A funny childhood photo can be turned into a present, or you can use it to create gorgeous t-shirts for your entire little league team. You’ll need a way to snap a picture and transfer it to the shirt’s fabric. Fortunately, there are several ways to put a photograph on a T-shirt!
A heat source like an iron is typically used to transfer a picture onto a shirt using transfer paper. Printing on screen or adding Cricut-cut vinyl are three other options. Custom orders are available from many internet retailers, and the cost of printing a photo onto a shirt is rather modest.
In this article, you will learn how to transfer images onto cloth. In this tutorial, you’ll discover nine different ways to print a picture on a shirt. For those who don’t have the time or inclination to make their own shirt, we’ve also included instructions on how to get one.
How to Put a Picture on a Shirt: 9 Methods
A printer or vinyl cut-out are only two of the many options available for printing a picture into a shirt, depending on your available resources. In order to use some techniques, you’ll need a printer, a heat press, a Cricut machine, or even simply an iron.
When you learn how to transfer images into fabric, it can be a lot of fun. It’s not difficult to use any of the methods in this post! It’s also possible to have your picture printed on a T-shirt by an internet business at a reasonable price.
1. With Transfer Paper
For DIY picture transfer to cloth, iron-on transfers are undoubtedly the easiest and most common option. Access to an inkjet printer capable of printing on transfer paper is necessary for this procedure to be successful. Additionally, you’ll need transfer paper, which you can acquire at most craft stores or online.
There are two things to keep in mind before you begin this process.
The first thing to keep in mind is that not all transfer paper is the same. Make sure you know what kind of ink your paper can handle and what kind of cloth it can stick to before you start printing. Cotton, for example, may work, but polyester will not.
Second, you need to consider how well the shirt’s color and the design’s color match. Using a dark design on a light shirt and a light-hued, white, or ultra brilliantly colored design on a dark shirt is usually the best way to get the greatest results.
- Prep your clothing by washing and drying it before you start working on anything. When you wash new clothing, especially t-shirts, they tend to shrink a tad. Once the shirt has been printed, wash it for the first time to avoid distorting the new design!
- Iron the area of your shirt where you intend to add the image. Applying the transfer paper requires a flat and smooth surface.
- Set up your inkjet printer so that the design is printed on the coated side of the paper, not on the peel-away backing on the reverse side.
- Transfer your design to the transfer paper by printing it out. Allow five to ten minutes for this to sit.
- The sticky side of the paper can be applied to the shirt without first removing the paper backing if your design is tiny enough. It’s possible to peel down just the top border of a large image, adhere it to a shirt, and then peel the remainder off as you work your way through it.
- Before you begin ironing, take sure to cover the design with a pressing cloth. A dish towel, a pressing cloth, parchment paper, or even the transfer’s backing might be used as a pressing cloth. Avoid placing the iron directly on the artwork.
- When using transfer paper, follow the instructions on the packaging. Adjust the temperature setting to your preference.
- Starting with the transfer paper, begin ironing over it. Sweep the iron over the entire design in small circular motions. It’s best to keep doing this for as long as the transfer package recommends.
- Remove the pressing cloth carefully, and check to see if your design is still intact.
You can also locate light or dark transfer paper as a final expert tip for transferring artwork. If your shirt is black, you should use a dark-colored transfer paper. The white background of this thicker paper contrasts nicely with the black designs on the shirt.
2. Without Transfer Paper
How can images be transferred to fabric without using paper as a transfer medium? If that doesn’t work, you may always try using plastic wrap! It’s a fascinating experiment to play about with, but you won’t get the sharp, clear image you get with transfer paper. In addition, you can accomplish this even if you don’t own a printer!
- Inkjet printer or glossy magazine paper can be used to print an image.
- Wrap a large piece of plastic wrap around the image. Once you’ve finished, neatly fold the extra wrap over so that it sits against the print.
- Make sure your shirt is flat and smooth by ironing it.
- On top of the shirt, place the printed plastic-wrapped piece facing down.
- A piece of parchment paper should then be placed on top of the image. For a fraction of the cost of parchment paper, you could use an unfolded brown paper bag instead.
- Set your iron’s temperature to medium and turn off the steam function.
- For three to four minutes, move the iron back and forth over the parchment paper in smooth, steady motions.
- Afterward, carefully peel away the paper from the garment.
Fast, enjoyable, and inexpensive are just some of the advantages of this strategy. However, it does not produce long-term results. To preserve the transferred picture, wash your shirt by hand.
3. Wax Paper
Using a rubber stamp-like wax paper, you can transfer the ink onto a shirt. Solid one-color images or text in bold outlines work well for this technique. If you’re looking for a cheap and easy way to transfer images, this may not be the best solution.
- Remove the wax paper from the roll and trim it to 8.5 x 11 inches. Flatten it out by putting it between two hefty books, as wax paper curls easily.
- Open your inkjet printer and insert the wax paper. Wax paper has a wax covering on both sides, so it doesn’t matter which way the paper is laid out.
- Using a printer and wax paper, create a print-ready image. The ink will remain wet and smear if you don’t take particular care when removing the paper from the printer.
- Make that you have a flat surface to set the image on before you iron your shirt.
- A piece of cardboard should be inserted into the shirt to prevent the ink from leaking to the back of the shirt.
- The ink-side of the wax paper should be placed on this area of the shirt with great care. To avoid smearing the ink, place it directly on the fabric before lowering it.
- Remove the wax paper with care.
- Before you do anything to the clothing, let the ink dry for a few hours.
4. Parchment Paper
One side of parchment paper is matte, while the other side is shiny. Using parchment paper shiny-side down on top of transfer paper provides your transferred image a more lasting sheen, according to several craftsmen.
Make sure you follow the instructions above on transfer paper to see whether this works. These steps should be followed instead of step 6:
- Measure your design and cut off a sheet of parchment with an inch of overlap on all sides to fit your needs.
- On top of the transfer paper, place the shiny side of the parchment paper.
- Make sure your iron isn’t set to steam and heat it to medium instead.
- For one to two minutes, iron back and forth on the dull side of the parchment paper.
- Wait for a few seconds for the parchment paper to cool before carefully removing it.
Using a piece of parchment paper, iron it over the design, and then peel it off after washing may help extend the life of the artwork.
5. Heat Press
To get the most long-lasting and professional picture transfers, use a heat press. You’ll immediately notice the difference if you have this choice. Using a heat press instead of a printer and iron is like the difference between putting together a Halloween costume using a glue gun versus stitching with a sewing machine!!
You will need to buy and learn to utilize professional equipment, of course, but that’s the only negative. This degree of commitment may not be necessary if you only plan to manufacture one or two shirts. You’ll need a heat press if you plan on starting a t-shirt printing business!
With a flatbed and lid that swing open, a heat press looks more like a scanner or copier. The lid is firmly closed and the heat timer is set to ensure that the images are set evenly and quickly.
It is possible to use a heat press to print a picture onto an item of clothing in a variety of ways.
- You can use a heat press to seal a printed image onto transfer paper.
- Using a Cricut or similar cutting machine, you may cut out a vinyl design and apply it to a shirt using a heat press.
- At least in some circumstances, you can use it to set screen print designs.
- Use it to iron on iron-on appliques on a shirt!
Electronic cutting devices made by Cricut are very popular. Now, in addition to cutting machines, Cricut now sells t-shirt heat presses and other crafting supplies. When people refer to “a Cricut machine,” they’re most likely referring to the electric cutting machine that can cut through all sorts of paper, vinyl, cloth, and even wood.
When you use the Cricut Design Space online component, you can upload, update or create a design. This pattern is then carved out by a CNC machine. With the help of the Cricut, you can separate the colors in a photo and have it cut them out one layer at a time so that you may make various color designs.
Using the Cricut is as simple as pointing it at the pattern you want to cut out after you’ve created or chosen your design. Cuts through iron-on or heat transfer vinyl but leaves a clear plastic sheet in its place. The “negative space” vinyl chunks from your design can then be easily removed.
Following these procedures will let you apply a vinyl cut-out on your shirt:
- To prevent the design from shrinking, wash the shirt before using it for the first time.
- Apply an iron to the region of the shirt where the design will be applied.
- Set your iron to the hottest setting and remove the steam before using your heat press.
- Make sure the transparent plastic peel-away sheet is facing up when you place the vinyl design on the shirt. Adjust the image’s alignment to your liking.
- Make sure the plastic sheet is heated up. A few seconds is all it takes to use a heat press. There are detailed instructions that come with your press.
- Using the same heat source, iron the design from the inside out.
- Peel back the transparent plastic transfer sheet gently when the garment has cooled.
Vinyl normally looks best with one, two, or three colors in the design, but you can use this method for pictures or more intricate designs. Transferring text or a logo is simple and straightforward using this technique, but it’s not the ideal choice for transferring a funny meme to the front of a shirt.
However, one of the most attractive and long-lasting transfer methods is heat-set vinyl. It can withstand multiple washes.
7. Screen Print
Another really professional method of printing a design on a shirt is screen printing. With practice, you can create a variety of unique t-shirt designs with this method!
So, what is screen printing, exactly? A mesh screen, thick ink, and a stencil are used to transfer an image onto a piece of fabric.
Please keep in mind that screen printing is an art form in and of itself, and there are many different ways to do it. You can get started on a simple design, though, by following these simple instructions.
- Print a design that you like onto acetate film and cut it out. An example stencil will be created with this.
- Use a light-reactive emulsion to coat your mesh screen. The mesh stencil will be created in a similar way to an old-fashioned photo development process.
- Emulsion should be spread on the acetate sheet with your design printed on.
- To illuminate the mesh screen, point a bright light at it. Any emulsion that isn’t covered by your printed pattern will be hardened by this process.
- Gently remove the emulsion’s still-soft components by rinsing with water. This creates a void in the design’s form. The stencil will be ready to use once the screen has dried completely.
- The mesh should be fed into the screen printer if you have one. If this is the case, you can manually apply the screen.
- Stencil the design where you want it to appear on your shirt and place the mesh screen on top of it.
- Fill the mesh screen with ink and place it inside the printer.
- It’s best to work gently and steadily with an old-fashioned squeegee to remove excess ink from the screen. Stenciling on a piece of cloth will result from this.
- Ink on the garment can be removed from the mesh screen and let to dry.
8. Inkjet or DTG Printer
You may think, “Why can’t you print directly on the shirt? What if it were the case?” In rare circumstances, it is possible to print on fabric. It’s referred to as direct-to-garment printing (DTG).
A large number of large industrial t-shirt manufacturers employ this technique. A photo-like image can be easily created using this method, but it doesn’t have the thick, raised ink of screen printing.
DTG printing requires a unique metal platen for holding shirts, which is the main drawback. A standard inkjet printer won’t work with a cloth shirt!
As a result, you have three alternatives when it comes to using a printer to generate your design:
- Purchase a DTG printer. If you’re looking to establish a modest home business, this may be the best option for you.
- Using an inkjet printer, follow the instructions outlined in the section on transfer paper. After that, you can apply the image to your shirt with the use of transfer paper.
- Create your own design, then hire a DTG printer to print it out for you. Continue reading to learn more about this topic!
9. Custom Order
Instead of copying the image yourself, you can consider having the print done for you instead. Of course, this method does not provide the same sense of accomplishment as making your own shirt, but it does save a significant amount of time.
You may also save money by buying the equipment and supplies you’ll need to produce your own t-shirts instead of making a couple as a present or team uniform.
A wide variety of online businesses provide this service. Some allow you to submit the image you want to use as a printing file. The text you desire may only be selectable in other cases. For a fee, some designers will build a custom design for you.
If you decide to get your shirts, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Color, style, size, and potentially even the fabric of the shirt will have to be decided upon by you. Your printed design will look better when you choose a color that contrasts with it. This is an important consideration, as there are many different types of t-shirts available nowadays, some of which are more suited for men or women, as well as those with a slender or bulky frame.
- Bulk orders of custom printed t-shirts usually result in lower costs. If you don’t need more than twenty-five shirts at a time, look for a boutique company that will print one or two!
- Also, the design will be less expensive if you use fewer colors. When compared to printing a photo, the cost of printing a logo or image in full color is far less.
How to Transfer a Photo Onto Fabric?
Transfer paper and an inkjet printer are the ideal tools for transferring a photo into fabric at home. This procedure is described in detail in the section headed “Transfer Paper” earlier in the article.
This is the greatest approach for photo transfer short of employing a DTG printer like a professional t-shirt producer.
However, you may also experiment with a few additional methods for transferring photos into cloth.
Using a piece of freezer paper, iron a small piece of cloth onto the paper. The cloth will slide straight through your laserjet printer with the freezer paper attached! The printed cloth cannot be sewn to a shirt, however an appliqué stitch could be used to connect it to a shirt.
Use a gel medium like Liquitex Gel Medium or Mod Podge Photo Transfer gel if you’re feeling creative. Place your design face-down on the shirt after printing it out and dipping it in the gel medium. Repeatedly mist with water and rub at the paper with your fingers until you get a clean print!
Unfortunately, the designs created with the freezer paper technique and the liquid gel are not very long-lasting. If you utilize these procedures, you’ll need to wash your shirt by hand.
How to Put a Logo on a Shirt at Home
Using a Cricut or similar cutting machine to cut out a vinyl logo and heat to adhere it to the shirt is the quickest and easiest way to apply a logo to a shirt at home.
Here, you may discover instructions on how to apply a Cricut design on a T-shirt.
You might also use an embroidery machine as an alternative. There are many corporations and teams who employ embroidered logos on their clothing in order to give the appearance of class and sophistication.
Another approach is to create a stencil of the logo using your Cricut. Afterwards, you can use the stencil to screen print thick, viscous ink. Your shirts will have a clear, distinct logo thanks to this method!
Print Photo on T-Shirt Online
To have a custom-made t-shirt, one of the most popular options is to have a photo printed on it via an online custom-order shop. These days, there are tens of thousands of businesses that provide this type of service! In fact, if you use Amazon’s shirt search, you’ll find this choice.
As little as $4 per shirt can be charged for this service, which can go up to $20-$30 each shirt. According to the firm, your order’s complexity, and what you want in terms of style, you may have to pay more or less.
You can either make your own or choose from a library of pre-made designs at CafePress, for example. With only a few mouse clicks, you can add a picture to your post. It’s possible to buy only one shirt at a time from this famous retailer, but it’ll cost you at least $20.
How to Transfer Photos Onto Fabric for Quilting
If you want to use images in your quilting projects, you can use any of the methods outlined earlier in this article to transfer them onto the fabric.
For quilting, there are a few other things to keep in mind:
- A hand-stitched “frame” around your quilt’s printed photo is an excellent idea. As an added bonus, the printed design will be more easily incorporated because of the bright hue.
- Avoid using photographs that are too dark. It’s best to use images that have strong contrasts, such as a black and white image, to draw attention away from the quilt. Photos that are dark or grainy will not be appealing.
- With the freezer paper process, you will need digital copies of your photos. To avoid blurry prints, make sure you have these at a high resolution.
What is the Best Fabric to Print Photos On?
Cotton is the best fabric to print photographs on. Cotton absorbs a lot of ink better than synthetic materials like polyester, which is why it’s a superior choice for printing. However, because polyester shirts with DTG printing are so much less expensive, many professional t-shirt printers utilize them.
1005 quilting cotton is a good choice if you want to utilize your laserjet printer and freezer paper to print photographs directly onto the fabric. Compared to other fabrics, this absorbent, stiff fabric is more likely to accept a photo.
Companies That Print Photos on Fabric [Near Me]
There are a number of well-known brick-and-mortar establishments in your area that will allow you to have images printed onto fabric for use in quilting or other crafts without having to go through the effort of doing it yourself.
Office Depot, for example, has canvas prints that are ideal for use as tote bags or as gifts.
Alternatively, a local sportswear or t-shirt manufacturer may offer a bespoke print service in addition to their primary business of selling pre-made clothing.
You don’t have to worry if you don’t have a local store. It’s easy to find thousands of print shops on the internet. Just upload your design, and they’ll send you a t-shirt or fabric that you can wear!
In order to upload an image, you may have to meet the requirements of a given retailer. The majority of the time, though, you can count on receiving your file as an SVG with good resolution. Depending on the company, a JPEG, PNG, or even PDF may be acceptable.
Printing a photo on transfer paper and ironing it onto a shirt is a quick and easy approach to have a custom shirt design. A Cricut machine, a heat press, or a screen printer can be used to produce more professional-looking images on a shirt. Alternatively, you can get a custom-printed shirt from several internet retailers if you prefer to save time.
Transferring a pattern with a single color to the cloth is more difficult than doing it using a photo. Photo transfer paper or liquid transfer gel can be used, however it may be easier to have the photo printed on a shirt from scratch.
No, I’ve never had the nerve to do it. How did you go about it? Let us know what you think by commenting below!