How to Iron Without Using Transfer Paper

angel's t-shirt image by sminx from

Things You'll Need

  • Tracing paper
  • Iron-on transfer pencil
  • Iron
  • Fabric or clothing

Iron-on transfers of anything from skulls to puppies and iron-on transfer paper to run through a printer are available at fabric and craft stores. Both of these are good options for transforming clothes, but each iron-on is a onetime use and can be expensive. A better and less expensive option to transfer designs onto clothing or other sewing projects is to use a transfer pencil.

This is a good example of how you should trace just the outline of an image.
ebb flow outlined image by Nicemonkey from

Select the image or design you want to transfer to your fabric or clothing. Keep in mind you are drawing the lines of the object that you will paint or embroider onto your fabric, not coloring it in.

Lay your tracing paper over the image. Pressing firmly with the transfer pencil, trace the image or design onto the paper. Make all pencil lines clear and bold. Trace over the lines again if necessary.

Flip your tracing paper over so the pencil side is facedown on your clothing or fabric at the point you want to place the traced image.

Use a warm iron to press the traced image onto your clothing or fabric.


  • Use transfer pencils for cross-stitch projects, embroidery designs and quilt paper piecing.


  • Remember your transfer will be backwards from how you've traced it when you iron it onto your fabric. So if you’re tracing letters, numbers or any image you want facing a certain direction rather than the other, first trace the right way with a regular marker or pencil onto your tracing paper, then flip the tracing paper over and trace on the reverse side with the transfer pencil.


About the Author

Amy Lyn has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and development. She has worked with nonprofit, arts, education and technology organizations. Lyn holds a B.A. in journalism from the University of Massachusetts.

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