Digital Decorating:

Let’s Get Things Straight

By Courtney Kubitza, Contributing Writer

March 10, 2017

When starting out printing T-shirts, there are a few challenges to overcome. The most common one is correctly positioning the graphic on the shirt. Here are a few tips for getting graphics straight on your heat press platen.

Start out by ensuring the T-shirt is loaded onto the heat press platen straight. Once you have the shirt centered on the platen, it makes it easier to get the graphic in the right place. If you’re threading the shirt and printing it upside down (also known as screen-printing style), pull the shirt taut with the bottom platen so the platen is wearing the shirt the way the customer would and make sure the tag is centered on the platen. If you are not threading the shirt, simply line up the tag with the backbone of the heat press.

Once the shirt is centered on the platen, create a centered line. A crease down the center of the shirt from the fold makes the perfect alignment tool. To be sure the crease is in the center of the shirt, consider this technique before lining up your graphic. Fold the shirt in half, sleeve to sleeve, and press a centered line using your heat press. This provides a crease for centering designs or positioning them properly for a left or right chest print.

If you’re looking for an automated way to ensure complete accuracy, there is no more efficient way to line up graphics than with a T-square, ruler or laser alignment system. A laser-alignment system projects up to four lasers onto the garment and maximizes production efficiency. It also guarantees 100% accuracy of the transfer alignment.

Courtney Kubitza is Stahls’ TV educational content manager. For more information, visit or