The Best Ways to Add Glitter and Shine to T-Shirts

Ready to add glitter or shine to a customer’s logo or artwork? You’ve got a lot of options if you’re ready to get creative. 

For example, Broken Arrow T-Shirt Printing & Embroidery (@brokenarrowwear) offers screen-printed and vinyl foils, as well as glitters. “We prefer screen printing because it can be combined with other ink colors a little bit easier,” says Kortni Remer, general manager. “Our favorite designs combine standard ink colors with glitters/foils as an accent and an enhancement. Foils and glitters add dimension and enhance certain elements better than standard inks. The enhancement speaks for itself when you use it correctly – and just adds that special something to a design when people want to stand out.”

We asked three experienced shops to share the easiest ways to add some dazzle to client designs for truly custom artwork, without it looking like you broke out the bedazzler. See how to use screen-printed foils and more for cool effects.


Our Need for Glitter and Shine

Utica Coffee Roasting Co. wanted a bold design that would get local coffee drinkers’ full attention. Howard Potter, CEO of A&P Master Images, chose an on-trend oversize long-sleeve t-shirt to apply glitter vinyl for the “Wake the hell up!” message. “With a simple, one-color design on a black shirt, the silver glitter makes the apparel pop,” he says. The A&P team produced 72 pieces for this order, but they can easily create one-offs as needed for the client. 

Pro tip:With glitter vinyl, keep the design simple and not too detailed to make it easier to weed and mass produce it if needed,” Potter says.



Shining Like a Lady Boss

LaTonna Roberson, owner of T-Shirt Shop Dallas, creates eye-catching shirts for her Lady Print Boss Consulting brand that helps people start their own decorating business. The “Just Boss Everyday” t-shirt is a great example of a classic white print on a black t-shirt, but with a little shimmer. “I used the tone-on-tone method to create a nice, clean garment that has just enough shine to get attention,” she says.

The “BOSS” logo shirt is another favorite with Lady Print Boss clients and fans. “We used black shimmer vinyl and STAHLS’ CAD-CUT Metallic Heat Transfer Vinyl in gold for a bold look,” Roberson says. 



Shimmering for Special Occasions

Roberson created the “LaTonna” t-shirt for Mother’s Day using STAHLS’ CAD-COLOR Soft Opaque Printable Heat Transfer Vinyl. “Opaque printable vinyl is a great way to get full-color printing for small orders,” she says. “We sprinkled on rhinestones to give the shirt shine.” 

Roberson created this flashy shirt for a first birthday party. She used STAHLS’ CAD-CUT Chameleon for this eye-catching effect. “A white shirt is the perfect canvas for colorful prints,” she says. “You can also pair colorful prints with whimsical fonts to create a fun tee.”



All That Glitters

Broken Arrow does a lot of shirts for racing teams. So it was no surprise when Caravello Racing reached out to ask if a specialty ink would work for their splatter-skull design. “They wanted something different than the norm,” Remer says. “We decided to use glitter on their design as an enhancement, without bringing any ‘dance mom’ vibes.”

Remer’s team used red glitter as an outline for the team’s name, specifically keeping the lines fairly thin so the glitter didn’t overpower, but still would draw attention. “We loved the result because the glitter added a pop to the design, while keeping with the artwork’s vibe,” she says.

Here are Broken Arrow’s tips for applying glitter:

  • To hide inconsistent coverage with the glitter ink, use an underbase on your glitter that’s a similar color to the glitter. For example, red glitter gets a red under base. 
  • Use a lower mesh count to allow the flake to come through the screens. Remer uses a 40 count or lower mesh.
  • Print the glitter last in your print order. “If you must print something after glitter, make sure the other ink is fully dried,” Remer says. “Avoid wet-on-wet printing.”




The Gold’s in the Foil

Broken Arrow did a fun project for a 30th birthday party. The client originally asked for metallic gold ink. “We wanted to give the customer more reflection on sunglasses and halo, so we suggested foil instead,” Remer says. “The end result was a tone-on-tone print with a gold foil enhancement. We created a design that would look entirely different with standard or metallic inks.”

Remer offers her top production tips for screen-printed foils:

  • Add a foil-resist additive to your plastisol inks or use water-based inks, if you want to combine a screen-printed foil with other ink colors.
  • The adhesive is key. “We generally use a plastisol transfer adhesive and run it through an 83-mesh screen to get a smooth, thick layer of adhesive down,” she says.
  • Set up the artwork to allow for the adhesive and other inks to expand when you heat press the foil onto the shirt.
  • To apply adhesive, a 70/90/70 durometer squeegee works best.
  • Keep your dryer temp below 300 degrees to avoid curing the adhesive through the dryer. You’ll cure the adhesive when heat pressing.



Get Started Today

If you’re ready to add some glitter and shine to your clients’ t-shirts, start trying the techniques shared here today to create your own samples. Show off those examples in your shop, on your website, on social media and in your emails. Don’t hesitate to suggest adding some dazzle to text or an element in your clients’ next design. Sometimes, people are afraid to request glitter in their designs, but when they see how eye-catching it is, they’ll be on board.


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