Learning How To Print Onto Sleeves

The very first time I had to print on the sleeve of a stubborn performance shirt I had to walk away to regain my composure no less than five hundred times. Or perhaps closer to 3 or 4, but the truth is that the material does not easily cooperate! So, if you're feeling stuck trying to get logos centered onto the sleeve of a shirt (especially performance wear), then hold tight, you're not alone, and there is hope.

So, the first lesson to note when learning how to place a logo ANYWHERE is:


Try The Shirt On

You can try the garment on and look into a mirror to make sure the placement you're looking at falls over the correct body part.

Especially with a sleeve, it can be frustrating to wonder if the logo is low enough so that it falls vertically on the arm and doesn't sit on top of someones shoulder. Don't be afraid to try the shirt on, place a small piece of heat resistant tape where you want the graphic to line up, and use that as your measuring guide.


Avoid All Seams

All sleeves have a seam that graphics CANNOT be pressed on top of, unless the look your going for is a graphic with an obvious ugly line through it that even someone who's never heard of a heat press can pin-point from a mile away.

You need a flat surface to press on.

Seams = Bumps Bumps = Bad

The way around the seam, while still using it as a center guide line, is to slide a folded piece of heat resistant paper into the sleeve of the shirt. This will keep the center of the sleeve facing up and create a flat barrier between the seam and your graphic.

Heat resistant paper can be bought from places like Stahls or UScutter.com

Here is a link to where you can pick some up paper that is safe to go under the press



Break The Sleeve Into Parts

What if the graphic going on the sleeve is longer than the press?

This is an issue I ran into during a recent project where we printed chains down the full length of a swimming warm-up shirt. The sleeve graphic was 18" long, but the platen on our press is only 15" wide. SO, we ended pressing one half of the sleeve at a time.

  • We laid out the whole sleeve and the whole graphic so we knew it was lined up from top to bottom,

  • then slid the sleeve so only half of it was on the press.

  • Pressed on half and pealed away the transfer paper close to where the shirt feel off the press and cut off the paper.

  • The we slid the other half of the sleeve onto the platten, covered any part of the already printed graphic that remained on the platten, and pressed the rest of the graphic.


The moral of this story:

Printing on sleeves can be challenging and time consuming, but when you have all the tricks and tools you need, deploy a little bit of patience, you can take your shirt designs to another level. - - - - - - -

Thanks for reading guys,

Please feel free to message me if this article did not answer all of your sleeve related questions.


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