How to Print on Heat Transfer Paper

Written by jayzee a
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How to Print on Heat Transfer Paper
Create personalised shirts using heat transfer paper. (Portugal shirt image by Jorge Figueiredo from

Heat transfer paper is used to press a picture or design onto a fabric surface—a shirt, tote, mouse pad—to decorate and personalise the item. Heat transfer paper can be used for making personalised gifts for special occasions, such as Father’s Day or Mother’s Day. The use of heat transfer paper does not require any special equipment. You can print the image using your home printer and transfer the image to a fabric surface with a source of heat, such as an iron. Heat transfer paper can be purchased at arts and crafts stores.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Choose the picture or design you wish to use. Adjust your printing settings to "mirror image." If you do not do this before you print your image, you will iron a mirror image of the picture or design onto your fabric. This is especially important if you have any words in your picture or design.

  2. 2

    Load the heat transfer paper so the picture is printed on the side that is coated with the transfer material. Use the regular paper setting to print the picture. Do not select "photo paper." This could result in excess ink and bleeding. Print your picture or design.

  3. 3

    Allow the ink to dry completely. This may take five to 15 minutes, depending on the size of your image.

  4. 4

    Trim around the picture or design.

  5. 5

    Place the heat transfer paper picture-side down onto your fabric surface.

  6. 6

    Set your iron to the hottest setting and iron-on the picture using heavy pressure. Iron for a few seconds then allow the paper to cool slightly for ten seconds. Iron the perimeter of the picture. Next, iron from the top centre of the picture to the bottom centre of the picture. Then, using medium pressure, slowly iron the entire picture. Last, very quickly iron the whole surface for 10 seconds.

  7. 7

    Peel the transfer paper quickly while the paper is still hot. Do not wait for the paper to cool.

Tips and warnings

  • To wash, turn the fabric inside out and do not use bleach.

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