How to Transfer an Image to Denim

Updated April 17, 2017

Iron-on transfers provide a quick and simple way to customise denim jeans, jackets, skirts, dresses and bags. Use your own artwork or a clip-art image for the project. There is almost no limit to what you can transfer. Transform your own denim clothing and accessories to make them completely personal, or create cute denim outfits for your kids by applying iron-on cartoon character images.

Machine-wash your denim clothing; pre-washed denim makes it easier to transfer an image.

Prepare the image you wish to transfer. Create your own design or choose from available images. Paintings, logos, images, art and text can all be transferred onto denim. If you have created your own image, you may need to scan it into your computer to print it out.

Print a test copy of your image. Remember to print a mirror image, so that the correct orientation will be printed on the finished product. Most printers allow you to choose a reverse image setting, or your printer software may have an iron-on transfer option. Leave the transfer paper alone until the ink dries.

Use scissors to cut excess transfer paper from the image, which makes it easier to position the image on the denim.

Prepare a piece of fabric to test the actual transfer process by laying it on an ironing board or other suitable, heat-resistant hard surface.

Place the iron-on transfer paper on top of your test fabric, with the design facing downwards. Place a piece of cardboard underneath the top layer of fabric so that the image will not be transferred to any other layers.

Set your iron to the hottest setting and iron over the image, applying firm, constant pressure. Work from the outside into the centre and move the iron in large circles. Do not let the iron remain for too long on any one spot or the image could melt.

Stretch out your denim on the ironing board, placing the area that you are customising face up. Repeat the process you followed for the test, using a new sheet of iron-on transfer paper, to transfer the image onto your denim.

Remove the paper backing from the denim while it is still warm. Leave the denim on the ironing board until it has completely cooled down.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer software (optional)
  • Scanner (optional)
  • Computer
  • Digital image
  • Printer
  • Iron-on transfer paper
  • Scissors
  • Spare pieces of fabric
  • Cardboard
  • Iron
  • Ironing board
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About the Author

C. Giles is a writer with an MA (Hons) in English literature and a post-graduate diploma in law. Her work has been published in several publications, both online and offline, including "The Herald," "The Big Issue" and "Daily Record."