Customizing On-Location Apparel with a Heat Press

Martial Arts On-Location Heat Printed Custom T-shirt

Design layout: QMS-111 Shirt: Fruit of the Loom Heavy Cotton HD 100% Cotton T-Shirt. 3930 Extra customization on the sleeve created using clip art and text in Easy View

Baseball, martial arts, cheerleading, gymnastics, and more; all of these sports have on location events where heat printed customized apparel is a popular option for attendees and participants.

When creating custom apparel for events you can either create the apparel before the event or bring your heat press and apply screen printed, digital, or rhinestone transfers at the event. Bringing your heat press is a great opportunity for extra customization, such as names. It also gives you the opportunity to create apparel as they sell. By heat pressing as needed, there is less chance that you will need to toss extra apparel that won’t sell outside of the event.

Sleeve customization on martial arts championship t-shirt

Bring a print perfect pad or a Cap Heat Press to add extra customization such as “1st” for the first place winners of each division to the sleeve.

As an example, we created several apparel items that could be sold at a martial arts championship. The same type of apparel items with different customization could be sold at baseball, cheerleading, and gymnastics tournaments as well. The image above shows a t-shirt customized for the martial arts championship as well as extra customization on the sleeve. Both the full front and the sleeve were able to be heat applied on the same platen. This was achieved by using a print perfect pad inside of the sleeve. Another great way to customize sleeves is with a Cap Heat Press.

Custom Zipper Martial Arts Hoodie

Custom zip-up hoodie created by cutting the transfer in half and heat applying to each side. Zip hoodies with fabric flat over the zipper can be applied without cutting Apparel: Custom Zipper Martial Arts Hoodie Design Layout: QAL-2

Another item that can be customized on location is a hoodie, zip-up hoodie, or jacket. A great thing to keep in mind is that though the zip-up hoodie above looks great, it takes an extra step because you need to cut the transfer and apply both halves. A way to avoid these extra steps and save customization time is to either customize a zip-up hoodie that lays flat so you can apply the full thing at once or use a hoodie that does not zip.

When creating apparel at the event; keep the transfer type in mind since different transfers apply at different temperatures and some peel hot while others peel cold. The cinch sack below is a great example. Where both the shirt and hoodie above used Goof Proof® Screen Printed transfers which apply at 365 degree and peel hot, the cinch sack is made of polyester, which is heat sensitive, making Elasti Prints® transfers the better transfer type to use. Elasti Prints apply at 275 degrees and need to cool before you peel off the transfer backing. If you get different transfer types for an event, you may need to bring multiple heat presses to avoid continuously changing the temperature of your machine. Another option is to bring the item that applies at a different heat setting to the event already customized.


This cinch sack is made of 100% polyester which is perfect for Elasti Prints transfers. Cinch Sack: Port Authority Fast Break Cinch Pack Design Layout: QBA-247

If you would like to add even more customization, bring Peel & Press Screen Printed Letters to the event. With these letters; you can customize any Championship t-shirt with the name of the competitor or their relationship to the competitor (MOM, DAD, etc.).

Potential extras to bring along with your heat press to an on-location event is a print perfect pad or a mouse pad that can fit in sleeves or on the front of a cinch sack to raise the print area, interchangeable platens for specialty items, a Cap Heat Press for easy cap and sleeve customization, and scissors to cut your transfer sheets.

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Mia Evans

I find it interesting when you pointed out that there will be an extra step needed when you’re going to customize a zip-up hoodie or jacket because they would have to be applied on both halves. In that case, choosing a custom event t-shirt design in that kind of clothing would be a good idea because it will be made as soon as possible. In we need it finished before the end of the month because we’re going to use it for the family reunion event we are going to have.


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