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Shirt Design Made Easy

Updated on September 15, 2016
SweetiePie profile image

Sweetiepie is an artist and a blogger. See more of her artwork by visiting the website listed on her profile page.

About ten years ago I used to decorate plain t-shirts with iron transfer images of drawings and paintings I had created. However, you have to be careful when washing shirts with iron on transfers, as these crack over time. On one shirt there was an iron on transfer image of my Scotty dog oil pastel illustration, which I washed by hand for several years to minimize damage to the embellishment. Nevertheless, over time the iron on transfer began to crack, and the decoration began pealing off one day when I thought I could just throw it in the washing machine. I had even turned inside out and washed it on gentle with cold water, but the damage had already been done to the iron on transfer. So even though the iron on transfer was beautiful when I first applied it,, the image deteriorated over time. Now I prefer to draw a design on a shirt with fabric markers or to use a print on demand site.

I used fabric markers to create a heart design on my shirt.
I used fabric markers to create a heart design on my shirt. | Source

Here is another shirt I designed with my colored pencil drawing. The illustration was of a panda bear holding her baby. Over on Zazzle I am Bearie23, and you can check out more shirts with my artwork that are featured there.

The forest sunset sketch that I used to decorate my shirt.
The forest sunset sketch that I used to decorate my shirt. | Source

For several years I have created shirts over on Zazzle, but in 2010 I finally decided to purchase one after my iron on transfer Scotty dog shirt faded. I also have learned that if you enjoy photography, painting, or drawing that print on demand sites are ideal for selling artwork on various products. I have also created shirts and cups for sale on Cafe Press and RedBubble, but I have only ever ordered products from Zazzle.

There are many other people who like other print on demand sites, but I find myself preferring Zazzle because of its aesthetically pleasing layout and social networking tools. For instance, if you create a shirt with your drawing on Zazzle then you are able to embed a picture of this product on your own website. RedBubble also allows you to do this, but the limitation being that you can do so on Blogger and then copy the HTML into your own website.

Cafe Press is even more limited in that you can only link to your products, and thus it becomes difficult to promote your store. Also, Cafe Press makes you pay for a professional account in order to add more than one design. With the limited functionality of RedBubble and Cafe Press, I was much more inspired to buy some of my own shirts and products from Zazzle. I have even had several sales on Zazzle, which I cannot say the same about Cafe Press and RedBubble. Zazzle allows you to promote your products and store for free on any website, which makes it the best place for artists and photographers who is interested in social promotion.

When I opened the package with the forest sunset shirt, I was very elated to finally see the shirt I had designed in person. There is something very liberating about wearing a shirt with your own artwork because you know this piece of clothing is expressing who you are, and what you enjoy. Growing up in the San Bernardino Mountains influenced a lot of my artwork, and the shirt I designed with a colored pencil drawing of a forest sunset was very meaningful for me to wear.

The Pinnacles shirt was a bit on the large side.
The Pinnacles shirt was a bit on the large side. | Source
At least I can move around in my Pinnacles shirt.
At least I can move around in my Pinnacles shirt. | Source

I decided to design another shirt with my colored pencil drawing of the Pinnacles, which is a group of hills in the San Bernardino Mountains that are covered with large boulders. The Pinnacles are a very large part of my life until this day because I used to look at these every day, and I went on many hikes to the top when I lived up in the mountains. Years ago one of my goals was to finally draw the view of the Pinnacles from my childhood home, and I finally achieved this goal in January of 2012. To commemorate the event I used this drawing to decorate my Pinnacles shirt, which is large and on the comfy side, but fun to wear on a lazy day.

The video of the boulders out at the Pinnacles gives you an idea about how these magnificent rocky hills have influenced my shirt designs.

After I created my Pinnacles shirt I decided to design another one with a drawing of my dog Buster. In the future I plan on creating more shirts with my animal drawings on these, but at the moment I decided to design a shirt with Buster, which turned out quite fun actually. So I highly recommend print on demand sites if you want to make a personal shirt for yourself, friends, or if you are just looking for a way to sell and promote your own artwork.

Picture of my new Buster shirt.
Picture of my new Buster shirt. | Source
Yes, I was happy to wear my Buster shirt with the picture I drew of him standing on his favorite deck.  This is now one of my favorite shirts.
Yes, I was happy to wear my Buster shirt with the picture I drew of him standing on his favorite deck. This is now one of my favorite shirts. | Source

So I could not be more thrilled than to own a shirt with a picture I truly adore, since it is one I created. If you are an animal lover who has commemorated a pet with a drawing, you can always make a print on demand shirt to wear it. I know there are a lot of rules out there about how people cannot wear cute shirts with pictures of animals or forest sunsets on them, but who makes up those rules anyway? I have no desire to wear high end designer clothes because I would rather wear my own shirts that display my artwork.


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    • SweetiePie profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago from Southern California, USA

      Yes, it is nice to have an individual wardrobe.

    • prettydarkhorse profile image


      2 years ago from US

      I think that it is nice when you create what you like.

    • SweetiePie profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Southern California, USA

      Making shirts with your own artwork will never go out of style. I am selling even more shirts on Zazzle these days.

    • mr-veg profile image


      5 years ago from Colorado United States

      Pretty interesting idea.. I know I am reading to late but still it seems fresh and interesting to me.. Thumbs up !! and I learnt something new today...

    • SweetiePie profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Southern California, USA

      Thanks for your lovely comments Dolores!

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 

      6 years ago from East Coast, United States

      So cool to have your own shirt designs featuring your own art. I love them! Your art really works well as a T shirt graphic. Also loved your Pinacle video - what a beautiful place. I love Southern CA!

    • SweetiePie profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Southern California, USA

      Thanks, Carol. What I did is take my colored pencil drawings and have these printed on to shirts on the Zazzle website, but I have also painted shirts with fabric paint. You can do it so many different ways it is fun!

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      I am inspired to get the paints out and redo some older t-shirts. Your artwork is lovely.

    • SweetiePie profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Southern California, USA

      I still design my own shirts, and you can look on my profile if you want to know more!

    • dinkan53 profile image


      6 years ago from India

      I’m impressed viewing your work. I will appreciate if you continue this in future. Voted up and interesting.

    • SweetiePie profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Southern California, USA

      Hi Ruchira,

      I think you will enjoy it. You could even make shirts for your kids on there and customize it.

    • Ruchira profile image


      6 years ago from United States

      i have used transfers on a shirt for a kid who used to love lightening mcqeen and transferred via ironing.

      Zazzle store seems to be a good idea. will check it out,


    • VioletSun profile image


      6 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

      Julia, Oooh, thanks for this suggestion, had not thought about this! Have not had time to check it out, but will soon, as it's in my to do list. :)

    • SweetiePie profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Southern California, USA

      Hi VioletSun,

      I think you could make an interesting Zazzle store promoting your inspirational writings. Just a thought :).

    • VioletSun profile image


      7 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

      I enjoyed reading and viewing your creations. I have ventured into Cafe Press and Etzy but not Zazzle so will check it out.

      Voted up and awesome!


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