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Sizing up Your Graphic for T-shirts

In recent years, the way clothes are made has changed a lot because of on-demand printing. Many apparel decorating shops now utilize direct-to-film (DTF) printing to provide customers with the vibrant designs and logos they desire. Nevertheless, it's essential for makers to understand the image size considerations when building their gang sheets.

And here's the important part: there's no one-size-fits-all answer for how big or small your designs should be. It can be a bit confusing but don't stress about it. We're here to help you figure out the perfect size for your shirt designs.

Determining the Ideal T-Shirt Image Size: Key Factors to Consider

When figuring out the best size for your T-shirt design, there are three important things to think about. Let's break them down one by one:

  1. Type of Clothes: First, consider what kind of clothes you're designing for – like T-shirts, hoodies, or tank tops. The type of clothes matters because it dictates how much space you have for your design. T-shirts usually have more space to print because they don't have extra things like pockets or hoods.

  2. Size of Clothes: Size matters! Bigger clothes give you more room for your design. For example, on most men's and women's clothes, you can print starting 2.5-3 inches below the collar. But for smaller sizes like Men's/Unisex XS and Women's S, it's about 2 inches below the collar. The biggest area you can usually print on the front and back of a T-shirt is 12 inches by 16 inches. You may adjust designs for smaller sizes, so they fit the right way.

  3. Print Provider's Requirements: Be sure to carefully review the specifications provided by your selected print provider. Different providers may have varying equipment capabilities. Opting for a provider known for its user-friendly interface, such as PNW Print Co, can make things simpler. At PNW Print Co, we offer DTF transfers on 22-inch wide rolls and a user-friendly gang sheet building app, granting you the flexibility to create gang sheets with designs of your preferred size, big or small, just the way you want them.

By taking these factors into account, you can ensure your T-shirt design is just the right size, regardless of the garment and printing method you choose.


Before sending your file to PNW Print Co, it's essential to think about the placement of your design.

There are several common placement options for T-shirt designs, including:

  1. Left (or Right) Chest: This is usually 3” to 4” wide, and it's good for formal or corporate stuff.

  2. Center Chest: Ranging from 8” to 11” wide. Works for casual and corporate wear.

  3. Full Front: A standard size of 10”x12”. Great for more relaxed designs, corporate wear, and expressing yourself.

  4. Oversized Front: Can be as big as 14"x20"! Great for really casual designs such as statement or pop art.

  5. Back Collar: Smaller, around 2” to 3” wide by your preferred height, mainly for branding purposes. Can be placed inside or outside.

  6. Upper Back: Often 10” to 13” wide, good for casual or corporate styles, often used for staff or volunteer IDs.

  7. Vertical Left or Right: Perfect for team wear and branding, usually measuring 14” to 16” in height by your desired width.

  8. Full Back: Typically 12”x16” or even bigger, great for casual wear and sometimes for corporate stuff. Covers the maximum printable back area.

  9. Sleeve: For branding, usually 3” to 4” wide. Common designs are flags or company logos.

While these are standard placements and measurements, but you can mix it up! Feel free to adjust the placements and dimensions to better suit your design and create a more customized T-shirt look.

Should I Adjust Design Size Based on T-Shirt Size?

While the simplest approach is to use the same design size for all shirt sizes, it might not be the best fit for everyone. Designs that look great on a small adult T-shirt might not suit a 3XL, and vice versa. So, some of you might prefer to customize the design size for each shirt size to account for these differences.

Ideally, you should aim for about 5-8 inches of empty space on either side of the design to ensure it looks just right (for adult shirts).

Please note: No two shirts are exactly the same. Various factors like brand, color, and size can influence the actual measurements of each shirt. Always measure your shirts to confirm that the design size you've used still works. To avoid wasting material, you can cut a piece of scrap paper to match your design's size and use it as a test before ordering our DTF transfer.

Here are the design width sizes that we've found to work well for the shirts we've made. Keep in mind that these sizes may not be perfect for your needs:

  • Small - Medium: The design width should be no larger than 9 – 10.5 inches.

  • Large - X-Large: The design width should be no larger than 11 – 12 inches.

  • 2X-Large - 3X-Large: The design width should be no larger than 12 – 13.5 inches.

  • 4X-Large: The design width should be no larger than 13.5 – 14.5 inches.

Don't forget to make a mockup for your customer!

Before you order your transfers, remember to always make a mockup that shows your customer how the design will look on the T-shirt. This step is really important because sizes might look different when you wear them compared to a 2D design on a computer.

In summary...

Choosing the perfect image size for T-shirt printing isn't a one-size-fits-all deal. It's all about what looks best on the T-shirt, meets your and your customer's needs, and takes into account the factors we talked about earlier.

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