The Ultimate Guide to Designing Apparels that Inspire

What’s not to love in a t-shirt? They are comfortable, easy-to-maintain, and you can customize them for any occasion. But did you know, t-shirts were not always as popular as they are today? Categorized as underwear, stars like John Wayne, Marlon Brando, James Dean, and others made it the rage it is today!

The humble t-shirt from the yesteryears has become a league in itself. Even if you wore a new t-shirt every single day of the rest of your life, you could never run out of unique designs. Pop-culture-inspired, message t-shirts, or the good ol’ white polo, the list is endless.

So, if you want to wear your thoughts and make heads turn, personalized graphic tees and prints are your Holy Grail. Read on to find everything you need to know about designing great t-shirts (or any apparel) that not only express your feelings but also inspire everybody around you! 

The Devil is in the Details – What Makes for a Good T-Shirt?

The answer is pretty simple. Anything you wear should feel like your skin. While some forms of apparel defy the meaning of comfort in all manners possible, a t-shirt can never go wrong when it comes to comfort.

However, it doesn’t mean they are boring. Actually, it cannot be farther away from the truth! So, before you get to the part where it’s all about how to design the perfect message t-shirt, let’s understand what makes a t-shirt worth your money. 

  • Fabric is the king.

Comfort had to be the first point! A t-shirt is a comfort personified. There is a reason why something that was once considered underwear is basically one of the most commonly found apparels in every American wardrobe. Think of the occasion before you choose the fabric. Cotton (pure or mixed with synthetic fibers) is the indisputable king of materials for everyday wear t-shirts. Polyester and other synthetic fibers work great as athleisure.

  • Frayed ends don’t cut it.

Finesse is very important for any good apparel and accessory. But it becomes all the more critical when zeroing in on t-shirts. Make sure you check the quality of stitching about the edge of the fabric (the little crisscross going all around the hemline). 

If you do not seal the raw ends of the fabric, one wash later, you’ll see some frayed ends all around the seams. The main sign of any good quality t-shirt (or any apparel/accessory)is that you shouldn’t be able to tell which is the ‘right’ side! That’s the level of finesse you should look for. 

  • Color me happy

It may be a plain white t-shirt on the outside (and from far), but the color difference, even in one-color clothes, is pretty standard. Even though all the pieces come from one single fabric roll, there can be gradients within the roll itself. A good t-shirt will hide these differences, but a head-turner t-shirt will be free of any color discrepancies altogether. That’s a sign that somebody made your t-shirt with as much love as you would wear it. 

  • Design to inspire

This is probably the most relevant of all the points. T-shirts are a canvas for both the person wearing them as well as the person designing them. Try to find designs that mean something to you, like the Pro second amendment shirts and caps, and rest assured, you will be the #OG cool person in the room. 

The 6 Commandments of Designing a Stunning T-Shirt

Do you know what different t-shirt ‘shapes’ are trending in 2021? 

Think hard.

Confused right? Well, don’t be. That was a trick question! There is only one shape.

Yes, there can be lots of different necklines or ‘styles’ but let’s be clear – there’s not much you can do with the fundamental design of the t-shirt. But what counts is what you do with this basic design! Here are six things you should keep in mind before designing your next t-shirt. 

  1. Explore your design idea

Even if you have a deadline, don’t rush. Like they say, better late than a half-baked design. Sketch your idea, try different versions, sleep it off, try again. 

  1. Visualize your design on a t-shirt

Sketch pad is not the best representation of the fabric, seamlines, position of different sections, etc. So, imagine how your design will look on a t-shirt. Make a prototype if you can. 

  1. With t-shirts, less is more.

Even if you are an art major, try to keep your design simple. One-liners, clean spaces, small prints speak the loudest. People should not stop you in your way to read the text on your t-shirt. That’s all! 

  1. Don’t have a color riot.

Yes, there is no one right way to go about colors, but there is undoubtedly a wrong way. And it is using colors from different parts of the spectrum randomly. Pink and red might be a great combination on cakes but certainly won’t do much for your t-shirt design. Keep the background or base color of the t-shirt in mind while coloring the design.

  1. If the design is the king, fonts are the Kingmakers.

What is design? It is a way to present ideas in a way that is legible and appealing. You might have the world’s greatest punchline in mind, but if your fonts are not correct, it won’t translate to the world’s greatest t-shirt! 

  1. Make your design printer-friendly.

Even if your prototype (that you probably hand-drew) looks impressive, you need a printer for mass production. So, once you have made your basic design, start prepping it for printing. For starters, choose Pantone colors only and define the text outline.

Summing up

They may be ripped, stained, or have an extra armhole; t-shirts are still that piece of clothing that you cannot do without. They can be functional yet quirky, and there’s probably one t-shirt for all your moods. So, if you love wearing your thoughts on your sleeves, don’t wait for someone else to design it for you. Take out your sketch pads and doodle away! 

Happy sketching!

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