9 Ways to Customize a Tee Shirt

December 17, 2022

Explore how to customize a tee shirt plus popular examples to make your brand and logo pop.

Who can resist a great tee? It’s the basic wardrobe staple that’s every bit as versatile as it is seasonal. Choose the right style (and fit and fabrication) and you could have yourself a marketing vehicle that practically runs itself. 

What's better than a soft cozy tee that’s not too big, not too small, and fits just right? It’s hard to say since a great tee is the one essential that can be worn just about anywhere and even dressed up. To ensure you get one that is worth the effort, check the t-shirt design description example. Is it prewashed and preshrunk? Mostly cotton or cotton blend? Are benefits like moisture-wicking and anti-microbial right for your audience? What about features like patch pockets, colorways, and the neck silhouette? 

You can tell a lot from having a great t-shirt design description example. If you’re still not sure before moving on to ways to customize a shirt, work with a reputable company like Gemnote, to see how you can get a sample or even recommendations on the best styles based off of the t-shirt design description example, your budget and merch goals.  

Then, when it’s time to figure our how to customize a tee shirt, you’ll already be ahead of the curve. 

T Shirt Design Tips

1. Message Hierarchy What do you want to say? Surely you want your logo, and for some that may be enough. For others a catchy phrase or slogan or an image to help show case your product or service. Even hashtags and icons can help bring your brand and message to life. 

2. Styles & Silhouette  Some things just fit. For example, patches and crewnecks, graphics and tees, shirts and pockets… However, some items don’t always mesh that well. For example, airbrushing on button-down oxfords, neons and a conservative corporate palette, you get the idea!

3. Know Your Audience Sure it’s technically your custom merch that’s all about promoting your company or being sold in a store, just make sure it’s something your recipient or customer wants to wear. 

4. Customization & Location It goes without saying that there’s a fine balance between making your logo jump off your custom merch and designing something that your recipient wants to wear. That said, negative space can create the perfect frame for your logo. So while you might not want to have your logo so big it can be seen from another room, you definitely don’t want to hide it. 

9 tips for designing t-shirts that get noticed!

Wondering how to put a design on a shirt? Here we break down 9 popular ways to customize a tee shirt for the best t-shirt design ideas 2022 and beyond. 

1. Patches & Labels 

One of the ways to customize t shirts is with a fun patch or label. These customization options offer a modern twist that’s meant to be seen.  

Shirt Design Tips include Skipping the busy patterns that could compete with your custom label or patch. Also, if you’re going for a large patch design, using tone-on-tone hues will keep it from being over the top. See #9 Tone-on-Tone for more examples of ways to customize a tee shirt using this technique. 

T-Shirt Printing Design Samples: 

Understated Cool. A thermal tee with a front pocket and tag design is the one they'll never want to tuck in.

Photo courtesy of Urban Outfitters; Shown: Manastash Thermal Tee

The tee of all envy. Pocket, patch, name brand? This tee has all the features you need to get inspired.

Photo courtesy of Urban Outfitters; Shown: Vans Woven Long Sleeve Tee

Tone-on-tone masterpiece. Just imagine your logo front taking center stage on a similar design.

Photo courtesy of A24 Films; Shown: Dark 'A Twenty-Four' Patch Crew

2. Embroidery 

One of the best ways to customize a shirt is will embroidery. Classic yet not so traditional it can’t be considered cool. Embroidery is a great way to add color, texture,  and that special touch to your customization. 

In addition to ways to customize a shirt, embroidery is great for using to personalize throws, blankets, towels, linen napkins, and more. 

Examples of how to customize a tee shirt with embroidery: 

Front and center. This small and mighty embroidered logo deserves a second look. Plus, it’s on-trend thanks to the baby tee styling. A merch idea for Gen Zers! 

Photo courtesy of Madhappy; Shown: Classic Ribbed Baby Tee

On the pocket. The only thing better than a front pocket is using embroidery to make it stand out.   

Photo courtesy of Aimé Leon Dore; Crest Pocket Tee

Colorful addition. The perfect amount of color to add interest, yet, still be considered a do-with-anything neutral.  

Photo courtesy of A24 Films; Shown: Embroidered Party Logo 

3. Basic Tshirt Design: Screen Print 

A tried and true fave that works for t-shirt printing for beginners if you have the right equipment. When it comes to how to customize a tee shirt, the most common approach is with a screenprint. It’s an affordable option for text, designs, and logos. 

Screen Printing T-Shirt Design Ideas 2022 

Artistically done. Have a cool graphic or branding you want to incorporate for your t-shirt design description example? Screen printing makes it easy! 

Photo courtesy of Only NY; Shown: NYC Parks Ginkgo Fest T-Shirt

Classic and to the point. What’s better than seeing your logo or saying big, bold, and on the front of a great tee? 

Photo courtesy of the New Yorker; Shown: Rea Irvin’s Classic T-Shirt in Black

Long on text. There’s a reason screenprinting is a fan fave. Case in point, it says everything better. 

Photo courtesy of Bon Appetit; Shown: The Reverse Engineering Superfan Shirt

4. Tag

Forget about the inside tag label and go for something that’s meant to be seen. In addition to patches and labels, tags are another innovative option when wondering how to put designs on shirts. 

Talk to your Gemnote rep for t-shirt design online free templates for creating your custom merch. They can even help you see what your custom merch will look like with digital proofs. 

How to Put a Design on a Shirt Tag Examples

For another t-shirt design description example that uses tags for customization, talk to your Gemnote rep. 

Long sleeve tag. This long sleeve tee proves that your logo can make any tee better. 


Photo courtesy of jjjjound; Shown: J90 Long Sleeve Pocket Tee 

Short sleeve tag label. An easy way to update an otherwise basic tee. 

Photo courtesy of jjjjound; Shown: J90 Long Sleeve Pocket Tee 

Tag tank. Not just any tank, this one is branded with a logo tag for marketing made easy. 

Photo courtesy of Urban Outfitters; Shown: OBEY Tag Tank Top

5. Good Shirt Designs: Tie-Dye

Ever wonder how to design t-shirts at home using tie dye? For fun t-shirt printing for beginners, tie dye is often a top contender. Thanks to the plethora of color combos, it’s easy to let your creativity flow as you perfect ways to customize t shirts. 

Top T-shirt Design Ideas 2022 While tie dye may not mesh with all corporate branding, it’s still a trendy pick for t-shirt printing for beginners as well as professionals. 

How to Design Graphic T-Shirts With Tie Dye: 

A Mix Match Approach. Solids, tye dye, and a logo on front and back, it’s the of everything. 

Photo courtesy of Urban Outfitters; Shown: KAVU Klear Above Etch Art Tee

Graphically Tye Died. It may not be a tee shirt, but it’s a great idea of how tie dye can be your neutral background. 

Photo courtesy of A24 Films; Shown: Online Ceramics x Pearl Tie-Dye Cow's Milk Crew

Double up on the style. Here’s proof that sometimes, it really does take two to make a thing go right! 

Photo courtesy of Urban Outfitters; Shown: 

6. Good T Shirt Designs: Color Blocking 

Quick! Grab your creative style guide and pick your band colors. Color blocking is an excellent option for those looking to show off their brand identity. 

Whether you're looking for how to design t-shirts at home or just want the t-shirt design online free template, color blocking is an easy way to infuse life into your merch. 

Photo courtesy of Urban Outfitters; Shown: College Color Block tee 

Shown: Lacoste Crocodile Print Tennis T-Shirt

7. Puff Print 

Just like how to design t-shirts at home, these trending puffy paint prints are just as fun. Plus, they add texture to your design for marketing that really pops. 

Examples of Puff Paint Tees: 

Simply cool. Not just any orange, this one adds a pop of color and texture too. Just think if the possibilities with your own brand.  

Photo courtesy of Urban Outfitters; Shown: Gouache Orange Puff Print Tee

Out of the box. A24 Films had us at Googly Eyes when they showcased their logo in this puff logo tee. 

Photo courtesy of A24 Films; Shown: Googly Eye Puff Tee 

8. Air Brush

Other ways to customize t shirts include airbrushing. Wondering how to design T-shirts at home using the airbrush technique? It may not be easy if you don’t have a steady hand, however, it sure looks fun. 

Inspiring Designs featuring Airbrushing


Say it better. Pop a quote, a tagline, or anything else with this airbrushing technique. 

Photo courtesy of A24 Films; Shown: Zola Airbrush Tee

Beauty queen. You don’t have to showcase a Hollywood icon to make airbrushing work for you.


Photo courtesy of Urban Outfitters; Shown: Marilyn Monroe Airbrushed Tee

Oldschool fun. Cruising just got more fun with this retro-vibe tee featuring airbrushing. 

Photo courtesy of Urban Outfitters; Shown: Miami Paradise Cruise Airbrush Long Sleeve Tee

9. T-Shirt Design Basics: Tone on Tone 

The understated, low-key cool tone-on-tone technique that still lets your brand (or image) stand out. It’s an easy solution when you’re unsure what to put on a shirt, but know you want an elevated, classy style. 

Plus, when it comes to good designs for t-shirts, there’s a world of colors out there to match your branding. So whether you choose the Pantone color of the year, or a PMS color straight out of your brand toolkit, you’ll love knowing the sky’s the limit.  And speaking of color matching, Gemnote uses Pantone color matching so your identifiable brand personality rings true for screen print, embroidery, dip dyes, and much more!

Tone-on-Tone Design Examples 

Retro up. A mix of all things retro and cool, including Slash himself.  

Photo courtesy of Urban Outfitters; Shown: Slash Hollywood 1981 Tee

Simply charming. Cheerful yellow offers up sunshine vines in this too-cool-for-prints tee. 

Photo courtesy of Bon Appetit; Shown: The BA Shirt in Soft Scramble

Velour fave. Tone-on-tone greatness with a crocodile speaks for itself.  

Shown: Lacoste Velour Crocodile Lounge T-Shirt

While this list doesn’t cover all ways you can design a shirt, for example how to customize a t shirt by cutting it and creating a new silhouette is always an option. However, for companies looking for a corporate merch option to give away or offer on their website or swag store, these 9 ways to customize a tee shirt, are tried and true faves.  

Best Way To Design T Shirts

Talk to your Gemnote rep! They can help you through the entire process, including the t-shirt printing design samples you may need for your company’s internal approvals. From working within your budget and matching your branding to a "T," Gemnote can even help with swag stores, kitting and warehousing, order fulfillment, and more.   

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