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What is T-Shirt Transfer Paper?

J. Beam
J. Beam

T-shirt transfer paper allows anyone to create custom t-shirts and other fabric articles, such as aprons, tote bags, book covers, and so forth. The paper is specially designed to transfer a printed image onto fabric with heat from a household iron. The only additional tools needed are a printer and a computer with some type of imaging software. Most home printers accept T-shirt transfer paper, which is typically sold in packs of anywhere from six to 12 sheets and can be purchased at most office supply stores and other retailers.

A person who wants to create a custom design does need some knowledge of imaging software. Even printing a picture from a digital camera onto a T-shirt will usually requite the use of photo-editing software. People working with clip art images and custom lettering only need to know how to create a document using the images and lettering they choose. If the design contains lettering, the person creating it needs to remember to reverse the image in the document before printing it so that the letters will face the right direction after they are transferred to the shirt. This is usually an advanced option found in most printer settings.

Woman painting
Woman painting

There are two different types of T-shirt transfer paper. The standard variety can be used to transfer a design onto white, gray, or another light colored fabric. To transfer a design onto black, navy, or other dark colored fabric, transfer paper designed for dark colors must be used. Individuals should also keep in mind that, on dark fabrics, black outlines of clip art images and black lettering will not show up, so the design may need to be modified according to the color fabric that will receive it.

Once the designer prints the image onto the paper and the ink has dried, he will be ready to apply it to a T-shirt or other article. Transferring the design involves cutting around the outside edges of the final image and ironing it on. Different manufacturers have different detailed instructions for the transfer process, including heat settings and the length of time that the heat should be applied, but all brands of paper only require a standard household iron. For the best results, people should follow the directions provided with the paper, including those for applying the design and washing the article.

Discussion Comments


Thank you for this useful post.


Laser transfer paper has a different heat tolerance compared to inkjet transfer paper. Transfer paper suited for laser printer use can tolerate higher temperatures.

Heat presses are also available for the more avid transfer paper user. These presses allow for a more even application of heat and therefore lead to a more consistent transfer. This can save money as most transfer paper is relatively expensive, costing up to several dollars per sheet.


What transfer paper can be used if the current paper is sticking to the drum of machine, used OBM 5.5 & TTC3.3. What other options are there?

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