The Ultimate Guide to T Shirt Printing Methods: Which One is the Best for You?


Are you thinking of starting a T-shirt business recently? Or do you need customized T-shirts for a group or an event? Whatever your reason is, choosing the right T-shirt printing method is crucial. How you choose affects your T-shirts’ quality, durability, and outcome. If you choose the wrong printing method, your T-shirts will look faded, poorly printed, or even fallapart after just one wash.

And it will hurt your business badly, big time. But we’re here to help you with our detailed guidelines for T-shirt printing. In today’s ultimate guide to t-shirt printing method, we will discuss the standard methods. It includes screen printing, direct to garment (DTG), heat transfer, sublimation, and embroidery techniques. You will learn about their benefits, applications and working process.

Finally, we will compare them. It will help you know the possible outcome for your t-shirt printing requirement. So, stick with us if you want the T-shirts to be high-quality and look professional.

Different Types of T-Shirt Printing Methods You Can Choose From:

From screen printing to embroidery and heat transfer, you can print and customize t-shirts and other fabrics in many ways. For instance, screen printing is typically the most cost-effective option. On the other hand, direct-to-garment printing works best for lots of shading and intricate details. Next, heat transfer or direct-to-garment printing is ideal for maintaining colour accuracy.

Also, provides you with various t-shirt printing methods. Our machines and experts are ready to print your t-shirts. But before that, let’s see which way will work best for your business or event needs.

Different printing method brings versatile uniqueness. Also, they work differently on various fabrics. For instance, sublimation printing works best on polyester. However, embroidery is superb for thicker materials like jackets.

So, it’s time we discuss all these printing methods thoroughly.

Screen Printing:

Screen printing uses a mesh stencil to transfer ink onto the printing substrate. It could be textiles, paper, or plastic. This process is also known as silk screening, serigraphy, and screen printing. It is a widely used technique in the printing industry for creating designs on various materials. Screen printing provides a high-quality, long-lasting, and vibrant finish to the printed designs.

The process of screen printing involves the following steps:

  • The first step in screen printing is to create the design that needs to be printed. This can be done manually or digitally.
  • The screen has a photosensitive coating and UV-light exposure. The design is first printed on a transparency and then transferred to the screen. As the UV light passes the screen, the emulsion will harden up.
  • The ink is on the top of the screen. The ink comes through the stencil using a squeegee. This process is repeated for each colour in the design.
  • After printing the design, the manufacturer needs to cure it. The curing involves placing the substrate with the ink in a heated dryer for a specific period.

Benefits of Screen Printing:

Screen printing has many unique benefits for printing and customizing t-shirts and other fabrics. You will find it cost-friendly, colour-accurate, and long-lasting.

  • Screen printing is a cost-effective printing technique for large-volume orders. It is cheaper than other printing methods like DTG (Direct-to-Garment) printing.
  • Screen printing produces vibrant and precise colours. So, it is an ideal choice for designs with multiple colours.
  • Screen-printed designs are more durable and long-lasting than other printing methods. It lasts longer than heat transfer or DTG.
  • Screen printing can be done on various types of materials, including different fabric types.
  • Screen printing suits large design prints. It is not possible with other printing methods.

Disadvantages of Screen Printing:

  • Screen printing has a limited colour range compared to digital printing methods like DTG.
  • The setup cost for screen printing is relatively high, making it expensive for small orders. It also takes an enormous time.
  • There are better choices than screen printing for complex designs or designs. If you need a lot of fine details, choosing the DTG or heat transfer method will be better.

When Screen Printing is the Best Choice:

T-Shirt Printing London UK excels in screen printing. We provide you with the best applications for screen printing for various events and options.

  • Screen printing helps create large-volume t-shirts for promotional events. The designs can be colourful and long-lasting, making them perfect for events.
  • Plus, it is suitable for printing sports uniforms in bulk. The designs are durable and can withstand the rigours of sports.
  • Screen printing is the best option for printing stickers, football shirts printing and logos for t-shirts. Screen-printed logos and stickers can withstand wear and tear quickly.
  • It is also perfect for creating stickers and decals for branding and marketing purposes.

Direct-to-Garment Printing

Direct-to-Garment Printing, also known as DTG printing, is a digital printing process. It will print designs directly onto textiles or garments, such as t-shirts, hoodies, and tote bags. DTG printing uses specialized inkjet technology.

The technology allows the printer to print high-quality designs in various colours. Plus, it is useful for printing intricate details directly onto the garment’s fabric.

The direct-to-Garment printing system has a complex process. It follows as:

  • Pre-treatment: The printing service provider will pre-treat the garment with a solution before printing. It helps the ink adhere better to the fabric.
  • Loading: Next, the manufacturer will load the garment onto the printer platen. Also, the correct positioning of the garment and printing design is essential.
  • Printing: The printer prints the design directly onto the garment’s fabric. It uses specialized DTG ink to complete the printing process.
  • Curing: The garment is cured using heat once the printing is complete. The curing ensures the ink sets properly and doesn’t fade or wash out.

Benefits of Direct-to-Garment Printing:

Direct-to-garment printing improves colour accuracy with a high-quality outcome. Also, it supports on-demand printing in bulk and short period.

  • DTG printing offers excellent colour accuracy. So, you can get t-shirt and fabric printing with vibrant and detailed designs in a wide range of colours.
  • DTG printing produces high-quality, photo-realistic prints. Also, these are durable and long-lasting.
  • DTG printing has lower setup costs compared to traditional printing methods. Hence, it is a more cost-effective option for smaller and start-up t-shirt businesses.
  • DTG printing allows for on-demand printing. Thus, you can print small quantities of custom garments quickly and easily. Also, T shirt Printing London is always ready for your on-demand printing jobs.
  • DTG printing produces less waste and uses less ink than traditional printing methods. So, it is eco-friendly.

Disadvantages of Direct-to-Garment Printing:

  • DTG printing is only suitable for printing on certain types of fabrics. It works best only on cotton and polyester blends.
  • DTG printers can be expensive. It can be a significant investment for t-shirt businesses. Instead, you can reach us, and we will print it for you.

When to Choose Direct-to-Garment Printing:

Direct-to-garment printing is perfect for t-shirts, merchandise, and personalization. When you need quick and customized fabrics, DTG is the way to go.

  • DTG printing is the best choice for creating custom t-shirts. It can handle intricate designs and a wide range of colours.
  • DTG printing is a cost-effective option for small businesses. When you look to create custom merchandise, such as t-shirts, hoodies, and tote bags, nothing beats DTG printing.
  • DTG printing is excellent for creating event merchandise too. You can work with t-shirts and hats. Our DTG service also allows for on-demand printing and quick turnaround times.

Heat Transfer Printing Method:

Heat transfer printing is a method of decorating textiles or other materials. Heat and pressure transfer a printed design or graphic onto the substrate. The process involves printing the design onto a transfer paper using special inks. After that, it will move the design to the fabric or material using a heat press machine.

The transfer paper is placed on top of the material. Afterwards, the heat press machine applies high heat and pressure. Hence, the ink transfers from the heat paper to the fabric or material. Heat transfer printing is commonly used for printing designs on t-shirts, jerseys, and other apparel items.

Benefits of Heat Transfer Printing:

Heat transfer printing offers intricate, high-quality, quick customization for t-shirts and other fabrics.

  • It produces high-quality prints with vibrant colours and sharp details. If your t-shirt has a complex design, heat transfer printing will replicate it accurately.
  • With it, the colours of the final print are very close to the original design. It results in a more accurate representation of the original design.
  • The printing uses specially formulated inks for a durable and long-lasting product. So the prints do not crack or fade over time.
  • Heat transfer printing is a flexible process. It allows for the customization of individual garments or small quantities. Hence, it suits small businesses or personal projects.

Disadvantages of Direct-to-Garment Printing:

  • Heat transfer printing can be more expensive than other printing methods, especially for larger quantities.
  • It has a limited colour range. Also, some colours may not be as vibrant as other printing methods.

When Heat Transfer Printing is the Best Choice:

  • Heat transfer printing is ideal for small quantities of apparel items, such as custom t-shirts for a sports team or a family reunion.
  • Heat transfer printing is suitable for printing designs with multiple colours. The transfer paper can be printed with a full-colour design.
  • The transfer paper can be cut into intricate shapes and designs. So,printing is ideal for complex designs and quick customizations.

Sublimation Printing Method:

Sublimation printing uses up to 200-degree heat to transfer an image onto the product surface. The ink is applied to a particular paper, paperboard or plastic sheet. The machine heats it while it passes through a press. The ink becomes part of the material.

The sublimation process causes the ink to go from solid to gas. It changes its molecular structure and forms a gas. Then, the image transfers to the desired surface. The method creates full-colour images on products such as T-shirts and mugs. Also, with its sheet as a donor for the printing design, you may customize it just as you want.

Benefits of the Sublimation Printing Method:

Unlike other t-shirt printing methods, the sublimation process has some unique advantages. From using a full CMYK colour range to cost-effectiveness, it’s incredible.

  • It uses the full range of CMYK colours. You can create any design with any colour mixture to make your t-shirts look wow and fantastic.
  • You can choose it for both small and bulk choices. In fact, at, we offer 1 to 100+ t-shirt printing orders with the sublimation method. It has, indeed, no print run.
  • The printing is long-lasting on fabrics. It remains free from scratches and gives a lovely embossed feel.

Disadvantages of the Sublimation Printing Method:

  • It only works on polyester or any fabric made with 2/3rd polyester. So, you can’t work with other materials and are uncomfortable.
  • Exposure to direct sunlight causes the printing on fabrics to fade away soon. So, for outdoor sportswear and textiles, it’s not suitable.
  • It works only on white and light-coloured surfaces, not ideal for black and dark spots on t-shirts.

When Sublimation Printing Method is the Best Choice:

  • The sublimation process works best for dye impression creation. Also, it suits both small to extra-large large printing orders with no print-run limitation.
  • Ideal for working with polyester fabric for low-cost t-shirts, caps, and gift items.

Embroidery Printing:

Embroidery printing is a method of adding custom designs or logos to fabrics. It combines stitching and printing techniques. Moreover, it involves creating a digital image of the design. The image is converted into a series of stitches sewn onto the fabric with an embroidery machine.

This process creates a three-dimensional effect that is both durable and visually appealing. It is ideal for creating a handmade effect for selling t-shirts at higher prices.

  • A designer creates a digital image with specialized software. He then converts the image into a format the automated embroidery machine can read.
  • The design is digitized. So, it converts into a series of stitches that the embroidery machine can understand.
  • The fabric is prepared by hooping it onto the embroidery machine.
  • Finally, the embroidery machine begins stitching the design onto the fabric. It used different threads and stitch types to create the desired effect.
  • Once the design is complete, any excess thread or backing is removed.

Benefits of Embroidery for T-shirts:

Embroidery is the most versatile and customizable option for a t-shirt. If you want a unique t-shirt design for business, embroidery is ready to serve you with the cause.

  • Embroidery is a highly durable method of decoration. It withstands multiple washing and wearing without fading or peeling.
  • Also, it survives laundering and high heat easily.
  • Additionally, embroidery offers excellent colour accuracy. It suits highly detailed designs and logos to be reproduced precisely.
  • This method is highly customizable. It works on any fabric. So, you can use it on everything from t-shirts and sweatshirts to hats, bags, and even shoes.
  • The per-unit cost of embroidery is meagre. When you need bulk amounts, it offers the lowest printing cost.

Disadvantages of Embroidery:

  • The embroidery process can be time-consuming and labour-intensive. So, it’s not preferable for a quick turnaround time.
  • Additionally, the cost of an embroidery printing machine can be higher than other methods, such as screen printing or heat transfer printing. So, instead of buying a costlier printing machine, you can reach for quick results.

When the Embroidery Method is the Best:

  • When you need intricate designs with embossed effects on t-shirts, embroidery works best. It gives a handmade vibe that increases the product value.
  • Embroidery suits unique and intricate designing that are hard to replication. So, your t-shirts will stand out in the competitive market.
  • It is an excellent option for t-shirts with cotton, wool or other fabric. While most printing methods work with limited fabric and colours, it has no limits.

Comparing T-Shirt Printing Methods:

T-shirt printing needs to be accurate, durable and attractive. Hence, different printing methods suit different styles. For instance, screen printing provides quick customization. It is ideal for small businesses that need fast, on-demand printing.

On the other hand, embroidery printing suits high-end products. When you want to add value with maximum intricate design, embroidery beats all methods. Then, the heat transfer method is preferable for quick customizations.

The following chart will help you know the difference between t-shirt printing methods better:

Printing MethodCostDetailColour AccuracyDurabilitySuitability for Different Fabrics
Screen PrintingLow to MediumHighHighHighCotton and Polyester
Heat TransferLow to MediumMedium to HighHighMedium to HighCotton, polyester, and blends
Direct to GarmentHighHighHighMediumCotton and cotton blends
SublimationHighHighHighHighPolyester and polyester blends only
EmbroideryHighLow to MediumHighHighCotton, polyester, wool and all blends


Choosing the Best T-Shirt Printing Method for Your Needs

You should be careful when deciding on the best t-shirt printing method for your needs. We have described five standard printing systems for t-shirts. So, which one should you choose? For this, consider the following factors:

Design Complexity:

First, determine the design complexity of your t-shirts. Is it simple, or has multiple colours and shades? Also, will it need layering? Then, pick the suitable printing method. For instance, screen printing is the best option for multiple colours and intricate details. Conversely, heat transfer and direct-to-garment printing can produce high-quality, detailed designs.

Fabric Type:

Different printing methods are suitable for different fabric types. So, select the correct printing method for the t-shirt fabric. Or else the design will only last for a while. Also, it will look poor.

Screen printing and heat transfer work well on cotton, polyester, and blends. Direct-to-garment printing is best for cotton and cotton blends; Embroidery is suitable for almost all fabric types.


Cost is an essential factor to consider. Screen printing and heat transfer are generally the most affordable options. So, small t-shirt businesses and events should choose them. On the other hand, direct-to-garment printing and sublimation can be more expensive.

They work best for brands that already have a fanbase. Lastly, embroidery is typically the most expensive option.

Colour Accuracy and Longevity:

 All of the printing methods listed above offer high colour accuracy. Also, has modern machines that ensure maximum colour accuracy.

Also, we understand that product longevity is crucial. Screen printing, heat transfer, and embroidery offer high durability. Sadly, direct-to-garment printing and sublimation may not last as long. But don’t worry, since we ensure your t-shirts last long.

T-shirt Printing Checklist:

Based on the above factors, here is a checklist of suggested printing methods for different categories:

  • Best for designs with many colours and intricate details: Screen printing, heat transfer, direct-to-garment printing
    • Best for cotton, polyester, and blends: Screen printing, heat transfer
    • Best for cotton and cotton blends: Direct-to-garment printing
    • Best for durability: Screen printing, heat transfer, embroidery
    • Best for budget: Screen printing, heat transfer
    • Best for great detail: Direct-to-garment printing, sublimation

Conclusion: prepared this ultimate guideline on t-shirt printing methods for your business and promotional needs. So, find a suitable t-shirt printing method and reach us. Our quick turnaround, designing assistance and low cost will help you boost your garment business dramatically.

Whether you need bulk orders for stores, online business, or marketing promotions, our t-shirt printers are ready. Even if you need a small quantity and quick customization, we will eagerly serve you. So, reach us fast and get your t-shirt printed and delivered faster!