How To Put A Picture On A Shirt Without Transfer Paper

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By Alex McIl – 31st May 2022

Transfer paper is the most common material used for DIY T-shirt printing, but there are some other ways to go about it. And they are just as effective, if not more. In today’s post, we’ll cover the three methods you can use to make your next craft project a success and have a brand new printed t-shirt without having to use transfer paper.

What Supplies Will You Need?

To place graphics on a T-shirt, you will need a T-shirt, a vanishing fabric marker or chalk pencil, gel medium, a paintbrush, a printed or photocopied image, an old towel, and a soft cloth. Additionally, you will need a spray bottle of water, an old towel, and an old shirt.

adding images to clothing without the assistance of transfer paper
How to put a picture on your shirt without the assistance of transfer paper

It is recommended that you prewash, dry, and iron the T-shirt, which should be a color that contrasts with the image. In most situations, a plain white T-shirt is the most appropriate choice. Prepare a place to work that has a surface that is level and a position where the shirt may dry without being disturbed.

Creating An Image

If you want the best results from your do-it-yourself T-shirt printing project without transfer paper, use a laser printer or photocopy the picture. The image could be a digital snapshot, an image acquired from the internet, a transferred image from a magazine or newspaper, or it could even be an original piece of artwork.

It is important to remember to invert the image before it is printed on the T-shirt using image editing software. The transferred picture will display as a mirror image of the original print on the shirt. This is especially important to keep in mind if the image you’re using contains any text.

In most cases, adjusting the print settings or making use of any image editing software will do. You can also use software to change the image in any way that you see fit, such as changing the size of the picture, putting a filter on it, adding text to it, or modifying the color, contrast, or brightness of the picture. This is the most important step to remember when you’re trying to print without transfer paper.

How Do You Prepare The T-shirt For Printing?

Take the time to mark the appropriate location for your photo to go on the T-shirt before you start the process of transferring it there. If necessary, trim around the edges of the printed picture, and then place the transferred image so that the printed side is facing down on the T-shirt at the area of your choice.

Use sharp scissors to cut out your image. If you want the image to be perfectly centered on the shirt without transfer paper, you need to use a ruler to make sure that the distance from the side edges of the photo to the side seams of the shirt is the same on both sides. Only then will the image be centered.

After the picture has been placed in the correct position, you can outline the image’s perimeter using a chalk pencil or a vanishing fabric marker. Put an old towel inside the T-shirt so that it covers the area where the picture will be displayed. Because of this, the gel medium will not be able to penetrate the back of the t-shirt. Make sure you do this on a flat surface.

Which Type of Fabric is Ideal for Printing Your Design?

When it comes to printing on a shirt without transfer paper, cotton is the best fabric to use. Cotton has a large capacity for the absorption of ink and generally reacts favorably with it, in comparison to synthetic materials such as polyester. Having said that, a professional t-shirt inkjet printer uses DTG printing on polyester shirts because synthetic clothes are significantly less expensive than cotton shirts. For DIY t-shirt printing, cotton is definitely the best.

1005 quilting cotton is probably the best option to go with if you want to print images directly onto the fabric using freezer paper and your home laserjet printer. The graphic will not be able to be transferred to the majority of other materials as successfully as it can on this rigid and absorbent cloth.

Printing on T-Shirts Without Using Transfer Paper

It is possible to make a copy of a grayscale or black-and-white photograph by using your iron and copy machines that print on Xerox paper. When moist heat is applied using a heat transfer vinyl, the picture will be transferred from the toner to the material. Even while this method is helpful, you will almost certainly find that the picture needs to be improved by using permanent markers or fabric paint.

Nevertheless, you have the following choices:

We investigated a couple of other techniques for DIY t-shirt printing directly onto a t-shirt without transfer paper. While some are rather easy, others require quite a bit of effort and time. And some will require some other tools and supplies, like parchment paper or plastic wrap, for example.

It’s possible that you’ll need to make use of chemicals or solvents in order to print directly onto a t-shirt without transfer paper. When utilizing these procedures, please make sure to follow all necessary safety precautions. It is possible that you’ll need certain supplies like rubber gloves and safety goggles in order to print a shirt without transfer paper or parchment paper.

Method 1: Direct Printing

This method needs a fair amount of effort but has a lower overall cost. It gives you the ability to print directly into the material, which results in a picture of very high quality.

Patches, small cushions, and fabric samples are all excellent candidates for trying out this method. It’s possible to sew the little swatches into clothing or make them into wonderful quilts. Because the majority of printers have size limitations, the largest object that can be printed using this method is one that is 8.5 inches by 11 inches.

There is a wide variety of possible ways. During our investigation into how to print on a t-shirt without transfer paper, we came across a number of useful techniques and strategies that helped us get results that were equivalent to those produced by the other methods.

The process consists of four easy steps. Although it may appear to be a time-consuming procedure, the results that it delivers are quite astonishing. By using all the paper, your material will have the necessary degree of stiffness to move through the manual paper feed of the majority of printers. This method, in contrast to clothing iron-on approaches, does not require you to flip or mirror your image, and it is not very labor-intensive. The following is the procedure to follow:

1. Determine The Material You Will Be Using & Wrap It In Freezer Paper

The picture was sewn on in a more consistent manner the greater the thread count was. Excellent results can be achieved with lightweight linens, reused bed sheets, and t-shirt textiles. The most efficient fabrics are those made of cotton.

Keep in mind the possibility of blending colors if you are working with different kinds of materials. If you print in red or blue on a yellow piece of cloth, the resulting image will be orange or green.

Freezer paper has two distinct sides: the shiny side, and the dull side. The side that has a glossy finish will stick to the fabric when it is heated with a garment iron. Toast your material by placing it, right side up, on a sheet of the freezer or parchment paper and heating it over a heat setting that is somewhere in the middle. Following the completion of the melting process, cut all the paper down to the dimensions required by your printer.

2. Pre-Treat Your Fabric

When it comes to pre-treating your fabric, you can choose from a wide range of commercially available treatments. A picture that has been pre-treated is easier to maintain over time and is better able to withstand the effects of everyday activities like washing, drying, and general wear and tear. If you choose this choice, make sure you adhere to all of the directions and precautions that come with the product.

3. Transfer The Image To The Fabric You Have Chosen

After your material has been prepared and cut down to the appropriate dimensions, you may then print it. Before you begin, you need to make sure that the paper being manually fed into your printer is going in the right direction. The owner’s manual for your printer should typically contain this kind of information.

4. Ensure That Your Photograph Won’t Fade

Wait until the ink is totally dry before proceeding. Carefully peel off the backing from the freezer paper. In the event that you applied a pre-treatment, you should now rinse and dry your design in accordance with the instructions provided by the product. Now is the moment to utilize preservation products such as Fixatif or Preserve It!, if you have them. Rinsing the finished print in a solution of vinegar is another alternative that you have (although this may not always work).

Useful advice for working with a laser-printed image

If you printed using a laser printer, a few additional steps need to be taken after all the steps in the printing process. It is important to complete Steps 1 and 3. After the print has had sufficient time to dry, remove it from the freezer paper and place it on newspaper in a room with adequate ventilation (outside would be good). After applying many thin coats of Krylon Fixatif spray, let it air dry between coats before proceeding with the next application (or a related product).

Method 2: Printing with Citra-Solv and a Xerox Machine

This method of printing on a t-shirt does not require the use of transfer paper and instead makes use of a photocopied image that has been made on a copy machine such as a Xerox or another machine that uses toner and a chemical named Citra-Solv.

It will function properly with color as well as black-and-white photographs. You are free to use any inkjet printer of your choice to print your images before transferring them to a color copy machine.

In the event that you do not have instant access to a copy machine, you can find them in most local libraries, office supply stores, and some locations of the United States Postal Service. Expect to pay a little money for the service, as they charge a fee per copy in addition to the service fee. The going charge is typically less than 25 cents for each copy.

A Few Words of Caution Before We Get Started

The following is a list of some ideas and things to keep in mind when printing directly onto a t-shirt without utilizing transfer paper. It is important to keep this information in mind because it will considerably improve the outcome you achieve. Keep in mind these next few things:

Always Flip Your Pictures Over

In order to get your photo ready for printing, you are going to require an editing program that gives you the option to flip the image and transfer pictures. Be warned that even if you are unable to flip the image manually, it will still appear in the opposite direction once the transfer has been finished. That works really well for photographs of people and faces, as well as many other kinds of pictures, but it doesn’t work so well for text or logos.

Only Use Cutra-Solv in Areas With Adequate Ventilation.

Citra-Solv is an all-natural cleanser and degreaser that is often used in a diluted form. However, when it is at its strongest, it has a smell that is reminiscent of citrus fruits. It is highly recommended that you perform your work at a location that has adequate ventilation and make sure that there’s no direct sunlight.

Pay Attention to Your Stitch Count

Your picture will transfer more accurately onto your cloth if it has a higher thread count and a tighter weave. During the burnishing process, it may be helpful to secure a t-shirt or another stretchy fabric in an embroidery hoop. This will help reduce the amount of movement the fabric experiences. This technique is effective for laundering woven linens such as towels, tablecloths, and cushions.

It is important for us to assemble all of our resources before commencing any kind of creative endeavor that doesn’t require transfer paper. When you need a spoon, you won’t have to waste as much time running around looking for it because this will help you find it faster.

The following is the procedure for applying this method:

1. Organize Your Tools & Supplies

Your material should be placed on a flat surface, and a couple of layers of newspaper or a drop cloth should be used to cover it. On top of the newspaper, lay down a single layer of kraft paper, freezer paper, wax paper, or parchment paper. This will prevent the newspaper from soaking through and staining the reverse side of the cloth. Put the photo in the desired location with the back facing up, and then fasten it with some tape or a pin. You can put it in some plastic wrap as well.

2. Put on Your Protective Gear

It is now time for you to don your protective glasses and gloves made of rubber. Wearing rubber gloves is something that Citra-Solv recommends you do in order to protect your skin. If you are going to be working with children, it is strongly recommended that you wear protective eyewear. Due to the fact that it is a liquid, there is always the chance that it will splash.

3. Use A Pouring & Brushing Motion to Apply the Solvent to the Surface

Put a very small amount of Citra-Solv into the shallow dish or jar that you have. Be careful since it could start raining at any moment. Use the brush you have available to apply a little amount of Citra-Solv on the reverse side of your photo. The paper ought to be wet, but it shouldn’t be dripping, puddly, or completely soaked.

4. Rub It In

The process of rubbing something with the back of a spoon while applying very little pressure is referred to as “burnishing.” Rub your finger over the entire surface area of your photo, extending your rubbing just a little bit beyond the borders. When pressing softly, make use of the rounded back of the spoon.

This process could take several minutes, depending on the dimensions of the photo and the amount of detail it contains. Fight the temptation to look over your shoulder. It’s possible that you won’t be able to realign your photo, which will result in it being blurry and duplicated.

5. Finishing Touches

Time for some great finishing touches. After ensuring that the whole picture has been burnished well, gently remove the paper and the plastic wrap. Allow the cloth to air-dry fully.

Once the picture has dried, set it using an iron. Place an old towel on your ironing board, then iron your cloth on top of it. This procedure releases Citra-Solv and imprints the design into the cloth.

Using this technique, images may be washed and dried normally. Over time, there may be some fading, but it will take some time.

Your photograph may be darker than expected. By drawing over it with fabric markers, you may darken, highlight, and even add color to it.

Method 3: Using a Laser Printer with Gel Medium

We like printing on t-shirts without transfer paper. It transmits full-color photos from magazines, color copiers, or printed images.

Inkjet-printed graphics can’t be used. The image must be copied, printed, or inked (like what they use for full-color magazines).

This method works on t-shirts, although their stretchiness may cause breaking and excessive wear. We found several tips and alternate methods for this technique. Despite appearances, it’s a simple process with gorgeous results. This is what you need to do:

1. Copy the Image

Unless you have a laser printer or a magazine image, you’ll need a copy machine. Text or logos must be reversed before being transferred to the cloth. Trim the picture’s border.

2. Apply the Gel Medium

Brush gel medium onto your photo. Some ways cover both cloth and photos, yet all of them are effective. Ensure the gel medium coat is even across the entire surface. Leaving lumps increases drying time and causes ripples.

3. Add Your Photo

Flip the photo over after applying gel medium and lay it on the fabric. At this level, you can make modest changes, so move the image.

Once aligned, push gently from the center outward. This reduces bubbles and prevents lumpy gel. You can use your fingers or a flexible silicone spatula. No force is needed. Just rub.

After positioning and smoothing your photo, leave. Dishes, laundry, and a transfer. Your fabric and gel medium must cure for eight hours. No peeking!

4. Reapply Water, Rub, Rinse & Repeat

When your fabric is completely dry, you need to reapply water. Wet the normal paper with a damp sponge or spray bottle. The paper must be damp enough to wipe your picture. Then carefully remove the paper and let the fabric dry completely again.

Adding extra protection to your photo will increase its life. After Step 4’s image dries, apply gel media. This is helpful for cleaning. Hand-washing protects the image from fading more than machine-washing.