The global custom T-shirt printing market has blossomed into a really big business that's now worth almost $5 billion. Everyone from small business owners to crafters to apparel suppliers have started making shirts with custom designs, and it has led to a huge spike in custom T-shirt sales.
It's also led to a spike in the number of ways in which custom shirt designs can come together. There are many different T-shirt printing methods you can use to bring custom shirt ideas to life in 2023.
Direct-to-Film shirts, better known as DTF shirts, are some of the most popular types of shirts these days. DTF shirts are created by printing an image on a specialized film that can then be transferred onto a shirt through the use of a heat press.
People have come to appreciate how easy DTF shirts are to make. But before you begin taking shirt designs and trying to utilize them to make DTF shirts, you should learn about some of the common mistakes you'll need to avoid.
Here are 11 mistakes you should steer clear of when you're creating DTF shirts.
1. Rushing Through the DTF Shirt Design Process
People have come to love Direct-to-Film shirts for many reasons. They love them because they offer virtually unlimited color options when they're putting together shirt designs. They also love these shirts because they give them an opportunity to incorporate fine details into the mix without having to use outlines.
You should take full advantage of the benefits of DTF shirts by taking your time when you're creating designs for them. You should be able to come up with some pretty dynamic designs for the DTF transfer films that you'll use to create your DTF shirts.
2. Failing to Invest in a High-Quality DTF Printer
If you're planning to design your own DTF transfer films and print them out yourself, you will need to be prepared to invest in a DTF printer. And you shouldn't just Google "DTF printer" and pick out the first option you can find.
Ideally, you'll want to get your hands on a high-quality DTF printer manufactured by a trusted brand like Epson. You'll also want to be ready to do the necessary maintenance on a DTF printer so that you don't have to deal with things like clogged nozzles that can have an impact on the DTF transfer films you print out.
3. Using the Wrong Supplies to Create DTF Transfer Films
In addition to securing a high-quality DTF printer, you're also going to need to purchase a whole host of supplies that you can use to create DTF transfer films. Some of these supplies will include things like:
- DTF ink
- DTF powder
- DTF transfer film
You'll also need to have DTF cleaning fluid around that you can use to keep your DTF printer clean. Low-quality DTF supplies are going to lead to low-quality DTF shirts, so you aren't going to want to skimp on these supplies at any point.
4. Not Being Aware of the Option to Order Custom DTF Transfer Films
If you'd like to buy a DTF printer and all the supplies that go along with it so that you can create your own DTF transfer films, you're welcome to do it. But you should also know that you can order custom DTF transfer films.
A company like DTF Transfer Zone can make this possible for you. You can use this online designer to create your very own customized DTF transfer roll or sheet. It'll help you avoid having to go through the process of printing out transfer rolls yourself and allow you to focus on creating custom DTF shirts.
5. Relying on a Low-Quality Heat Press
Whether you decide to print out your own DTF transfer films or order them from a company like DTF Transfer Zone, you'll need to have a heat press handy to put them to good use. Just like with a DTF printer, you don't want to have to rely on a low-quality heat press that isn't going to deliver the types of shirts you want.
You might be able to find some heat presses that will only cost you a couple hundred dollars. But they aren't always going to be able to provide the excellent results you're looking for. It would be worth spending a little more money to get your hands on a high-quality heat press that will make the DTF process easier for you.
6. Neglecting to Prepare DTF Transfer Films Properly
Just before you're ready to apply DTF transfer films to T-shirts, you will need to prepare them accordingly. If you're going to be making your own DTF transfer films at home, this will include taking these steps:
- Printing the designs for your DTF shirts on DTF transfer films
- Sprinkling adhesive powder on DTF transfer films while they're still wet
- Curing the adhesive powder on DTF transfer films by holding your heat press over them for about two minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit
You will be able to skip taking these steps if you'll be buying customized DTF transfer films from DTF Transfer Zone. But you might still want to hold them under your heat press to get them ready to go since they aren't going to work well if they have any moisture on them.
7. Forgetting to Pre-Treat T-Shirts for the DTF Process
If there is any moisture in the blank T-shirts that you're going to be turning into DTF shirts, it could cause the DTF process to go off the rails. Your DTF transfer films aren't going to work like they're supposed to if you attempt to apply them to T-shirts with moisture in them.
For this reason, you should pre-treat T-shirts for the DTF process by placing them into your heat press without DTF transfer films for about 15 seconds each. By doing this, you'll be able to eliminate any excess moisture that might exist in the T-shirts.
8. Setting a Heat Press to the Wrong Temperature
To transfer your shirt designs onto the blank T-shirts that you've prepared, you're going to need to set your heat press to the right temperature. This temperature will typically fall somewhere between 285 and 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
But the exact temperature that you use will depend on everything from the type of shirts you're using to the DTF transfer films you're applying. You will need to figure out what the right temperature should be based on either your own research or the instructions provided by a company like DTF Transfer Zone that is supplying you with DTF transfer films.
9. Applying the Wrong Amount of Pressure to DTF Shirts
It isn't going to take very long to transfer your shirt designs from your DTF transfer films to your blank T-shirts. Once you put your DTF transfer films on your blank T-shirts in a heat press, transferring your designs should only take about 15 seconds.
You will, however, need to apply firm pressure to your heat press to get the desired results. If you don't apply enough pressure to your heat press, it could result in only a portion of your design ending up on a shirt.
More often than not, you'll need to apply a lot of pressure to your heat press to get the best results. But you should pay attention to any instructions that you receive with customized DTF transfer films if you decide to go in that direction.
10. Removing DTF Transfer Films From T-Shirts Too Quickly
After you take DTF shirts out of your heat press, you will need to give them a chance to cool off before peeling your DTF transfer films off them. The next step you'll take will depend on whether you decide to use DTF transfer films that call for a cold peel or a warm peel.
If they call for a cold peel, you'll have to wait until your T-shirts are completely cooled off before peeling the DTF transfer films off them. If they call for a warm peel, you'll only need to wait until your T-shirts have cooled down a little to peel the DTF transfer films off.
Either way, try not to be in too big of a hurry to peel your DTF transfer films off your T-shirts. Doing this could have a detrimental effect on how your DTF shirts turn out.
11. Refusing to Learn From Previous DTF Mistakes
Once you get the hang of creating DTF shirts, you should find the entire DTF process to be very easy. But when you're just starting out, there will be a slight learning curve, and you will inevitably make mistakes along the way.
Instead of getting frustrated when you make mistakes, you should take the time to learn from them. You'll be able to make better DTF shirts down the line when you learn from your mistakes and work to improve your skills.
Let Us Help You Avoid These DTF Shirt Mistakes
Do you want to make sure you don't end up making any of the mistakes listed here while creating DTF shirts? DTF Transfer Zone can help you avoid them at all costs.
We can provide you with the DTF supplies you'll need to create your own DTF transfer films at home. We can also help you design customized DTF transfer films online and send them right to your front door.
Check out more of our blog articles for additional tips on creating DTF shirts.