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10 Money Saving Tips - Custom T-Shirts On A Budget

January 20, 2020

Are you getting quote after quote for custom t-shirts that just don’t fit in your budget? Maybe you have a whole bunch of great ideas that you just can’t seem to find the money to produce. Working with a budget can be difficult and restricting, and the quoting process can certainly be a frustrating one, but it doesn’t have to be!

Whether you’re running a clothing line, looking for t-shirts for your band, or looking to promote your business, charity, or organization these 10 money saving tips will ensure you have great looking custom t-shirts within your budget almost every single time!

1. Print Less Colours

Multi Coloured T-Shirt design reduced to a single colour in two different ways.
In this example we have a two colour design on a white shirt. Because of how this logo was designed it can very easily be modified to a single colour.

When having custom t-shirts printed for your brand always be sure to keep in mind that the more colours you decide to print the more money it is going to cost. This is one of the top factors that quickly drives up the price for many custom t-shirt orders.

When having your shirt designed make sure to communicate to your designer that you want to keep the colours in your design to a minimum, preferably to a single colour. If you already have a design that you want to use but it has more colours than you can afford to print with your budget there is a very good chance that it can be converted to less colours, and in most cases can be converted right down to a single colour design. Ask your designer if they can revise the artwork down to a single colour, or send it my way and I'll let you know what can be done!

2. Order Higher Quantities

Okay, so this is actually going to cost you more money, but if you’re going to need more shirts down the road with the same design on them why not just order them all at once? Ordering higher quantities will cost more now but will reduce your per-piece price and can save you a significant amount of money in the long run.

The way that I have set up pricing the price breaks fall at 12-24, 25-49, 50-99, 100-199, 200-299, 300+, and then for really big orders contact me and I'll quote it out accordingly!

3. Order White Shirts

This is one of the quickest and easiest ways to reduce your costs when ordering custom t-shirts. White shirts are often times (but not always) cheaper. Most manufacturers and suppliers sell white garments for less than dark and coloured garments which means I can sell you white garments for less than dark and coloured garments as well. Depending on the brand, simply ordering white shirts could save you anywhere from $0.25 per piece all the way up to a few dollars per piece. White shirts also do not require an under base while most darker garments do, which will immediately reduce your colour count by 1 and save you money yet again.

While white t-shirts are generally the cheapest, many manufacturers also offer lower prices on some other colours such as heather grey, or a natural cotton colour. If you’re curious how much money a white garment will save you check on the product detail page under additional info to see the pricing of different colours and sizes, or you could just ask!

4. Print In Less Locations

This is another big one that can quickly increase your custom t-shirt costs by quite a bit. Before you decide to print on the front, back, and sleeves of your shirt think about if it is really necessary. If you’re a brand going for a specific look or style then maybe it is and that’s great, but if you’re a charity, non-profit, or corporate event sponsor it may be best to think of how you can simplify and reduce print locations so that you can save some money here and still have some left in your budget to spend elsewhere. 

Think about if you really need to have that left chest logo on the front with the same logo printed larger on the back with sponsors on the sleeves. Can you make some changes? Maybe print your logo on the front either small or large, and then list the sponsors from the sleeves on the back? You just took a 4 location shirt and switched it to a 2 location print with just a few minutes of design tweaking and easily saved yourself anywhere from $1 to $5+ per piece.

5. Don’t Wait Until The Last Minute

Sometimes this is unavoidable, maybe your boss forgot to tell you about that event they’re sponsoring this weekend, or the employee incentives that they wanted to hand out at the end of the week. But more often than not with a little bit of planning you can place an order with a flexible deadline.

While our standard production turnaround time is just 7-10 business days for most orders we can do it quicker, but that means shuffling jobs around and potentially increasing production times for other customers. By ordering with plenty of time to spare you can stay within budget and have your order in hand when you need them.

Rush orders can run you up to an extra 50% on top of the regular order price depending on how quickly you need your t-shirts, so if you’re on a budget it is certainly best to plan ahead! Also, don’t forget to consider shipping time as our turnaround times are strictly for our in-house production.

6. Avoid Oversized Garments

This may not be possible since you can’t change the size of the people wearing your t-shirts, but if you’re just ordering to have an inventory of promo apparel to hand out here and there, avoid ordering oversized garments. In most cases small through extra large are all priced the same, but as soon as you go to an 2XL or larger the manufacturers generally increase the price, and the increase can be quite significant.

Two Colour Shirt Design Using The Shirt Colour Creatively As A Third Colour
Here we have a logo that is made up of black, white, and red. We are able to retain the full colour design while only printing the black and white inks and using the colour of the shirt as our third design colour.

7. Use The Shirt Colour To Your Advantage

This one kind of goes hand-in-hand with number 1, printing less colours. When designing your artwork, really take into consideration what colour garment you want to use and think about how or if you can use the garment colour as part of your design. If your design is yellow with a blue outline why not look into ordering yellow shirts, printing a blue outline, and letting the garment take care of the rest!

8. Avoid Personalizations

If we go back to tip number 4 we talked about reducing the amount of print locations. Avoiding personalizations is a similar concept. If you’re ordering for a group of people, like a team, or your staff, you may consider having a unique number, title, or the persons name somewhere on the garment in addition to a generic print that will be the same across all of the t-shirts.

Adding personalizations generally requires the use of heat transfer vinyl which can be costly in terms of materials as well as significantly increase the labour time involved to individually set up, cut, layout, and press each personalization onto the garments.

If you really must have something additional on the shirt for an upcoming event consider using something generic that can work for everyone such as printing “STAFF” or “TEAM [BLANK]” on the back.

9. Choose Basic T-Shirts Over Fashion

This is going to be extremely dependent on what your plan is for your custom t-shirts. If you’re going to be selling them for your brand you’re probably going to want to go with a higher end, more expensive option like American Apparel or Bella & Canvas. On the other hand if you’re looking for free giveaways then you probably want to stick to cheaper options such as Gildan, M&O Knits, Alstyle, and the like. 

Going with a 100% cotton preshrunk tee like the Gildan 5000, Gildan 2000, M&O 4800, or Alstyle 1301 over a higher quality ring spun cotton, 50/50, or tri-blend fabric will certainly help keep you in budget.

10. Provide Good Files!

Seriously please do this! Don't send a little jpeg, or png file, send over to-scale vector images preferably in illustrator (.ai) format. You may not have any clue what that means but if you hired someone to design your shirt for you and paid them money they'll know, and if they don't then I would recommend finding yourself a new designer.

Now not all designs are made in vector format, there are some that may require the use of photoshop. If you're sending photoshop files make sure they are sized properly (my max print size is currently about 12" x 14" printed either vertically or horizontally), and a minimum of 300 DPI.

If you send low quality files I will almost certainly need to re-create them which will result in additional design fees! A lot of times designers are not comfortable sending original, editable files directly to their clients which as a designer myself I completely understand. If that is the case you can have your designer email me directly at with any files, or if they have any questions!

Well that’s it! It’s really quite simple. If you take these 10 money saving tips into consideration when ordering your next run of custom t-shirts you will surely be pleased with the effect they will have on the price you pay!

If you think you’re ready to put these tips to the test you can request a quote right now. Or if you have questions, comments, or suggestions you can contact us by emailing

Jake Moroun

Jake is me, I am Jake the one and only, sole operator of Sausage Dog Promo Co.! I was a graphic designer (technically I still am I guess), and then I started printing t-shirts in my basement. I'm here to help you out with some tips and tricks when I can as well as answer any questions you have about screen printing, design, petting dogs, or whatever else you have questions about, so don't hesitate to ask away! And yes, that is a goat in the picture.

Likes: Dogs (animals in general really), Music, Chocolate

Dislikes: Pickles, Not being able to pet all the dogs all the time, Needles