Finding Design Sizes & Transfer Placement
One of the most frequently asked questions we get is how big to make a design for apparel printing. In this post, we’ll cover various design sizes, and how to determine the best size for what you are printing.
The first thing you’ll want to determine is the placement of the design. Will it be a full front graphic, a left chest, a back print, sleeve, etc?
There are some standard suggested sizes once you know where you want to print it on the apparel.
By the way, Dave offers a really neat tip on visualizing your design size before you print it in this video:
Full Front Design Sizes
When printing a design on the front of a shirt, knowing the range of sizes is important.
If printing on adult size shirts, the standard size is 11” x 11” (or 11” wide by proportionate height).
This will look good on almost any adult size.
For printing on youth sizes, a good design size is about 9” x 9”.
When printing on both youth and adult sizes, most of the time you can get away with getting one design size, generally around 10 to 10.5”. At that size, it will look good on youth and adult size shirts.
The key is knowing your smallest shirt size and your largest. Getting a design size that is not too big or too little will look great on a majority of the shirts, but also still look good on the smallest and largest shirts as well.
Family reunion shirt orders are a good example of this. In a family reunion order, you’ll have plenty of youth sizes mixed with lots of adult sizes.
[Related Content: How to Handle Multiple Shirt Sizes]
While there are suggested design sizes, it really comes down to your preference and the look you are going for.
Do you want large, bold graphics that take up as much space on the front of the t-shirt as possible? Our screen printed transfers have a sheet size of 11.5” x 14”, so fill it up with a max size print for that look!
Left Chest Design Sizes
Besides full front shirt designs, a left chest design is the next most common printing placement on a t-shirt.
Customers may call this printing placement by various names, such as left chest design, heart design, pocket design, etc. (Tip: if a customer calls it a pocket design, check to make sure if they actually want it printed on a pocket or not.)
The standard left chest size is around 4.5” x 4.5”, but you don’t want to go much larger than that.
If you are actually printing on a pocket though, this will be smaller. Usually a design size of 3.5” x 3.5” will work, but measure the actual pocket to make sure you won’t be printing too close to the seams. You can always size the design a little smaller to be sure it will fit.
[Related Content: Left Chest Shirt Printing Placement]
Design Sizes for Sleeves
Printing down the side of a long sleeve is another common placement, especially on hoodies. The standard size for printing on a sleeve is 2” x 11.5”. However, depending on the look you want, you can size up to 2.5” x 14” for a larger, bold design size.
For short sleeves, a small 3” x 3” size will work for most shirt sizes. If printing on smaller youth sizes, you may want to go down to 2 or 2.5” wide for these sizes.
Cap and Visor Design Sizes
There are so many different styles and sizes of caps. Generally though, a standard cap design size is 4.75” x 2.75”. But if you can keep the height to around 2” or 2.25”, that will be better for printing to stay away from the crown of the hat.
For a visor, there is usually less height, so definitely keeping the height to 2” or less will work most of the time.
Branding your t-shirts is becoming more popular. Typically, the branding is done on the sleeves or on the back yoke.
The yoke is the upper back area between the shoulders, just below the neck.
If you want to add a print to the yoke area, a good design size is about 3” wide. Some brands keep it on the smaller side, about 2” or so for a logo, but anything between that 2 – 3” will look good.
Design Sizes for Inside Tag Prints
Another area to print that is quickly rising in popularity is the inside neck label tag area.
You can get blank t-shirts that come with tear-away neck tags so that you can replace them with your own branded shirt tags.
Transfers make printing tagless labels super easy.
We recommend keeping the size to about 2.5” to 3” wide for a tag print.
If you are using the Tag Along™ HP Platen to print your shirt tags, the tag print area of the platen is about 3.25” x 3.25”, so keep that in mind for heat pressing.
[Related Content: Brand Your T-Shirts with a Shirt Tag]
Watch for Obstructions
The above design sizes are recommendations, but it really comes down to the look you are going for and the apparel you are printing on.
Always keep an eye out for printing obstructions that will limit your print area and design size.
Try to avoid printing over seams or too close to seams. If you have seams, zippers, buttons, etc., you may want to scale down your design size.
[Related Content: Heat Printing Tips to Avoid Seams]
Don’t forget about fashion sizes, which could include form-fitting tops and bottoms. For example, a form-fitting junior sized female shirt will use a smaller transfer than a standard sized adult shirt.
If you would like to make the transfer sizes custom to the type of apparel you are heat pressing to, consider purchasing the garments before the transfers so that you can use a ruler to measure the space where you would like the design to be.
Use Gang Sheets for Multiple Design Sizes
One of the big benefits of screen printed transfers is the gang sheet. The transfer sheet size is 11.5” x 14”.
You can fill this space up with as much as you can fit for the same price. Therefore, if you can fit 2, 3, 4 or more images onto one sheet, then you are reducing your printing cost.
You can even get different size prints for the same job, without incurring any extra printing costs.
Placement and Position
Did you know that we not only provide tips to help you determine your transfer design sizes, but also where to place your transfers on apparel items?
When you are ready to heat press your custom heat applied transfers and need tips on where to place your transfer on the apparel item, check out the placement ebook.
Here, you will find positioning tips for left chest, pant legs, and more.
[Related Content: Heat Transfer Placement and Position Guide]
Get a one page cheat sheet guide for all design sizes!