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Dr. Mac: Rants & Raves

Short Treatise On Mac T-shirts I Treasure
January 30th, 2004
Episode #11

I work at home, so I wear T-shirts a lot of the time, and when I go out, I rarely put on something nicer. Come on now… I live in Austin, Texas. Down here, a T-shirt that doesn't have a stain or a tear is something nicer.

Being a Mac user (and awfully proud of it), the vast majority of my T-shirts are freebies from Mac-related companies such as these:

Figure 1: Bare Bones always has great shirts and this one's no exception.
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Figure 2: This is one of my favorite Apple freebies -- it's elegant, simple, and easy to recognize at a distance. It's also stained and almost ready for retirement.
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Figure 3: Aladdin Systems world-famous "SIT Happens" T-shirt: I love it but my family thinks it's obnoxious.
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Some of my other favorites commemorate memorable Mac-related events, clubs, and parties:

Figure 4: I think this one commemorated the party with Smashmouth, but I don't remember much of that night so I could be mistaken. Still, it's a great T-shirt.
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Figure 5: I like my local user group so much I buy one of these almost every time I go to a meeting. At US$10 they're a steal. (You can get yours from… hint, hint.)
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Figure 6: This rare shirt was part of the last dying gasp of my former employer Power Computing.
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But my favorite T-shirts, by far, are ones I make or buy. When the buying urge strikes me, I visit (formerly (Actually, I've purchased so many T-shirts over the years that the proprietor, Mike, sent me a bunch of great ones for free… Thanks again, Mike!).

Here are two I recently bought on closeout for US$10 each

Figure 7: You gotta love this one…
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Figure 8: Ditto for this one.
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Note: There were still some of both of these left for US$10 at on Thursday night…

Moving right along, Here are a few of my favorites from the old MacSurfShop:

Figure 9: It is priceless, isn't it?
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If you're having trouble reading that one, it says:

G4 Desktop Tower $3499.00
22 " Cinema Display $2499.00
Wireless Networking $399.00
Color Inkjet Printer $149.00
Hi-Tech Operating System $100.00
Not having to use Windows: Priceless

Figure 10: Everyone knows what Windows is good for when I wear this one…
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Figure 11: This one fits me like a glove both literally and figuratively.
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And here's one I love wearing around town (it's fun living in the shadow of the valley of the Dell):

Figure 12: Dell? Dull!
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Last but not least, my very favorite T-shirt of them all:

Figure 13: I know where you can get one just like it…
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OK. Consider that the prelude, a sort of appetizer if you will. And now that your appetite is whetted somewhat, I'll get right to the actual meat of the column, a little crafts project I hope you'll enjoy.

But first, here's why I've been thinking about it…

Someone e-mailed me a URL the other day for a T-shirt they thought I'd like.

I liked the concept but:

  1. My parents were married.
  2. $17 for an all-text T-shirt is a rip.

Figure 14: A rip off (and my parents were married anyway…)
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Moving right along, this brings us to the meat of the matter, a little craft project I like to call…

It didn't say what I wanted it to say, so I made my own on my Mac

What you'll need:

  • A solid light-colored cotton T-shirt
  • One (possibly two) iron-on T-shirt transfers
  • A color inkjet printer
  • An electric iron (steam not required)
  • A Macintosh computer
  • Graphics software capable of printing a mirror image (Photoshop, GraphicConverter, etc.)

Here's how:

First, open your graphics program. I'm using Photoshop in these examples because it's what I use, but any graphics application that allows you to move text around the page and print a mirror-image will do.

You can fit more T-shirt designs on a canvas 11 inches wide (by 8.5 inches tall) than one 8.5 inches wide (by 11 inches tall), so create a blank letter-size page and change the orientation from portrait to landscape if necessary.

Next, type your T-shirt message and arrange the words on the canvas. Remember that you can make the text almost as big as the page. Here's how my first try came out:

Figure 15: The beginning of a masterpiece or something like it.
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Tip: After typing the text, I select it with the Move tool in Photoshop, as you can see in lower right corner of the last word (b#%@h) in the picture above, and stretch the type to fit the page. In this case I see that I can make two T-shirts using just one page of transfer paper so drag out a guide line at 4.5 inches down, then duplicate the text and, just for kicks, change the font. Seeing that I have a bit of white space left on the canvas, and knowing I'm going to cut it apart with an x-acto knife anyway, I add "Doctor Mac CasualWare" in much smaller type (for the left sleeve, which is the cool sleeve for the logo) and duplicate it.

Here's how it looked when I was done:

Figure 16: It's ready to print now…
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Now for the tricky part -- figuring out how to make your graphics program print a mirror image. In Photoshop, it's Rotate > Flip canvas horizontal, which you'll find in the Image menu.

Once you get the mirror image thing figured out, print the document on plain paper to make sure everything prints properly. Sometimes if you place your text too close to the paper's edge, some of it gets clipped, and you don't want to waste your transfer paper at a buck or more a sheet.

Note: Photoshop is smart enough to warn you…

Figure 17: Photoshop tells you if it thinks you're about to waste paper…
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I'm not sure if other graphics programs are as thoughtful. Anyway, Photoshop also has a nifty "Scale to fit media" option in its print dialog box (as you can see in Figure 19), so I selected it and it scaled my picture to 97.05% of its original size, making it as large as it can be without having its edges clipped when it's printed. (That's a slick trick if you ask me.)

Figure 19: Photoshop's Print Options dialog box offers some nifty timesaving features including Scale to Fit Media, a helpful command indeed.
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Finally, when you're sure everything is right, insert a sheet of T-shirt transfer paper into your printer and print the document again. Make sure you feed it right-side up. Most of the T-shirt transfer paper I've tried has a checkerboard pattern or other marking to distinguish the back side from the printable side.

Wait a few minutes for the ink to dry, then cut the design apart and heat up your iron. Follow the instructions that came with your transfer paper and in about 5 minutes or less you'll have a T-shirt that says exactly what you want it to say. Here's how mine came out:

Figure 20: The finished product.
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I've tried several brands of transfer paper and they all seem about the same to me. The transfers don't last as long as silkscreen designs, but they usually look pretty decent until they've been washed a couple of dozen times.

Also, the packages of transfer paper suggest all cotton shirts, but I've had just as much success with the cheap 50/50 cotton-poly blends.

So there you have it… a tale of T-shirts and an inexpensive craft project all in one column. See ya in a couple of weeks.

P.S. Who wants it? We're talking a one-of-a-kind shirt, with a written history on TMO, too… I'll tell you what… If you're interested, submit an offer (minimum of $20) to [email protected] I'll sell the shirt to the high bidder as of noon Monday February 2, 2004 and donate 100% of their bid to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). I'll even pay for the shipping!

So bid early and bid often. (Technical details: It's an off-white, 50/50 cotton/poly blend. The label says Fashion Gear (which is the house brand for Hobby Lobby, I think) and it's a size XXL.)

One Last Thing™: If you don't win this one, you may be in luck. I've granted The Mac Observer a lifetime non-exclusive royalty-free license to the design. Maybe it'll show up on the next TMO T-shirt?

Bob "Dr. Mac" LeVitus has been a Macintosh user for a long, long time and has written 49 computer books including Mac OS X Tiger For Dummies and GarageBand for Dummies. He also offers expert technical help and training to Mac users, in real time and at reasonable prices, via telephone, e-mail, and/or unique Internet-enabled remote control software. For more information on Bob and his services, visit

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