So You Want to Make a T-Shirt A Guide to What You Need to Know

How can I make a shirt a JMU X-Labs?

At JMU X-Labs, people can design a t-shirt using the vinyl cutter. With the vinyl cutter, you can cut out simple graphics out of heat transfer vinyl (HTV) that can then be ironed onto a shirt (scroll down for examples). This works well if you want to make a shirt that has text or a bold graphic or logo. Photo images are not supported.

To make a shirt during Open Lab, please make an appointment for the Vinyl Cutter. You will need to bring in your own shirt; HTV is provided. If you want a specific color, texture, pattern, etc. you can purchase some at Michael's, Walmart or online. We typically always have black, white, purple and gold HTV in stock.

Step One: Design

What Make a Good Shirt Design?

Think of something that is bold and graphic. For example:

Simple graphics

Detailed photos and images do NOT create designs suitable for the vinyl cutter. If you are unsure about your design idea, bring in example images and we will consult with you during your appointment.

During your appointment, we will help you convert your design to a cut file using CorelDraw.

Step Two: Cut

Pick out what color heat transfer vinyl you need for your design. Typically, we have white, black, purple, gold as well as limited amounts of seasonal colors in stock. If you want a specific color, you are welcome to purchase your own HTV. We recommend purchasing Siser brand HTV, available at Michael's.

Next, we will help you load the vinyl into the vinyl cutter and soon you will have your design!

Step Three: Weed

Once you have your design, you will need to peel off everything that is NOT going on your shirt. This means taking off the background and any only little details (i.e. middles of letters).

You should be left with a sticky clear sheet that has your design, something that looks like this:

Step Four: Press

Once your design is weeded, you are ready to press. Place the design sticky-side down on your shirt and go over it with an iron. Make sure to get all the edges! Test to see if your design has stuck by peeling off the clear plastic. If it is coming up, put the plastic back down and press it some more.

Once your design is pressed, peel off the plastic and you are done! If your design starts coming off later, you can always use parchment paper and iron it back on at home.

Did you make a cool shirt?

Text us a picture at 540-738-0577 or email it to us at jmuxlabs@jmu.edu. It might end up on our social media!