Ever had a great idea for a tee shirt and wished that you could print one up to show it off to your friends? There's no need to outsource your shirt idea to someone else, or to go through the rigors of silkscreening. With some iron-on transfer paper, a household iron, a tee shirt and your inkjet printer, you can make that fantasy a reality.
First, you will need to gather your materials. You will need iron-on transfer paper, an inkjet printer (not a laser printer, which has heating elements which can melt the paper), a white or light-colored tee shirt (100% cotton or cotton/polyester blend), a household iron, a cotton pillowcase, and of course your design. To prepare your shirt design, use your graphics or printer software to flip the design horizontally, creating a mirror image. This is especially important if you are including text in your design.
There are several different varieties of transfer paper available from brands such as HP, Epson, Avery, and others. Simply search for “transfer paper” or “iron-on transfer paper” to locate the appropriate products.
After printing a test page on regular printer paper to ensure that your design looks right, load a sheet of transfer paper into the printer and print out your design. You will want to trim away any unused portions of transfer paper around your design, as the entire surface of the paper will transfer to the shirt.
Once your design is printed and ready, it is time to set up the iron and ironing surface. Preheat the iron to its maximum temperature (be sure not to use steam) and lay the pillowcase across the ironing surface. After ironing the pillowcase to smooth it out, place the tee shirt on the pillowcase and iron for one minute to smooth out the shirt and remove any moisture (moisture prevents the transfer from taking).
Then place your transfer onto the shirt in the position you desire, and be sure that the design is face down. Start ironing in one corner, then move in circles across the entire design, being sure to press hard and overlap all the edges. A full sheet design should take 3 minutes, a half sheet two minutes, and a quarter sheet one minute.
Once the transfer has cooled, use your fingernail or a flat, dull blade to peel away the paper backing from the transfer, being sure to hold the fabric down with one hand while peeling with the other. And just like that, you have designed your very own tee shirt!
When washing your tee shirt, turn the shirt inside out and use cold water. Remove the shirt immediately to prevent image bleeding, and dry using normal dryer settings.
Light Colored Shirts need Iron-on transfers for Light Fabric
Dark Colored Shirts need Iron-on transfers for Dark Fabric
*Iron-on Transfers for Dark colored shirts are more expensive*