How to Align and Size Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV) Designs

The second most popular question I see asked about heat transfer vinyl is how to know what size to make your design and where to line it up on the shirt.

How to align and size htv designs for shirts and baby onesies. Lots of useful graphics!

Preferences in design sizing and where to center your design might vary depending on what you are working on, but there are some general sizing and placement guides you can follow.

In general- adult sized shirt designs should be between 11 and 14 inches.  For kids sized shirts, you only need between 5.5 and 9 inches.  Of course, the design size can change depending on what you’re making, but these are good sizes to start with.

Where to place your design once you have it cut is a little easier.

Heat transfer shirt design placement inforgraphic- very helpful!Start by folding the shirt in half and make a crease down the middle with your iron or heat press.  Fold your design in half (fold the non-sticky sides together and make a small crease in the middle of the backing sheet) and then line the two up.  To determine how far down on the shirt to go, most people start by lining the design up with the bottom seam of the shirt sleeves.  Adjust based on how tall your design is.  If you have a very tall skinny design, on most adult shirts, you can measure about 3 inches down from the collar for top placement.

If your shirt has a pocket that you want to put a design on, consider that most pockets are 3.5-5.5 inch square.  If you are adding a design to a shirt with a pocket, that is not incorporated into your design, you can usually just pretend the pocket is not there and line up your design like above.

If you are working with baby clothes, the rules are a little different:

Heat transfer vinyl onesie design placement ideas. Most baby onesies are 7.5-11.25 inches wide and 12.25-17.25 inches tall (depending on size and brand).  The diagram above gives you some ideas on alignment options for different shaped designs.  In general, you can crease the onesie in half and, unless you have a smaller chest design, crease the onesie in half the other way to get cross hairs to align your design with.

Why is placement and sizing so important?  Why do people worry?  Let’s look at an example:

I am brand new baby onesie- perfect for a baby shower gift!For this outfit I used the “I am brand new” design which is part of our 12 Exclusive Heat Transfer Vinyl Designs that I created.  This design comes sized to fit a typical 0-3 month onesie.  If you are making a body suit for a smaller baby (maybe in a preemie or newborn size) you will need to make the design a little smaller (5 inches would work well).

Making your own custom shirts is a lot of fun and can make great gifts.  You may even be able to start up your own small business!  Making sure your designs are the right size, and aligned properly, can make all the difference in the end product.  I hope you have found these tips helpful!




16 Replies to “How to Align and Size Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV) Designs”

    1. It all depends on the size of your tank top and where you are placing it! Are you placing it in the middle or on the left-hand or right-hand side of the tank top?

      Courteney says:
  1. Thanks for your insight for the great written piece. I am glad I have taken the time to read this.
    vivienne westwood bag

    vivienne westwood bag says:
  2. What is the biggest size you can go when doing a left side chest logo and is there someone who can help me with this? I have a cricut explorer and using a cricut heat press.

    Thank you.

    Chris says:
    1. Thanks for your question, Chris. 4×4 inches is a typical size for a left side logo design.

      LAL says:
  3. What side of the shirt do you put the lettering design on if the shirt has a pocket?

    Cynthia A Wey says:
    1. I think your scenario is one of those “it depends” situations, Cynthia. If the overall shape of your design allows it to fit comfortably on the front of the shirt using the guidelines in Kala’s article, then the front is an option for placement. Very wide designs, of course, would need to go on the back of the shirt to avoid the pocket. I would generally advise to audition the design on the shirt using Kala’s measurements, and then trust your eyes. I think most of us can tell when a placement is not working, even if we’re not sure exactly why.

      LAL says:
  4. I want to put words on a baby onesie, one is for 3 months and one for 6 months. What size should the font be.

    rayna kerber says:
    1. Hi Rayna,
      Do you happen to have the onesie to measure it? Most onsies are 7.5-11.25 inches wide and 12.25-17.25. That’s quite a range so if you can measure, that might give you a better idea on what size would look best. You probably can’t go wrong with about 6 inches either way though!

      Hope this helps!

      Kala says:
  5. Having trouble, , I’m new at this, getting my design centered and how far down from the neck line I should go. Do I measure from the top of the tallest letter? I know on one of the post you stated 3″ from the top of the neckline.

    Barbara Massey says:
    1. I would go based off the middle of your design and measure about 3 inches down. Stick your heat transfer sheet on there and then step back a little and see how it looks. Sometimes it’s not an exact science 🙂

      Kala says:
  6. What size would you recommend for left chest (no pocket) on an adult 3xl tee? I’m stumped. Usually i’d use 4″ for 2xl. but not sure about 3xl.

    Johnna Chambers says:
    1. Hi Johanna
      I think I would go with 4.5 square? Maybe 4.25?

      Hope this helps!

      Kala says:
  7. This is very helpful…how would you recommend lining design up on a racer back tank? Ive done plenty of them but here lately it doesnt matter what i do its crooked a lil, well enough to make my ocd bad…lol

    Jillian Beene says:
    1. Hi Jillian,
      For racer backs, I would drop the back down and then just align the front by the seams and sleeves, this way you can ensure that you have the center correct and can press a line for you to follow.

      Hope this helps!

      Kala says:

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