Image transfer to fabric is a breeze with heat transfer paper! Learn how to use iron on transfer paper for quick & easy image transfers to fabric.
When I first started crafting, image transfer to fabric gave me a lot of difficulty. Although I had success with several methods I found online, I still thought it was such a hassle just to do a simple image transfer. Besides, none of those methods were reliable when it came to washing the fabric: either the image would totally wash off or the ink would bleed all over the fabric. After a lot of research, I found the solution in heat transfer paper!
Heat Transfer Paper
Since I don’t have a heat press, my next step was to find the type of paper that I could use with my iron, yet still achieve excellent results comparable to a heat press. After a week of research and learning about all the products out there, I finally found one that looked promising. It is not only the cheapest but also one of the best, as it is used for commercial applications. Besides, they have different sizes of heat transfer paper including 11″ x 17″ for those who have large format printers. Here’s where you can find the particular brand that I use.
Here is my method for image transfer to fabric using iron on transfer paper:
Image Transfer to Fabric – Print Image
I start by printing my reversed image to the heat transfer paper.
Don’t know how to reverse an image? No problem! I wrote an easy 3-step tutorial for reversing an image to help you out!
Then I cut the image into a manageable size.
Image Transfer to Fabric – Prepare the Fabric
Before starting the image transfer, I clean the fabric with a lint roller. This step is important, because anything on the fabric gets trapped under the transferred image, so you need to have lint-free fabric if you want your end product to look great.
Once the fabric is lint-free, I prepare the surface where I will be ironing. Two important notes here:
- You need a smooth, hard surface: I use a piece of MDF board for that. Although the instructions of the iron-on transfer paper say to place a pillow cover on the hard surface, that is not necessary if you are using a smooth MDF board.
- It is better to have that smooth hard surface below your waist level, because you need all the pressure you can give when ironing.
Next, I lay my fabric down and give it a quick ironing to get rid of any creases. Then I place the image face-down on the fabric.
Image Transfer to Fabric – Iron the Image
I empty the water from my iron, as dry heat is needed for better bonding. Then I put my iron on its highest setting and start ironing over the entire image. I make sure to press every inch of the image, sliding the iron first up-and-down then side-to-side. For small images, I keep pressing for at least 30 seconds. For big images, I press for 2 minutes.
After I finish pressing, I wait for the iron on transfer paper to cool down, then I start peeling off the backing paper…
And the mission is complete!
Image Transfer to Fabric – Washing
Although washing and ironing instructions are usually given together with the Heat Transfer Paper, I want to note that you need to turn your garment inside-out before washing, and make sure you use the same setting as for delicates/wool/hand wash. Also please remember never to iron the transferred image directly, as it will stick to your iron.