How to Print Vintage T-Shirts

How to Print Vintage T-Shirts

Whether you want to promote a brand or product or convey a message, you can never go wrong with vintage style. Technically for a T-shirt to be considered vintage, it needs to be at least 10 years old, but what if we told you that you can print a vintage T-shirt from a brand new fabric? With the right design and material, vintage prints are always attractive and create a sense of nostalgia. So, how to print vintage T-shirts, and what steps are needed to get a unique design?

In this article, we will give you useful tips that will help you through the entire process of creating your unique vintage T-shirt.

How to Print Vintage T-Shirts

So, how to print vintage T-shirts? Several ways can give a vintage style to your T-shirt. We single out screen printing and direct-to-garment (DTG) printing as the most popular methods that offer high quality and durability of the print.

How to Print Vintage T-Shirts

Screen printing

This method is often mentioned as the golden method for printing T-shirts. With screen printing, the printer will make a screen of your T-shirt design, allowing you to print in bulk.

So, if you wonder what are the steps to print vintage T-shirts with the screen printing method, here are the detailed steps required in the process:

  1. Creating the designcreate your vintage design using some of the most popular software, like Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator, and incorporate the vintage elements in your design.
  2. Prepare the screen choose a screen mesh appropriate for your design and fabric and coat the screen with photo emulsion.
  3. Prepare the ink and test print – prepare the ink to achieve the desired color shades and test print on a scrap piece of fabric to ensure the colors and placement are correct. We like to use reduced ink when printing a vintage design for a faded, retro print.
  4. Print and dry – once you’re satisfied with the test print, you can continue printing your vintage T-shirts and then, let them dry completely.
  5. Distress and cure – distressing is an optional part of the process used to enhance the vintage look. If you want to skip that part, cure and set the ink to ensure it bonds properly with the fabric and withstands washing.

Direct-to-garment (DTG)

Direct-to-garment is a newer method used if you want to print T-shirts in smaller quantities. With this method, the ink is sprayed directly on the T-shirt, similar to inkjet printing on paper, but in this case, a fabric with a different composition is used.

The steps required for printing vintage T-shirts using the DTG printing method are pretty similar to those in screen printing. But, in this case, we are using a DTG printer and pre-treat the T-shirts with a pre-treatment solution specifically designed for DTG printing.

If you are looking for the best wholesale screenprinting company for vintage look apparel or useful advice about the design for your T-shirt, feel free to contact us

Our team at Thrive Screen Printing will listen carefully to your ideas and do everything to make them come true. In addition, you will receive additional advice about screen printing and which suits your requirements.

But before you move on to printing, consider a few design tips.

Useful Tips to Give Your T-Shirt a Vintage Look

Creating a vintage look is not as difficult as it seems. So, how do you make a T-shirt look vintage, and what are the steps to print vintage T-shirts?

Think about the design

When we think of vintage style, we think of designs that are more than 20 years old. With that, you can find inspiration from old magazines, journals, old store signs, brands, and products. That way you can create a unique design that you can enrich with fonts like Serif and hand-designed fonts that were characteristic of the past.

Choose material for the T-shirt

Many modern designs work well with plain T-shirts that have smooth surfaces. But if you opt for a vintage style, consider T-shirts with different colors and textures. For this purpose, we advise you to choose a heathered T-shirt. 

Because the ink reacts differently on different fabrics, the print will appear more vibrant on light colors, and more faded on darker colors. That way, you will get a distressed look that will capture the desired vintage effect.

Choose Material for the T-Shirt

Hire a screen printing company to realize your idea

Hiring a screen printing company is the last step to making your idea a reality. Once you have selected a material and have a general idea of how you want your product to look, our team at Thrive Screen Printing is at your disposal. Whether it’s T-shirts, cap sleeves, tank tops, or other accessories, our team will ensure you get the vintage look you want.


In the end, we hope that the article helped you to find out how to print vintage T-shirts and which prints are popular to get the desired retro style. If you have a design and are looking for a reliable partner for cooperation, feel free to contact us. In addition to the production process, Thrive Screen Printing offers unique solutions to help you realize your idea.