How to Print a Photo on a Handkerchief

Written by elizabeth tumbarello
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How to Print a Photo on a Handkerchief
Spruce up plain handkerchiefs with family photos. (white batist handkerchief image by Maria Brzostowska from

Keep your memories close to your heart by printing family photos onto a handkerchief. Modern technology allows crafters to print images onto special heat-sensitive transfer paper. This includes images ranging from stock clip art to keepsake photos of a special vacation or event. The transfer paper makes it possible to print photos directly onto a variety of fabric items, including T-shirts, blankets and handkerchiefs. What was once the realm of professional printers and clothing manufacturers is now available to the public.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Computer
  • Image-editing software
  • Printer
  • Iron-on transfer paper
  • Iron
  • Ironing board
  • Washer
  • Dryer

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  1. 1

    Open your photo in a computer image-editing software program. Resize the photo to fit within the space of the handkerchief, anywhere between 10 to 16 inches square.

  2. 2

    Fill your printer with iron on photo transfer paper. If you have a light-coloured hanky, use photo transfer paper designed for use on light or white coloured fabric. Darkly coloured or black hankies require photo transfer paper designed for darker coloured fabrics.

  3. 3

    Print the resized photo onto the photo transfer paper.

  4. 4

    Position your handkerchief on an ironing board or flat, heat-resistant surface. Smooth out any wrinkles and make sure the handkerchief lays flat and even.

  5. 5

    Place the photo transfer paper print-side down on top of your handkerchief. Center the design on the handkerchief.

  6. 6

    Set your iron to the temperature and setting recommended by the manufacturer of the photo transfer paper.

  7. 7

    Iron the transfer paper in the method specified by the manufacturer of the photo transfer paper. Iron for a duration specified by the manufacturer. Ironing transfers the image from the paper to the handkerchief.

  8. 8

    Allow your handkerchief to cool down.

  9. 9

    Wash and dry your handkerchief as per the manufacturer's instructions before wearing.

Tips and warnings

  • Test the iron on transfer paper on a piece of scrap fabric before committing to your project. Choose a piece of fabric similar to your handkerchief. Wash and dry the handkerchief after testing the transfer method. This allows you to make mistakes and experiment with the materials and method on a trial before making your actual project.
  • Play with the size of the photo. Resize the photo smaller to take up only one quarter of the hanky or reduce the image to half-size and centre it directly to leave space for other embellishments on the handkerchief.
  • Add a decorative border to the photo using image editing software before printing out the photo for extra flair.
  • Some iron on transfers chip, crack or peel when applied or cared for incorrectly. Follow the directions provided with the photo paper for the best results.

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