What is transfer paper? I solve your questions!

Heat transfer paper is the solution for many craft projects that require printing on fabric, and I am sure you have heard it mentioned more than once.

Transfer paper allows you to create custom designs on fabric with just a hand iron and an inkjet printer.

But perhaps you have never used it and you ask yourself “what is transfer paper”, I assure you that in this article you will find answers to all (or almost all) of your questions about heat transfer paper.

Read on to learn how does transfer paper work!

What is transfer paper

What is transfer paper?

Transfer paper is a paper covered with wax and pigment. It will vary depending on the color of the fabric on which it will be applied, since it differs between dark colors and light colors.

There are two types of heat transfer paper: transparent heat transfer paper for white or light colored fabrics, and white heat transfer paper for dark colored fabrics.

The stamping process with this method is simple, quick and easy. Inkjet printers are used to print the image on this type of paper (you can use your home printer if it is of this type). Then, a clothes iron is used to transfer the image to the fabric.

Which side of transfer paper do you print on?

When you have the transfer paper in your hands, you will see that one side of the paper has grid lines, that will be the back side of the paper.

The silky matte finish side will be the front of the paper and the side that you will print your image onto.

How to use heat transfer paper on dark fabrics?

Heat transfer paper has a version for light-colored fabrics and another for dark fabrics.

Heat transfer paper for dark colored fabrics ensures that the image appears on the garment in exactly the same colors as they appear on the paper, by transferring a white background along with the image.

The image transfer includes all borders and spaces in the image, so images must be block or you will need to cut the paper to remove unnecessary white spaces.

When using dark transfer paper, the image is placed face up on the t-shirt before transfer, so there is no need to invert the image before printing. That is, the printed side of the paper will face up when you apply it to the fabric.

Remember to remove the backing of the transfer paper before ironing it onto the fabric.

How to use transfer paper on white or light colored fabrics?

For light colored or white fabrics, transparent transfer paper is used. In this case, the ink of the image to be visible will be based on the background color, that is, on the color of the fabric it will be printed on (if the fabric is white, the background color will be white).

If you replace the white background with a dark background, the ink becomes translucent and will be almost invisible. And, if the color of the fabric is not white, but is still a light color, you can use the transparent transfer paper with some images.

It is worth clarifying that the texts and images in black will work well. However, if the image has different colors, the ink will mix with the color of the fabric, modifying in the final result the colors of the image that appeared on the paper with the original image.

When we use transparent transfer paper for light colors we must add an extra step in the printing process: before printing the image it is necessary to reflect it and print it in mirror mode.

This is because the printed side of the transfer paper will be placed directly on the fabric you are working with, and the backing or back of the transfer paper stays there until the heat of the iron has been applied.

Inverting an image is a simple process that can be accomplished directly from the printer’s setup menu or by using a simple image editing program.

If you want to test before printing the image on the transfer paper, you can print the image inverted on plain printer paper to verify that the image size is correct and that the image has been reversed.

Some tips to follow before, during and after

Now that you know what is transfer paper, I recommend following these tips to make your project as simple as possible and to avoid common mistakes.

  • As a first step you should wash the fabric by hand or in a machine. Wait for it to dry completely and iron to remove all wrinkles.
  • It is preferable to use fabrics that are 100% cotton, as transfer paper may not work properly on fabrics that are polyester or have elastic content.
  • When applying heat with the clothing iron, remember to maintain a constant pressure, without moving the iron as much as you normally would.
  • Before ironing, check that the steam setting is turned off.
  • Turn on the iron a few minutes before ironing the print so that it heats up.
  • When washing the garment, it is recommended to turn it over so that the print does not rub against the machine or other garments.

    In the washing machine select a cold water wash or, if you prefer, you can hand wash the garment without rubbing the print.
  • If you are using transparent transfer paper, remember the importance of inverting the image before printing it.

Have fun customizing your clothes!

Heat transfer paper is a great ally for customizing different garments, it provides a very easy way for anyone to get a design on a t-shirt, hoodie or pants.

All you need is an image, an inkjet printer, a clothing iron, and transfer paper!

I hope I have answered all your questions about heat transfer paper.