Inventive Ways to use Graphic Prints in Custom Apparel

Decatur, AL – Printed graphic t-shirts, hoodies, and socks, are par for the course with custom apparel. If you look around in most fashion circles, if there is a counter-culture somewhere, there is usually at least one graphic tee or illustration somewhere nearby.  But what if we can expand beyond the scope of graphic tees in custom apparel?  After all, early textile printing predates the t-shirt for hundreds of years. Also, how long can we approach custom apparel the same way repeatedly without it getting stale? Are there more creative forms of custom apparel that we have barely tapped into? Here are a few ways where you can apply the same screen printing method for graphic tees, to other forms of custom apparel.

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Custom Apparel – Graphic Dresses


Why does the length of the shirt have to stop at the midriff? What if you want to apply the same logic of design to a floor-length or summer dress? After all, most people wear cotton as a choice of fabric and there are casual dresses that can be super comfortable. T-shirt dresses or maxi dresses are a derivative of the “shirt dress” that was popular in the 1950s. A lot of elements of these shirts were based on men’s clothes but were elongated for the sake of creating a dress that stops in the middle of the upper thigh.

Most of them are silk or from a cotton blend. This makes it not only comfortable but prime for added graphics. It is already a t-shirt in all but length. So, it isn’t much of an idealistic stretch to consider vinyl print, airbrushing or direct to garment printing to customize apparel.

We see some examples of this already, however, there is a potential for more ways to use this to create more inventive custom apparel.

Custom Printed Purses


Not all custom apparel has to be directly on your body. After all, what is fashion without accessories? Screen printing on bags are not an entirely new concept since the initial process of stenciling and screen printing has its early place in America tagging military duffle bags and other equipment to tell them apart.

This is because they make the material of these bags out of the canvas. And canvas, no matter where you find it, can be painted on. We have expanded the use of canvas from military duffle bags to reusable tote bags, purses, and backpacks. This leaves an open opportunity for creating a different type of custom apparel.

Screen printing will work on a canvas, just like cotton will. They are both functional textiles, and if you want to use your bag as an accessory that stands out, maybe you should consider adding a screen-printed purse or bag that can accent the outfits you already have.  You can even order one’s custom with personal photos directly printed on a bag. It can increase the chances that no one else has the same bag as you do. Because isn’t the point of custom apparel to stand out, after all?

custom apparel, shoes,

Custom Apparel – Printed Shoes


Another type of clothing item or accessory that can also be made of canvas is tennis shoes. Believe it or not, it is the same canvas that you can see on bags and on frames in the art store. That means that they are just as capable for being printed or painted on.

We have seen some custom canvas shoes from brands like converse, who create and sell limited edition prints with their logo on it. But there are basic canvas shoes they sell at Walmart that are standard and blank.

As long as you know what ink or paints you are dealing with, you can have any custom shoes that you can think of, and it can draw the right amount of positive attention.



Just because the most common custom apparel is t-shirts, doesn’t mean that graphic designers, fashion models, or any other groups of people should limit themselves to the standard. We can tap into our own creativity by being innovative and daring to apply the principles of design that we know to make something new.  We can use what we have to avoid a creative rut by running through the same cycles over and over again.

Take some time to apply something you already know to a new medium or through a new execution. The results that come from it might surprise you. 

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