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



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.


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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