Important things to look When Using Heat Transfer Paper

Heat transfer paper is essential for custom t-shirt printing. It’s a fun art and craft project for DIY enthusiasts, even those without special skills. If you take up this task, you can produce stylish and unique t-shirts for your outfits and even create gifts for your friends. Moreover, you might grow in the field and start printing fabric for business applications. There are different ways in which t-shirts can be printed with custom designs. One of the easiest methods to consider especially for beginners is the heat transfer paper technique. Also, this option is inexpensive since most required tools can be found in your home.

Basically, heat transfer paper refers to a special material on which images can be imprinted. The pertinent image can be transferred onto fabric such as a t-shirt when heat is applied. Naturally, better results are achieved when the commercial quality paper is used to transfer images to a heat press machine. However, with some practice, you should be able to produce great t-shirts with store-bought transfer paper and your home iron. Ideally, you can create any design using photos, scanned doodles, and any other visual elements. Also, you can create the perfect design by using heat press vinyl and cut the vinyl from a vinyl cutting machine according to your needs. Here are some considerations to help you produce perfect t-shirts and avoid common mistakes.

Paper Type

There are different types of heat transfer papers that you can select before starting your DIY crafts project. Some products will allow you to create your own visual design while others are already made by the manufacturer. Your choice will depend primarily on your preference and plans. However, you can start with the commercially available designed paper and move on to your own individual images. In general, there are numerous styles and beautiful finishes for these products. These can be categorized into three primary categories:

a) Smooth heat transfer: This is a simple transfer paper which is available in glossy, matte and glittery finishes.

b) Flocked heat transfer: Unlike the smooth alternative, this has a fuzzy and soft texture due to the thin layer of flocking included.

c) Printable heat transfer: This paper is designed to allow printing of unique images for a completely unique DIY project.

Image Preparation

When planning to print a custom t-shirt using the printable heat transfer paper, it’s critical to ensure that the image is well-prepared. Otherwise, the design will either be completely ruined or your t-shirt will look cheap and unprofessional. As mentioned earlier, you can choose literally any visual image for your project, which basically means that your imagination is your only limitation. After choosing the image, you will need to print it using a printer with normal ink. Ideally, the printer should have plenty of ink in the cartridges to ensure saturation and uniformity. You should also remember some of these helpful hints for a better image.

a) Test your design or image on a normal paper in order to ensure that the results are satisfactory. A heat transfer paper is relatively expensive compared to the regular alternative.

b) You should always ensure that you have printed the image on the right side of paper since they are not interchangeable.

c) Do not forget to set your printer to mirror mode. Otherwise, the image will be reversed when transferred on the t-shirt.

T-Shirt Fabric

It is important to select the right t-shirt fabric for your crafts projects. This will ensure that none of your materials go to waste due to unexpected failure. Luckily, heat transfer can be done on most materials used in making t-shirts. The rule of thumb is that any material that can withstand an extremely hot iron can be printed in this way. You can promote the quality of custom print by following some simple tips.

a) Ensure that there are no surface treatments which could interfere with the adherence of the transfer paper.

b) It is prudent to wash the t-shirt and allow it to dry before printing so that it will slightly shrink.

c) For the best results, do not plan to transfer the print on uneven parts of the t-shirt like the collar, hem or seams.


The ironing process is critical in the creation of the perfect custom t-shirt. Therefore, you should ensure that you have a good quality iron for the task. In ideal circumstances, the appliance should not be a steam iron. However, since most are designed in this way, ensure that the steam is switched off during the project. Moreover, you should consider the indentation designed for the steam. You should keep the iron moving to make certain that all parts of the paper are properly pressed. Also, consider these simple tips:

a) Choose a flat and hard ironing surface instead of a padded one. This will create optimal pressure for the printing.

b) Always ensure that the setting of iron is at the highest point, usually labeled cotton or linen.

c) You should keep the pressure on the ironing box and ensure that every part of the image is covered.

d) If you are afraid of ruining the iron surface, you can use a thin press cloth for this process.

e) When ironing, do so starting from the center so that there will be no bubbles formed and the image will be completely uniform.

Additional Tips

Here are some helpful additional tips that you should consider during the project for better long-term results:

a) You should let your t-shirt cool down completely before you try it on.

b) When you wash the t-shirt, ensure that the attire is inside out.

c) Do not soak the t-shirt and do not use bleaching agents because they will disturb the color.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use a regular printer for heat transfer paper?

Yes, heat transfer paper can work with a regular printer without any worries. You need not modify anything to your existing printer, as you only need to print the image that you want on the transfer paper and then transfer the image from the paper to a t-shirt according to the presented instructions found on the heat transfer paper’s package.

What type of paper is used for heat transfer?

Both inkjet and laser heat transfer papers are specifically formulated to work with their respective printer types. Inkjet heat transfer paper is simple in the sense that it comes in either light or dark paper. On the other hand, laser transfer paper is further divided into single or full color and white toner papers. In short, inkjet and laser heat transfer papers are the most common types, and they are used with inkjet and laser printers respectively.

What type of ink is best for heat transfer?

Well, now you know what type of paper is used for heat transfer, and since there are two of them, you might be wondering which one you should go for. It depends on what you want exactly, but most people would agree that inkjet ink is the best simply because it’s the most common and most affordable. Laser heat transfer is also nice, but it’s not as common and can be a little more expensinve – though some may argue that images tend to come out at least a little smoother. It’s up to you to decide what you prefer in either case.

How long do iron-on transfers last?

Usually they last anywhere between 10 and 15 washes, with some lasting even more as long as you take proper care of the material and wash it according to the instructions.


The process of creating a beautiful custom t-shirt is not difficult, especially when using the heat transfer paper method. However, the quality of the work and the durability of the design will depend on the quality of materials that you will use.

Therefore, you should ensure that you have exceptional transfer paper for the task. We have numerous crafts products that can help you achieve ultimate success for your t-shirt printing undertaking. Check out the catalog of heat transfer products from our store. You will find unique designs, styles, and finishes that will match your DIY expectations.

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