How to Design a Custom Running Shirt

AUG 11, 2015

If you’ve ever participated in the excitement of a running race like a fun run, 5K, or half marathon, you’ve probably received a race bib stating important race information like your name, race number and location. To some, this may seem like another piece of paper, but to Spoonflower crew member Meredith, it’s quickly become part of her favorite running memories. Join her today as she shows you how to use Adobe Photoshop to turn your race bibs into a custom running top–sure to get you a gold medal in style!  

As I’ve increased my mileage over the years through training runs and races, I’ve also increased the number of race bibs filling up my “must never be thrown out” memory box (I know you have a box like this hiding under your bed, too!). With the box starting to burst at the seams, the friendly reminder was exactly the push I needed to turn the collection of race bibs into something that was both useful, and a creative way to display my running memories. With the use of Photoshop, and Spoonflower’s Performance Pique, I created a one-of-a-kind running shirt! The moisture wicking feature of this fabric is always a bonus for summer runs in the North Carolina heat!

Materials:

  • Race Bibs, or other special memorabilia (medals would be great, too!)
  • Scanner
  • Computer
  • Running-top pattern– I used fellow Spoonflower crew member, Jamie’s scoop neck tank top pattern and slightly adjusted the style
  • One yard of moisture-wicking printed race bib fabric–Spoonflower’s performance pique or performance knit are great options!

*Please refer to your sewing pattern for your exact fabric amount*

To begin: open up Photoshop (this works in Photoshop Elements, too!)

To start your project, scan each race bib individually as a JPEG or PNG following your scanner/printer instructions at the highest resolution to your hard drive. Once you’ve scanned each bib to your computer, open up Photoshop and choose your first bib in the File-Open drop-down menu. It’s helpful to rename each file based on the race you’ve run and place them in one file folder so it’s easier to locate each bib.

Next, determine how large you’d like each bib to be when printed on your fabric. I felt the original size would be too large for my tank top pattern, so I decided on a size of 6.5” x 5” as a starting point for each bib. To resize your bib, hover your mouse over the Image bar and select Image Size in the drop-down menu. Enter your new size measurements ( in this instance, 6.5” x 5”) and change the resolution to 150.

With your image resized, it’s time to do a bit of simple editing to enhance your race bib. When you scanned your image, it may have created a white background. For easy overlapping of bibs in future steps, we will need to crop out all white spaces outside of the original bib. To crop out the white background, select the Magic Wand tool in the Tools menu and select the white area bordering your race bib.

Once selected with a dotted border, hit your delete button to remove the border. Don’t forget to delete the white area in the four circles located in the corner of your bib!

With your background deleted, you may notice a bit of extra border on the right and left side of the bib. For a smoother transition when moving around your final race bibs, I recommend using the crop tool located on your tool bar, making sure to not crop any portion of your race bib!

Over time, my race bibs have faded, so for an extra pop of color, I used the Brightness/Contrast and Vibrance tool under the Image – Adjustments drop-down menu. I recommend playing around with the slider bar to find a nice balance with the brightness and contrast.

Once you’re happy with your first race bib, select the File-Save As drop-down menu and save your design as a JPEG or PNG file.  Repeat the above steps for each individual race bib. Saving all of the files in one folder will make choosing the files easier in the future! Once you’ve edited all of your bibs, it’s time to set up the file you’ll be uploading to Spoonflower.

First, determine how much fabric your pattern requires. The tank top pattern I’m using requires 1 yard of performance pique fabric which is 56” wide, so my final design file size will be 56” x 36” set at 150 dpi. Create your new file by choosing File-New in the drop-down menu in Photoshop and enter your fabric dimensions.

Next, add each race bib to the design file. Select File-Place Embedded in the drop-down menu, and choose each of your saved edited race bibs by double clicking on the file name.

Once you’ve added each race bib to your final file, arrange the bibs to your liking in the left corner. I went for a more collaged feel with overlapped images, so to reduce extra white space, I duplicated a few layers (bibs) to place underneath the original images. To move each bib individually, make sure to select the specific file name within your Layers display window. You’ll know the file has been selected when it is highlighted blue.

The next step, creating a group, is a real time saver! To create a group, select the folder icon located at the bottom of your layers window and rename your group. I labeled mine “Bib Group 1”. Next, drag and drop each bib into this group. Make sure the folder name is highlighted prior to placing each image. Once you’ve created your group, you’ll be able to duplicate all of your bibs simply by the click of a mouse!

Once you’ve created your first group, right click on the group’s name and select duplicate group. Rename your second group as you did in the first step so you can easily differentiate the two.

Using your mouse, select Bib Group 2 in the Layers window and relocate the group on your canvas.

Continue to duplicate your original group and place each group throughout your design file until you’ve covered the entire canvas .

Next, save your files as a JPEG by selecting the File – Save As and choosing JPEG in the format drop-down menu. Don’t forget to rename your file for easy desktop searching!

With your file saved, it’s time to upload your design and order your fabric! I ordered a fat quarter of the Performance Pique before ordering the full yard to ensure the scale and adjusted brightness was just right for my tank top. Like they say, measure twice, cut once! Sometimes ordering a test swatch can end up disappointment or surprise in the final yardage, so definitely don’t skip this if your timeline allows!

There’s nothing better than receiving fabric you’ve designed yourself!

With my newly printed fabric in hand, I set to the sewing machine to create my running top and then was quickly out the door, just in time to start training for my next race!

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