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Blog / Beginner's handbook / A Step-by-Step T-Shirt Design and Logo Placement Guide

Beginner's handbook

A Step-by-Step T-Shirt Design and Logo Placement Guide

A Step-by-Step T-Shirt Design and Logo Placement Guide
Cloe Ann Montoya

By Cloe Ann Montoya

12 min read

Do you have a great design in mind, but only a vague idea of where it’d look best on a t-shirt?

If that’s the case, then you’ve come to the right place.

In this guide, you’ll learn about 7 different t-shirt design placements in detail. You’ll also find out which placements work best for logos, artwork, and text-based designs. 

By the end, you’ll be able to pick the best t-shirt placements for your designs! 

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Front t-shirt design placements

The front of a shirt is a classic—one of the most popular design placements you’ll see out there. 

Why? Wearing a custom-designed t-shirt with the artwork front and center is an excellent way to show off beloved art or rep a band, team, or favorite brand.

T-shirts with front placements are great when paired with outerwear that shows off the design. Think layering pieces like a zip-up hoodie that can be left open or tied around your waist to let your tee speak for itself.

Center chest design placement

Want to get even more specific? Enter: the center chest design placement—it’s one of the most commonly used spots for blank t-shirts. And it’s no secret why: this placement is in a highly visible location that grabs attention right away.

For embroidery, the centered placement size is 4” × 4”.

printful front embroidery area

Source: Printful

The center embroidery placement is best for smaller embroidery designs, like logos, text, quotes, or small artwork. 

If you want to embroider a bigger design on the front of the shirt, use the large center placement. Take advantage of the extra space to add more details (but don’t forget that it has less surface area than the DTG front placement).

Pro tip: Check your product’s File guidelines tab to see the maximum placement size for your chosen front design placement.

Left chest design placement

The left chest design placement is an all around win: classic yet versatile, understated yet dressed up—and it’s been popular for decades. This placement doesn’t offer a lot of room for detailed art but works great for logos, symbols, smaller designs, and text. 

left chest tshirt design placement

Source: Printful

Using the left chest placement for your logo or branding helps give a regular t-shirt a more polished look

The minimalist layout also makes this placement easier for shoppers to pair your t-shirt with other clothing. After all, offering t-shirt designs that you can wear with anything increases the chances customers will choose your t-shirts over other brands. 

At Printful, the standard size of an embroidered left chest placement is around 4” x 4”.  The smaller size and left chest location also make this spot a good choice for work uniforms or branded clothing.  

Pro tip: We use different embroidery stitches for different shapes or text thicknesses. Learn more about embroidery at Printful and check out what works best for your design.

printful left chest embroidery area

Source: Printful

To make sure you get your left chest placement design right on the first try, stick to the tips we’ve listed below.

  • If you’re using fonts: 

    • Use a minimum of 0.3” in height for upper case letters
    • Use a minimum of 0.25” in height for lowercase letters

  • If you’re using flat embroidery: 

    • Make sure detail thickness is at least 0.05” (4pt)

You can also use the center chest placement to show off your carefully-crafted text designs. 

Pro tip: Take your branding to the next level by adding your logo on an outside label for a more professional look. 

Full front design placement

A full front placement means even more space for your art. Since the pattern or design takes up a large part of the front of the t-shirt, it’s awesome for bold looks and max visibility. 

It’s best to center your design from the middle point of the neck collar. 

printful front design placement

Source: Printful

How big can you go? At Printful, we have various products from different manufacturers. That means every product has its own file guidelines with different max print areas depending on the size of the t-shirt, the design technique used, and the supplier. 

printful full front maximum print area

Source: Printful

For embroidery, the large center placement area is 10” × 16”. For DTG designs, the front placement area is from 10” × 12” to 12” × 16”. Since this offers a good amount of space, it’s the perfect placement to show off bigger designs with detailed colors. 

Back t-shirt design placement

The back of a t-shirt is the most common placement for sports uniforms and large designs because of the available surface area. 

The placement comes with other benefits, too. For example, artwork on the front of a shirt is more forward and can be harder to pull off. This is where the beauty of a back design comes in—customers can tone down the vibe by pairing outerwear with it. 

Below we discuss the most common back t-shirt placements offered by Printful.

Back outside label placement

We print outside labels underneath the collar of the t-shirt on the back. You can use this placement to show off your brand logo or unleash your creativity by adding text and other design elements!

At Printful, the max outside label placement area is 3 × 3 for most garments (it costs $2.49 per garment). Unlike inside labels, you can put a design in the entire placement area. 

Though this spot is more suitable for logo placement, you can use it for anything that works with your main design. After all, it’s your product!

back outside label placement area

Source: Printful

Want to find out if a product you like allows for an outside label? Follow these steps:

  1. Go to your desired product’s page

  2. Scroll down to Customization options

  3. Check for the Outside labels tag

If the tag is present, you can add an outside label to that product! That’s all there is to it.

printful dtg printing areas

Source: Printful

Note: You can’t combine an inside label or back print with an outside label on the same product.

Full back design placement

A full back placement is a suitable spot to show off your branding or designs because it’s a large area and prominent location.

Plus, since t-shirts lay flat against the back, your design is more likely to look the same as your mockup. There are fewer chances your design will crease.

full back maximum printing area

Source: Printful

For direct-to-garment printing, the maximum placement size is 10” × 12” to 12” × 16” depending on the product. You can’t exceed the size limit or your design will get cut off. If you want to design something larger, consider a seam-to-seam placement!

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Sleeve placement

Sleeve placements are a relatively newer (yet equally exciting!) design choice that’s been growing in popularity over the past few years. 

Not every print-on-demand provider allows you to design on the sleeve, but it’s an attention-grabbing spot that’ll help your designs stand out. It’s a cool option to use with other design placements or on its own for a more minimalist style.

sleeve tshirt design placement

Source: Printful

For example, combining a front center chest design with a related sleeve design placement helps make your product look put together and professional. 

You can also use this spot to drop your branding symbols or logo.

Something to think about, though, is that sleeves don’t usually have a lot of room for design flexibility. At Printful, the standard max sleeve placement size is usually 4” × 3.5”, but some all-over print products have a maximum size of around 20” × 12”

Since sleeve sizes vary greatly depending on the t-shirt size and the manufacturer, before you start designing, make sure to figure out:

  • If your desired product offers a sleeve design placement 

  • Your product’s max sleeve placement size

To find out this info for Printful products, follow these steps:

  1. Go to your desired product’s Printful site listing

  2. Scroll down and click on File guidelines

  3. Look for Sleeve print in the table

  4. Check the Print file size listed in the table 

  5. If you’re still unsure, download and read the Print file template

That’s it! Now you can check each product’s sleeve placement availability and find out the max size.

printful dtg printing areas

Source: Printful

Seam-to-seam placement

At Printful, we also offer all-over print (AOP) products that allow you to design the entire front, back, and sleeves of a t-shirt. AOP gives you absolute control over your entire design, allowing you to create a distinctive product with interesting patterns.

all over print t shirt

Source: Printful

A seam-to-seam design placement works best with AOP sublimation because the ink soaks into the fabric’s fibers. That means the material stays breathable and soft to the touch, even after printing. 

Why does it matter? Breathable fabric and designs keep your shoppers comfortable while wearing your clothing. 

Since there’s no standard limit to the max placement size, the world tee is your oyster. Your main design won’t get cut off as long as it fits in the safe area of the Design Maker

To avoid cut-offs for design placements outside of the safe area, don’t let your design: 

  • Go past the seams 

  • Touch the collar

Finally, plan time to test your design on each size you offer. You’ll be able to ensure your final looks are correct and will rest easy once you launch your products!

Pro tip: Use AOP to make a really big full front design by leaving the back and sleeves blank. Prefer a seam-to-seam back placement? You can do that too.

printful dashboard

Source: Printful

Need ideas for AOP designs? Check out this handy video.

Inside labels

Inside labels leave a lasting impression on shoppers, helping you to build brand loyalty. 

Labels also help you grow long-term brand recognition by making your products stand out from competitors. 

After all, it’s hard to forget where a product came from if the brand name is right on the collar!

printful inside label

Source: Printful

To find out if your desired product’s page listing on the Printful site offers an inside label, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the product page on the Printful website

  2. Scroll down to Customization options 

  3. Check for the Inside label tag

If the product shows the tag, you can add a custom inside label with your brand logo.

We can’t offer inside labels on every product in our catalog because the original manufacturer’s tag has to be removable.

printful inside label customization option

Source: Printful

Almost all products at Printful have a max inside label placement size of 3” × 3”

Other products may have max placement sizes of 2” × 2” or 2.5” × 2.5”, but you should check the information in your product’s File guidelines tab before designing.

Just keep in mind that your max logo placement size is 3” × 1.13” on the inside label. Check out the image below to get the gist of how your logo would look.

printful inside label template

Source: Printful

Great! Now you know the basics of inside label placement and where your logo fits. So let’s talk templates.

You can pick one of Printful’s premade inside label templates in the Design Maker and drop your logo design file in the editor. 

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Go to your product page and start designing 

  2. In the Design Maker, click on the Design tab

  3. Select Inside label from the options on the top bar above the editor

The editor will show you various inside label template options on the left side of your screen. Click on one you like and upload your brand logo on the part in the template that says ‘Drop your design here.’ 

That’s it! Now your logo is on your inside label for the product you chose.

how to add an inside label in printful

Source: Printful

Make sure to take note of these tips when designing your inside label:

  • Be sure graphics don’t exceed the maximum print area per the indicated garment size

  • Use a legible font style and avoid curly or hard-to-read font designs 

  • Keep fonts over size 10 to ensure your logo (or any text you use) is readable

  • Submit all graphics at actual print size in PNG format

  • Use the sRGB color profile sRGB IEC61966-2.1 with a minimum resolution of 150 DPI

  • Use a transparent background on your logos

If you still have questions, check out the File guidelines tab for the product you want to design an inside label for. 

Custom inside label placement

If you’ve been with Printful for a while already, you may still be able to create your inside label from scratch. 

When creating an inside label from scratch, you’re legally required to have your garment’s specifications on it. 

These include:

  • Manufacturing country of origin 

  • Garment size

  • Fabric composition

Only use English and your selling region’s language for your inside label. Make sure to follow the same tips listed in the section prior.

Best t-shirt design placements

Now that you know about the various kinds of t-shirt design placements available, let’s compare and contrast. Different designs, like logos, artwork, and text, work best on different t-shirt placements. 

We’ll review them individually and find out which placements make the most sense for each type of design.

Pro tip: Experiment with t-shirt placements using Printful’s free Design Maker. Play around with your designs on various products and pick what you like best!

For logos

It’s essential to leave your mark with your t-shirts. Branding helps you do just that. It elevates your brand by offering a more polished, professional look, and reminds customers of where they bought from. 

But where should your branding, or logo symbols, go?

Well, logos work best on the:

  • Left chest placement

  • Outside label 

  • Inside label

  • Sleeve placement

Why? Because these places are perfect for smaller designs. 

For example, let’s say you want to use the left chest placement for your branding. Then add your artwork on the back of the t-shirt. Or, put your branding on the sleeve or outside label, and have your main design on the front.

Adding your logo is also a great way to market your store and stand out at different events. Branded clothing helps boost your brands visibility during conferences, giveaways, and other kinds of promotional activities.

For artwork

Art is tricky. If you have small line drawings or minimalist designs, for example, it’d probably be a good idea to take advantage of the placements that work best for logos mentioned above. 

However, if you want your art to be the center of attention then go with a larger placement. You art will have enough space to shine in the following areas:

  • Center chest placement

  • Full front placement

  • Full back placement

Another cool idea? Put your main design on the front or back, and add a complementary mini-design to the sleeves. 

For text-based designs

Text designs, like trending quotes or funny sayings, are pretty popular. People love t-shirts with their favorite jokes, funny quips, or one-liners. However, placements vary—and where you place your text design will impact how legible it is.

The best spots to place text designs are on the:

  • Left chest placement

  • Center chest placement

  • Full front placement

If you’re wondering why most of these suggestions are on the front of the shirt, the answer is simple: visibility. Other spots may hide your design if your customer decides to wear outerwear. 

Feeling adventurous? You can experiment with text designs on the sleeve or outside label of your t-shirt, too!

Check out this video on how to create text designs for more info:

preview play-button

Tee’d up to start designing?

It can be difficult grasping all the different t-shirt design placements when starting out. We hope this post helped!

Overall, you’ll want to judge designs and placements on a product-by-product basis. That’s because every t-shirt has different size specifications and design methods available for it.

If you’re unsure, review the info in this post or contact Printful’s customer support for help. 

Go ahead and experiment with a variety of designs to get a feel for different placements, and you’ll surely get the hang of it in no time. 

Good luck!

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By Cloe Ann Montoya on Mar 27, 2023

Cloe Ann Montoya

Blog author

Cloe is a former Content Marketing Specialist at Printful. Her educational background includes a Bachelors of Science in Management and Economics and a Masters of Science in International Governance and Diplomacy. She loves reading fantasy books and going for long hikes with her dog, a rambunctious jackadoodle.

Cloe is a former Content Marketing Specialist at Printful. Her educational background includes a Bachelors of Science in Management and Economics and a Masters of Science in International Governance and Diplomacy. She loves reading fantasy books and going for long hikes with her dog, a rambunctious jackadoodle.