How To Use Iron On Transfer Paper

How To Use Iron On Transfer Paper? Super Easy

If you never seem to like the T-shirts and shirts that hang on display in the shops, you can design your own, just the way you like them. Yes, you! How about if you can make any kind of T-shirts and other clothes at home very easily, with only a very few tools and machines.

In just a few simple steps, anyone can decorate T-shirts and other crafts with designs straight from your computer. 

For transferring any designs, you need only a few basic materials: the T-shirt or the piece of fabric you want to work on, transfer images, a household iron and transfer paper.

You can find all of them in your local crafts or art stores, or local big retailers, and hardware stores, or you can get a heat transfer kit that has everything already assembled in it, namely, image software, transfer paper and even a T-shirt in your size. 

Also, you’ll need an inkjet printer for printing the design on your transfer paper. Most people already have an inkjet printer in their homes for paperwork, so if you do have one, it means that you can start making your own T-shirts for yourself, as well. 

All things gathered, here are the steps you need to follow to use a regular household iron to transfer your designs on to a T-shirt

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How to Use iron on Transfer Paper Like a Pro

1. Get Everything you Need 

We’ve discussed this part before at the beginning of this article. You won’t need a lot of stuff for this, but a design you want to transfer to your T-shirt, a T-shirt, a piece of transfer paper, an iron, and an inkjet printer.

Most of these tools and materials will be available locally wherever you are, and they aren’t very expensive either. An iron and the inkjet printer might be the more expensive items, but most households already have them. 

2. Get your Image 

You can create any kind of image or design you like on an editing software, or you can download any design from the Internet. However, if you do end up downloading an image from the Internet, it might be subjected to copyright laws.

If you don’t want the problems of copyright laws, you can buy designs from certain websites for a very small price. 

On the other hand, if you are a creative person and you know your way around designing software, the best way to make your T-shirt is to create a design yourself.

You can use Photoshop to create any image or design of your choice that you want on your T-shirts, or you can even hire a professional or ask a friend to make a design for you

  • If you are thinking of designing the image yourself, there are a few things you should remember: 
  • Dark-colored images look better on a light-colored T-shirt, as the colors look more vibrant, and vice versa. 
  • Regular printers don’t print white, so if there;s a white portion in your design, the printer will leave it blank.  
  • If you have used very light colors in your design, they may come out discolored when ironed into the fabric, because of the heat. 
  • It is always better to choose a white- or light-colored T-shirt and dark colors in your designs when you are using iron-on transfer. 

If you are new to designing or making a design for a T-shirt for the first time, these tips will definitely help. 

3. Manipulate the Design 

This step can be quite easy if you are already handy with editing software such as Photoshop. Any image that you buy or download from the Internet, or create yourself can be manipulated into any form you want, i.e. you can change colors, add effects, make corrections, resize and reshape the image.

You can even add words or symbols to your image as well. If you download a free image from the Internet and make a lot of changes to it, you might make it completely a different one that no one has the rights to. 

4. Make it a Mirror Image 

If you are using a white T-shirt or a light-colored T-shirt, you need to make a mirror image of your finished design.

This is because after printing the design on paper, you’ll have to put the piece of paper upside down on the T-shirt, which can result in a design that comes out backward on the T-shirt. Besides, any letter or word you have inside or around the image would also come out backwards and unintelligible. 

For a light-colored T-shirt, the image always needs to be a mirror image. You can always find the option to do so in the editing software you are using, under the options of “Reverse”, “Mirror” “Flip” or “Flip Image Horizontally”. You can print anything on a piece of transfer paper as long as you have it on your software. 

5. Get the Right Transfer Paper 

For iron-on transfers, you have a choice between two different types of transfer papers: for light-colored fabrics and dark-colored fabrics. You need to choose the right transfer paper type for the T-shirt that you want to print on. 

If you are using a light-colored or a white-colored T-shirt, you need a transfer paper that’s meant “to be used for light fabrics”. This includes any T-shirts that are white, light yellow, grey, cream, off-white, egg-shell, light pink and any other kind of light colored.

This kind of transfer paper is transparent; if there is any white portion on your design, the printer will leave it blank and that particular portion will come out blank after the transfer. 

In the same way, if you’ve used light colors in your design that somewhat resembles the color of the T-shirt, there’s a strong possibility that the colors will come out a little distorted. When using the suitable transfer paper for light-colored fabrics, it is always better that you use a medium to dark color palette. 

For darker shades of fabric, i.e. black, brown, dark or navy blue, red or dark green, you need transfer paper that has been manufactured “to be used for dark fabrics”.

These transfer papers are much thicker compared to the types used for light-colored fabrics; not only that, these transfer papers come with a white backing. If you have any white or light-colors in your design, which is usually present in designs made for a darker background, they will show up perfectly on the print-out. 

6. Make a Sample Print 

After you are done with creating the image on the editing software and you are completely satisfied with the result, you can print the design.

However, before you print the design on your transfer paper, it is important that you print out a sample. You can do this test run on a regular piece of paper or an extra sheet of transfer paper.

The printout of your design will look different on transfer paper than it did on the laptop, and a sample print will give you a clear idea of what you’ll be getting.

You don’t have to print out the exact same design as a sample because that will waste ink and paper; all you need to do is to use the same colors you’ve used on the design and print out a few shapes and letters.

This will give you an idea about the shape and size of the design you want to transfer, how the colors look in real life, how the colors are going to look on the T-shirt and of course, whether your printer is working right.

If you are worried about the size and shape of the design, you might want to print out the actual design on a piece of regular or transfer paper, and risk the waste of ink. 

7. Print the Design 

When you are satisfied with the sample design, you can make the final print on the transfer paper. Printing on a transfer paper with an inkjet printer isn’t much different than printing your design on a regular paper, but you’ll need to make sure that you’re printing on the right side of the paper.

This is not hard to understand; the side of the paper you are supposed to print on should be completely clear, clean and a little shiny, whereas the opposite side might have a watermark, words or logo printed into it. 

Usually, an inkjet printer is required to print out your designs on transfer papers, , as they are the best ways to transfer your design. However, if you already own a laser printer, you can buy specific transfer paper for laser printers and have the same effects. 

8. Trim the Paper 

When you’ve finished printing and the ink has dried, take a pair of scissors in your hand and trim away the excess transfer paper away from the design. This will save you a bit of transfer paper that you can use later for another project if your design had been a small one and you have printed it in a corner of the paper. 

At the same time, trimming your paper will help you properly place it on your T-shirt, exactly where you want to place it. With a whole page, you might have trouble placing it properly on the T-shirt, but a small piece of transfer paper would be easier to handle. 

9. Prepare the Fabric 

Whether you are using a T-shirt, a shirt, a scarf or a cushion cover, place the fabric on a hard and flat surface, i.e. a table, a work board, a desk or the floor. The surface should be big enough to hold the fabric and big enough for you to work on it. 

The fabric needs to be completely flat and free of wrinkles, as well as clean and dry. If there are any sort of wrinkles on the fabric, especially in the area you want to place the design, use a household iron to smooth out the wrinkles. 

Put a cardboard or a thick piece of paper, or a folded paper bag inside the T-shirt, i.e. just below the layer of fabric you want to print on.

This will soak the excess ink so that the heat doesn’t transfer it to both sides of the T-shirt, and ruin the design. There should always be a barrier between the portion you want your design to be, and the rest of the fabric. 

10. Place the Design 

Now, it’s time to place the design – the one you have printed on transfer paper and trimmed, on the T-shirt. The transfer sheet should be placed upside down, so that the side with the design is the side touching fabric. Be sure where you want the design to be, because that’s exactly where you need to put the transfer paper. 

11. Use the Iron 

Now comes one of the most important steps of the process – ironing on the image to your T-shirt. For this, you need to select the hottest setting available on your iron and place it on the back of the transfer paper, over the T-shirt.

You have to really use your maximum force and the hottest setting of the iron for the image to be properly transferred to the fabric. If this is a large design, move the iron all over the transfer sheet, but be sure the sheet doesn’t shift or move. 

For transfer of image from transfer sheet, you shouldn’t use a steam iron. Steam will stop the ink from correctly transferring into the fabric, and ruin the project. 

12. Remove the Paper 

When you are sure that the entire design has successfully transferred to the fabric, wait for a few minutes to let the image cool down. If you try to remove the transfer sheet immediately after you are done ironing, there is a chance some of the ink would come up with the transfer paper, and ruin your whole design

When the ink and the fabric can cooled down, gently start at one of the corners to pull up the transfer sheet. It should come out easily if you had used the right kind of ink and transfer paper.

You need to wait at least 24 hours before washing or wearing the T-shirt, because the ink will take some time to dry completely. 


Transferring your favorite photos, quotes, images or designs to your clothes, especially to the T-shirts you wear regularly, can be quite easy and fast.

This is not a difficult process and almost everyone can do it, if only you have the right materials. All you need to do is to find the right image for yourself and you can transfer it to your T-shirts and other clothes very easily. 

Good luck with your job! Keep following us for future updates on our website.

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