Simple T-shirt decorating – 15 easy ideas to make your own custom t-shirt

Updated on by Sarina

I have always maintained that a T-shirt is an affordable and very utilitarian canvas for designing and creating artworks for people like me who like art but are not artists. And there are limitless possibilities and directions that you can go about decorating your t-shirts. Here are a select few that I regularly use or rather, want to use.

Related posts : 15 different types of T-shirts; 12 different ways to print on tshirts

Simple T-shirt decorating methods

1 T-shirt printing

T-shirt printing is, of course, the number one method of decorating a t-shirt. But to do it on your own, you need special ink and printer – i.e if you want the print to last. The easy option is to give it out to be printed.

Specialized printing shops will print individual t-shirts for comparatively inexpensive rates if you give them your preferred picture in a digital format and your blank t-shirt. Like your favourite Tom Cruise ( Or whoever and whatever is your favourite) picture or wordings on your t-shirt 

Related posts :  12 different methods of t-shirt printing available ; How to transfer photos on to fabric

2 Stitch sequins on t-shirts

When you think of embellishing a t-shirt, especially women’s and little kids, sequins are never far behind. Simple and complicated designs are embellished with sequins.

how to decorate tshirts

If you have a pre-printed t-shirt with letters printed on it,  just add some sequins on the top for some bling and extra embellishment

You can sprinkle sequins on the design like this here

how to embellish a tshirt

Or make a motif ( heart is a very common sequins motif) full of sequins alone. Use invisible nylon thread to make them seem floating.

how to embellish a t-shirt

You can learn some simple ways to stitch sequins here

3 Fabric flower decorating

decorate a t-shirt with flowers

This flower that I am using is the favourite of the Internet Flowerland – so many different versions of this beautiful and very very easy to make flower is seen all over the internet – made with satin, silk, organza, tulle, velvet, burlap – all the fabric you know have been made into this flower.

t-shirt embellishing instructions

To make this flower is so easy you may do it all day long once you know how to – just cut out circles from fabric (no problem with wavy edges, just cut some sort of circles- so even if you cannot cut straight for the life of you, you can make this) and layer them and stitch in place with some french knots or beads in the center and you have this uber modern and cute little flower.

decorating your t-shirt easily

If you do not like this flower, do not worry – go on and make other kinds of fabric flowers to decorate your t-shirt. Check out these posts on making ribbon roses, making ribbon flowers, making fabric flowers 

4 T-shirt embroidery 

decorate a tshirt with embroidery

This embellishment is as old as Tshirts themselves – using embroidery to decorate t-shirts. Even if the t-shirt you have is printed already,  you can use embroidery to enhance the prints.

tshirt decorating tutorial        

Just fill in some portions with colourful thread and simple stitches.

T-shirt embroidery in the form of letters is another favourite decorating option. Monograms can be embroidered easily for a classy touch. You can learn more about T-shirt embroidery here.

tshirt embroidery

Check out this post on embroidering letters, embroidering monograms for some ideas. Letters on t-shirts with couching stitches are also a nice touch

When you do embroidery on t-shirts you may need to keep thin interfacing on the back, especially if you are doing heavy embroidery. Use thin needles which would not leave holes on the thin t-shirt fabric

Use simple hand embroidery stitches to create beautiful decorations for your t-shirts.

5 T-shirt fabric painting

tshirt decorating how to

You can use simple fabric paints to make any kind of painting on t-shirts. If you are skilled enough you can make it look as good as printing.

Check out this post on T-shirt painting for more details on 5 techniques you can use.

tshirt painting

As t-shirts are made of thin knit fabrics you will have to take extra precautions when painting on them. Keep a piece of paper/cardboard/plastic on the inside to prevent water/paint from seeping to the back

Stamping is another way to do fabric painting on your t-shirts. You can make some very easy stamps with household things and stamp on your t-shirts to decorate them and customise them to your choice. Check out this post on making stamps yourself using the things lying in your home. You can make simple potato stamps with potato pieces following the tutorial and stamp your t-shirts.

6 Decorate with beads

make your own custom t shirt

Seed beads are small circular shaped beads. You can add these beads to already printed t-shirts to enhance the design.

make your own custom tshirt

Or make your own small motifs with the beads

tshirt decorating

Easy bead embroidery flower motifs are great when done on t-shirts. Use basic beading stitches for simple stitching.

You can combine fabric painting with beads for a nice touch.

7 T-shirt decorating ideas with ribbon

Ribbon embroidery is an easy way to embellish t-shirts. Check out this post on the basic ribbon embroidery stitches or some easy ways to stitch ribbon embroidery flowers

You can alternatively add simple ribbon bows or ribbon trims. Check out the posts on making ribbon bows here and for making ribbon trims here.

8 Flower Applique on t-shirts

Applique is often seen on kids’ t-shirts. Flower appliques are very popular; so are felt appliques.

applique stitches

9 Add Lace or another fabric

Lace trims can be added to the neckline or the hem or even sleeve hems for adding a charm to plain t-shirts. You can use fake leather to finish the edges of pockets or even hems. 

10 Decorating tshirts with Patches

Felt is a fabric which does not fray and is available in vivid colours. The ordinary craft felt can be cut up into many shapes and made into clothing patches and simply stitched on to the t-shirts for a nice easily added decoration. Other options are to make embroidered patches. Check out these posts on making clothing patches and the different methods you can use to stitch the patches on your t-shirts

11 Cut out t-shirts

Cut up t-shirts are always in fashion one way or the other – it just means that the t-shirt is cut in different places in designs – the positions and style may vary with different fashion changes and seasons. You can look at this post on different ways to cut out t-shirts and change their looks

decorating tshirts

And some more ideas for DIY t-shirt refashion ideas here

12 Bleaching t-shirts to decorate

Bleach leaves faded marks on coloured fabric – this faded discoloured distressed effect can look good, depending on your preference.

Bleach literally takes away colour from your t-shirt fabric. So spraying bleach on selected places, or applying bleach specifically in patterns after masking the areas you do not want discolouration, can produce some startling and pleasing distressed looks . 

13 Flat backed beads/stone decorating on a t-shirt

make your own custom t shirt

Any flat backed beads including rhinestones can be glued on to your t-shirts in a random fashion or in the shape of motifs. Use fabric glue for this, not craft glue.

cute tshirt ideas

14 Stenciled designs

Stenciling involves using a premade design to draw, paint or decorate anything. This is the easiest method to make multiple designs in the same shape and size. You get nice symmetrical designs easily which can be traced on to fabric.

Here I have tried to make a butterfly design using a simple homemade stencil and glued on rhinestones inside the design.

First draw your design on a piece of FOLDED paper (for symmetry). You can also print out the design

tshirt custom ideas

Cut it out.Mark the design on the fabric.

Start gluing the rhinestones inside the design.You can alternatively decorate with paints.

make your tshirt custom

Use beads or sequins the same way using stencils

15 Tie-dye/Batik/Dip-dye T-shirts

t-shirt decorating

Apart from the attractiveness of the model, I think the t-shirt looks pretty good too. You can make attractive markings on your t-shirt this way with some dye and a little effort.

Check out these posts for more details on tie-dyeing : What is Tie-dye – 8 different methods ; How to tie dye ; 10 easy to make Tie Dye designs

If you want to, add some more embellishments on top of the designs like sequins here

Related posts : 50 ways to make fabric with texture and patterns ; How to make stencils ; How to dye clothes ; Fabric painting basics


I love sewing, fabric, fashion, embroidery, doing easy DIY projects and then writing about them. Hope you have fun learning from sewguide as much as I do. If you find any mistakes here, please point it out in the comments.

7 thoughts on “Simple T-shirt decorating – 15 easy ideas to make your own custom t-shirt”

  1. Thanks a lot. Such informative article amd great work. I was looking for ideas to decorate with beads and I got it.

  2. It’s great that this article explains how you can randomly glue rhinestones to a t-shirt to add some glitz or put them in a specific shape. When planning this, it might help to ensure you know what you want to create so you can get the right number of rhinestones for your design. This could also help you with determining what colors, size, and other specifications to purchase for the t-shirt you want to create

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