a custom shirt is whatever you feel comfortable using. The important thing is to find a material that works for you.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What Should I Do When My Design Isn’t Printing Properly?

Sometimes, when printing a design onto a shirt, the image gets distorted. This happens because the ink used to print the design isn’t strong enough.

However, there are things you can do to fix this problem. First, try applying more ink. You can either add more ink by using a brush or spray bottle.

Or, you can increase the amount of time that the shirt spends under the heat press.

If neither of those methods works, then you might need to change the type of ink that you are using. Try changing the color of the ink or switching between two colors.

Also, you may need to experiment with different settings on the heat press.

Can I Use Different Types Of Ink To Print My Designs?

Yes, you can use any type of ink that you want. However, some inks are better suited to certain designs.

For example, if your design includes small details, then you should use an ink that has a high resolution. But, if you are designing a large picture, then you should use ink that prints quickly.

What Is A Heat Press, And How Does It Work?

A heat press is a machine that uses heat to transfer images from paper onto a cloth. They are usually found in commercial printers.

You can buy a heat press online or in stores. In fact, you can even get them delivered straight to your door.

When it comes to buying a heat press, you have lots of choices. You can choose between a manual model or an automatic model.

Manual presses require you to manually place the item underneath the heat press. Whereas, automatic presses automatically place the items beneath the heat press.

The main difference between the two types of presses is how well they perform. Automatic models are generally faster and easier to use. However, manual presses tend to produce higher-quality results.

Where Can I Buy Personalized Shirts Online?

There are many websites where you can buy personalized shirts online. Some of these sites include Zazzle, CafePress, and

Zazzle allows you to upload pictures of yourself and create customized t-shirts. All you need to do is select a design, pick a size, and customize the text.

CafePress lets you create custom t-shirts at home. You simply upload a photo and then select the design, font style, and color scheme. Once everything is set, you just click “Create Your T-shirt!” also offers a wide variety of customizable products, including t-shirts. You can upload a photo and then choose a design, font, and color scheme.

The site also gives you the option to personalize the back of the shirt.

Final Thoughts

Designing your own t-shirt is easy, but creating it takes practice and patience to perfect your skills.

As you can see, there are tons of different ways to go about putting an image on a shirt, whether it’s a photograph or your own drawing or embroidery pattern. 

No matter which way you decide to go about it, you are sure to find a method that suits you with the vast array of options we have provided. 

So, what are you waiting for? Start creating some awesome designs today!

Amanda Brown

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