Top 4 Heat Transfer Papers for Making Custom Labels

top 4 transfer papers

When it comes to making your own custom labels, knowing what kind of heat transfer papers are the best to use, is good to know.

As most of you know, I like to add labels to my crafts and sewing projects. Adding that little tag to your projects gives them a professional look, and is a great way to put your logo on items that you sell or give away as gifts.

what kind of transfer papers

There are a lot of different heat transfer papers out there, and they are NOT all equal in value or quality. I have used several different types of papers out there to make my labels and I wanted to try a few others to make sure I was getting the BEST. So I ordered a few other popular brands out there and put them all to the test.

In this post AND video tutorial that you can watch, I go over 4 different brands of heat transfer papers and give you all the details.

There are two types of transfer papers, one for LIGHT colored fabric and one for DARK colored fabric. They each have different methods of printing and application, so make sure you are buying the correct type for the color of t-shirt of fabric you are using.

(If you want help and directions for printing on DARK fabric, check out my tutorial HERE).

The four brands that I tested were all for using LIGHT COLORED FABRIC.

Heat Transfer Papers Tested Brands

Transfer Papers Testing Categories

  • Adherence
  • Backing Peel Timing
  • Clarity & Vibrancy
  • Sheen
  • Durability
  • Cut Edge Durability
  • Cost

CLICK ON THE PHOTO ABOVE TO GET THE PRINTABLE PDF CHART

 

Each type of transfer papers will have its own set of instructions. I encourage you to follow those instructions because each one will be different.

transfer papers ironTransfer Papers Adherence Test

When I tested how well the paper adhered to the fabric and how long it took, there were some significant differences. Here are the results.

The TAILER brand was the quickest.

Next was the Avery, Koala, and PPD took the longest to adhere. When I went to peel the PPD and the Koala, I had to reapply the iron because it had not quite adhered completely. This is something to be aware of. Depending on fabric type and iron heat, the transfer papers may not adhere the first time and all you need to do is reapply the iron for a bit more until it does adhere.

transfer papers peel

Transfer Papers Backing Peel Timing

Each paper had a bit different timing instructions for when to peel off the backing paper. (FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS).

  • Avery- Didn’t even mention how long before peeling the backing paper off.
  • Koala- Let the fabric cool completely before peeling the backing paper off.
  • PPD- Peel the backing paper while the fabric is HOT.
  • Tailor- wait 1-2 minutes to peel backing paper off
transfer papers clarity

Transfer Papers Clarity & Vibrancy

Here are the results for how well they looked after printing and applying to the fabric. There wasn’t a ton of difference, however, I did find the PPD was the poorest and the Avery the best.

  • Avery- The colors were bright and vibrant and the text was very clear.
  • Koala- Not bad
  • PPD- The colors were not as vibrant and the text was not so crisp.
  • Tailor-Good
transfer papers text

Transfer Papers Finished Sheen & Texture

Each of the papers left a different sheen on the fabric. This depends on the look and feel you want your labels to have. Some have more of a plastic feel to them, which I find helps with durability when using on items that will be going through the wash a lot.

  • Avery- Matt finish and a bit rougher in texture
  • Koala- Matt finish and a smooth texture
  • PPD- Slightly shiny finish with a thicker texture
  • Avery- Glossy finish and thicker texture
transfer papers washing

Transfer Papers Durability

This was a test to see how well the labels held up after being laundered. If you are applying labels to items that will be going through the wash multiple times, this is good to know. I have made labels using transfer papers that did NOT hold up well after washing. It is a big disappointment after spending time and money on something that doesn’t hold up.

Most transfer papers brands recommend WAITING 24 HOURS before washing the item after application. They also recommend turning the garment the wrong side out and using cold water when washing, and drying on a cool setting. (I just send my items through the wash on a regular permanent press cycle and I do run them through the dryer. They hold up just fine).

  • Avery- Unfortunately, this brand fared the worst.
  • Koala- Fair
  • PPD- Fair
  • Tailor- Best

Transfer Papers Cut Edge Durability

When it comes to making your fabric labels, there are a few different materials that you can use to make iron the label onto. You can use ribbon, seam tape, and regular cotton fabric. If you choose to iron the labels onto fabric, you’ll be cutting the fabric into strips. You want the fabric edges to hold up and NOT FRAY! If you use ribbon or something with a finished edge, you don’t really have to worry about this. You can also hem or finish the edges with Fray Check.

I prefer to use transfer papers that have more of a plastic feel because the cut edge is much more durable and great for the labels and tags I make for my projects. It’s all about preference.

  • Avery- This brand was the worst and did have significant fraying going on.
  • Koala- Not bad
  • PPD- Ok
  • Tailor- Best

Transfer Papers Cost

  • Avery- Most expensive $1.35 sheet
  • Koala- $.90 sheet
  • PPD- $1.00 sheet
  • Tailor- $.96 sheet

Transfer Paper Testing Final Results

Here are the results of my overall review. Again, it is all preference, but for my needs, in making labels for my projects Tailor was the winner and a product I have been using for several years with great results. Some of the labels I have made are over 5 years old and still holding up great after multiple washings.

#1 Tailor-BEST

#2 Koala

#3 PPD

#4 Avery

I found it very interesting that the Tailor brand is not real popular and somewhat hard to find on Amazon, and they have Avery being one of the top brands.

But after testing them side by side, I found the Avery wasn’t it all cracked up to be and that my tried and tested Tailor brand came out on top.

I hope this was helpful for you when you go to make your CUSTOM FABRIC LABELS.

LEARN HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN LABELS HERE

Other DIY tutorials you may be interested in:

How to Use Heat Transfer Paper | NO MIRROR IMAGE NEEDED

 

Have fun making your own labels!

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Jan Howell

Whether it’s a new recipe, a fun craft, or some handy tips for your garden and home, I hope to empower and inspire you with skills that you can use to create joy, improved health, and to do it in a simple way.

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How to Use Heat Transfer Paper | NO MIRROR IMAGE NEEDED

heat transfer paper no mirror image

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

*You can use white fabric with the DARK fabric transfer sheets.

Instructions

  • 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

How to Assemble and Organize PDF Sewing Patterns

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DIY Printable Fabric Labels | Easy Iron-On Method

heat transfer papers labels

Making your own DIY printable fabric labels is a simple project that can save you a lot of money and give your homemade projects some character and charm! Whether you sell your goods, give them away as gifts, or just create things for yourself, adding a cute label makes them look professional and authentic. I add labels to everything!

When I decided years ago to make tags for the items I sold in my Etsy shop, (buying them can be quite costly) I did a lot of research and through trial and error, found this technique to be the best. Using transfer paper and fabric or ribbon made the labels more durable and looked a lot nicer. 

View Video Tutorial Here

Play Video

I have been getting a lot of inquiries as to how I make my labels, so I thought I would show you how. You can watch my YouTube here. 

There are so many ways that you can add a label, and it’s really easy to make your own. In this tutorial, I will show you how to

  • print your labels 
  • iron them onto a piece of fabric, ribbon or twill tape 
  • show you several ideas of how you can apply them to your homemade projects 

Items & Materials Needed

PRINTABLE FABRIC LABELS PRINTING INSTRUCTIONS

You can design your labels on any computer program, which is quite easy to do. Or I have a set of EDITABLE LABELS that you can download and print.

GET THE EDITABLE LABELS HERE.

Make sure you have the correct type of transfer paper for your printer. The most common transfer paper is for inkjet printers, but they do have it for laser printers as well. Follow the transfer paper printing instructions. 

When you go to print your labels, you must change the settings to print backward. Note that every printer queue is different and you may have to look for this setting. You may have to go to the advanced settings and choose “flip image” or “mirror image”. 

If you don’t change this setting, when you apply the iron-on label, the text will be backward.

I recommend printing them out on regular paper first to make sure it is how you want it. (You don’t want to waste transfer paper)!

WHAT TYPE OF MATERIAL DO I USE FOR MY PRINTABLE FABRIC LABELS?

There are several types of materials you can use to make your labels. Depending on what look you want will determine what type of material you use. Here are some suggestions:

  • Ribbon of all types (I use a white 5/8 inch ribbon for my “J” labels). The ribbon is nice to use because two of the four sides are finished and won’t fray. 
  • Cotton twill tape works well for a wide horizontal label. 
  • Woven fabric (If using fabric, you may want to stabilize it so it doesn’t fray by applying iron-on interfacing to the back before ironing on the transfer paper).

CUT OUT LABELS

Once you have printed out the labels, and have decided what to iron them to, it’s time to cut them out.

If you are going to use fabric and want to make a whole sheet of labels, just iron on the whole sheet and cut afterward.

If you are using ribbon, cut the transfer paper into strips the same size as the ribbon. (Anything wider than the ribbon will stick to your ironing board). 

TRANSFER PAPER APPLICATION

  • Follow the transfer paper instruction. Most likely it will tell you to turn OFF STEAM and use the highest heat setting. 
  • Place the transfer paper with the lettering facing down onto the ribbon. Press in place, making sure to cover the whole label.
  • Let the label cool before peeling off the back paper. You will notice that there is a plasticky like coating now on the label. This makes it more durable and washable. 

HOW DO I APPLY LABEL TO MY PROJECT?

There are several ways to apply the label to your project.

  • Sew the label into the seam of the project. Fold the label strip in half and with the raw edges of the ribbon facing out past the seam allowance as shown in the picture above.

Topstitch around the edge of the label using a small zigzag stitch on your sewing machine.

If using a fabric label, you can fold the edges under and either topstitch with a sewing machine or sew by hand using a slip stitch.

*Note: If using ribbon, to keep the cut edges from fraying add a dab of “fray check” to the cut edges. This works well.

Pretty simple, right? Such a fun way to add a little character and charm to your beloved hand made items.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Have fun sewing!

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Jan Howell

Jan Howell

Whether it’s a new recipe, a fun craft, or some handy tips for your garden and home, I hope to empower and inspire you with skills that you can use to create joy, improved health, and to do it in a simple way.

Read More