How to Print T-Shirts & Print the Letters the Right Way

Print T-Shirts & Print the Letters the Right Way
Print T-Shirts & Print the Letters the Right Way (Image: SOCIALisBETTER)

Anyone can design and print her own custom T-shirt at home with just a few simple materials. Use the following design tips to make sure your letters come out the right way, or no one will be able to read your message.

Things You'll Need

  • T-Shirt
  • Iron-on transfer paper
  • Computer
  • Printer
  • Design software (for photos or greeting cards)
  • Iron
  • Old pillowcase

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Buy iron-on transfer paper, making sure it is compatible with your printer. The most commonly available transfer paper is made for ink jet printers--it will say on the front of the package what printer it works with.

Transfer papers are also made specifically for light or dark shirts.

Select a plain T-shirt for your project. Again, make sure your shirt color is compatible with the type of transfer paper you have.

Create your T-shirt design on your computer using your design software. Make sure your design fits the size of the transfer paper--normally 8.5 inches by 11 inches.

Mirror image your design. It's important to remember that you will be placing the transfer paper face down on the T-shirt when you iron it on. If you do not mirror image the design, your lettering will be backwards and unreadable. Depending on what computer software you are using the command could be Mirror Image, Flip Horizontal or Reverse.

Test print your design on normal paper. To make sure the letters will come out the right way, hold the paper up to a light and with the printed side facing the light. You should be able to read your design from the back of the paper. Or hold the paper up to a mirror--if you can read it in a mirror, it will work.

Print your design on the transfer paper, following any special directions from the manufacturer. Load the transfer paper correctly so the image is printed on the transfer side. Set your printer for high quality.

Look for the following setting on your printer: Canon, use T-shirt transfers; Epson, use high-quality glossy paper or special coated paper; Hewlett-Packard, use high-quality glossy paper; and Lexmark, use T-shirt transfers.

Pre-heat your iron at the hottest cotton setting. Do not use steam. Allow to heat for 8 minutes for best results.

Prep your work surface. Do not work on an ironing board or metal table. Place the pillowcase on your work surface for protection. Smooth out any wrinkles.

Place the T-shirt on the pillowcase. Smooth out wrinkles. Place the transfer paper image side down on the shirt. Firmly iron for 1 minute while constantly moving the iron. Iron all parts of the transfer sheet. Make sure you get the edges.

Allow the transfer to completely cool before peeling off the T-shirt.

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