How to Transfer Images to a Cross-Stitch Canvas

Cross-stitching is a form of needlework where small "X"s are stitched using different colours of thread. The material used is specially designed canvas with holes to allow room for the overlapping of the thread. You can purchase cross-stitch kits that contain everything you need to make the picture on the kit, you can buy books with patterns and then supply your own canvas and thread or you can find a favourite picture and transfer it to your canvas to make a personalised cross-stitch. This article assumes you already have pictures on your computer you want to stitch.

Test out how to orient your paper in the printer by first taking a plain piece of printer paper and making a X on the back before loading the paper into the tray (with the X side up). Print anything you like to check if your printer prints on the side of the paper laying down (the non-X side) or the side of the paper facing up (the X side). This will help you put your iron-on paper in properly.

Insert the iron-on paper in the printer tray. The side that takes the image (check your paper's instructions) should be oriented based on the side your printer prints on based on Step 1.

Select the image you want to print. This can be a picture or a design downloaded from a craft website. Click on "File" then "Print" and click "OK" to begin printing. On some printers you may need to change the paper type. You can do this from the Print menu. The exact instructions vary for different printers and computers, but there should be a choice for "Properties" of the printer. Under this you should find "Media (or Paper) Type". Select the paper type given in the instructions for your iron-on paper or choose a thick paper setting.

Heat up your iron. When ready, lay the iron-on transfer paper with image side down onto your canvas. You may want to use tape to hold it in place as you iron. Use firm pressure and go over several times to get the best image quality possible transferred to your canvas.


Some printers may allow you to print directly onto the fabric, but the iron-on paper should work with any inkjet printer.


Read your iron-on paper and printer instructions to be sure they are compatible.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer
  • Colour inkjet printer
  • Plain piece of printer paper
  • Pen or pencil
  • Iron-on transfer paper
  • Iron
  • Cross-stitch canvas (already washed and dried)
  • Masking tape (optional)
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About the Author

Based in Portland, Ore., Tammie Painter has been writing garden, fitness, science and travel articles since 2008. Her articles have appeared in magazines such as "Herb Companion" and "Northwest Travel" and she is the author of six books. Painter earned her Bachelor of Science in biology from Portland State University.