Published Apr 12, 2024 ⦁ 16 min read
Custom Campaign Shirts: Design Tips

Custom Campaign Shirts: Design Tips

Looking to make a splash with custom campaign shirts? Whether it's for brand awareness, fundraising, or an event, a well-designed shirt can significantly impact. Here's a quick guide to get you started:

  • Define your campaign goals: What's your main objective? Set SMART goals and know your audience.
  • Brainstorm creative elements: Use mood boards, sketch ideas, and gather feedback.
  • Understand your target audience: Conduct market research and create audience personas.
  • Find inspiration: Look at successful campaigns, align with your branding, study design trends, and ask your audience.
  • Design basics: Consider fabric quality, color impact, typography, and placement.
  • Creating your design: Use DIY tools or hire a graphic designer. Customize pre-made templates for quick results.
  • Evaluating printing methods: Choose between screen printing and DTG based on your needs.
  • Quality testing: Conduct durability tests, get audience feedback, and perform final quality checks before a large order.

This guide covers everything from setting goals to printing methods and quality testing, ensuring your custom campaign shirts truly stand out.

Brainstorming Creative Elements

After setting your goals, get your team together to think of design ideas that fit your goals and appeal to your audience.

  • Start with mood boards. Collect images, colors, fonts, and other inspirations that match the vibe of your campaign.
  • Draw your ideas. Turn your goals and inspirations into sketches focusing on things like text styles (typography), pictures, shapes (geometric shapes), and layout.
  • Ask for opinions. Improve your ideas by getting thoughts from your team, partners, and maybe even your target audience.

Setting Concrete Metrics

To know if your campaign is successful, pick some key things to measure, like:

  • Brand awareness: Check if more people are talking about your campaign or visiting your website because of the shirts.
  • Fundraising: Look at how many shirts you've sold and how much money you've raised.
  • Lead gen: Count how many people signed up for your emails or downloaded something from your campaign.

By keeping track of these things, you can make your campaign and shirt designs even better over time.

Understanding Your Target Audience

It's super important to know who you're making your campaign shirts for. By really digging into who your audience is, including what they like and what matters to them, you can create shirts that they'll love and want to wear.

Conducting Market Research

  • Use online surveys on sites like SurveyMonkey or Google Forms to learn about your audience's age, where they live, what they're into, and more. Offering a small reward can help get more people to take your survey.
  • Use tools like Mention or Keyhole to see what your audience talks about and likes on social media. Keep an eye out for any big trends.
  • If you have the budget, try doing group discussions in person to hear what people think about your shirt ideas. Offering a gift card can make people more willing to join in.
  • Look into companies that do market research to get detailed reports about the people you want to reach and what they're interested in.

Defining Audience Personas

  • Take all the info you've gathered and create a few main profiles for your typical customers. Think of these as detailed sketches of your most common types of customers.
  • For each profile, write down specifics like their name, photo, age, where they live, what they do, what they care about, what they like to do, how they like to get messages, and what design styles they prefer.
  • Keep these profiles in mind when you're coming up with design ideas. This helps make sure your designs will appeal to your actual customers.
  • If your customer profiles are really different from each other, think about making different shirt designs for each group.

By focusing on who your shirts are for, you can make sure they hit the mark and really connect with your audience.

Finding Inspiration for Your Shirt Design

Finding good ideas for your shirt design is a key first step. If you do it right, you can make unique designs that your audience will like. Here are some simple ways to get inspired:

Look to Successful Campaigns

  • Check out recent campaigns that did well in your area or cause. See what design parts made their shirts stand out.
  • Notice things like colors, fonts, pictures, and how they're arranged. Don't copy them, but let them spark your own ideas.
  • Shirts that use big, simple pictures and not too much text often catch people's eyes from far away.

Align with Your Branding

  • Try to use your brand's usual colors, fonts, and logos when it makes sense.
  • This helps people recognize your brand more easily.
  • But, it's okay to try new things if they work for your campaign.
  • Look at what's popular in t-shirt design right now.
  • This can make your shirts look modern and exciting.
  • Trends to watch include hand-drawn stuff, shapes like circles or squares, and color gradients.

Ask Your Audience

  • If you can, ask the people you're making the shirts for what they like.
  • Find out their favorite colors, pictures, shapes, and fonts.
  • This way, you can make sure they'll actually like the shirts.

Find a Shared Vision

  • Talk to your team and partners about what you all think the design should be like.
  • Agreeing on a main idea early on can make things easier later.
  • Use a tool like Pinterest to collect and share ideas with everyone.

The best shirt designs mix what your brand is about, what's trendy, and what your audience likes. By looking for inspiration from many places at the start, you set yourself up to make really cool shirts that people will want to wear.

Shirt Design Basics and Best Practices

Fabric and Quality Considerations

When picking fabrics for your campaign shirts, cotton is usually your best bet. It's soft, lets your skin breathe, and lasts a long time. A mix of cotton and polyester is also good because it doesn't wrinkle much and still feels comfy. Think about how heavy or light the fabric is too - lighter fabrics are cooler, but heavier ones might last longer. You want your shirts to feel nice and comfortable, especially if you'll be moving around a lot in them.

For printing, cotton is great for screen printing because it makes colors look bright and clear. Heat transfer vinyl printing can work on cotton or polyester. If you want to add some texture, embroidery is a nice touch. Always test your fabric with your printing method first to make sure it looks good.

Impact of Color on Messaging

The color of your shirt can really affect how people see your message. Bright colors like red or orange stand out. Earthy colors like green and brown are great for nature or eco messages. Blues and purples make things feel more professional and trustworthy.

You can also mix colors in smart ways. Using colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel creates a bold, eye-catching look. Using shades of the same color gives everything a unified feel. Putting colors next to each other on the color wheel makes for a lively, yet harmonious design.

Typography Guidelines

For text on shirts, fonts without the little feet (sans-serif) are easier to read and look more modern. Fonts like Open Sans are clean and simple, while Lato is a bit more friendly looking. Both are easy to read from far away.

You can use fonts with the little feet (serif) for a more old-school vibe, but stay away from ones that are too fancy or hard to read. Make sure your text is big enough to read easily, and align it to the left so it's simple to scan.

Strategic Design Placement

For small logos, put them on the left chest, right sleeve, or back shoulder. This keeps your brand visible without being in the way. For bigger designs, put them right in the middle of the shirt, either on the front or back, so they're easy to see.

Make sure your designs are the right size for the shirt, and adjust them by hand to avoid stretching or squishing the image. Leave some space around your designs so they don't get cut off or look weird on different shirt sizes.

Creating Your Shirt Design

Let's talk about how to make your shirt design, from doing it yourself to getting a professional to help.

DIY Design Tools and Tips

Stitchi has a simple tool on our website that lets you design shirts easily, even if you're not a designer.

Here's how to use it:

  • Upload your artwork if you have a design ready. We can work with .JPG, .PNG, and .SVG files.
  • Check out our templates for ideas. You can mix and change them to make something new.
  • Add text with our tool. You can choose different fonts and colors.
  • Put in shapes and icons from our collection to add some visual interest to your design.
  • Try different colors to see what looks best for your shirt.

Remember to keep your design simple and focused. The main message or image should be in the middle, and everything should look balanced.

Hiring a Graphic Designer

If you have a big idea and want it to look really good, you might want to hire a graphic designer. Here's what to do:

  • Tell them what you want clearly, and show them examples of styles you like.
  • Talk about time and money from the start so everyone knows what to expect.
  • Give them your brand stuff like logos and colors to keep things consistent.
  • Expect to make a few changes to get the design just right. Listen to their ideas too.
  • Make sure you can use the design however you want once it's done.

A professional can really make your shirt stand out.

Customizing Pre-made Templates

Stitchi also has lots of ready-made shirt designs that you can change up a bit to make your own.

Why this is a good idea:

  • The designs look professional and put together.
  • You can change parts like the text, colors, and layout.
  • There are many styles to match what you're looking for.
  • It's quick compared to making something from scratch.

Just pick a template, tweak it with your words and colors, and you'll have a great-looking shirt in no time. It's an easy way to get a good design without needing to be a designer.


Evaluating Printing Methods

When it comes to putting your design on shirts, there are mainly two ways to do it: screen printing and direct-to-garment (DTG) printing. Let's look at what each method is good for, so you can pick the right one for your shirts.

Screen Printing Overview

Screen printing is an old-school method that works great for making a lot of shirts at once. It uses a screen and ink to press the design onto the shirt.

Use Cases

  • Perfect for big events where you need lots of shirts
  • Good for designs that aren't too complicated
  • Best if you're trying to keep costs down


  • You need to order a bunch of shirts at once
  • It's hard to do designs with tiny details or lots of colors
  • It might take a while to get your shirts

Screen printing is best for simple, bold designs on a big batch of shirts.

Direct-to-Garment Printing

DTG printing is a bit like using a printer for your clothes. It can put detailed pictures and lots of colors directly onto your shirt.

Use Cases

  • Great for small orders
  • If your design has lots of details or colors
  • When you have a bit more time


  • Costs more per shirt
  • The print might not last as long as screen printing
  • Dark colors can be tricky

DTG is your go-to for small orders with complicated designs that screen printing can't handle.

Comparison Table

Metric Screen Printing DTG Printing
Ink Longevity Excellent Good
Minimum Order High (50+) Low (1+)
Print Quality Good Excellent
Cost Per Shirt Lower Higher
Production Time Longer Faster

Choosing between screen printing and DTG depends on how many shirts you need, how detailed your design is, and your budget. If you're not sure which way to go, we're here to help!

Quality Testing Your Shirt Designs

Make sure to check how long your designs last and what people think of them before you order a lot.

Conducting Durability Tests

It's a good idea to test your shirt to see if it keeps looking good after being used a lot. Here's how to do it:

  • Wash test: Clean a sample shirt many times. Check if the design starts to look old or comes off.
  • Wear test: Have someone wear the shirt all day. See if it holds up well.
  • Exposure test: Put the shirt in the sun for a few days. Make sure the colors don't fade.

Try to do all these tests. If there's a problem, try changing the fabric, how you put the design on, or the design itself before you order a lot.

Getting Audience Feedback

You also want to know what people think of your design. Here are some ways to do that:

  • Do an online poll on a website like SurveyMonkey and share it online. Ask folks their thoughts.
  • Show it to your target audience face-to-face if you can. Watch how they react and ask for their opinions.
  • Run a small pre-order to see if people will buy the shirt. Order a few shirts and check if they sell.

Use what people say to make your design better - maybe change the colors, adjust the size of things, or add or take away details. Keep improving until most feedback is good.

Final Quality Checks

Before you place your big order, make sure:

  • The design looks sharp and is in the right spot on the shirt.
  • You can read all the words and see important parts clearly.
  • The colors are just right.
  • The shirt sizes are accurate.

It's best to check this on a real shirt if possible. This way, you won't end up with lots of shirts that don't look or fit right.

By really checking if the shirts last and finding out what people think, you can be sure your custom campaign shirts will be a hit!

Conclusion and Next Steps

Making custom shirts for your campaign is a great way to share your message and get people excited about what you're doing. Here's a simple breakdown of what we've talked about:

  • Make sure you know what you want your shirts to do. This helps you create designs that really work.
  • Understand who your shirts are for. This means you can make something they'll actually want to wear.
  • Look around for design ideas. Check out what's popular, what has worked for others, and what your audience likes.
  • Pick good materials and printing methods. Test them to see which ones look and feel best.
  • Ask people what they think of your designs. You can use surveys or just show them to get their opinions.
  • Try out your shirt designs with a few samples. This way, you can make sure they're just right before you order a lot.

Stitchi makes it easy to design, test, and order your shirts. We have tools and help available if you need it.

Next steps:

  • Look at our shirt designs and fonts for ideas.
  • Try out your ideas with our design tool.
  • Pick some options and order a few samples to see how they look in real life.
  • Get feedback from people you know.
  • Make any changes based on what you learn and how the samples hold up.
  • When you're happy with everything, go ahead and order your shirts.

If you have any questions or need help, just let us know. We're here to support you. We're excited to see your custom shirts come to life!

How do you come up with a good shirt design?

Here are some simple tips for making a great t-shirt design:

  • Make it fun: Create a design that stands out and makes people feel something.
  • Look around: Understand who you're designing for by checking out what they like.
  • Design for yourself: If you would wear it, it's likely a good design.
  • Think about the shirt: Remember there's only so much space to work with.
  • Pick colors wisely: Use colors that match your message and set the right mood.
  • Choose your words carefully: If you're using text, make sure it's easy to read and adds to the design.
  • Keep improving: Always ask for feedback and be ready to make your design better.

Is making custom t-shirts profitable?

Yes, you can make money from selling custom t-shirts. How much you earn depends on:

  • How you price your shirts
  • How much they cost to make
  • Who you're selling to
  • How many you sell
  • How much you spend on promoting them

Keeping your costs low and finding people who really want your shirts can help you make a good profit.

How far down from collar should design be?

It's best to place your design about 3 inches from the shirt's collar, right in the middle. This spot makes sure your design is seen but doesn't get too close to the neck. For designs that cover the front, starting 3 inches down is a good rule to make sure everything fits well.

How far down should you put an image on a shirt?

Putting the image about 2.5-3 inches below the neckline works best. This keeps the design in a good spot without it being too high or low. Centering the image makes the shirt look balanced. Making sure the design is the right size helps it be seen clearly on different shirt sizes. Leave some space around your design so it doesn't get cut off.

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