FAQs About Starting a T-shirt Business with a Heat Press 

By  Cartess Ross

I still get a bunch of questions about this t-shirt heat press machine… So in today’s video, I address questions like…

  1. will someone steal my t-shirt design idea

  2. can i make multi-colored designs

  3. should i take a local business course

  4. what software should i use to make t-shirt designs

  5. can i transfer designs on dark colored t-shirts/garments

  6. will the transfer leave an outline on the shirt (around the design)

  7. can i use an iron

  8. will i make a million dollars this year selling tees

  9. can i print from my own printer

  10. can i buy release paper from you

  11. do the t-shirt transfer designs peel or crack

  12. can i print on the front and back of the t-shirts

  13. and much more…

So once again, here’s another video about this heat transfer machine…

Custom Transfer Vendors List — Click Here

For a detailed course and how to guide to starting a successful t-shirt business, check out my course by clicking here

Please help me…

If you found this t-shirt business video helpful, please click the “LIKE” button below. Thanks so much!

Cartess Ross

I will guide you through this process and provide you with proven strategies to help you build a t-shirt company. As one of the original pioneers to start selling t-shirts online 20 years ago, I've sold millions of dollars in t shirts to people all over the world. I founded TshirtRiches in 2007 to teach others how to turn their t-shirt ideas into a business. So if you're ready, hop onboard and let's make this money!

Cartess Ross

  • spiritusa says:

    Thanks for another great post. You cleared up the thing about printing your own transfers for me.

    • spiritusa says:

      There are a lot of articles and people that say that you can print your own transfers. Maybe if you explained clearly why you can’t (quality I’m guessing) people would stop asking the question.

  • Keywonishi says:

    thanks so much for the info again where are the links to the vendor who print the design on the transfers.

    • Cedric Williams says:

      Type your comment here.Hello cartess…do you have any infomation on the type of printer the tranfser companies use to create the transfers…if so.. do you think a investment in that kind of printer would be a good idea…i’m just starting out…..i sign up for your course a few months ago….i hope to invest a little of my tax money on my tshirt business….thanks

  • Cartess,

    Very informative and thanks for sharing.

  • Anonymous says:

    No problem… glad I could help!

  • Anonymous says:

    Forgot to add it. Take a look under the video, I just posted the link there. Sorry.

  • Great video I can’t wait my heat press will be here Friday and I am getting started on my Tee’s Saturday.

  • Josephgilliam says:

    Cartess I want to get started in this business,what is the first thing I need to do?

  • what size are the sheets u are using?

  • Buy the course and a heat press machine… I’m just joking 🙂

    If you already know what type of designs you want to make and have an idea of who your target market is, then you’re half-way there. You’ll want to get yourself a heat press machine — and you can either buy one from our site, or you may get lucky and find a used one on Craigslist.com for next to nothing (it’s hard to tear these things up), I’ve seen them as low as $195 on Craigslist. I generally recommend a 16×20, but a 15×15 will get you going fine, provided you’re not making oversized t-shirt designs…

    Beyond the machine — getting your designs out to the market place will be your biggest challenge. Making the designs and stuff is the easy part — getting people to buy your stuff will be the hardest part. People assume they can simply throw their designs up and the masses will start buying — not going to happen. It’s going to take some work and dedication, but knowing who your likely target market is and getting in front of them will save you tons of headache and will help you sell your line of tees.

    I’ll be making a video soon on how to keep your transfer costs down to a minimum when getting transfers made — people think they must have a bunch of colors in their designs to sell them. Problem with a bunch of colors is that it’ll cost more money to have the transfers made — just like it costs more to have something screen printed with a bunch of colors… Stay tuned, that’ll be next…

    Here is a link to our t-shirt course if you’re interested. You can probably use a lot of the free information sprinkled throughout the site if you’re limited on funds to get started…. Many others have 🙂


    • Josephgilliam says:

      ok great thanks cartess,now once I get the heat press can I buy the designs pre-made? and then order the shirts from you or someone else and then just start printing.I think I’ll start with christian tees and market to churches and christian people.What about some of your designs can I purchase them and press them?

  • The first tee in the video was about 11 1/2 x 11 1/2 (i can’t remember what sizes the others are — I don’t readily have a ruler in front of me).

    A standard adult transfer size is about: 11 inches x 11 inches, if you must go larger, you can probably get away with 11.25 inches by 14 inches. For Youth medium and large, you probably wanna hang around 10 1/2 inches x 10 1/2 inches. For the Youth small, 8 1/2 inches x 8 1/2 inches.

  • Am feeling you man, and this whole ideas you are sharing.Thanks and God Bless.

  • Thanks… and I got more coming. Headed to the store to purchase some more batteries for my microphone 🙂

  • Hi Cartess great video. I might have missed this, but did you answer the question on if the transfer designs peel or crack?
    I know I have bought t shirts from stores before and after a few washings they started to peel or crack. How can I avoid that?
    Thank you

  • I think I’ll make a separate video on this specific issue directly and will post it soon. But no, the inks/designs will not peel or crack on these. These are much different than the transfers u purchase at the store and run through your printer. Those are very cheap and inexpensive inks primarily designed for printing on paper of course, whereas these inks are the same kinds of inks used by screen printers — meaning they were made for ‘tees’. With that said, like anything, there are some companies that make better quality transfers, whereas others skimp out on quality and make the cheapest thing they can get away with. And that could have been the case with the tees you’ve purchased from the stores — I can’t ever remember buying a t-shirt from the store that started to peel and crack — Many of the tees sold in stores are usually done with great quality.

    Try a sample pack right here to see the quality for yourself:

  • Malumo Sibuku says:

    Hi, I am Malumo Sibuku I send you an e-mail, hope you got it. I seriously,would like to start a T- Shirt business.I got a couple of designs which i did my self in Corel draw.
    I am an ex Zambian Art Teacher currently living in Botswana.I would like to take your course and buy your system but my concern is-will your system help me as i am in africa? Concern like where do i do custom t-shirt transfers. Your heat press are affordable but do the conditions still apply if you send it to Africa, and we use 220v instead of 110-do i need a step down transformer.Please, be informed that paypal does not apply out here,that is if i have to sell on-line how do i receive my cash? Do you have anybody from africa who got your system. I believe we can custom work out something for my stuation and location-what do you think?

  • Please continue to talk my ears off, definitely words of motivation & encouragement I see you’re a fan of Mr. Less Brown also!….

  • i have been having question 4 u and dont know the answer i just got my heat press but dont know where to go to make a web site im just ready to give up cuz im m really lost with know help but if u can plz share any info u can thank u

  • Michellewatsonavon says:

    Hi, I have my heat press, the transfers and the tshirts will be delivered today…im nervous about burning the shirts or messing up somehow. Any suggestions on how to get the right ‘formula’ for temp on my 16 X 24 heat press?

    Also, any advice for an excited, but scared business woman about to start a new venture in the tshirt business?!?!?

    Thanks in advance!!

  • CONGRATULATIONS… You’ve taken a step that many will never take!

    Your concerns are valid ones because you will burn a shirt and you will mess up… Unfortunately, that comes with the territory, but as you’ll soon discover, you’ll have fun doing it.

    Like anything, there will be a small learning curve, but most of that can be brought down to a minimum.

    The transfers you’ll be receiving should come with instructions as it relates to the temperature settings your heat press should be set at. It’ll also tell you how long to keep the t-shirt pressed down in the machine as well. Just follow those instructions and that should keep your errors to a minimum.

    Just a couple extra tips…

    Make sure you let that machine heat up long enough to ensure it’s hot enough. Oftentimes, people turn it on and 5 minutes later they’re trying to press and run into all types of problems because the machine didn’t reach it’s correct temperature.

    I let my machine stay on for at least 20-25 minutes before I press a t-shirt.

    If you have a few spare t-shirts that you don’t wear much, practice clamping down on those first before putting a blank tee in the machine. Make sure that the design on your ‘old tees’ are facing DOWN — so that the design is not facing up and coming into contact with the upper part of the heat press (the top part that gets heated).

    Also, when you think you’re ready, take one of your transfers and cut in half (that way, you have 2 transfers technically — that you can test with. No sense in doing an entire transfer and it gets messed up. This way you can test twice using only one transfer. Heck, if your transfer is big enough, divide into 3 pieces — that way you have 3 test transfers. And practice on the old ‘tees’ you don’t wear.

    If you opt to print on a new blank tee, make sure to test on the front and back — that way you don’t run through a bunch of shirts.

    Make sure the pressure on the heat press is right… If you slipped a piece of paper on the edge of the machine with half in the machine and the other half hanging out, you shouldn’t be able to pull it out — if you’re able to pull the paper out, there isn’t enough pressure — i set mine to a point where I can barely pull it out, and then I add a little more pressure to make sure it doesn’t come out.

    A few extra tips…

    1) Have Fun
    2) Keep it Simple
    3) Don’t listen to negative advice/criticism
    4) Market your tees to people most likely to buy (core audience)
    5) Don’t listen to negative advice/criticism (i thought I’d reinforce this one 🙂
    6) Don’t give up

  • I don’t know anything about the types of machines or screen printing machines these companies use… I do plan to make a visit to a company and see if they’ll let me interview and video tape the process — at which point I’ll post to the site.

  • i cover that in our book/course — too much to go into detail on this post, but it’s covered, many of our members have already got their own sites up and going…

  • Greetings Malumo,

    The information in our course would apply no matter where you live… You may have to order your transfers from other places and have it shipped to you if they don’t make it in your country.

    Our machines run off of a different voltage system, so that could pose a problem, but I imagine these machines could be purchased from someone in Africa or modified to work.

    I don’t know how the currency works there in Africa, but I imagine you could setup a website based in the US and accept US currency for your designs. I have sites setup in different places outside the U.S. using the appropriate extensions like a site in France: http://www.my-site.fr

    You’ll have to get a little creative of course, but I imagine you could pull it off.

  • Thizztian209 says:

    Mr Ross.

    I enjoy watching your videos, I love the fact that you are yourself! I’m sure you have mentioned this questions several times however, I am unable to search for the answer in your previous posts.

    Q: How hot does the press have to be? 350/375?

    Q: And is the padding necessary? (The black padding that comes with the pressure) I find that when it gets really hot it starts to smoke….

    Q: I purchased some transfers and find that the print does not transfer all the way, I am not sure if I have the press hot enough? It’s set @ 375 and thicker transfers are alittle harder to transfer without leaving on a little longer but then I see some discoloration on the shirts (white)

    Thank you for your time….again, I enjoy your videos……


  • Hi Kris,

    1) THe transfers should come with instructions that tell you how hot the machine needs to be and it should tell you how much pressure should be applied to the machine as well. That padding is necessary — it shouldn’t be smoking though. Are you leaving the press on the shirts to long? Shouldn’t be seeing discoloration — usually a sign you have too much heat, cheap shirt or the top platen needs cleaning.

    Contact the people you purchased the transfers from to find out how high the heat should be and how long you should leave the tees/transfers clamped down.

    To save on your transfers, divide and cut into 4 pieces — thus giving yourself 4 transfer to test with. Use the same shirt to keep from wasting valuable blank tees… Print on the front, then back, and print on the top side of tee and lower bottom — that way you can get multiple practices on one shirt to save… Let me know how that works out.

  • Hoseahosea says:

    Hay Cartess! I’ve just got a simple question? I’ve been watching and keeping up to date with all the information you’ve got, and its been a real eye opener. For the past 2 years I’ve been running my own screen printing business and man you’re right. Its a mess dealing with all the different colours, the setup and gosh, I’ll stop now..haha! I’m interested.. I mean so keen in getting involved in heat pressing. oops sorry.. Heres the question. Do you do international deliveries for heat press machines to New Zealand? And if so, what would be the difference in cost? Thank you for your help. Jose

  • Dwhitfield1963 says:

    Mr. Ross, I was wondering what type of Heat Press are you using in this video and are they heat press machines on your site good machines to start a business with?

  • In my videos, I’m using a Hotronix machine. These are expensive, but I found it really cheap on craigslist in my area. The machines on our site are new and work well.

  • Abu Abdeen says:

    Hello Mr. Ross
    First, I thank you for your videos they are a true eye opener for me to start a new business.

    However, I was wondering why you said not to use a home inkjet or laser printer to print on transfer papers? Is it a matter of quality?

    Please let me know your thoughts on this.

    Thank you again and God bless

  • I”ll be making a separate video about this soon… Stay tuned. But in short, the quality sucks. The inks fade off, crack, peel, break, etc… If you’re making them for yourself, then a home printer is fine. If you’re making to resell, you want to put out quality stuff… And inkjet/laser printers just don’t provide u the quality.

  • Ramos23lau says:

    Mr. Ross that’s amazinng!!!! My name is Ramos, I’m from Brazil.
    You know what, I was just surffing through internet, looking for some ideas because I’m gonna start my t-shirt busines soon. I gotta some ideas from internet and I have other. Your video resolve many concern I had about transfers.
    I looking forward to start my own business. It’s good to know about someone else doing the same.
    Here in Brazil, the market for t-shirts its very good.

  • Jeanpryor says:

    Hi my name is Jean. Im trying to start making tshirt but my designs are not transfering from my paper to my tshirt

  • Thanks for your site. Whats your thoughts on Direct to Fabric printers? As well have you ever heard of professional Direct to Transfer printers? I’m not taling about home printers.

  • MooreDesigns says:

    Hi, I am a new graphic designer looking to get into the t-shirt business. I am still taking classes and I understand the importance of different elements when it comes to designing but I was wondering when ordering custom transfer paper does the size of my design matter at that point?

  • I haven’t tried them yet. However, I plan to attend some trade shows this year and will definitely look into it. It’s becoming more and more popular.

  • You would need the same setup as a screen printer (which is lots of equipment, supplies, inks, heaters/ovens, stations, etc…).

    It’s not cheap opening up a screen printing business and you’ll need to know how to work and use all the equipment/supplies, the printing process, inks, etc…

    You’ll be doing the same thing screen printers do, but instead of printing onto a t-shirt, you’ll be printing onto the release paper…

    I imagine you can purchase the paper from a supplier — but it’s of no use unless you’re a ‘screen printer’.

  • WillieJenkins says:

    I would Like to know what kind of transfer paper are you using? And where can i purchase them from?

  • Make sure the machine stayed on long enough to heat up… Double check your temp. Are you using the exact same transfer paper? Same inks from the printer? Also, try preheating the tees for about 2-3 seconds and then put the transfer on and press it. Those transfers just aren’t too reliable all the time. Also, make sure you have enough pressure applied (try increasing it slightly).

    • I actually noticed it happening after i purchased ink cartridges refills , this is the first time i did that i usually just buy the whole package at the store but this time i tried getting it refilled could that be it ? i did all the other things you said 

      • If that’s the only thing that changed, then that is likely the issue. Those refilled inks are probably cheaper solutions because the ‘refiller’ is probably using the cheapest inks to keep their profits higher… Keep in mind, printer ink is really meant for paper and not tees… Buy the ink from the store as you did prior and that should solve your problem.

  • Thanks for being so informative. I’m still a little hesitant as to if using a heat press will give me the results I’m looking for. My biggest concern is how the print will actually look on the t-shirt in regards to texture. Does this process make the ink look glossy on the shirt? I would won’t my ink to blend into the fabric of the shirt as much as possible. Is this something that can be done through this process? If so what are some suggestions, type of shirt i should use, transfer, heat, time, press? Thanks in advance for your help!

  • Really can’t provide any advice on which one to use because I’ve never used them or recommend them. Perhaps some others can chime in on what they’re using in terms of home printers???

    If the home printing method is the only affordable option to get started, I’d recommend you do so. It’s more important to get started than not too. You can always upgrade as you move forward and start making money.

  • Hi Fran,

    Welcome to the world of biz… As you’re finding out, it’s not all ‘peaches and cream’. But, to those who push through the challenge, success and opportunity usually awaits you on the other side.

    Reply back with the big cities that are close to you… I can generally find these machines on Craigslist on a regular — let me have a look.

    Correct… $30K is not unreasonable to make the first year, and I’m talking about ‘NET’. It’s a reasonable goal — if you fall short and only net $22K, I’m sure you’ll still be excited right?

    Online, my average retail price for tees range anywhere from $9.95 – $14.95 (depending on the niche). When selling via catalogs offline, average hangs around $14.95 – $19.95 (depends on the niche).

    Many of the vendors will require a sales tax ID — some will allow you to sign-up to see t-shirt pricing (try registering online versus calling on the phone to setup acct).

    I don’t currently have access to used heat press machines — I come across them occasionally when I find a great deal online. If I come across one, I’ll definitely send you a shout.

    Reply back with that main city close to you on Craigslist and let me see what I come up with.

  • Thanks for the kind words… Much appreciated!

    Both A and B are right answers…

    Some people prefer to go tagless and ‘screen-print’ or heat transfer their own design/label onto the tee itself.

    Other option would be to do as u suggest in (B). You can buy tees direct from wholesaler and many will sew your tags onto the tees before they ship them to you. You can have your labels made elsewhere and shipped to the wholesaler — TSC Apparel is one company that’ll do it for you: http://www.tscapparel.com

  • I get this question often… Unfortunately, there aren’t many African themed transfers out there. The few that are out there are corny and cheesy.

    This is a GREAT opportunity for someone to seize upon — if this is your passion, I’d encourage you to start a line of African themed transfers.

    Many of the designs u see on the Christian t-shirt site are designs from Barber and Company and Airwaves, Inc. You can order direct.

  • Hi, We do not print our designs from a printer. We actually have our designs screen printed on to the release paper by various transfer companies.
    Unfortunately, since we do not print our own transfers onto printers. We are unable to recommend a transfer paper to you.
    This process provides the same exact quality as if the design was being screen printed directly onto the shirt. Please click the link below. This video you are about to watch will answer a lot of questions you have.

    If you are interested in using a transfer company to screen print your design onto the release paper; please click the link below to purchase the source list. The source list will include various transfer vendors from all over. These vendors also include pre-made transfers at wholesale cost. The list will also include various vendors to purchase wholesale t-shirts as well.

  • Since we do not print our own designs; we are unable to recommend the type of paper to use.
    We use several transfer vendors who screen prints our designs onto the release paper for higher quality.
    If you would, please click the link to learn more about the process and why we do not print our own designs.

    We do have a source list available you can purchase. The source list will also include various vendors to purchase blank t-shirts at wholesale cost.

  • Tanvir1979 says:

    Hi my name is tanvir and i live in uk, i m highly impress from ur idea , i m very much looking to start a small bussiness for my self in my house and this videos are fantastic for me and i m sure for any body who is looking for do something for them self in there lives, cheers. 

  • It really depend on what we are doing. However,
    We have a source list available for purchase. The source list includes various companies to purchase custom, and pre-made transfers. As well as blank t-shirts at wholesale cost.

    The price for custom transfers will be determined by the amount of colors you have in your design. If you are on a tight budget then I would recommend no more than 2 colors in the design. The more colors in the design the more it will cost to have the designs screen printed onto the release paper.

    If you would, please click the link below to purchase the source list.

  • Patty Chong says:

    hi, what would be the best program to start with, that has specific t-shirt design tools??
    thank you and God Bleess

    • Most designers work between photoshop, illustrator, and other adobe software programs they prefer. If you are not familiar with any of the programs. I would suggest hiring a graphic artist to create the design for you. This is what they do and most are quite “AWESOME” at what they do!
      These software are quite complicated, and are a huge learning curb to grasp. It has taken graphic designers years to do what they do in order to develop the type of work they are able to produce.
      I am not trying to discourage you from learning how to use these software but I must warn you; it is not something you can read a book and be creating graphics in photoshop over night. Having the knowledge on how to use these software are a skill within itself.
      Again, if you are not a graphic artist and not familiar with the process. It would be best to hire a graphic artist who can take your design ideas and turn it into a master piece.
      You could utilize the time you would spend on learning how to: redirect that time on getting your business started, or planning for a successful t-shirt business. I believe in utilizing time in putting my efforts towards things that will make an immediate difference.

  • You could use your printer but it’s not something we recommend due to the poor quality. Using the printer to print the designs the designs begin to fade and peel after the first wash.

    We do have a source list available to purchase. The source list will include vendors from the US, UK, and Canada who can supply you with custom printed transfers and blank tshirts.

    If you would, please click the link below to purchase the source list.

  • That I wouldn’t know (regarding Eco-friendly). I never printed onto bamboo tees, but I imagine it shouldn’t be a problem….

  • Wayne Neal says:

    Cartess : Can I resale transfer purchase from vendors . I know you can buy them ,but is it ok to resale them with
    out there agreeing.

    • You’ll need to contact the individual vendor. Some will allow you to purchase in bulk to resale as a distributor.

  • Couple of questions for you sir. I am very interested in your month to month start up subscribition you offer wasn’t sure how long the course is. How many months of information should I be prepared to subscribe for?

    Can you print custom designs onto socks? I don’t mean just basic put a number on a sock type of a look. I mean a custom authentic from the top to the bottom design. Is there a special heat press machine for this?

    Besides this public wall that I’m using what’s the best way to get in contact with you about more information?

    Thank you for your great videos. Hope to hear from you soon.

    • HI Rick,

      I apologize which program are you referring to? We have to programs our Core Tshirt Riches membership and the Protege 300. Both programs are pretty much go at your own pace. Once you’ve paid for either program you’ll have life time access.

      As long as the socks are 50-50 or 100% cotton you can print onto the shirts and no special heat press machine is required.

      You may continue to post onto our website, or contact us directly at tshirtriches@gmail.com

  • Thanks for the useful information. You covered a lot of doubts and questions about starting a T shirt business.

  • I was wondering what type of machine you would recommend. The Clamshell or Swing away? Can either of these machines do more than the other?

    • Hi Rachel,
      It’s all a preference of what you feel most comfortable with. We no longer sell the machines. The brand of machines we recommend, Hotronix. You can contact Stalhs directly to purchase the machine. The machine starts at $995 and up. http://hotronix.com

  • Hi
    could you tell me which heat transfer machine you are using, as you have uploaded video in home page with yellow background?
    awaiting for your valuable reply.

    • Hi Yogendra!
      We use (and HIGHLY recommend) Hotronix machines! Have a great day!


  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}