How to design and heat press your own hoodie

Updated February 21, 2017

You spy them hanging from racks at trendy mall shops. "You want how much for that hoodie?" you mutter after glimpsing price tags. No way. Declare war on retail prices. Design and create your own fashionable hoodie using heat press technology and supplies from your local craft store. Shock your mom by asking to use the iron. Get up close and personal with this fun craft and you'll find opportunities galore to make gifts for friends likely to crown you the leader of hoodie design.

Choose the art you'll feature on your hoodie by either creating your own design using a computer drawing program or downloading high-resolution copyright-free photography or line art (jpeg or tiff). Find inspiration at the pricey shop you visited; there's no law against taking a sketch pad to the mall to flesh out a couple of cool ideas for your hoodie.

Open an 210 by 280 mm (8 1/2 by 11 inch) or 210 by 355 mm (8 1/2 by 14 inch) page in your favourite design programme (e.g., Illustrator, InDesign, Corel Draw, QuarkXpres, Photoshop). Change the page size if you own a large-format printer or plotter.

Customise your design by manipulating colours, layering graphics to fashion one-of-a-kind collages or adding whimsical messages. Experiment with the filters and tool bar to transform ordinary shapes into extraordinary graphics. Outline images in black if you want one or more to stand apart from background patterns or use drop shadows to give shapes the illusion of being 3D.

Print out a sample of your design on paper, pinning it to the front or back of your hoodie to make certain design elements are sized and positioned properly. Load your printer's paper tray with iron-on transfer paper made to work with your printer--laser, thermal or inkjet. Be sure to place the emollient side face down.

Purchase a solid-colour hoodie in 100% cotton or a blended weave. Wash the hoodie as insurance against possible shrinkage.

Print out your art on a sheet of transfer paper. Position it exactly where you want it on the hoodie--make sure it's straight!

Set your iron on "hot steam" if the heat press sheet packaging doesn't recommend a different setting. Using a firm hand, move the iron back and forth over the iron-on transfer paper for about 20 seconds--package directions may suggest additional time, so follow that recommendation. Gently lift one end of the paper backing to make sure the ink transfer is complete before you remove the sheet.


Expensive laser printer ink doesn't hold up on heat press transfers as well as cheaper inkjet fluids.


Never try to pair laser stock with an inkjet printer or injet stock with a laser printer--your design will not transfer properly.

Things You'll Need

  • Image-editing software
  • Iron-on transfer paper
  • Printer
  • Iron
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About the Author

Based in Chicago, Gail Cohen has been a professional writer for more than 30 years. She has authored and co-authored 14 books and penned hundreds of articles in consumer and trade publications, including the Illinois-based "Daily Herald" newspaper. Her newest book, "The Christmas Quilt," was published in December 2011.