How to Make a Vintage T-Shirt

How to Make a Vintage T-shirt. There’s nothing as good as a nice, worn-in t-shirt. Don’t get me wrong, a new shirt with some bright, vibrant colours is great as well, having a wonderful t-shirt could give you a feeling that you could keep around for years.

How to Make a Vintage T-Shirt

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could create that look and feel right away on your own? Well, the truth is that you always can. In this article, I will share my views on how to make a vintage T-shirt.

What Materials are Vintage T-shirts Made up of

There are a lot of factors that people consider when designing t-shirts for any reason whatsoever. First off, you need to consider the design itself, and then the process of printing the t-shirts.

There are different types of t-shirts out there that you can print your designs on. Each one is going to have different advantages and disadvantages, and it doesn’t mean that one is necessarily better than the other. You just have to make sure you pick the one that fits the purpose of what you are doing.

The fabric of the shirt is not something to overlook. It is going to play a big part in not only printing but the wear itself. Some fabrics hold ink better, and others will last longer. Knowing the difference will help you pick the best for your project.


Cotton is the most common type of fabric used in making T-shirts, but we can‘t fail to mention that there are different types of cotton out there for use. These types of cotton are;

  • Combed cotton
  • Organic cotton.
  • Pima cotton
  • Slub cotton

Other materials you can use to make t-shirts are;

  • Linen
  • Polyester
  • Another fabric
  • Lycra
  • Modal

3 Simple Steps on How to Create Vintage T-shirt

To create a vintage T-shirt, follow the steps given below;

Print on a Polyester/Cotton Blend or a Tri-Blend B-Shirt

There are three major materials that you can use for vintage t-shirts

  • 100% Cotton
  • Polyester/Cotton blends
  • Tri-blends made up of polyester, cotton, and rayon

Since poly/cotton blends and tri-blends are made up of different types of materials, the fabrics are going to naturally have a vintage, heathered type of look to them.

The link is going to react quite differently with each of these shirt fabrics as well, and you can use that fact to your advantage. One unique thing about water-based printing is that the ink only dyes the cotton of the t-shirt, not the polyester or rayon. This means that, if you print on a 100% cotton shirt, your print is going to come out very bright and vibrant — not ideal for a vintage look.

Therefore, if you use a poly/cotton blend or a tri-blend t-shirt, water-based ink is only going to dye part of the print area, leaving you with a beautiful heathered look.

If you want to get a clear and easily readable print, then print on a blend.

Print Your Shirts With Water-Based and Discharged Inks

While water-based and discharge screen printing is the method of choice for so many printing t-shirt projects.

it’s important to use when aiming for a vintage T-shirt, a distressed look, and a feel. Since the ink soaks into and dyes the fabric of the t-shirt, instead of sitting on top, the print is going to naturally have an incredibly soft, worn-in feel right away, like a t-shirt you’ve had for years.

For the best type of results, be sure to wash your shirt once before wearing it. After a wash is a time the ink really sinks into the t-shirt fabric, to the point that you can’t even feel the print on the t-shirt anymore.

Since water-based ink reacts differently with each shirt, try to check with a t-shirt expert to make sure you’re going to get the visual effect you’d like. Water-based printing is still capable of carrying a very bold, vibrant print depending on the fabric of the shirt, therefore consulting someone to make sure you’re going to get your desired print effect is very important.

Add Textures to Your Design

Although printing on poly/cotton and tri-blend t-shirts is the most natural way to create a vintage-looking type of t-shirt, there are some things you can do to your design on the front end to achieve that look, regardless of the type of material.

One very good way to create a vintage-style t-shirt is to overlay a design with a texture.

Putting a texture on your design will add an extra dimension to your T-shirt and give it a light vintage look.

These are the steps on how to make a vintage T-shirt. We hope this article has been very helpful.

Why are Vintage T-Shirts Better Quality?

Vintage t-shirts are often made with higher quality materials and construction than many modern t-shirts, which can make them more durable and longer lasting. They may also have a more comfortable fit and feel due to the materials used.



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