How to Correctly Size Your T-shirt Design for Different Size T-Shirts using Heat Transfer Vinyl (Video Included)

how to correctly size your t-shirt

Introduction

Hey there Rozzy Crafters! Have you been stressing over what size your t-shirt design should be when you have multiple sizes to make? Well you’re in luck! This tutorial will lay it all out for you for all different sized shirts. We’ll be going in depth on tips and tricks for sizing your design for different sized shirts.

The Search for the Perfect Method

When I first started designing and making shirts, I was terrified that whatever I did would be completely wrong. The very first shirt I made was definitely a learning experience and my sizing was WAY off. So, I did what any other Pinterest-addicted crafter would do, and hit the internet for more information.

It seemed like each site or blog I visited had different recommendations. That scared me even more than my own guessing. My search led me to the consensus that no two people give the same answer. My math-centric mind then led me to the conclusion that I should just go off each shirt measurement and create my own sizes. I needed to find a way to make sure I could make the same design fit multiple sized t-shirts.

Now, the easiest way would be of course to make them all the same size, however, this did not suit me. I knew that a design that looked perfect on a size small adult t-shirt would not look right on a size 3XL and vice versa. I decided to match the size difference in shirts by changing the size of the design for each shirt size.

Standard T-Shirt and Design Sizes

Standard T-shirt Width for Adult Classic Tees

Small – 18 inches

Medium – 20 inches

Large – 22 inches

X-Large – 24 inches

2X-Large – 26 inches

3X-Large – 28 inches

4X-Large – 30 inches

Standard T-shirt Design Widths for Adult Classic Tees

Optimally, you need 5-8 inches of blank space on either side of a design to make it look right (for adult shirts). Here are the width sizes that I have come up with that work best for the shirts that I have made:

Small – Design width no bigger than 9.5 – 10.5 inches

Medium – Design width no bigger than 10 – 11 inches

Large – Design width no bigger than 10.5 – 11.5 inches

X-Large – Design width no bigger than 11 – 12 inches

2X-Large – Design width no bigger than 12.5 – 13.5 inches

3X-Large – Design width no bigger than 13 – 14 inches

4X-Large – Design width no bigger than 13.5 – 14.5 inches

Standard T-shirt Width for Youth Classic Tees 

Extra Small – 16 inches

Small – 17 inches

Medium – 18 inches

Large – 19 inches

X-Large – 20 inches

Standard T-shirt Design Widths for Youth Classic Tees

Extra Small – Design width no bigger than 8.5 – 9.5 inches

Small – Design width no bigger than 9 – 10 inches

Medium – Design width no bigger than 9.5 – 10.5 inches

Large – Design width no bigger than 10 – 10.5 inches

X-large – Design width no bigger than 10 – 11 inches

Disclaimer: No two shirts measure exactly the same. Different brands, colors, and sizes can vary the true measurements of each individual shirt. Always measure your shirts to make sure that design sizes you have previously used still stand true. To avoid waste of material, you can cut a piece of scrap paper to the size of your design and use that as a test prior to cutting out your vinyl.

Note: Length is unfortunately not standard with shirts and varies greatly brand to brand. And variance in design length size is exponential, so I did not include a sizing guide for length in this tutorial. My rule of thumb is measure, measure, measure before you cut!

Now let's put all this information to work!

Supplies

Step 1 - Size the Design Using a Template

**This post focuses on using Cricut Design Space, but everything applies equally well to Silhouette Studio. A note on using templates in Studio is included at the end**

Once I create the design, I use the template option that is available on Cricut Design Space to create a “mock-up” of my shirt. I do this to make sure the ratio of my design is correct. Check out the video down below for step by step instructions on how to utilize this option.

 t-shirt templates in cricut design studio 

Using the templates, you can customize them to match your desired shirt. First, pick the color of your desired shirt.

 Using the templates, you can customize them to match your desired shirt

Choose the style and size of the desired shirt (it only goes up to 2XL on the size options, but the “Custom” option can be used for shirts larger than 2XL).

 Choose the style and size of the desired shirt 

Remove the grid lines under “Settings.”

 remove grid lines 

Then adjust the size of the design to be more aesthetically pleasing.

 Adjust the size of the design

 resized design

Once you are happy with your design, you can take a screen shot of the “mock-up” and send it to your customer for final approval before cutting your vinyl.

 mock up

The same above can all be used for kids, toddler, and baby options. They are included in the template options. Just change the shirt style option.

Also works for youth sizes

You can then adjust your design to fit the smaller sized shirt

adult size to youth size

Again, no two shirts are exactly the same size, so always measure before you make your cut! 

Step 2 - Adjust the Design Size

Once I am completely happy with my design and get my customer’s approval, I will begin my cutting. I adjust the width and the length of the design for the shirt sizes that I have. Make sure you design sizing is locked so that the ratio of width to length remains the same for each size you are making.

The lock/unlock option is located at the bottom left corner of your selection.

lock unlock option 

 Or above your sizing details in the top menu bar

 sizing detail in top menu bar

To adjust the size of you design, simply type in your desired width into the sizing details in the top menu bar or adjust it using the sizing adjustment button at the bottom right corner of your selection. The height will adjust accordingly if the design is locked.

This specific cut is for a 2X shirt, so the width is between 12.5 and 13.5 inches and the height was adjusted by the design being locked when the width is increased.

Make the cuts you will need for your first shirt.

Then adjust the size of the design for the next size needed. Next is a size large, so adjust the template to a size large.

 adjust the size of the design for the next size needed

Then adjust the width of the design. For a size large the width should be between 10.5 and 11.5 inches. When the width is adjusted, the height automatically adjusts if the design is locked.

 Then adjust the width of the shirt

The next shirt is a size youth small of the same design. Again, change the template size and adjust the width to match the above suggested size between 9 and 10 inches.

It is not necessary to change the template size if you are comfortable with the way your design looks. You can hide the template layer and just adjust your width/height for your design as desired. I like to take that extra step to make sure the design looks correct on all sizes prior to cutting each one.

Step 3 - Cutting and Pressing

You can continue adjusting the size of your design and cutting them for each of the shirts in the various sizes you have. Make sure that each group of cuts is kept together. I will stick the different layers together after they have been weeded and will mark in the corner what the size is. This insures that the correctly sized design is with the right shirt size. You can always cut then press each shirt to avoid any mix ups.

stick the different layers together after they have been weeded and will mark in the corner what the size is

Prior to pressing, fold your shirt in half and press or iron it. This removes any moisture that it may have and also creates a crease you can use for centering the design on the shirt.

Fold in half

 And press

Always measure your placement prior to pressing. I prefer to use a clear fabric ruler so that I can see through it. Designs should start 2-3 inches below the collar for adult sizes and 1-2 inches below collar for youth sizes. Personally I do 2 inches below for small and medium adult sizes, 2.5 inches below for large and X-large adults sizes, and 3 inches below for 2X-large and above sizes. I use the same adjustment for kid sizes; 1 inch below for extra small and small sizes, 1.5 inches below for medium, and 2 inches below for large and X-large. Again, you want your design to consistently look the same on each shirt you make, regardless of size difference.

Measure placement

See the charts below for quick reference to use when deciding design sizing and placement:

 ADULT

Shirt Size

Standard Width

Suggested Design Width

Below Collar Placement

Small

18 inches

9.5-10.5 inches

2 inches

Medium

20 inches

10-11 inches

2 inches

Large

22 inches

10.5-11.5 inches

2.5 inches

X-Large

24 inches

11-12 inches

2.5 inches

2X-Large

26 inches

12.5-13.5 inches

3 inches

3X-Large

28 inches

13-14 inches

3 inches

4X-Large

30 inches

13.5-14.5 inches

3 inches

 

YOUTH

Shirt Size

Standard Width

Suggested Design Width

Below Collar Placement

Extra Small

16 inches

8.5-9 inches

1 inch

Small

17 inches

9-9.5 inches

1 inch

Medium

18 inches

9.5-10 inches

1.5 inches

Large

19 inches

10-10.5 inches

2 inches

X-Large

20 inches

10.5-11 inches

2 inches

CONCLUSION

finished product

We hope this tutorial was able to help you with some of the questions you had regarding proper design sizing for various shirt sizes.

If you have any questions or suggestions, let us know in the comments below or on Facebook!

Tips for Using Silhouette Studio

If you are using the Silhouette Studio, there are a few extra steps to create mock-ups, but it is still easy. The first thing you need to do is to use an image of the product you are designing. For the sake of this tutorial, we will use a shirt. Find an image of a shirt that you have permission to use. Right click and copy the image.

Then go into your Silhouette Studio and paste the image onto your mat. You can also save the image to your computer and upload it into Silhouette Studio. 

Once you have your template image added to your mat, bring your design in front of the image. You then resize your image and get your placement correct. Lastly, take a screen shot and you have a mock-up ready to send to your customer for final approval. 


13 comments


  • Cathy

    Exactly what I was looking for. Thank you!


  • Denise

    Thanks for the tips. Super helpful


  • Jonetta

    Hello, This article was so awesome, informative and so helpful. I too, like you, have been searching and searching. You made it so simple, concise and was exactly what I needed. Thank you so much. I am looking forward to seeing what more you have to offer. You have a subscriber! :)
    Jonetta
    Joyfully Crafted LA


  • Juan Leal

    EXCELLENT JOB, THANK YOU…!!!


  • Brenda Michaud

    I’m so happy I found you. This information is fantastic. It will make life easier.Thank you so much.


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