Still-wet tie-dye T-shirts compressed with rubber bands

6 Ways to Design Blank Apparel

Blank apparel is affordable and more versatile than you may realize. Things like t-shirts, for example, are an essential part of any wardrobe. Available in countless styles and colors, they are great for men, women, teens, kids and even toddlers. And if you have a creative side, blank t-shirts are a perfect canvas for expressing yourself. T-shirts (and other types of blank apparel) can be customized in countless ways, and whether you design them to spice up your own wardrobe or you are thinking about launching your own clothing customization business, the only limit is your own imagination. The best part? You don’t even need to have any special skills. Keep reading to discover a few of our favorite ways to design blank apparel.

Have Fun with Tie-Dye

If you have blank white apparel and you want to give it a total makeover, you can’t go wrong with tie-dyeing. While it is most commonly associated with the Hippie era, tie-dye has been around for centuries and it’s a style that is unlikely to go anywhere. With blank shirts, rubber bands and a few bottles of dye in your favorite colors, you can create all sorts of vibrant patterns.

Play with Bleach

Have darker colored garments that aren’t suitable for tie-dye? Try removing color rather than adding it. Use a bleach pen to draw designs or put bleach in a spray bottle for a more random-looking finished product. You can just spray the entire item, or you can put a cutout over an area and spray around it. The fabric underneath the cutout will remain solid while the surrounding fabric will feature bleached-out spots.

Get Out Your Markers

If you enjoy drawing, a blank t-shirt or another garment is the perfect canvas. You can use regular permanent markers–like Sharpies–or you can use fabric markers. Just don’t use washable markers (unless, of course, you want to design and redesign your own clothing every time you do the laundry).

Rainbow of Markers

When you aren’t confident in your drawing skills but still want to use markers to design your own clothing, you can create a unique watercolor effect using Sharpies, rubbing alcohol and a bit of water. Applying a solution of water and alcohol to Sharpies after using them on fabric causes the ink to bleed and run, resulting in a beautiful look that resembles watercolor.

Make Your Own Stencils

With a bit of freezer paper, you can make your own stencils to use to decorate your clothing. Draw (or print) your design on the dull side of a piece of freezer paper. Cut out the design and any negative spaces and then place it shiny side down on your garment. Paint over your stencil using fabric paint and then remove the stencil. Be careful when painting around the edges to keep the paint from getting under the stencil. With a bit of care and patience, you can create professional-looking garments with designs that are only limited to your imagination.

Learn to Screen Print

It may sound complex, but screen printing is actually a fairly simple process. It is fairly inexpensive to set up your own printing area in your home and you can achieve results that are similar to the results of professional screen printers (with a little practice, of course). You just need a screen and frame, photo emulsion and sensitizer, latex gloves, a 250-watt lightbulb, a completely dark room, a squeegee, a small piece of cardboard, silk screen fabric ink and the garments you would like to print on. For well under $100, you should be able to start screen printing from home.

Take Up Embroidery

Embroidery colorful trend floral pattern

You may think of your grandmother doing cross stitch in her rocking chair when you think about embroidery–but think again! Embroidery is super trendy right now, and it is a great way to spruce up any blank apparel. While you could decorate your clothing with cross stitch, there are plenty of other embroidery techniques to try, too. Embroidery is much easier than it looks, and it can make even the most inexpensive blank t-shirt look like it belongs on a fashion runway.


With a little creativity, you can transform plain garments into works of art. The ideas listed above are just a few of the many ways to design blank apparel for personal use, gifts or even business. At ShirtMax, we have the blank apparel you need for any custom-clothing project!