how to put a picture on a shirt with transfer paper

How To Transfer A Picture Onto A T-shirt [Pro Tips]

Are you planning to open a boutique with designers t-shirts? If you are a DIY person with artistic aptitude, learning to transfer pictures to fabric will take you to success. Clothing like T-shirts is a typical attire of travelers. As they go distant places, they carry the brand. Thus, your brand attracts attention and draws customers from vast areas.

To enable you to open a boutique shop with apparel and T-shirt, acquiring skills in transferring the print to T-shirt. Learning to transfer images to a T-shirt is a skill you will love, because of the potentialities of using new technologies. It is a skill you will appreciate having for the initial DIY projects. In this write-up, we would like to show you some techniques of transferring a picture onto a T-shirt.

How To Transfer A Picture Onto A T-shirt Perfectly

1. Contact Printing

This method involves the use of clear transparency plastic sheets, which contain the image. You need to buy sheets suitable for overhead projectors. They are acetate transparency sheets.

How to Transfer a Picture Onto a T-shirt

The process: Create a mirror image of your desired picture. Print it on the transparency sheet with a photocopier or from a printer. The transparency should be compatible with the machine you are using to photocopy. Print the mirror image on the dull side of the plastic sheet. Cover the fabric you want to print with Glossy gel medium. Now place the transparency down on the side of the image side on the fabric. Straighten out the transparency paper and remove bubbles with the use of your fingers.  Let the ink transfer to the fabric. Remove the transparency, the transfer is now complete.

The cons of this technique are the print is not colorfast. Take care in washing as it may crack with too much washing.

An alternative to printing with transparency is without the use of gel. You can print the image with an inkjet printer on the transparency paper and press it in the fabric.

2. Printing from Paper, Transfer, and Heat Transfer Paper

This is like the previous method. The difference is that the acrylic gel applies to the print before placing it on the T-shirt and pressing down.

The process: It works best with laser printer images. You can use thick paint to transfer on the fabric. Original Prints are not applicable. In this method, matte printed cutouts can transfer to the fabric. This method works best for printing in white or light-colored cloth.

3. Use of Solvent to Transfer

One of the permanent methods of transferring prints from paper to fabric is through the solvent. It applies in white, black, and colored fabrics. The solvents in use are mineral spirit, turpentine, acetone, or any commercial products.

The process: The print is placed with the print side down on the fabric. Rub the solvent from the backside of the fabric to coincide with the print. Press the design with an applicator when the paper is full of solvent. The print will set in permanently after the heat setting.

While working with solvents, it may not always be safe for your hands. You need to work in a well-ventilated space. Solvents are also flammable so, you should take care that there is no flame close to the workplace.

4. Iron-on Transfer Paper

The transfer paper used for iron-on transfer is polymer-coated. You can and have the picture printed with a laser printer.

Iron-on Transfer Paper

The process: Transfer the desired picture to the transfer paper coated with polymer. If you have a hard copy photograph, scan it and save it on the computer. Make a mirror image. Print the photo on the transfer paper and place it on the fabric or usually the T-shirt you want to print your design on. Place the transfer paper with the face down on the T-shirt. With the help of hot iron, press the design onto the T-shirt. Remove the transfer paper and dry the shirt. The image comes out very clear and vivid.

5. Laser or Inkject Printing

 Using a laser or inkject printer, you can directly print your photo onto the T-shirt.

The process: From the website, choose the photograph or image you like. Scan and edit it to the way you would want to see it. You may use Photoshop to add your creativity to the image. Harden the fabric before you feed it into the printer so that it does not crumble. Check that you are using the specific printer. If your inkjet printer, pigment ink will give you permanent prints.  

The difficulty of this is that the whole garment cannot go inside the printer. Printing goes by the size of the printer paper.

6. Sun Printing

This technique of sun printing enables printing on a surface with the use of the rays of the sun. This method uses blue fabric where a negative image comes out with exposure to the sun.

sun t shirt printing

The process: Here you need transparency with a negative image printed with an inkjet or laser printer. You need to place the transparency on top of the printing fabric and place a glass that does not block UV rays. Then expose the print to the sun. In 10 to 15 minutes, the print will show in white or a light color on a blue background. The prints come out bright and vivid.

Tips on the Successful Transfer of Pictures Onto T-Shirts

Here are some factors that will make you successful in perfect printing. Keep these in mind while you are learning the technique of printing.

  1. Color of the fabric. Light-colored fabrics take light colors, and light-colored cloth shows delightful contrast if you use dark pigments.
  2. Use the right transfer paper preferably, thin for a transparent background, and dark-colored transfer paper for light-colored or white background.
  3. Photo edit your image or the artwork to make it unique.
  4. After printing the image on the transfer paper, trim the extra paper on all sides of the design.
  5. Pre-wash the fabric to avoid shrinking after printing.
  6. Place the fabric on a flat surface and iron to remove wrinkles.
  7. Peel off the backing from the transfer paper and place it in a perfect position.
  8. Cover the paper with parchment paper or a soft towel.
  9. Allow the iron to heat to the correct temperature and gently iron from the center to the edges.
  10. Let it cool.
  11. Carefully peel off the parchment paper.
  12. Let the T-shirt with the print air dry. You may hand wash, dry, and iron before use.

Final Verdict

Now that you have learned to transfer a picture onto a T-shirt, you can confidently begin your DIY project. The methods we have shown you are one of the easy ones to put your hands on printing T-shirts and other day-to-day items. Once you master all the steps, you will know how to use variations of design, type of fabric, the color of fabric, the combinations of dye, the best printers and accessories. 

However, much of the skill of transferring depends on the quality of the transfer paper. Remember that there are specific transfer papers for inkjet and laser printers. We wish you the best in printing!

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