How To Use Transfer Paper On Fabric [Easy Steps To Follow]

Transfer paper has made transferring of designs in fabrics, vinyl, glass, metal, wood, and many surfaces. The iron transfer paper usually applies to T-shirts but encompasses the use in, designing pillowcases, aprons, bags, tablecloths, and in many ways that are more intuitive.

Must wonder what transfer papers are. Transfer papers are thin papers coated with pigment and wax. With a printer, designs or images are transferred to the transfer paper, which as iron-on transfer the design to the desired fabric. Simply, transfer papers enable the creation of iron-on designs. Using transfer paper on fabric is easy once you know the method. In this guide, we will give some simple methods of transferring designs and images on fabrics.

How to Use Transfer Paper on Fabric

Do you want to print your design on your T-shirt? Are you wondering which method would be best? There are quite a few methods of transferring images and photos and fabrics like your T-shirt. Let us review some of the methods so you can find the one suitable for you. These methods are easy to do as a home-based project.

1. Contact Printing

In contact printing, the photographic image already transparent is imprinted onto fabrics. The transparent papers are available in departmental stores.

If you have a photo or design of your own, you can use a photocopier machine to make a mirror image in the transparent sheet. The transfer sheet should have compatibility with the photocopier you are using and the image on the non-glossy side of the paper, to avoid damage.

How to Use Transfer Paper on Fabric

You will now need to apply Gloss Gel Medium to the fabric to create a matte finish. Then place the image side on the transparency on the surface of the gel. Smoothen the transparency with a flat knife or fingers to allow the release of all air bubbles in the gel and simultaneous transfer of ink to the fabric. Remove the transparency and expose the transferred photo.

The method is of transfer of photos with gel is easy but not the print is not long-lasting. Washing needs care as the prints may crack and peel off. It also is subject to fading so; the print will not last long.

A simpler method is to print the photo in an inkjet printer without the gel, press it in the fabric before the ink dries out. This is a quick method of photo transfer.

2. Heat Transfer of Photos on Paper

The difference between this method with the earlier is the use of the Acrylic gel method. After application of the gel on the transparency with the fabric at the bottom. Rubbing the gel on the fabric results in the beautiful transfer of print to the fabric.

how to use iron on transfer paper on dark fabric

This method works out best with a laser printer. The background color of the fabric is best white or colored. Original photos undergo transfer into matte finish paper by a colored laser printer. Using the special gel, you can then transfer it to the fabric.

3. Solvent Transfers

The solvent method permanently transfers black and colored prints from paper to the fabric. The solvents used are mineral spirit, turpentine, acetone, or other solvents.

Place the transfer paper with the print on the fabric with the face down. Rub the solvent from the backside of the print with the help of a cotton cloth. After soaking, put pressure on the print smoothly with an applicator, until the paint adheres to the fabric. Apply heat of the iron to press and let it dry.

how to use transfer paper on clothes

This heat transfer method is a little risky because the solvents are flammable. Ventilation of the room is essential to keep away the flames.

4. Iron-on Transfer

The iron-on transfer uses a laser printer to transfer the colored design to the transfer paper. The application of the iron enables the transfer of design to the fabric. The iron transfer is common for printing on a t-shirt.

The transfer paper is polymer-coated. With the help of a laser printer, the designs are transferred to paper. To transfer the print to the fabric, you need to place the design side down of the paper to the fabric. Use the hot iron on the transfer paper to print the design on the fabric or t-shirt. Bright pictures of colored and black and white photos appear on the t-shirt.

how to use iron on transfer paper on dark fabric

However, for the process to work well, the printer should be compatible with the transfer paper. A laser printer can only print on laser transfer paper, specifically designed.

You may use your own snapped photo or download free images to work on the printing. An important aspect of printing is to create a mirror image of the photo before transferring it to the transfer paper.

The disadvantage of using this method is that it will not work if you switch transfer papers to any printer. Only inkjet transfer is suitable for an inkjet printer. So is the case with laser papers and laser printers.

5. Inkjet/Laser Printing

This method of printing creates photos directly onto the fabric with the use of an inkjet or laser printer.

Select the photograph you want to print. With the help of software, like Photoshop, edit the image as you want and print it on the material with a printer.

laser printing on transfer paper

To avoid jamming the fabric in the printer, stiffen the fabric. If you use a laser printer, use thin silk fabric, as it is not compatible with thick fabric. For inkjet, you need pigment ink and set it with heat. Special inkjet transfer paper for a t-shirt is available for using inkjet printers. Peel off the dried transparent sheet after printing. To make the ink permanent, you may use a special fixative while rinsing.

6. Sun Printing

This method uses sunrays on the surface of the fabric. The Sun printing method uses a special Cyanotype fabric that prints white onto a blue background. The fabric is usually a natural fiber such as silk, hemp, rayon, linen, and more.

sun printing method

The method requires the creation of a negative of the digital photo and print it with an inkjet printer or a transparent sheet. Placing a non-UV blocking sheet of glass on the fabric would allow direct exposure to the sunlight. The print will become visible on10 to 15 minutes of exposure to sunlight.

This method of printing involves the use of sun rays to print on fabrics. Sun printing uses a special Cyanotype fabric/blueprint fabric to produce a negative picture after exposure to the sun.

You can glue the designs printed to a canvas and used them as wall decoration.

Also Read:

  1. How to Take Off Hot Glue from Fabric
  2. What is the Difference Between Ink and Paint

Final Thoughts

The above methods are some of the simplest methods of how to use transfer paper on fabric. Printing your photos with the use of transfer paper is an enjoyable piece of art. In transferring photos, you can express your skills in the art of photography taken from your collection. Today, fabric designing is also a popular way of displaying messages.

We hope the paper will be useful to the artists and photographers. Good day!

About Author


Alice covers platforms, policy and big tech at Printer Reviews. Prior to rejoining here, Alice was Senior Technology Editor of the TechDen. Alice first joined PrinterReviews in 2021. Before joining, he was the Tech Editor of the Daily Dot and a reporter and deputy editor at ReadWeb.

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