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Cricut shirt design: expert advice to achieve pro results

Cricut shirt design: three Easypress machines sit on a table
(Image credit: Cricut)

Mastering Cricut shirt design ideas is easier said than done. Design Space has some great templates but if you want to do more you may need to use a third-party software such as CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 2021. It's why we decided to go to Corel directly and ask their expert for some professional advice.

If you're new to t-shirt design or simply want to get inspired as to the hardware available for turning shirt design ideas into reality, then take a look at our guide to the best heatpress machines currently available. If you're a Cricut user and want to do more, take a look at our guide to the best Cricut machines, best software for cricut, or head over to see the best Cricut Joy bundle deals.

Continue reading though, as Corel's John Falsetto has some excellent advice and tips on how to create professional shirt designs that can compete with the best out there. Get ahead of the pack with Falsetto's pro advice.

Cricut shirt design: discover your brand

Shirt design: A selection of DecoNetwork shirts in a pile

Consider how different coloured material can affect a design (Image credit: DecoNetwork)

Your first step towards shirt design perfection comes from an understanding of your audience and what brand you're trying to create. You need to determine what entices and draws people to certain brands or looks. If you need inspiration, take a look at what the world's best brands have in common.

Falsetto explains by offering insight into how leading brand designers think: "The audience will be expecting certain qualities from a particular brands’ t-shirt designs before deciding which one to buy and from which brand. That interest must also align with the core values of the company a designer is building an idea for."

By identifying the values of a design you're aiming for you can begin to map out the foundations of what your design means and stands for. Ask yourself questions, suggests Falsetto, such as: "What story should it tell or what message does it need to convey?"

Cricut shirt design: making colour choices 

Cricut shirt design: coloured t-shirts spread out

Consider your colours as they can affect print quality (Image credit: Getty / assalve)

Bold and colourful designs are instant hits and can draw people in to buy. Falsetto tells us his research shows 84% of people state colour is the main reason they buy a particular item. "Getting the colours right will play a big role in whether customers choose your design," he says. 

You may find you have colours you love using or that fit in with a brand you're trying to create, but don't fear expanding the palette and experimenting with different shades and tones within your set colours. Falsetto says this will add variety and distinction to your designs while staying faithful to the brand you're creating.

"It’s also important that these colours look good when printed on different t-shirt background colours, in particular popular choices such as black, white, and grey," says Falsetto. If you're still searching for your perfect colour combos, read our jargon-free guide to colour theory.

A harmony links similar colours together based on a hue so they can be modified together as a set – as one colour changes, the other colours adjust accordingly

He goes into more detail: "Graphic design solutions with colour harmonies features can overcome that challenge and help designers quickly adjust the colour scheme of a design. A harmony links similar colours together based on a hue so they can be modified together as a set – as one colour changes, the other colours adjust accordingly." 

By using these tools, which you can find in software like CorelDraw, you can "preserve the tonal variation of [your] work while experimenting with different colour schemes," says Falsetto. It means you can experiment without losing time, likewise you can use our tips for how to choose a logo colour.

Cricut shirt design: positioning matters 

Shirt design: Teody Lanada designs a face on a t-shirt

Designer Teody Lanada created this t-shirt using CorelDRAW (Image credit: Teody Lanada)

"Most t-shirt designs are placed front and centre on the garment, but there’s opportunity to get creative and have fun with the placement of the image," explains Falsetto. "For a unique look, try experimenting with a wrap-around image that goes from the front of the t-shirt to the back or create a design for the sleeve."

You may wish to create multiple versions of your design to be used in different ways. This is easy to do with a Cricut Easypress 2 and with CorelDRAW files exported to Cricut's Design Space you can create quick and flexible alternatives on a theme.

"For instance," says Falsetto, "placing a bigger and bolder image on the front, a smaller, simpler iteration on the back, and a more subtle version on the top left or right corner of the item."

He adds: "A variety of placements will appeal to different individuals within the target audience as some prefer standout prints while others lean towards discreet designs. It’s important to cater to a wide variety of preferences to attract as many customers as possible and build brand loyalty."

Cricut shirt design: things to consider

Cricut shirt design: an easypress machine on a purple t-shirt

The Cricut Easypress 2 is great for creating shirt designs (Image credit: Cricut)

Creating an eye-catching t-shirt design that people love is easier to accomplish with the right design software. Cricut's Design Space is great if you can afford the subscription, and good for setting your designs, but to add some flair and creativity we'd suggest trying CorelDRAW. 

If you're looking for more general advice take a look at our guide to t-shirt printing for designers that covers many core principles of clothing design. We also have a good thought process article that covers the five questions to ask yourself before designing a t-shirt. Both features, along with Falsetto's insights will stand you in good stead for designing shirts, and are perfect for anyone with a Cricut Easypress 2. 

Cricut shirt design: frequent questions

Cricut shirt designs: a close up of an Easypress 2 being used

The Easypress 2 is excellent for printing shirt designs (Image credit: Cricut)

Can you make t-shirt designs with a Cricut?

Yes, you can use Cricut Design Space alone or with third-party software to create your designs and then use a Cricut Maker to cut the designs out. A Cricut Easypress 2 is used to transfer your designs onto a shirt.

Which Cricut machines are used for shirt designs?

The Cricut Maker 3 is our pick as its larger, can be extended and has great blade pressure. However, you can use the older Maker, Cricut Joy, Cricut Explore Air 2, and Cricut Explore 3. Ideally we'd say use an Easypress 2 and a fine point blade for cutting vinyl and HTV (heat transfer) materials.

What do I need to make shirts on Cricut?

1. Any blank t-shirt, white or black are always good to start with. Cricut sells its own shirts but any will do.

2. Iron on or heat transfer materials; we'd recommend starting with Cricut's own Infusible Ink Transfer Sheets and Infusible Ink Markers.

3. Any of Cricut's cutting machines but the Maker models are best, and an Easypress 2. (You can use a standard iron but Cricut's machine offers consistent results.)

4. Fine Point Blade and Cricut 'LightGrip Mat'.

5. Cricut's 'weeding' tools are needed to peel designs off the mat.

Do you need an Easypress 2 to create t-shirts with Cricut?

No, you can use a regular iron to transfer your Cricut designs to the shirt. However, Easypress 2 offers consistent results and even heat transfer without the need to apply pressure. If you're making a lot of shirt designs, an Easypress 2 is essential. 

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Ian Dean is Digital Arts & Design Editor at Creative Bloq, and the former editor of many leading magazines. These titles included ImagineFX, 3D World and leading video game title Official PlayStation Magazine. In his early career he wrote for music and film magazines including Uncut, SFX, and assisted on The Idler. For Creative Bloq, Ian combines his love to bring the latest news on NFTs, video game art and tech, and more to Creative Bloq, and in his spare time he doodles in Corel Painter, ArtRage, and Rebelle while finding time to play Xbox and PS5.