A Comprehensive Guide to Decorating Sweatshirts

Decorating sweatshirts is a fun, rewarding activity that beats buying a mass-produced design you've seen one thousand times. But that leaves the question of how to decorate a sweatshirt from home with your own, custom design. That said, it's as easy as coming up with an idea, selecting a printing technique, and enjoying your unique sweatshirt. You can even sell your designs through online venues and see if you can turn your creative pursuits into something profitable.


Decorating Sweatshirts

Before you start to make a custom sweatshirt, you need to brainstorm ideas and select a suitable, high-quality sweatshirt as a template. From there, you'll put the finishing touches on your design idea and be ready to print.


  • Have an Idea

When the possibilities are limitless, it can be hard to choose just one. You might use an interesting, appealing pattern or a quote you're fond of. Art styles such as cubism and modernism are especially suitable for home-printed designs, not to mention distinctive and eye-catching. Whatever your idea, it's important to choose a suitable template for it.


  • Choose a Quality Sweatshirt

A good sweatshirt that will absorb ink easily is key to your design looking as good on fabric as it does in your head. Pure cotton is the ideal choice, as synthetic and mixed fabrics may not retain your logo equally well. Your other consideration is choosing one that's suitable for the weather in your area, especially if you intend to sell custom sweatshirts. A heavyweight hooded pullover sweatshirt is perfect for cold winters, while cotton t-shirts are excellent year-round. 


  • Design Your Graphics/Logo

Once you've got your idea down, it's time to finalize it and decide exactly how it's going to look. Drawing a few rough drafts with a pencil and paper is a good way to get started. Now that you can visualize your design, it's easier to make any subtle changes or improvements you think are necessary. Your next step depends on your printing method of choice and may involve moving the design to a computer or cutting it into a screen.


How to Make a Custom Sweatshirt

With your design complete and a high-quality sweatshirt on hand, it's time to start making your custom sweatshirt. Possible methods can be as high-tech as using a digital textile printer, or as simple as using a screen, dye ink, and a craft knife.


  • Screen Printing

If you're interested in a single-color sweatshirt design, then there's no need to get too fancy. You'll need dye ink, a mesh screen, stencil paper, a craft knife, and something with a solid, firm, flat edge. A squeegee will work perfectly. First, take your stencil paper and craft knife and cut out your design. Pull your fabric out taut over a flat surface, and place your stencil paper over it. The next step is placing your screen on top of the stencil and applying a modest amount of ink to the top of the screen. Use your squeegee to pull the ink down across the screen, where it will sink into the negative space of your stencil. Loose ink can be hard to get out of your screen, so clean it with cold water and a scrub brush as soon as possible.

While this method is the easiest to apply for simple designs, you can tailor it to more complex, multi-color graphics. Make a stencil that corresponds to each color you want in your design. For instance, the first screenprint will add all the red features of your design, the second will add all the black features, and so on. Just remember to test each stencil on a spare sheet of cotton fabric before applying it to your sweatshirt. That way, you'll know for certain that you'll get the design you're looking for.


  • Direct to Garment Printing

If you're ready to invest into this idea, you can make it much easier by buying a garment printer. A garment printer works by holding down the fabric and applying an inkjet to the sweater. Direct to Garment printing applies greater precision and fine, thin layers of ink, as opposed to the thicker ink composition in screen printing. There are a few downsides, such as the fact that machine garment printing often doesn't show up well on dark fabrics. Thin, machine-applied layers of ink present better on lighter fabrics, which is something to keep in mind.

On the matter of materials and methodology, garment printing isn't very different from use of a standard inkjet printer. You upload your design to the computer, and the printer does the work. It results in an easier, more streamlined process, but many find screenprinting by hand to have its own special charm. If you aspire to produce and sell sweatshirts in large numbers, then a garment printer can be a good investment.


Selling Your Custom Sweatshirts

There are many ways to go about selling your sweatshirts. Old-fashioned garage sales or other choices that entail serving your community directly are quite easy but are unlikely to generate a high return. However, you can also use one of many online vendors to kick start your sweatshirt-selling ventures. Etsy is designed to connect creatives and customers, but you can also turn to social media advertising if you prefer. 

If you intend to sell sweatshirts and t-shirts, the most important thing is identifying and catering to your target audience. Try to find a unique design niche that other creators aren't filling yet or otherwise seek a way to stand out from the crowd. 


Start with a High-Quality Sweatshirt

Whether you're making one sweatshirt for yourself or you intend to make many, you'll need to pick a good, cotton sweatshirt to bear your design. Our company, Just Sweatshirts has a wide catalog of 100% cotton shirts and hoodies to choose from. Explore our website and find the right choice for your needs and preferences. 

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