Screen Printing Sizes and Placements

Posted by Jeffrey Gononsky on

Novice screen printers—and anyone else curious about what goes into creating a garment—commonly have questions about sizing and placement. How tall do you make a silk screen printing? Where should you place the design? Does T-shirt print size matter?

From band t-shirts and screen-printed t-shirts reflecting a company logo to jerseys for a team or matching uniforms for an organization, silk screen printing enables you to produce custom images onto garment material. However, it is important to ensure you can properly size and place screen-printing stencils for the proper final results.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a novice or a silk screen printing professional, Holden’s Screen Supply Corp. is breaking down everything you need to know about sizing and placing your prints.

What’s the Right Size and Placement for Screen-Printed T-Shirts?

In today’s printing industry, many service providers utilize direct-to-garment (DTG) printing to provide customers with designs and logos they like, as well as custom designs to create a genuinely unique garment.

DTG printing involves spraying water-based ink onto fabric before placing a garment into a printer. Once printers transfer an image to the fabric, they cure the ink to make the print more durable. Nevertheless, even when utilizing the DTG method, you must still know the image size they need to maintain when preparing a new design. Proper sizing enables printers to produce an image to scale on the garment.

Although no predetermined ideal size exists when silk screen printing custom images, some industry standards guide expert printers when producing screen-printed shirts.

Your Garment Size and Type

The first thing you must consider when silk screen printing is the type of material you’re working with. Most professional printers can produce custom designs on t-shirts, tank tops, hoodies, sweatshirts, and numerous others. Your type of garment determines the printable surface. Some garments may need space left for design elements like hoods, collars, and pockets.

T-shirt print size is often the largest and most commonly employed because they don’t often come with front pockets or collars like hoodies and polo shirts, providing a larger printing area. Once you determine the type of garment you want to work with, you must consider the overall size. As a general rule, the maximum printing area for a t-shirt is 12” x 16”. Expert printers may need to shrink designs to fit smaller-sized garments, enabling images to fit within printable areas.

Do you know the saying “Work smarter, not harder”? Many printers won’t change their setups based on the size of a garment. They will put together screen-printing stencils to a static dimension. When printing both youth and adult sizes, many printers will use a single size and placement that looks good on both shirts. 

The key to the best possible outcome is to understand the size of the smallest and largest shirt so printers can design an image that isn’t too big or small in the same space.

What Type of Printing Do You Need?

As mentioned above, direct-to-garment or DTG printing continues to increase in popularity. However, other printing methods like heat transfer, dye sublimation, and silk screen printing offer distinct benefits that keep them very valuable, especially when it comes to bulk ordering..

DTG and heat transfer printing requires flat spaces, making them less than ideal for printing full images on an entire garment. Using DTG or heat transfer over other printing methods means sizing and designing an image to fit within a maximum printable area requirement.

Selecting the Right Print Placement

Screen printers must use their space wisely, adapting to the width-height ratio—and accounting for unique placements. Proper print placement can be difficult even for experienced screen printers. While front prints come in virtually every shape and size, some unique garments and placement scenarios include:

Tanks and T-Shirts

Tanks tend to hang lower on the body. You’ll want to avoid creating a print that lands on the garment’s belly, residing approximately one inch from the top hem.

Aside from full-front shirt designs, many people opt for a left-chest design. Some refer to the left-chest print placement as a heart design or pocket design as well. The standard left-chest placement is usually 4.5” x 4.5” and you won’t want to place an image that’s much larger than these dimensions.

Left-chest printing is a tasteful classic and corresponds with a shirt’s size. Nonetheless, you should avoid utilizing designs with tiny or hard-to-see details because you may not clearly observe them from a distance.

When actually printing on a pocket, you must size down to smaller printed images. Usually, designs featuring 3.5” x 3.5” dimensions work well but measure the actual pocket to ensure your print doesn’t migrate too close to the seams.

Printing on Sleeves

Individuals also commonly print business logos and designs down a shirt’s sleeves as well. The standard sleeve print size is 2” x 11.5”. However, depending on your unique design and how you want the print to look, you can slightly increase the size by approximately half an inch for larger and bolder results.

Full-Back Prints

The full-back print design is the second-most popular printing location after the well-known full-front print design. However, printers place full-back prints slightly lower and a larger size.

The standard full-back print size is usually 12” x 14” but many printers can go a couple of inches bigger when required on garments that aren’t too small for the dimensions. Full-back print placement pairs best with the left-chest design.

Start Printing Your Garment Images Today

Holden’s Screen Supply Corp. serves the New York community, as well as screen printers all over the United States. We even work worldwide, providing supplies and equipment to help them produce the best results.

As one of North America’s premier screen printing supply manufacturers, Holden’s Screen Supply Corp. has operated in the industry for more than 75 years, proudly producing quality, affordable, and efficient provisions.

To learn more about our team from Holden’s and how we can help you with your next screen printing project, contact our dedicated and expert professional today for additional information.