Experience: Design Your Own T-Shirt

Teenager's T Shirt - International Zombie Hunter - Teenage Premium T-Shirt

Designing your own t-shirt is a fun activity for ages around eight and older which allows them to explore their creative side. This is an example of a t-shirt I created using an online t-shirt printing service called Spreadshirt to help promote my post-apocalyptic survival novels.

You might imagine that having your child design their own t-shirt would be a complicated and expensive business, but with easy-to-use image processing software and the advent of digital on-demand printing, it’s something that is now very simple for almost anyone to do. It’s also an incredibly fun activity for children which will leave them feeling like they’ve achieved something with their time, making it perfect for rainy days and holidays, when your kids are bored and are looking for something to do. Finally, it’s a great way to introduce children to the concept of clothing design, and you never know, it might be the activity which inspires them to become the next big thing in fashion!

What do I need? You will need access to a computer with a suitable software package for creating images. This doesn’t need to be particularly complex software, and packages such as Microsoft’s Powerpoint and Open Office’s Impress are well-suited to creating basic but eye-catching designs. You will also need access to the internet in order to be able to upload your final design to one of the many online services that will allow you to have it printed onto a t-shirt. Finally, you may find a digital camera and/or a scanner useful for capturing images than can be used as part of your t-shirt design.

What preparation do you need to do? There is no preparation required to design your own t-shirts. However, it’s advisable that you visit the website you’ve selected to print your t-shirt through in advance to ensure that you are happy with the costs associated with purchasing it (they’ll be slightly more expensive than normal t-shirts, but they are generally high-quality and long-lasting).

How long will it take? There is no set time it will take for your child to design their own t-shirt as this will depend on the complexity of design your child wishes to create. Once the design has been completed, it will take about half an hour to load it to a suitable online design service and several days to have it printed onto a t-shirt and delivered to you. This means that your child will have to wait for their t-shirt, but a little waiting never hurt anyone! However, you should make this clear to your child from the start so that they don’t end up being disappointed.

What age of child is this suitable for? Designing your own t-shirt is an activity that is primarily suitable for children aged eight and older. Younger children can participate, but it’s likely you will need to provide them with a good deal of help at the design stage.

How much mess will it make? Since all the printing is done elsewhere, this is a very clean and tidy activity (at least, in principle – it may get messy if you let your child create their own art on paper rather than on a computer!).

What do I do? The start of this process is to create the design which will eventually be printed on to the t-shirt. This can be done on a computer (using a programme such as Microsoft’s Powerpoint, Open Office’s Impress or Adobe’s Photoshop), on paper which you can later scan to create a digital image, or using a digital camera. It’s important that you let your child take the lead in creating their own design, and only help out as and when you are needed. When creating the design, you should aim to have it cover a single sheet of A4/Letter paper, and it should be in a portrait format (to fit with the shape of the front of a t-shirt). If your child wishes, they can create separate designs for the front and the back of the t-shirt, but if they are doing this, it’s best if the images are related in some way, and it will cost more to do. The images can either be full colour or a single colour, depending on the design and exactly how your child wants the final t-shirt to look. However, it may cost more to print in multiple colours rather than in a single colour.

Spreadshirt T-shirt designer

Websites such as Spreadshirt provide simple-to-use tools that allow you to select the type and colour of t-shirt you want to use for your design and then add your design to it. To access this t-shirt designer, UK-based parents can click here, while USA-based parents can click here.

When your child has finished their design, you will need to save it as, or convert it into, a .jpeg file format. Information on how to do this for the software package you are using can generally be found using a search engine. Once you have your .jpeg file of the design, you are now ready to upload it to an on-demand t-shirt printing service. There are many different ones available, but the one I would generally recommend is called Spreadshirt (click here to be taken to their UK site, and here to be taken to their US site). Within the Spreadshirt site, you can select what type of t-shirt you’d like your design on, the size, the colour and then upload and position your chosen design using their easy to use online design interface. Once these have all been selected, it’s simply a matter of creating your t-shirt and ordering it. Note: If you wish areas of white in your design to appear as transparent (and so be the same colour as the underlying t-shirt), you will need to set this manually for your design using either an image-editing software package, or an online image editor, such LunapicClipping Magic or Online Image Editor.

What core life skills does this experience help develop? Designing your own t-shirt is a great way to introduce children to the concepts of design and to show them how computers can be used to create designs and transfer them onto fabrics. Thus, it encourages them to start learning about what computers can do and how they can be used for many different purposes, and in the modern world, a knowledge of what computers can be used for and a good, basic understanding of them is essential. This experience will also allow your child to explore their artistic side and see if this is something that might interest them as a future career.

Variations: While the basic aim of this post is to show you how to make your own t-shirt, the same on-demand printing services will allow you to make many other products too, including bags, jackets, hats. mouse mats and phone covers. There are also other services that will allow you to create cards, mugs and almost any other product you could imagine. As a result, there is no end to the range of products your child could put their designs on, if they so wish.

Spreadshirt Product Designer

Once you have a design loaded onto sites like Spreadshirt, you can choose to add it to a wide variety of different products ranging from clothes to bags, hats, mouse mats and phone covers, but be warned, not all designs are suitable for all types of products.

If your child really takes to designing their own products, you can consider encouraging them to open their own online design store. While this may sound complicated, it’s very easy to do this through services such as Spreadshirt, and in a very short space of time, your child can have their own design business which they can promote to their friends and family. It’s very unlikely that they’ll actually make money doing this, but it’s the experience they gain that is the point here, not the monetization of it.

Spreadshort electronic store front

If your child is really into designing things, then they may find it fun to set up their own electronic store front, like this one on Spreadshirt, where they can display and sell their designs and products which feature them. They’re unlikely to make much money, but it’s a fun exercise and a great way for them to take their first steps into running a design business. This example of an electronic store front is for merchandise which I’ve created to help promote my post-apocalyptic survival novels, and features a range of zombie-related designs on a variety of clothes and other products. You can explore this store in more detail by clicking here (for UK-based parents) or here (for USA-based parents).

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About The Author: This post was written by Colin Drysdale, the creator of How To Raise A Happy Genius.

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