How To Print On Transfer Paper For T-shirts: Step By Step

It is a subject that would need a book of its own. But, I will give you a 3000- foot view into this subject. I will go deep into the subject.

If you are into t-shirt printing business, you need to know a whole spectrum of things from heat press machines to transfer papers.

At first, you will make mistakes if you haven't done your homework well. Like any beginner into this business, I want to solve that for you.

This article lays out the basic in-depth foundation that you need to help you print t shirt on transfer. It is not the final guide, but I come up with that later. Here are the exact steps you need to take when you are printing t-shirt using heat press.

Don't rush; take your time to digest the information so that you have confidence in what you are doing:

Step: Choosing The Right Heat Press Machine

You don't need to settle on the first machine that you see in the store. A lot will depend on the project that you are handling. Cheaper best heat press machine for small business won't give you the necessary flexibility that you need to play with your design.

Your choice of machine depends on two things: size and design. I will walk you through these factors.


What is the size of the image that you want to print? Are you printing a small size, medium size or large? The size of the image will help you choose the right heat press machine.


Heat press machines come in different types, style and designs. Each design has its own unique features and functionality. Again, it depends on what you want in a heat press machine.

Here are the four popular heat press machine design: clamshell, swing away, slideout drawer and malfunction. All will give you different flexibility and functionality that you see in a design.

Step 2: The fabric

Well, well, well, it is vital that you have the right fabric for your project. Not all fabric will work with your heat press. For instance, synthetic material ,thin fabrics or anything that melts won't work well with your heating press machine.

This depends on the kind of heating press you choose, but most won't work with synthetic materials.

The fabrics that work well with all heat press machine include:

  • Cotton
  • Polyester
  • Nylon
  • Spandex
  • Lycra.

Step 3: Selecting The Transfer Paper

Here is where most people get it wrong. Every transfer paper is unique in its own way. You need to do a whole load of research on transfer paper alone. That is because your transfer paper vinyl reviews needs to match your printer and design in most cases.

Inkjet and laser transfer are so common in the market. And most people would confuse between these two. It is common to find a person using a laser print on an ink jet printer. You also have to know that there is a transfer paper for both black and white t-shirt.

Step 4: Preparing The Artwork

Once you got the entire above equipment ready, it is now time to move to the fun: designing your artwork.

This stage pretty easy and you need a couple of things: adobe illustrator or core draw software and a good computer. Using a computer, you can create the design that you want to appear on the paper. Here the stage where you can tweak things and make corrections before the final output.

Step 5:Test The Print

A good designer always tests her work. There are certain things that you need to check before make a mass production for the t-shirt.

For instance, you need to check if the design has the right margin. Does the color look professional on the print? If there is mess rest assured that it will look awkward to the shirts. Here is where you know whether your idea will look well to the world.

Always have at least 10 or even 20 transfer papers for testing purposes so that you get everything right. In most cases, it will always take you 3 or 4 testing, to get everything right.

Step 6: Setting The Heat Press Machine

Now you need to open the heat press and adjust the necessary setting to get running. Before you do that, you need to take an old garment and test it. You need to see how it will look on actual cloth.

Test at least 2 or 3 garment to see a consistent in the final output, if you see anything amiss that means you need to do a revision again.

There are several things that need adjustment for the heat press to be up and running.

Adjust the temperature clockwise: on thermostat knob, after it heats up to the desired temperature, adjust it again anti-clockwise and turn it off.

You do the same for the pressure: adjusting the knob clockwise and anti-clockwise. Here, the pressure depends on the thickness of the fabric; the thicker the fabric the more pressure you have to apply.

Set the timer: A heat press has minute and second button. You can use them to increase and decrease time on the machine. If you press the start button, the machine will start.

Final Verdict

All this information, you will find it on the transfer machine that you will buy. It will give you the right temperature, pressure and time settings.

Now is the time to place your t-shirt on the plate. It is placed face-down on the transfer. Make sure to cover the pressing area. You can then start button and let the machine press the t-shirt.

After you are through with it, you can open the press and remove the t-shirt. All these information you will find on the heat press and transfer paper manual. At first it will take you time to learn these basics, but with time, you develop confidence.

Alex John

This is Alex, I have been in tshirt business for the last eight years. This is my blog where I share my work and guidelines for fellows. Keep reading resources from here and I am open to any question.

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