Best Shirts for DTG Printing Unveiling the Canvas of Possibilities

DTG Printing Unveiling the Canvas of Possibilities

DTG printing, or Direct-to-Garment printing, has revolutionized the way we create NW Custom Apparel. No longer confined to traditional screen printing, DTG offers a vibrant and detailed printing process that opens up a world of possibilities for designers and consumers alike.

When exploring the world of DTG printing, it is essential to recognize the critical impact that shirt selection plays in the final result. We’ll explore the wide world of shirt alternatives in this tutorial, learning about the best apparel brands, materials, and things to keep in mind for a flawless DTG printing process.

What is DTG Printing?

With DTG printing, water-based inks are printed directly into the fabric using specialized printers. This approach is ideal for personalized garments since it provides for soft feel and detailed designs. DTG is perfect for small print runs and intricate designs because it doesn’t require screens or a lot of setup like traditional printing techniques do.

Advantages of DTG Printing over Traditional Methods

DTG printing boasts several advantages, including full-color printing, detailed designs, and the ability to print complex images without compromising quality. Additionally, it offers a quicker turnaround time and is environmentally friendly, using water-based inks that are free from harmful chemicals.

Factors to Consider

It’s important to take into account a number of aspects that can affect the printed design’s lifespan and quality before experimenting with DTG printing. The final print is largely influenced by the type of fabric you select. Blends of cotton, polyester, and tri-blend materials are preferred because of their smooth surfaces and ability to work with water-based inks. Take into account the fabric’s color and texture, as these factors affect how well the ink sticks to the cloth. In general, greater outcomes are produced by lighter colors and smoother textures. The weight and fabric thickness have an effect on ink absorption. Choose medium-weight materials to guarantee vivid prints without sacrificing toughness.

Top Shirt Materials for DTG Printing

Selecting the appropriate shirt material is essential to producing excellent DTG prints. Cotton is still a traditional material for DTG printing since it offers colorful pictures on a smooth, breathable canvas. It produces clear, detailed prints by effectively absorbing water-based inks. Blends of polyester are good for sportswear and activewear because of their absorbent qualities and durability. Additionally, these mixes have prints that are bright and have good color durability. Tri-blend textiles combine the greatest qualities of two materials; they are usually a blend of rayon, polyester, and cotton. They provide the drape of rayon, the strength of polyester, and the softness of cotton to create a canvas that is versatile enough for DTG printing. The shirt’s quality is just as crucial to DTG printing as the printing technique itself.

Tips for Preparing Shirts

Properly preparing shirts before printing is crucial for achieving the best results. Pre-wash shirts to remove any residues or shrinkage. This ensures that the fabric is clean, smooth, and ready to absorb the water-based inks. Dry shirts using recommended techniques to prevent color bleeding and distortion. Avoid high heat settings that may damage the fabric or affect print quality. Iron shirts before printing to create a smooth printing surface. A flat and wrinkle-free fabric ensures that the ink adheres uniformly, resulting in crisp and clear designs. To ensure consistent and high-quality prints, proper maintenance of your DTG printer is essential. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for regular cleaning and maintenance. This includes cleaning printheads, checking ink levels, and inspecting the overall condition of the printer.

Balancing Quality and Affordability

Strive for a balance between quality and affordability. Investing in slightly higher-quality shirts may yield better prints and customer satisfaction in the long run. With environmental consciousness on the rise, consider eco-friendly options for both fabric and printing processes. Choose shirts made from sustainable and organic materials. Eco-friendly fabrics not only contribute to environmental conservation but also appeal to a growing market of environmentally conscious consumers.

Environmentally Conscious Printing Practices

Explore DTG printing options that prioritize environmentally friendly practices. Water-based inks and efficient printing processes minimize the environmental impact of custom apparel production. As technology advances, so do the possibilities in DTG printings. Explore the world of smart textiles that integrate technology into fabrics. Smart textiles offer opportunities for interactive and dynamic designs, enhancing the overall appeal of DTG-printed shirts. Keep an eye on innovations in specialty inks and finishes. These can add unique textures, effects, and visual elements to your DTG prints, setting your designs apart from the rest.

Customization Options

Take advantage of customization options offered by advanced DTG printers. Personalized prints, variable data printing, and on-demand customization are becoming increasingly popular in the custom apparel market.


Selecting the best shirts for DTG printing involves a thoughtful evaluation of fabric types, quality, and environmental considerations. Armed with this knowledge, you can enhance the vibrancy and longevity of your prints, ensuring customer satisfaction and success in the competitive custom apparel market.

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Sothea Tann

Production Team: Trimmer

Sothea Tann recently joined the Production Team in 2022. She finds Northwest Custom Apparel to be a good working environment with helpful and friendly staff. In her free time, Sothea spends quality time with her family and, overall, focuses on a peaceful and happy lifestyle.


Alicia Wada

Shipping Clerk

Alicia Wada is passionate about helping her co-workers at Northwest Custom Apparel in any way that she can. She works in our Shipping and Logistics department. Alicia, who goes by Ali, has a bachelor’s degree in Applied Mathematics. She lived in Japan for ten years and recently brought her family to America in 2019. She is interested in learning crafts and textile art from around the world.


Erik Mickelson


Erik Mickelson’s position as Manager is more than a job, it’s a passion. It’s always fun and exciting because he enjoys marketing, computers, and coming up with innovative ideas to help NWCA grow. He majored in accounting and finance at Washington State University, graduating in 1996, and returned to school to obtain his Master of Business from WGU, graduating in 2016. Erik continually strives to advance his education through podcasts, audiobooks, and industry tradeshows. He is married to a remarkable and caring wife named Wendy, a Registered Nurse, with whom he shares his many hobbies and a love for the outdoors.



Ruth Nhoung

Production Manager

Ruth Nhoung is our Production Manager and Northwest Custom Apparel is lucky to have her. Thanks to her vast knowledge of machine embroidery and dedication to creating a comfortable and supportive work environment, the production plant runs smoothly and customers are pleased with our work. She is a loving mother and grandmother and enjoys spending quality time with her siblings. She says, “I love everything about Northwest Custom Apparel: the people, the atmosphere, the work, and the customers. I love what I do and I embrace all of NWCA’s core values”.


Steve Deland

Art Director

Steve Deland has been our amazing Artist since 2017. He loves working at Northwest Custom Apparel because he appreciates the goal-oriented, progressive-thinking management style. He is most passionate about his art, which includes scroll saw woodwork, and his five grandchildren.



Taylar Hanson


Taylar Hanson is a highly acclaimed Saleswoman at Northwest Custom Apparel. She has a BA in Apparel, Merchandising, Design, and Textiles from Washington State University. “Go Cougs!” The best part of Taylar’s job is getting to work with longtime customers who trust us to do the best work and take care of their needs. She is passionate about appreciating nature, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.


Nika Lao


Nika Lao is very knowledgeable in how the business is ran because she began as an Embroidery Machine Operator and has worked hard to become the excellent and personable saleswoman she is today. She enjoys the stress-free environment and the many chances to connect with her co-workers over potlucks, BBQs, and bowling parties. Nika is a proud sister of two highly successful brothers and can boast mastering three languages herself: Khmer, Thai, and English. She is an avid camper, enjoys going to farmer markets, and loves cooking.


Bradley Wright


Bradley Wright has been a vital team member of NWCA since 2017. As our accountant and knower-of-all-things, Bradley is proud to work closely with his wonderful colleagues. He studied at the University of Washington. These days he dedicates his free time to his new house.


Dominic Nguyen

DTG Operator

Dominic Nguyen recently joined our Direct-To-Garment department. He says he loves the family work environment at Northwest Custom Apparel. In his free time, Dom likes to listen to music, hangout with friends, and play video games. He comes from a very big family which can be very chaotic at times, but is always exciting.



Embroidery Machine Operator

SorphornSorm has been a Machine Operator since 2011. One of her four sisters works here as well. Her other relatives are in Cambodia. In her free time, Sorphorn studies English, listens to music, and enjoys exercising.


Brian Beardsley

DTG Supervisor

Brian Beardsley has been with Northwest Custom Apparel since 2018. He is our DTG Supervisor. Brian loves that he gets to work with high-tech machines in a fun atmosphere. He has a bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design. He said, “I always wanted to create visually interesting assets in a variety of mediums”. In his free time, he enjoys building and painting models, playing video games, designing, and playing his guitar.


UT Tri Tran

Embroidery Machine Operator

UT Tri Tran loves Northwest Custom Apparel so much that, although she has already retired after a long career in machine embroidery operations, she is happy to return part time. She says, “I love the family style work environment and how everyone shares food, laughter, and fun on a regular basis.” In her free time she is dedicated to living a healthy and peaceful lifestyle with her friends and family.



Embroidery Machine Operator

BunsereytheavyHoeu, who goes by Theavy, won our Operator of the Year in 2021. She takes on many roles in the production team. She says, “These are not my co-workers, these are my family! I cherish all the memories we make together”. When she goes home to be with her family, she makes the most of her time with them by holding family get-togethers and even karaoke competitions.


Sreynai Meang

Embroidery Machine Operator

SreynaiMeang is a hard-working Machine Operator. She is most passionate about helping people. Sreynai, who goes by Nai, likes to exercise in her free time and talk with her family in Cambodia.


Kanha Chhorn

Embroidery Machine Operator

Kanha Chhorn has been an Embroidery Operator with Northwest Custom Apparel since 2018. She is delightful and always makes everyone smile and laugh. Kanha takes on additional tasks that allow us to exceed our customers’ expectations. In her free time, she can be found at her local temple or spending quality time with her family and friends.


Savy Som

Embroidery Machine Operator

SavySom is one of our Machine Operators who is passionate about embroidery and sewing. She enjoys working at NWCA because of its flexibility. She has two teenage sons and loves spending time with her family on the weekends.


Jim Mickelson


Jim Mickelson, after a successful career with a major oil company, founded Northwest Embroidery in 1977. This was the first commercial embroidery in the Pacific Northwest. Over the years, Jim has become the guru of embroidery never refusing to answer a question or offer advice to his fellow embroiders. Jim and his wife Leeanna raised four wonderful children who went on to successful business careers.