Tag Archives: heat press t-shirts

Heat Press

How It’s Done: Heat Press T-Shirt Printing

Heat PressYou remember iron-on patches. That same low-tech method our mothers and grandmothers used to do a quick repair on our jeans is still one of the most popular ways to put images on t-shirts, but new technology is making it easier to make your own designs. Instead of making your first stop the fabric or craft store, head to the computer or office supply store. There you’ll find that t-shirt making is going high tech. New printers, transfer paper, inks, and computer programs are making designing and printing your own t-shirts at home easier than ever. Start with the right transfer paper for your printer. Check the package and be sure it’s compatible. The pros say it’s easier to transfer images to light colored shirts. If you are planning on using a dark t-shirt, there is paper specifically designed for those colors.

While you’re at the computer store, check out programs that design shirts for you! They come with images, graphics, fonts, frames and more. The programs help you pick the right image size for where you want the design to go on your shirt. You might want a larger image if it’s on the back than on the front. Or, something small if it’s a simple name or logo over the left front pocket. T-shirt design programs also have photo-editing programs if you want to put a picture on your shirt.

You can also create images on your own or use logos and print them right onto the transfer paper. Just follow the directions that come with the paper. You’ll want to check those directions for heat temperature, too. It’s important that your iron is just right to prevent cracking and to be sure the image adheres to the shirt fabric. New developments in how transfer paper is made and how it works with your printer are solving the cracking problem. But, you want your design to stick for more than one trip through the washing machine. When you wash the fabric, it’s best if you do it by hand or wash it in the gentle cycle so the image does not crack or fade.

The quality of t-shirt is important, too. It used to be that you could only use heat transfer on cotton or cotton blends. Now, new transfer papers allow you to apply heat transfer images to 100% synthetic materials. Again, be sure to check the transfer paper package to be sure which fabrics produce the best results. Heat transfer is an ideal way to make one t-shirt or a small batch of t-shirts at home. You just create the design on your computer, print onto the transfer paper and then iron. It’s easy to make small adjustments like adding a different name for each shirt, making small design changes, or moving where you want the design to be on a shirt. Just make the changes on your computer and reprint onto new transfer paper.

If it sounds like too much work you might want to consider designing your own t-shirt and having us print it using our advanced Direct-to-Garment printing.

Alternatives to Heat Transfers for Custom T-Shirts

When creating a custom t-shirt for yourself or your group–be it a youth group, volleyball team, school club, corporate event or family reunion–there are many options to mull over. There are four obvious choices–embroidery, silk screening, heat transfers and Direct-to-Garment (DTG)–each come with their own rules and regulations but in the end we believe Direct to Garment is the way to go and is how we do the majority of our printing.

Embroidery is a classic option that uses minimalist principals to create a clean end product but you can’t just get one single t-shirt unless you pay a premium. Silk screening has the same issue but is an increasingly versatile method that employs fabric stencils and special ink and different screens can be used to create a layered, multi-colored image. Then there is heat transferring, which moves the image from the paper to the cloth using special transfer paper and an iron or heated transferring machine.

Heat transfers allow a direct reassignment of an image from the page to the fabric and unlike embroidery and silk-screening where the image must be examined and often altered by the t-shirt artist in order to match the abilities of the equipment at hand, heat transfers offer a direct design approach for the customer. In general there are two types of heat transfers: professional and at-home. Whether you choose to complete your shirts yourself or to have them professionally done, the process is very much the same. First, an image must be created. This is most often done on a computer. Programs such as Printshop or Photoshop can make creating an at-home transfer design easy. These programs allow the customer to combine text and images — including photos–in their design. If you choose to have transfers done professionally, the t-shirt artist will use comparable programs to help you create a unique design. Once the design is created, the design must be printed it on special t-shirt transfer paper and ironed onto the shirt.

The problems with heat transfer are that it’s not a very good print compared to other options. Many times you can see a film on the shirt around the graphic. Heat transfers can look cheap and homemade.

The last alternative is (and best choice) is Direct to Garment (DTG) printing instead of the heat press, embroidery or screen printing. Direct to Garment technology has really improved making it possible to just print one t-shirt and get a high quality and professional look. Silk screening is a great option if you need to print hundreds of shirts but if you want to create a custom t-shirt for a reasonable cost, little waiting time, and a professional appearance we strongly recommend that you choose a service with Direct to Garment printing.