shirt making notes


  • bella & canvas tee shirts (light tones, standard fabrics - no fleece, suede, ribbing, etc)
  • cutproof mat (optional, can be subbed out for any firm surface to slide into the shirt)
  • water-soluble pencil for fabric marking (optional)
  • (edit 18 Sep 2023) versaFine ink pads
  • speedball fabric print ink
  • inkwell
  • brayer


  1. iron front of shirt lightly to remove any wrinkles
  2. lay shirt out on table. I put a cutproof mat inside the shirt to prevent any ink from going through and give myself a firm surface to work on
  3. for a multi-layer design:
  4. line up an un-inked stamp, face up
  5. with water soluble pencil, outline 1 corner and mark out at least one other alignment spot. I found I could make marks about an inch long and get decent alignment just from that, rather than outlining the whole stamp (which ime gets similar alignment)
  6. alternately you can use a carpenters square or similar tool to line up the stamps - just make sure not to move it!!
  7. ink stamp thoroughly (lay stamp faceup and daub with ink pads)
  8. lay stamp into position (for multi-layer design, align with existing marks)
  9. press across the stamp with the brayer, being careful not to move the stamp
  10. lift up in a clean motion; I generally lift a corner and check that things are looking good before lifting fully off
  11. hang or drape until ready to iron
    • do not stack the shirts, even if the ink seems dry! it will transfer to other shirts
    • do not let the shirts sit in any way that the design is in contact with other fabric
  12. press with iron on the highest appropriate heat setting
    • avoid moving the iron a lot as this can smudge ink
    • my rule of thumb has been to press until the image is uniformly hot to the touch
    • I am going to try next time to use parchment paper to avoid any ink smudginess (Edit: meh, I don’t really recommend it. Just hold the iron still at first.)
  13. dab some water on the water-soluble pencil and rub gently to erase

other notes

  • clean hands. clean hands. very important.

category: reference