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8 Tips for Designing Your Custom Church Shirts on a Budget

We get it: trying to design shirts for your church community on a budget can be tough. You want to represent your church well, while also stewarding your budget well. At Real Thread, we think both of those things can be true together! Here are some tips for keeping you on track financially, while also saving you loads of time. (Because we all know: time = money, too.)

Build your inventory

Start building up your vector art inventory so you can pull from it for a later project. T-shirt design services or freelance designers can be rather costly, so if your church communications team has the skills and capacity to do it, save your congregation some money and start designing for fun in your free time. Down the road, you could combine two or more ideas to create the perfect shirt for your budget. The world is your oyster!

Check for hidden fees.

While on the hunt for a t-shirt screen-printing company, make sure to check the small copy for hidden fees. If you want to design a shirt on the lower cost end, check for charges, including “set up,” “startup,” or “screen fees.” Believe it or not, many promotional printers add a fee to your base cost for multiple colors, locations, sizes, etc., and you might not see it until it’s too late. When you receive a quote, look it over carefully to ensure no surprises!

Submit proper art files

Submitting proper art files will eliminate any additional cost when designing a shirt on a budget. An adequate art file usually consists of a print-ready file such as an ai, eps, or PDF. Also, before you submit your files, make sure the fonts are “converted to outlines” or attached to your order, all linked images are embedded, and the text in your design is legible. Looking over and checking off these details will set your church shirt order up for success.

Choose the best shirt for your needs.

The “right” shirt fits your budget, but it also means choosing a brand that’s good quality and will last. We’ve said it before: it can seem expensive to pay for custom-printed t-shirts, but it’s more costly to pay for a shirt that no one will wear. So what kind of shirts do people want to wear? They want super soft, long-lasting, and memorable t-shirts. We offer a good number of products that fall into this category, but if you’re looking for something more specific, we can help you find it.

Minimize colors and locations.

It is possible to print anywhere from 1 to 12 colors on your t-shirt here at Real Thread. Depending on your t-shirt printing budget, you can add or reduce the total number of colors and locations in your design to meet your needs. Just  the more colors, the more expensive. Keep in mind that there are other shortcuts to “add” more colors without cost. One of the most remarkable ways to do this is by using negative space (or, in this case, the t-shirt color) in the design as an additional color.

Order with enough time in mind.

The standard turnaround time at Real Thread is ten business days. The term “standard” refers to orders that do not include additional services such as tag printing. Adding other services only adds a day or two to your final turnaround time. If you know what date you need your shirts by, our team can work with you to figure out when you need to order to get them on time. Ordering with time to spare will help you avoid any last-minute rush fees, save money, and keep you on track with your budget.

Hit price breaks (BEST KEPT SECRET!)

Increasing your total number of shirts helps you stay on budget, but it could also save you money when designing your next shirt on a budget! Yep, that’s right – adding another t-shirt or two might bump you up to the next price break, which can decrease the price per shirt. For instance, if you’ve requested 48 shirts with a one-color front on Next Level Apparel, you’re looking at about $9.76/shirt. By increasing your total number of shirts to 50 (adding two more pieces), the price will drop down to $7.59/shirt. We’re not making this stuff up; check out the quick quote calculator here.

Download free resources.

If you’re designing a t-shirt on a budget, find and use all the free resources to create printed tags, hem tags, textures, and more! Just pop in your logo and website, submit it with the rest of your art, and you’re good to go.
Now that you know all the tricks of the trade for staying on track with your shirt budget, you can confidently place your order, knowing you’ve saved money and created a shirt your church will want to wear over and over. So, pull from your vector art inventory, download some free resources, and start building your next shirt now!

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