Do it Yourself: Iron-on Transfer

By Diane Dilov-Schultheis ; Updated September 15, 2017
White T-shirts for iron-on transfers

Iron-on transfers can be used on totes, hats, pillowcases and placemats, but they are most often created for T-shirts or other shirts. Tell the world how you feel, advertise your business, declare your sports team and express yourself in a personalized way with a do-it-yourself iron-on transfer. Select from pre-made designs or come up with a whole new idea to make your very own iron-on transfer.

Basics Needed for Do-It-Yourself Iron-on Transfers

To create your own iron-on transfer, the items you need include an inkjet printer (do not use a laser printer), copy paper (for test printing), iron-on transfer paper (dark, bright or light), an iron, T-shirt or other fabric (minimum 50 percent cotton) and an idea of what you want to make.

Remember to match the iron-on transfer paper to the color of the shirt you will use. Get specially made paper for the particular color you have; it is available for light, bright and dark fabrics. Remember to also match the colors of the design to the shirt color, so your transfer will be seen easily and not blend into the shirt.

Iron-on Transfer Templates

Use available free templates in programs like Microsoft Word, or from other sources for free printable iron-on templates such as HP Creative Studios or DLTK's Crafts for Kids. Choose one of the predesigned templates you find or start with a blank one. Download the selected design and make any changes to the color, wording or other parts to fit your needs. Select the part you want to replace and put in your own graphics, pictures or text.

Do-It-Yourself Iron-on

Check the layout (direction) of the design, especially if you created it yourself. Flip or reverse the image or text, if needed. A mirror can be used to see how the image will appear on the shirt. Print a test copy of the finished design on copy paper and hold it up to a mirror. Make any changes or alterations required and print another test copy until you are satisfied with the results. Insert the iron-on transfer paper into your printer as directed to ensure it is facing the proper direction. Print the final copy and cut around the design within 1/4 inch of it. Set your iron to "cotton" without steam. Place the shirt on an ironing board or other hard flat surface, and put the transfer paper in position. Iron the transfer paper onto the fabric. Carefully peel the paper off when done.

About the Author

Diane Dilov-Schultheis has been writing professionally since 2000. She is a food and travel writer who also specializes in gaming, satellites, RV repair, gardening, finances and electronics. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and has been published online at the Travel Channel and Intel.