All You Need To Know About Heat Transfer Paper

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Customized items have become a huge trend. We all like to personalize anything we can with our names or customize products to match our personalities. Heat transfer paper allows you to create custom fabric designs, like t-shirts with your home, inkjet printer and a hand iron. We’ve created an in depth guide to what Heat Transfer Paper is and how you can use it on your next project. 

What is heat transfer paper?

Think of heat transfer paper as a type of fabric sticker, you can print any design on the paper with your home inkjet printer and then apply it to fabrics with 100% natural content. The paper has special heat transfer technology that uses heat to fuse your printed design to your fabric by pressing it with a heat press or hand iron.

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What can you design and customize with heat transfer paper? 

You can print anything on the paper like Images, quotes, sayings, names and then apply it to 100% natural fabrics. Personalize jackets, hoodies, shirts, pants, socks and so many other items. You can use heat transfer paper on any natural fabric for any occasion. 

Maybe you have a child in sports? Sports moms love to make shirts showing support for their favorite athlete and his/her team; afterall we are their number 1 fan now and always!

What’s the best type of fabric to use with heat transfer paper?

You must transfer onto a fabric that contains 100% natural fibers. For example silk, linen or cotton. The heat transfer paper will NOT work well on polyester fabrics or fabrics with stretchy content, like lycra or spandex blends. Be sure to pre-wash your fabric before use to avoid any stretching once the transfer is fused on. Once your fabric is clean and dry, give it a quick iron before applying the heat transfer paper. Wondering how to find the content composition of your fabric? Simply locate the fabric tag on the clothing and it will tell you the composition, for example 100% cotton or 100% linen. 

heat transfer paper, fabric content label

What’s the difference between transparent and white heat transfer paper?

There are two types of heat transfer paper: Transparent Heat Transfer Paper for light fabrics and White Heat Transfer Paper for dark fabrics.

Transparent or clear heat transfer paper is mainly used to apply onto white fabrics; however, it can also be applied onto other very light colored fabrics. Transparent heat transfer paper is a very thin and transparent film. When applied to colored fabrics the color of the fabric shows through the transparent heat transfer film. 

White heat transfer paper is used when applying to darker colored fabrics. White transfer paper is a thin opaque white. When applied to colored or dark fabrics the opaque white transfer keeps the dark fabric colors from showing through the transfer.

When using white heat transfer paper it is important to cut as close to the image as possible. Reason being, any white left around the image will be visible after you heat press your transfer. For the best results it is recommended to use a cutting machine such as a Silhouette Cameo or a Cricut.

When using transparent heat transfer paper we still recommend cutting as close to the image as possible. Again using a cutting machine such as a Silhouette or a Cricut will provide the most precise cuts. However, you can cut your decals out by hand using scissors too.

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Is it better to use a heat press or a hand iron to apply the heat transfer paper? 

Both methods will work. We recommend a heat press for best results because it produces constant pressure and even heat. However, a heat press is not necessary. Many people choose to use their hand held clothing iron. Our heat transfer paper is great for beginner crafters all the way to an advanced crafter. 

We recommend experimenting with a small off-cut from the paper on a scrap piece of natural fabric to test the heat temperature and pressure of either your hand iron or heat press. We have full instructions for how long to press your design on our Instructions tab. Click here for Transparent Heat Transfer Instructions or here for White Heat Transfer instructions

Do I need to mirror my image before printing?

If you are using transparent heat transfer paper you WILL need to mirror your image as the printed side of the decal will be placed down onto the fabric you are working with. When applying the clear heat transfer paper, the backing stays on until the heat transfer has been applied. However, if you are using white heat transfer paper you WILL NOT need to mirror your image as the printed side of your decal will face up when applying to the fabric you are working with. Another thing to remember when you are working with white heat transfer paper is that you will remove the backing from the printed decal before pressing onto your fabric. 

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How do I know which side of paper to print on? 

When you look at the heat transfer paper if there is a blue grid, know that will be the back of the paper. However, if you get a pack of heat transfer paper that does not have a blue grid on the back you will look for the silky matte finish side. The silky matte finish side will be the front of the paper and the side that you will print your image onto. The other side will have a shiny almost glossy look to it. This will indicate that it is the back of the heat transfer paper and will Not be the side you print on. 

Good Luck!