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5 Cool Custom T-shirt Design Ideas to Try

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| February 1, 2021

Creating your own cute custom T-shirt isn’t as tough as you might think. These five T-shirt design ideas are all you need.

You don’t need to be a fashion designer to whip up a creative, bespoke wearable. These T-shirt design ideas are easy and fun to do, and the result is a cool, unique item that can be worn every day. Before you start, pre-wash your T-shirt to remove any residues or fabric softeners. This helps fabric dyes, paints and markers “take” more easily.

Tie-Dye

Try tie-dye for some trendy T-shirt design ideas.

Tie-dye is back in fashion. Need proof? Hailey Bieber, Gigi Hadid and Rihanna have all been spotted donning the trend. A blank slate (read: T-shirt) and a dye kit or fabric spray are all you need to create a cool, covetable, everyday item. Note though, current fashion favours tie-dye that’s more tonal rather than technicoloured, and a minimal feel is the au courant way to approach it.

Wet the T-shirt with water, as this will help the colour sink in more. Lay it flat and then at the front of the shirt begin twisting the shirt using your hands in a circular motion. Keep turning until it forms a long roll. Wrap rubber bands around the T-shirt roll, roughly 1 inch apart. The tighter you bind the roll, the more white will stay; a looser roll means more colour. Gradually spray the T-shirt roll, one colour at a time. Rotate the shirt, so you get colour on different exposed parts of the roll. Allow to dry, then remove the rubber bands and unravel.

What You'll Need

Use restraint when tie-dying for custom T-shirts.

Stamp & Spray Designs

Cute T-shirt design ideas include using stamps on the fabric.

Perfect for weekends, this laid-back surfer-inspired design will take you from beach to barbecue and everywhere in between. You can choose any stamp and paint combo that you want: we like how these palm trees and orangey hues just shout summer. Not a fan of palm trees? Be inspired by cars, sealife, farm animals, abstract shapes and more.

Before you start, insert a wide strip of cardboard inside the T-shirt to prevent colour bleeding through from front to back. Dip your stamp into the paint and press down firmly onto the fabric. Hold for a few seconds. Repeat until you’ve created a stamped line. Allow to dry before starting on the stripes.

For the stripes, use masking tape to mark the lines across the shirt. You can make them thick or thin, or a combination of both. Using the same paint colours as for the stamps, paint in between the tape lines. Once dry, remove the tape carefully to reveal the stripes.


HOT TIP Using two colours, minimally blended, delivers the cool ombré look above.

What You'll Need

Use restraint when tie-dying for custom T-shirts.

Sharpie Tie-Dye

ne of the best T-shirt design ideas includes using Sharpie markers.

All hail Sharpies! These versatile markers are found in pencil cases, desk drawers and craft kits across the country: but did you know that, combined with a little rubbing alcohol, they also create a cool tie-dye style blur on fabric? This is new-wave tie-dying; no rubber bands required.

Start with a wide strip of cardboard inside the T-shirt to prevent colour bleeding to the back. Use a stencil to trace different sized circles with a black marker pen. Inside each circle add pops of Sharpie colour — in the smaller circles, we added fewer dots and for the larger circles, more colours. Next, squirt on rubbing alcohol or hand sanitiser, and watch as the colours bleed. Allow to dry.

For this T-shirt design idea, we taped up a triangle to contain the design — but free hand is also fine. You can be as creative as you like — flowers, stars, shapes... whatever takes your fancy.

What You'll Need

Markers and drawing templates are key to creating this cool T-shirt design

SEE ALSO: 5 Beautiful DIY Canvas Painting Ideas for Your Home

Watercolour T-shirts

Make easy, beautiful custom T-shirts using watercolour paint.

Another clever riff on the tie-dye theme is this dreamy watercolour T-shirt design idea. First wet your shirt so that it is damp, then insert a wide strip of cardboard inside to prevent colour bleeding to the back.

Dip the paint brush into a glass of water and then into the watercolour paint. Dab onto the T-shirt. A light dab will create smaller circles and a heavy dab, bigger circles. Use separate brushes and a new glass of water for each colour. The hues will start to spread immediately, so you can see how it will look and add more colour where needed. Allow to dry before removing the cardboard.

What You'll Need

Don’t be afraid to try watercolours of all shades when designing this T-shirt

Stencil and Marker Design

Using stencils is one of several cute T-shirt design ideas.

We wholeheartedly encourage any creative types who want to free hand draw a design on a blank T-shirt – but most of us need a little guidance! That’s where a stencil comes in handy. Using a kids’ math stencil will help you create symmetrical, matching shapes that will give this simple project the extra polish it needs.

Insert a wide strip of cardboard inside the T-shirt — this prevents colour bleeding through from front to back, but also provides a base for drawing the shapes. Use the stencil to outline the shape with a fabric marker, and then fill in. There are no rules for this: use whatever shapes and colours you like.


HOT TIP Use masking tape to keep the stencil in place as you colour in.

What You'll Need

This T-shirt design idea is all about using stencils to create something unique