Heat transfer paper is a great way to create custom t-shirts, garments, and one of my favorites, fabric labels. It’s also incredibly easy to use. However, what if the PDF file, image, or text you’re trying to print needs to have a “mirror image” or “flipped image” and the printer you own DOES NOT HAVE THAT OPTION?
This tutorial will show you a simple workaround that allows you to create a heat transfer paper iron-on without the need to “mirror” the image!
Some of you may relate to the frustration that can be experienced when you go to print something out on heat transfer paper and, there is nothing in your printer queue stating “mirror image” or “flip image”. WHAT ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO DO?
I have a tutorial showing you how to make your own fabric labels and in the instructions, it tells you to “mirror the image” when printing. There are a lot of folks out there with printers that don’t have that option. Until now, I didn’t know of any way to get around it, other than to find another printer that does.
One of my followers shared with me a great solution, and I am so excited to tell you all about it! The SECRET is in the type of heat transfer paper you are using.
How does heat transfer paper work?
The process involves printing a design or photo onto a sheet of transfer paper. (You can use an inkjet or laser printer). Then you place the paper onto the shirt or fabric and apply heat and pressure using an iron. Pretty simple!
There are two types of heat transfer papers. One is for LIGHT COLOR fabrics and the other for DARK COLOR fabrics. You may be asking why this matters. Well, it does.
They both have different characteristics and methods of application and that is what is going to allow you to print without flipping the image. I’ll explain the differences below.
LIGHT FABRIC HEAT TRANSFER PAPER:
- Is used mainly to apply on white or very light-colored fabrics
- It has a very thin transparent film that is not visible if used on light color fabrics. You can see in the photo below what it would look like to apply light-colored transfer paper to dark fabric, not so great looking.
- Is thin enough to result in a texture that feels like a screen print
- When applying light-colored transfer paper, you place the paper face down on the fabric before ironing.
- After the heat is applied and the paper cools, you remove the backing sheet
- You’ll need to “mirror” the image before printing!
DARK FABRIC HEAT TRANSFER PAPER:
- Is more opaque in order to prevent the color of the fabric from showing through the image
- When applying dark colored transfer paper, you place the paper RIGHT SIDE FACING UP
- Is thicker and can feel a bit like a sticker on the fabric
- No “MIRRORING IMAGE” required!
- Can be used on light-colored fabric as well as dark fabric
- You peel off the backing sheet BEFORE IRONING onto the fabric
- ***Any white areas of the print that you don’t want to show, like a border, you need to trim away before ironing!
In the photo above, the labels on the left were made with the dark transfer paper. The labels on the right were made with the light fabric transfer paper.
As you can see, the ink on the labels on the left is much more crisp and darker. One of the benefits of using this type of transfer paper.
There is one more thing that you need to consider before buying heat transfer paper
Will you be using an inkjet or laser printer?
There ARE specific papers for both types of printers and it does make a difference. So, if you have an inkjet printer, you’ll need to get INKJET TRANSFER PAPER. If you have a laser printer, buy LASER TRANSFER PAPER. If you are not sure what type you have, google the model number and it will tell you. Most printers will have laser or inkjet in the title of the printer.
Then choose a LIGHT or DARK FABRIC heat transfer paper. They have both for both types of printers.
Ok, now that we have that covered, let’s get back to the
NO MIRROR IMAGE WORK-AROUND
Materials & Items Needed
- DARK FABRIC TRANSFER PAPER (this is a brand I have had good luck with)
- Hard surface (table, board, desk)
- Cotton cloth (pillowcase, towel, or cloth)
- An item that you are adding transfer to
*You can use white fabric with the DARK fabric transfer sheets.
- For best results, you should always pre-wash and dry to preshrink your fabric (even if the label says “Preshrunk”) because if it shrinks later, the transfer will crack!.
- Place a sheet of heat transfer paper to your printer paper tray
- There is no need to adjust the PAPER TYPE setting on the printer, just use the regular paper setting.
- Print out the image, PDF, or text just as you would a normal document. NO NEED TO MIRROR OR FLIP THE IMAGE.
- WAIT 30 MINUTES BEFORE IRONING ONTO FABRIC, for the ink to dry completely
- Place a cotton pillowcase, towel, or cloth onto a hard surface
- Plug in the iron and empty all water from the iron.
- Change the setting to NO STEAM!
- When making cloth labels, I print and apply a whole sheet onto a piece of white cloth. (An upcycled white, cotton pillowcase works great). Then I trim them down to size.
- If you are applying the transfer paper to a ribbon, or small piece of fabric, trim the paper to size before pressing.
- Peel off the back paper. (No need to worry about it sticking to anything, it is not sticky).
- Arrange the transfer sheet onto the t-shirt/fabric FACING UP, where you want it to be.
- Place the PARCHMENT PAPER that comes with the package of paper, on top of the transfer. Make sure it is totally covered!
- With firm pressure, apply the hot over the transfer for 15-20 seconds in each position (start in middle and work in circular fashion towards the outer edge to eliminate bubbles) until the entire transfer has been covered. Heat the entire surface again using a circular motion.
- Allow parchment paper to cool before removing.
- If making labels, cut the labels to size and apply them to your projects.
Heat Transfer Paper Washing Instructions
The transfers will feel a bit stiff when new. This feel will become softer after washing. Always turn the garment inside out and wash in warm or cold water. Plain detergent is ok but do not use bleach or detergents containing whiteners, brighteners, bleaches, etc.
Remove from washer immediately and tumble dry on low or air setting. If the garment needs ironing, don’t iron directly on the transfer; cover it with baking parchment.
There you have it. I hope you found this helpful.
Be sure to check out my tutorial on HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN FABRIC LABELS. Adding a cute label to your sewing projects really adds a professional and charming look.
I would love to see some of the items you’ve made and the labels you’ve made. Feel free to tag some photos on my INSTAGRAM PAGE, #YOUMAKEITSIMPLE.
Some other posts you may be interested in:
How to Download and Print PDF Sewing Patterns | Step by Step Tutorial
Hi Jan, I purchased your PDF pages for the labels, I do not have the mirror or flip on my printer so this was very helpful. I am going to try it now
Wonderful, let me know how it goes or if you have any questions.