Choosing the Right Iron-On Transfer Paper

Epson Iron-On Transfer Paper

Designing your own illustrations for eventual iron-on transfer to a T-shirt or other garment is a lot of fun, as long as you follow the manufacturer's guidance and use the right transfer paper. The process is simple: You create your design in your favorite software; then you print the image using your home printer onto paper that is designed specifically for iron-on transfers to garments.

Buy the Right Transfer Paper for Your Printer and Fabric

Most iron-on transfer paper is made for inkjet printers, but some are available for laser printers. Buying the transfer paper meant for your type of printer is important: They are not interchangeable and ignoring manufacturers' recommendations can be disastrous. Using iron-on transfer paper made for inkjet printers in a laser printer can result in a hefty repair bill or even the need to replace the printer. That's because the heat a laser printer generates can cause inkjet transfer paper to melt all over the inside of the printer. Check the box or label carefully to be sure you are getting inkjet transfer paper for your inkjet printer or laser transfer paper for your laser printer.

Most transfer papers are for white and light-colored fabrics; however, iron-on transfer papers also come in a version specifically for dark-colored T-shirts. For best results, buy the transfer paper specifically designed for the color of fabric you're using.

Here's just a sampling of the many brands of iron-on transfer paper products available:

Tips for Transfer Preparation and Finishing

  • Before beginning the transfer process:
    1. Do a test print on regular paper of the image you're transferring. This way, you can be sure that the image's size and color are what you desire, and that your printer settings and paper size are correct.
    2. Launder, dry, and iron the fabric so that it's preshrunk and free of wrinkles, thus ensuring a smooth, even result.
  • Iron-on transfers sit on top of the fabric, adhered to it by heat. They can look and feel somewhat plastic-like once transferred to your garment, which is acceptable for the design area itself—but looks sloppy and unprofessional in unprinted areas. Taking the time to trim the excess paper around your design before ironing it on helps minimize this effect. Trim as close to the design as possible before applying the paper to fabric.
  • While a lot of transfer papers need to be peeled off soon after ironing, you can wait to peel off transfers with cool-peel backing papers until after the transfer cools. That prevents scorched fingertips.