How to Print on Transfer Paper for a T-shirt

Whether you are a beginner or you have been in the printing industry for a long time, it is an undeniable fact that transfer papers are an important aspect of t-shirt printing.

For those of you who might be confused about a transfer paper, a transfer paper is basically a paper that acts as a medium of transferring your desired print onto your chosen surface.

They are able to do so by first having the image printed on them and then passing it on to the surface (it could be a canvas, a wooden surface, or even a t-shirt).

However, it is even more vital for you to know how to print on transfer paper for a t-shirt because a lack of this knowledge will get in the way of your printing right from the get-go.

There is absolutely no need to worry about it because, in today’s article, we will be showing you the various ways by which you will be able to master the art of printing on a transfer paper in no time. Read on to find out!

Different Kinds of Transfer Paper Used for T-shirt Printing

Before we start elaborating further on the different ways of printing on transfer paper for a t-shirt, we would like to brief you on the fact that there are generally two different kinds of transfer paper available in the market:

Dark Papers

Dark transfer papers are used while printing on fabrics that are darker in color (dark blue, black, etc.) and consists of a white background on which the printing ink is laid.

When transferring the print on to the t-shirt, the white background will also get transferred and hence prevent the print from getting mixed into the fabric's dark color.

Light Papers

Light papers, much like its name suggests, is the brighter version of its dark counterpart. You might already be able to guess by now that light transfer papers are used for printing on light-colored fabrics such as light blue, white, and so on.

The inks used on light transfer papers are generally semi-transparent and will, therefore, only be seen on light backgrounds.

How to Print on Transfer Paper for a T-Shirt?

Now that you have decided on what kind of paper you would like to use let us move on to our in-depth discussion on printing on transfer paper for a t-shirt.

Prepare Your Heat Press Machine

If you have already done your own research on what you might need to get started on t-shirt printing or if you already have prior experience in this field, you should already have ownership over a heat press machine by now.

Even though there are several factors in a heat press machine that require attention, the two we are about to mention are two things that you must consider in order to deem your machine as capable for fabric printing.

Machine Size

The size of your machine is a major factor to consider when purchasing the tools required for t-shirt printing. Depending on what type of printing you will be doing the most, you should get your machine accordingly.

For example, if you will be working more with printing larger letters and designs, then you should opt for a bigger heat press machine and vice versa.

When buying a heat press machine, you will be faced with three size choices: Small, medium/standard and large - which one you choose is totally up to you.

Choose a Transfer Paper

As already mentioned before, the right type of transfer paper will do wonders in bringing out the vibrancy of your work. Aside from the color of the transfer paper, you will also need to keep in mind what kind of transfer paper you are using so that you can ensure whether it is compatible with your printer or not.

For example, you should only get an inkjet transfer paper if you have inkjet ink and printer since it is only compatible with these. Similarly, getting laser transfer papers would be a wise choice only if you have laser printers.

There is another type of transfer paper called heat transfer vinyl, which is sold readymade. The only thing you will need to do is cut out the design and then paste it on the t-shirt and then print.

Make the Illustrations

To make the kind of illustration that you would like, you will need to have a computer at hand along with the appropriate software downloaded in it. Once you meet these two criteria, you will be able to make the illustrations in no time.

Select a Fabric

Do not try to print onto a synthetic fabric since they are not heat-resistant. Instead, use clothes that are made of cotton, polyester, or spandex.

Print on the Paper and Test

First, you will need to reverse the illustration that you made and then simply print it out. You may repeat the process if you find any flaws in it.

However, do make sure that you print on the coated side of the paper. This is where you will need a ton of old t-shirts in order to test your printing and make suitable corrections to them accordingly.

Transfer to Shirt

When you are done, make sure that your design is perfect; prepare your heat-press machine by first adjusting the time, temperature, and pressure depending on the fabric you are using.

Afterward, place the cardboard inside the t-shirt so that the ink on the paper does not get to the other side. Next, place the paper on the t-shirt with the coated side facing downwards and then apply heat evenly to it while holding the paper firmly in place.


That is all there is to print on a t-shirt, and as we said, knowing how to print on transfer paper for a t-shirt is not that difficult, right? Thank you for reading till the end; best of luck with your printing!


I am Samantha, an automobile engineer and POD business owner. I am also a wife of Jason and a mother of three children, two of whom are twins. I am passionate about making a difference in the world and strive to be a role model for my children. I believe that hard work and dedication can lead to success, no matter what your circumstances may be. I have a passion for cars and enjoy working on them in my spare time. I am excited to be able to share my knowledge and experience with you. Stay connected !

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