Making Shirts

Cutting Out Images

We recommend that you try this out at home before making tee shirts as a group activity.
Print out photos on regular paper to check for correct size, color and placement on the paper. Do this before printing on the tee shirt transfer iron-on sheets to avoid surprises. This test print can also be laid out on the fabric to see how the finished product will look.

Keep in mind that if the image includes text that the photo will usually need to be printed in reverse. To do this: Go to Print, click on Properties, choose Features and then select Mirror Image.

Print out the image on transfer paper and cut out. Cut out with rounded edges. Rounded edges seem to iron more securely to the fabric and are less likely to get caught on objects.

Ironing On Images

Place the transfer paper with the printed image facing down.

Remember: Never use steam! The colors will bleed if you do.

Press the iron down very firmly. Lean on the iron to make sure that you are applying a lot of pressure (make sure that the ironing board or table you are doing on this can take the heat and pressure). Make slow passes over the entire surface of the transfer paper moving from top to bottom or left to right with regular overlapping passes.

Then with particular care make sure that all the edges completely adher to the tee shirt fabric. Make slow regular passes or passes with a circular motion to ensure this.

Allow the transfer paper and fabric to cool for a 2 to 3 minutes and then peel off the paper. This part can be tricky as you are trying to peel up the paper backing without peeling up the image layer. If you have applied the appropriate heat and pressure it should be possible! In general starting from a corner is best. Peel the paper with some care, as you want to get the transfer backing paper to come off in one sheet without tearing.

Caring for the Shirts

Most transfer paper instructions recommend that you wash the shirt before wearing it. This does not seem necessary unless you are going to get water or sweat on it prior to the first washing. Only in those circumstances have we seen any bleeding of the color.

It is a good idea to wash the garment the first time separately from other clothes. This avoids the possibility of bleeding color onto other clothes.

Wash the garment only in cold water.

Do not leave a wet shirt in the washer or dryer for long periods This can cause bleeding of colors.

When drying, use low heat settings, and turn the shirt inside out.

Do not iron the transfer image part of the garment.

Do not bleach the garment.

Trouble Shooting and Suggestions

We suggest that if you are doing this as a group project at school or an activity center that you send the student home with a copy of the instructions above listing how to wash and care for the shirt. This is particularly important to be sure that the garment does not inadverently get washed in a way that it could bleed color on other items in the wash load.

A set of fairly typical instructions including comments for the "Care of Maintenance" of the shirts can be found at the following link which can provide you with a pdf.

In our experience, there was not a problem with bleeding of color on to other clothes during the first wash, but this is a warned about with some types of transfer paper. Some instructions warned that the colors might bleed in the first washing. We did not find this to be a problem, but nonetheless it may be a good idea to tell the students that the first washing be done without light colored clothes in the same wash load.

We suggest that you avoid using the dark transfer paper, at least for your first project. We did not have great success using this product. We found it difficult to use. It did not use the reverse image, had a 30-minute wait time and was much more difficult to peel off. But, use the dark transfer paper if you want to use a dark colored fabric.

You might want to pre-wash the shirts. This eliminated the “sizing” which can interfere with the transfer adhering to the shirt. We did not pre-wash but this was a suggestion from an experienced crafter.

Have a practice tee shirt making session. Teach your friends and family how to make tee shirts.

Be sure to practice with maps or words. These images need to be printed in reverse.