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How to Iron a Picture Onto a Shirt Without Transfer Paper

Are you ready to print your intuitive design on your T-shirt? You have all the ingredients, except the transfer paper. Do not despair! We have for you at least three different ways on how you can print your design without a transfer paper with perfection.

All you need is a photocopier, a printer, a home iron, and some accessories. The methods may be an old timers’ way of printing images it does work pretty well.

Printing without transfer paper on T-shirts requires chemicals and solvents that will need you to take protective measures. You will need safety goggles and gloves to protect you from burning. The three methods are stencil printing, screen-printing, and direct printing on fabric.

How to Iron a Picture Onto a Shirt Without Transfer Paper

Method 1: Printing With stencil

1. Collect the items that you need to give the best results. As printing is an art, you need your intuition to create the best form. You will then need the following supplies, so keep them handy. You will find them in craft stores if you do not have them at home.

  • A cotton T-shirt, possibly a thick one so that the paints do not leek. Wash, dry, and iron the fabric before use.
  • A screen with a width of the T-shirt.
  • A squeegee for applying ink on the screen.
  • Craft paper-cut to the same size as the screen
  • Craft knife: use it to cut the design into craft paper

Printing With stencil

2. Prepare your T-shirts: To avoid cotton-made T-shirts from shrinking, wash, dry, and iron them to make them wrinkle-free.

  • Prepare the workplace: On a wide enough hard surface, place scrap paper. On the flat surface, straighten out the T-shirt, so there are no wrinkles. Now place the design on the stencil in the T-shirt just where you like to have the image to be printed. Make it firm by taping the edges. To control the seeping of the paint, you may place cardboard underneath the T-shirt. The dye may also splatter on you, so wear an apron or an old shirt when you work.
  • Pour some paint on a tray. Use a painting roller and roll it for a few minutes to allow the color to disperse on the roller.
  • By steadily stroking with the roller, apply paint on the shirt so that the color fills the design drawn on the stencil. Be careful not to go beyond the stencil.
  • Remove the stencil from the shirt and keep it aside. Let the paint dry completely on the T-shirt.
  • Let the paint settle by ironing the T-shirt. A perfect way to do this is to place a dishcloth on top of the picture, set the iron to high temperature and press on the printed area.
  • Wash and wear: Wash the shirt with cold water by hand, dry, and iron the shirt. It is ready to wear.

Method 2: Screen Printing

1. Collect the items essential for screen-printing. Screen-printing allows the application of layers of colors to produce intricate designs. You will need:

  • A cotton T-shirt is the best. Wash and dry before ironing.
  • A screen equal to the width of your T-shirt.
  • Screen-printing ink of several colors.
  • A squeegee to apply ink on the screen.
  • A piece of craft paper, the same size of the screen.

How to Iron a Picture Onto a Shirt Without Transfer Paper

2. Draw a design on a craft paper and cut it with the craft knife. You need to make several stencils if you desire a few colors. It is better to make a simple design to start with.

  • Prepare a work area: Clean a plain surface and place scrap paper. Spread the T-shirt over the scrap paper so that there are no wrinkles. Place the stencil paper on top of the T-shirt and put the screen above it.
  • Pour ink of the desired color on the screen and spread it by using the squeegee. Wipe it evenly at least two times. Make a vertical and horizontal wipe to enable you to apply the correct amount. Make sure that the ink does not spill beyond the stencil border.
  • Remove the screen, allowing the ink to dry. Examine the quality of your work. After completely drying, launder and use the T-shirt.
  • You can use this screen again for another T-shirt with the stencil paper stuck onto the paint remaining in the stencil. If desired, add color and continue the process into several T-shirts.
  • Before storing the screen, wash thoroughly with warm water.

Method 3: Direct Printing On Fabric

This is labor-intensive but a cheaper method than screen-printing. You can use this technique for printing T-shirts, pillows, placemats, and many more.

Direct Printing On Fabric

  1. Collect supplies: You will need frozen paper, clothing iron, sharp scissors, mat, and a light-colored fabric to print the picture.
  2. Wash, dry, and prepare material to be printed. It is best to use cotton or linen T-shirts. Place the freezer paper on the mat. Place the fabric or T-shirt with the right side up onto the freezer paper. Once the freezer paper and T-shirt amalgamate, cut it out to the size of a printer paper. The shiny side of the freeze will adhere to the fabric when heated. 
  3. Make the color colorfast: If you want your print to be colorfast, you can pre-treat your fabric. Some commercial pre-treating agents are available that will not affect the color in washing or drying.


Now that you have the technique of ironing a picture onto a shirt without transfer paper, you can confidently start your dream enterprise. A few practices will make you an expert. These inexpensive methods are a way of sharpening your hand on designing and taking it out to the world.

A project during summer vacation could take you a long way as you develop your skill with the beginning of printing T-shirts. An adventure project could turn you into an entrepreneur in the world of artists and real-life picture printers. Good luck with your endeavor!

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