How To Print T-Shirt at Home. Top Tips for Printing on T-Shirts

Did you know you can print on t-shirt from the comfort of your own home? All you need is an inkjet printer, an iron, and print transfer paper.

Printing a t-shirt at home is far less expensive than utilizing a professional printing business. Prepare to dive into a fun project; Teeanime has everything you need to know about printing on t-shirts with a home printer.

Materials and Tools

You will need the following materials for this project:

  • A t-shirt made of 100% cotton
  • Print transfer paper (This project uses Koala Light T-shirt Transfer Paper)
  • An inkjet printer
  • A straightener
  • Scissors
  • Software for editing pictures

Once you’ve obtained these things, continue reading to learn how to design and print your shirts.

1. Create a Design

If you want great results, prepare your image with design software like Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop. If you don’t already have this software, you can also use free ones like GIMP or Inkscape.

Make sure to use photos or images that have a high resolution. Or, if you’re starting from scratch and making a design, working with vector images will help keep your design from looking pixelated. You can also learn how to vectorize an image in Adobe Illustrator if you want to use a design you already have on your computer.

2. Prepare the Shirt

Use only a shirt that can be ironed on and is smooth and tightly woven. This will help your design stay the right way on the t-shirt. Before you try out different fabrics, it’s best to start with a 100% cotton shirt. Buying a used shirt from a thrift store is a great way to save money.

Before you put a design on a brand-new t-shirt, you should wash it first to make sure it doesn’t shrink. If you aren’t sure what kind of fabric you are working with, most of this information can be found on the care tag.

3. Buy the Right Transfer Paper

In general, transfer paper is split into fabrics with light colors and fabrics with dark colors. Make sure you choose the right type of transfer paper for your T-shirt, or it won’t work.

Make sure that the transfer paper works with your printer as well. We used an inkjet printer and print transfer paper made just for inkjet printers for this project. Using the same product on a laser printer can damage it, so don’t do it.

Take a quick look at 3DInsider’s list of the best t-shirt transfer papers if you want to know which brand will give you good results.

4. Test Print

Start by printing a test page on regular paper to make sure everything looks right. The overall print quality can also be improved by setting the printer to the best quality settings.

Choose File > Print from the macOS Preview menu bar. Then, choose Show Details, and from the drop-down menu, choose Preview > Media & Quality. There will be a slider that lets you choose between Draft, Normal, and Best.

You can also improve the print quality by changing an image’s DPI.

Now that you have a design, a shirt that will work, and t-shirt transfer paper that matches, you can start printing.

If you are using transfer paper on fabric with a light color, you will have to flip the image. In our example, we did this with Preview on macOS by going to Tools and then Flip Horizontal. If you can’t find the mirror option in your printer’s settings, Windows has a few other easy ways to flip a photo.

Once you’re happy with your final design, put one sheet of transfer paper in the printer. Pay close attention to which way the paper needs to go in. In our case, the design had to be printed on the side with the white coating.

When the printing is done, be careful with the paper and don’t touch the surface of the transfer paper. Lastly, let the design dry for 5–10 minutes before moving on to the next step.

6. Iron the Design

You are now ready to iron the design on.

Start by making sure you have a hard, flat surface to iron on. The surface of an ironing board is too soft to use. Instead, put something strong on a table, like thick cardboard. Then, heat your iron for 5 to 8 minutes on the highest setting, which is usually “linen.”

Next, use scissors to cut away any extra space around the design, leaving a 1/4- to 1/2-inch margin. After that, put your newly printed design where you want it to go on your shirt. When you are ready, put the picture side of the transfer paper down on the t-shirt.

Each brand of transfer paper will have its own special instructions for how to iron the design, but in general, press hard and evenly over the whole design while ironing.

In this project, we ironed according to these times:

  • Full A4 page: 180 seconds
  • Half an A4 page: 90 seconds
  • A quarter of an A4 page: 30 seconds

When the time is up, take the iron away and wait about 10 minutes for the design to cool down completely.

7. Complete the Transfer

After the transfer paper has cooled, you can peel off the release paper. Fold the fabric gently near a corner of the design, and peel back the paper in one smooth, even motion.

You might have to iron the design again to make sure the transfer paper has stuck well to the t-shirt. If this is the case, put wax paper over the print and iron over it again. For a large A4 design, iron over the whole thing for another 60 seconds. Cut the time to 30 seconds for half an A4 sheet and 15 seconds for a quarter of a sheet.

Once the image has cooled down again, your transfer will be done.

Top Tips for Printing on T-Shirts

Here are a few more tips to help you successfully print on your t-shirt:

  • Before printing, you should always check to see if the image needs to be flipped. Most light-colored T-shirt transfer paper works like this.
  • Iron a piece of plain white paper first to see if your iron is too hot. If the paper starts to turn yellow, turn the heat down one step to cotton.
  • For the best results, press down hard on the iron. Make sure that the center of the iron, which is the hottest part, touches all parts of the design.
  • The first time you wash the printed shirt, you should turn it inside out and wash it in cold water by itself. After washing, hang the jersey up to dry right away.

DIY Printing on T-shirts, Pillows, Bags, and More

Now you know that all you need is a home printer and an iron to print designs on t-shirt in an easy and cheap way. It’s a great reason to learn how to use image-editing software or make cool custom T-shirts for a special occasion or as a gift.

But why stop there? This method also works for hoodies, sweatshirts, cushions, pillowcases, bags, aprons, and more!