Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Stamping on Iron-on Transfers

Stamps are great on fabric, but sometimes coloring techniques are tough - especially when the fabric has a heavy weave.  Even T-shirt material can be a challenge to get nice coverage with markers or paint.  For this reason, I like to stamp on transfer paper and then iron the design onto fabric.  For this demonstration I'm using Inkjet transfer paper with a "soft hand".  There are several brands on the market for this.  Just be sure to get transfer paper that says "for white or light fabrics".
The transfer paper I'm using has a white side and a blue side.  We will be working on the front of the transfer paper - the white side.

When you iron your transfer to your fabric, you will be turning this upside down (blue side up, in this case), so to some extent you need to work your design in reverse.  You will want to stamp the front, focal parts of your design first and backgrounds last.  I began by stamping my butterfly from "Happily Grateful" stamp set in Palette Ink - Noir.

Then I used Copic markers to color in the wings.  You can do shading on the transfer paper.  Just be careful not to over saturate the paper or overwork a particular spot.  If the white coating starts flaking or scraping away from the backing, you've over worked that area.

I stamped my background stamp, "Victorian Vines",  in Palette Ink - Jardin Moss.  I did not ink the stamp in the approximate area that would end up on top of the butterfly.  Even though this will be in the background when I iron the transfer on, I did not want the dark green leaves to show through the white or light purple areas of the butterfly.

I used a large dobber to add a tint of color with Pallet Inks Chartreuse and Seascape.

I then trimmed the transfer paper down to the size I wanted for my transfer.  In this case it was down to the edges of the background stamp.

Now for the fun part.....Though I love to use this technique for T-shirts, this time around I've cut up a pair of my daughter's old white jeans.  Why I thought white jeans were a good idea for a 7 year old, I don't know, but when she was done with them they were way too stained to even send to Goodwill.  I did manage to find a stain-free section big enough for my image.  I cut it about 1" longer and wider than my image and then ran it through the washer and dryer to fray the edges.
To iron your image on, you'll want to work on a hard surface.  I use a small wooden cutting board.  You'll need to put some pressure on the iron, so working on an ironing board pad is not recommended - a table or counter top works best.  Iron the image, face down to your fabric, according to the instructions for your transfer paper.  Check the image by lifting up one corner of the transfer paper.  If the image has transferred to the fabric, carefully peel back the rest of the paper.  If the image has not transferred, repeat the ironing process.  You may need to turn up the heat on your iron, iron longer or use more downward pressure.  You may want to practice on some scrap fabric until you get a feel for it.
I now have a stamped canvas that I can turn into a mixed media project, use in a mini-album, or other projects.  

1 - Do not use stamps with words on your iron-on transfer - they will come out backwards when you iron on.  If you want to add words to your stamped design you have a couple of options.  You can stamp on the back (blue side) of the transfer paper and then use a light box to trace the letters onto the front side.  Or you can wait until after you've transferred your design to fabric and stamp the words directly to the fabric.  Depending on the weave of your fabric, you may get a distressed look to your letters where the stamp does not connect to fabric fibers.

2 - If you are stamping on something you intend to wear, test your stamp ink to be sure it will hold up to washing.  Stamp on a piece of scrap cloth similar to what you'll be stamping on for your project and run it through the wash a few times.  I have used Palette inks and they seem to work very well.

I hope you'll try this stamping technique!

You can find a FREE download of this tutorial in the Red Rubber Designs store.


  1. Fabulous tutorial, KC. I can't wait to try this!

  2. That is so informational and easy to follow. Love your tutorial, Kc. I will definitely use this one. Great job!

  3. What a great tutorial KC. I have used transfer paper with images through the computer... I didn't know I could stamp and use copics on it! Thanks for the clear and concise tutorial on this KC. ;D

  4. I just love this design and the way you transferred it to the material. I'm always reluctant to try something like that for fear that I will mess it up completely.

    Also, thanks for visiting my blog and for the nice comments.

  5. Just beautiful, never thought of using copics to color the images!
    hugs Lynn


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