Vinyl | Heat Press

What Decal Size for Shirts Should I Use? [with chart!]

Vinyl | Heat Press

Written by Ali Fields | Updated: October 18, 2020

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If you’re like me, you have trouble sometimes remembering what size decal to make or purchase for a shirt.

I can make a shirt one day and the next I’m wondering what looks best.

Should HTV be a different size? What about onesies?!

I’ve studied just about every shirt and onesie I’ve ever made, and then I sent photos out to my designer friends, asking them for feedback.

What follows are my decal size tips for the ideal decal size for a shirt.

Oh, and because I don’t want you to have to read an essay on something with a pretty simple answer, I put it all in a single shirt decal size chart. For those who want the essay… well you know me, it follows.

(Feel free to bookmark my htv size chart for easy reference!)

How big should a decal be on a shirt?

All shirts are made a little bit differently, the measurements of one Youth Large shirt might be completely different than another, but for the most part, they’re pretty similar.

So, for 99% of your shirts you’re thinking of putting vinyl on, this chart will work.

Vinyl size chart for shirts

A decal size for shirts chart

That being said, I’d recommend not necessarily using a rule of thumb.

What you should do is what I recommend with a lot of crafting: reverse-engineer what already looks good!

Grab your favorite shirts and just measure how large the designs are on them. Note the size of the shirt and the dimensions of the design. Also take down how far from the neck the top of the design starts, and whether or not it’s centered.

You can make your own chart like the above (that’s how I made mine) and update it over time as you get more experience.

If you still want more size tips, I’ll offer a load of them below!

How can I visualize what the design will look like?

If you’re thinking about visualizing your designs before cutting your vinyl, I think you absolutely have the right idea.

Different designs might require more space around them, and being able to quickly get a sanity check on an idea can save you a lot of time (and vinyl for shirts!).

Instead of explaining at length how to visualize, let’s… visualize it together! I have a great video for you to watch, and if you use Cricut Design Space and haven’t done this before… you are in for a treat.

So next time you’re getting ready to cut some iron-on shirt decals, take a moment and lay it out real fast!

What size should a name or number be on the back of a jersey?

If you want it to look like a standard jersey, this is fortunately pretty easy.

Youth size:

  • Name: 2″
  • Front number: 3″
  • Back number: 6″

Adult size:

  • Name: 3″
  • Front number: 4″
  • Back number: 8″

You can always lay them out with the video above and make sure they look right.

How far down should a logo or design be on a shirt?

If you’re using a standard size design on a regular t-shirt, you typically want the top of your design to start 3″ from the neck of an adult shirt.

If you’re working with a youth t-shirt, you should place the top of the design 2.5″ from the neck.

Like I mentioned above, reverse-engineering the placements of what you already like is the absolute best way to get your sizing for shirts perfect.

What is the average size of a logo on a t-shirt?

For this, you should just consult that chart above! These aren’t quite the average sizes because, let’s be honest, some shirts don’t look that good.

These are however the average sizes of well-designed shirts!

How can I make sure vinyl is centered and aligned on a shirt?

Really important question!

If you have time for a quick video, our friend ElleBee has a really great technique for putting heat transfer vinyl on shirts and making sure it’s aligned:

What I recommend doing is the following:

  1. Fold your shirt in half horizontally, if you’re using a heat press give it a quick press to make a line. If not, just keep track of the line you make from folding it.
  2. Unfold the shirt, and grab your design. You want to now fold your design in half.
  3. Take a ruler, and lay it over the width of the t-shirt, aligning your design along the top so that it’s completely horizontal.

What size design should I use on a bag or tote?

This will be perhaps an unsatisfying (and often repeated!) answer: reverse-engineer it! Find a tote you love, measure it, and see how far away from the edges the design starts and how large it is.

If you’re working with a similarly-sized tote, you should be fine using the same details.

Designs can just vary so much, and what a good placement might be for one would make another look… pretty bad. So I’m really reluctant to give a one-size-fits-all answer to these sorts of questions. It’s always good to do your own research.

Conclusion

To sum it up, definitely use the above chart if you’re looking for a good place to get started.

What I really recommend doing though is going through your favorite clothes and just measuring them, seeing exactly how far the placement is from the collar and how large they are.

If you’re ready to get started but don’t know what machines or vinyl to use:

Do your best to visualize your design any way that you have available (drawing, scrap paper, in your cutting software), especially if you’re going to be making a large number of shirts. Stick to the rules of thumb above, and feel free to share this article if it helped you!

I’d love to hear about your own preferences and findings in the comments.

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Our Expert
Ali Fields

Ali Fields is a DIY enthusiast and the founder and editor of Cut, Cut, Craft!, a DIY crafting blog.

She's a mechanical engineer by trade and the mother of two delightful kiddos.