Iron-on heat transfer letters -- the kind you buy or you make yourself with an ink-jet printer and iron-on transfer paper -- require a hot, dry setting on the iron to adhere correctly. Trim the corners so they're round, to prevent peeling corners, wherever possible. Use a flat, hard, heat-resistant surface instead of an ironing board for the best results.
Iron-on letter transfers work best on T-shirts made from 100 percent cotton, because they tend to peel on other fabrics. If you can’t find a 100 percent cotton T-shirt, at least choose fabric that has more cotton than other materials for the best results. Wash and dry the T-shirt so you have a clean surface on which to work. Don't use fabric softener or softener sheets in the dryer. These add a chemical coating to the fabric, which can interfere with the transfer glue.
Select a heat-resistant surface -- such as a wood cutting board -- that is hard and smooth, instead of the ironing board to iron the transfers onto the garment. Lay a sheet or pillowcase folded in half on top of the hard surface. Set the iron to the cotton setting and let it warm up for at least 8 minutes. Turn off the steam, because using steam prevents a complete seal. Press the shirt using the iron’s cotton setting to remove wrinkles before you add the iron-on letter transfers.
Arrange the Letters
Set the garment on the flat surface. Align the shirt so that whatever letters you put on don’t skew across its surface. Trim off excess edges or materials from the transfer letters, making rounded corners wherever possible. Set the letters on the T-shirt the way you want them to appear, lining up bottom edges with a long ruler to ensure the wording is straight. Lift off the backing and place the letter on the fabric with the imprinted image side up.
Iron the Transfer
Place a sheet of tissue paper, the paper that came with the letters or a single layer of cotton fabric over the letters you plan to iron. Iron the letters, working from the middle of each letter to the outside edges to avoid air bubbles. Iron one letter at a time, while applying firm pressure as you press the iron onto the fabric. Repeat the process for each letter. After ironing each letter firmly, run the iron over all the letters, paying particular attention to corners and edges to ensure they adhere firmly to the shirt.
Finish Work and Tips
Allow the garment to cool for at least 2 to 3 minutes, and then remove the tissue paper or cotton cover. If the letters came with an additional tissue paper cover, peel this away from the surfaces. After the garment has cooled, wash and dry it as you normally would to set the dyes in the letters.
- Photo Credit George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images
How to Put Names Onto a T-Shirt Using Iron-Ons
The T-shirt is a classic look, and most people love to have personalized shirts they can wear with anything. With an ink...
- How to Iron On a Patch
How to Make Iron-On Letter Transfers
Make iron-on letter transfers at home with publishing software. Just pick a transfer paper that is appropriate for the color of the...
How to Print T-Shirts & Print the Letters the Right Way
Anyone can design and print her own custom T-shirt at home with just a few simple materials. Use the following design tips...
How to Print Iron-On Letters
Iron-on letters, printed from your home computer, have endless uses, especially if you have students in school. Make shirts for pep rallies,...
- How to Remove Vinyl Letters From Clothing
How to Cut Your Own Iron-on Letters
Iron-on letters offer a quick and inexpensive way to personalize a fabric item such as a tote or t-shirt. They are also...
- How to Get Iron on Letters Off
How to Take Off Iron-on Letters
You have changed your mind about the iron-on letters that you applied to your shirt, and now you want to remove them....