Screen Print Transfers: How to Create Your Own? Update 06/2022

You’ve just purchased a heat press and are eager to get started decorating t-shirts with it. But where do you obtain the interesting designs to put on the t-shirts? It’s possible to purchase custom or pre-made screenprint transfers, but you may also learn how to manufacture your own from scratch!

In order to create a screen print transfer, you must first print your design on a special release or transfer paper before transferring it. There are a wide variety of inks and papers that can be used for screen printing transfers. Disperse dye ink is used for sublimation transfers, plastisol ink is used for screen printing, and pigment ink is used for DTF transfers.

Learn how screenprint transfers work in this post. This is where you’ll learn about the materials and equipment you’ll need to make the transfers you requested. Then, you’ll learn six ways to make your own screenprint transfers!

How to Make Your Own Screen Print Transfers

What is a Screen Print Transfer?

Reverse-printed graphics on a release or transfer paper are known as screenprint transfers. Using a high heat source, the ink is transferred from the paper to the fabric once it has been placed ink side down on the receptive surface.

Screenprint transfers come in a variety of forms. Screen printing onto transfer paper with plastisol ink is one of the most common methods. It is also common to utilize dispersion dyes to create a sublimation print in this manner.

If you were to design and print a transfer directly onto a t-shirt or other surface, it would be quite similar to how you would design and print a transfer. Making numerous copies of one design at once and saving them for future use is an advantage of working with a transfer. You may also sell them the transfer and let them apply it to any surface they like!

What Are Screen Transfers Made Of?

Transfer or release paper is used to print a design onto a screen. The quality of the final print and the quality of the design transfer from the paper to the final surface are directly related to the type of paper and ink utilized. However, the quality of your design can make a huge impact.

When transferring a screen, the design is the first step. Using professional graphic design tools, cutting out a stencil on a Cricut, or even just painting by hand, there are a plethora of ways to come up with an idea and bring it to life. With a computer design program, you can easily make letters, logos, and other types of graphics.

In the following part, you will learn more about the many methods you can use to print your design on transfer paper, as well as where to find them.

Transfer paper and ink are required for every sort of transfer. Look at the different kinds of paper and ink available.

In most cases, transfer paper comes in either a hot or a cold peel variety. The term “hot peel” refers to the ability to remove the transfer paper without damaging the ink once it has been adhered to the fabric with heat. Cold peeling indicates that you must wait for the paper to cool down before peeling it off.

  • It is advisable to use hot peel plastisol transfer paper for screenprint transfers. There are a wide variety of companies supplying this product. Plastisol transfer paper, not inkjet or sublimation paper, is what you need.
  • Sublimation transfer paper is essential for sublimation transfers. This option is also available in a cold or a hot peel.
  • DTF transfer sheets that are more like a thin film are best for DTF transfer.

Using the correct printer and ink is another important consideration when generating a print transfer.

  • A simple mesh screen and plastisol ink can be used for screenprint transfers, or you can buy a more professional printer that comes with racks to hold screens of different colors for printing. This means that you’ll need a separate screen for each color in your design.
  • In order to perform sublimation transfers, you can either use a dedicated sublimation printer or an inkjet printer equipped with sublimation ink. These designs can be printed out in the same manner as any other. Ink used in sublimation printing is a dispersion dye that, when heated, forms a bond with synthetic textiles like polyester.
  • A DTG printer is required for DTF or DTG transfers. Permanent prints are produced by printing using water-based ink that penetrates deep into the fabric.

How to Make Your Own Screen Print Transfers: 6 Methods

How To Use Iron On Transfer Paper

A print transfer can be made using a variety of methods, including screen printing, computer graphics, sublimation dyes, or a Cricut with a variety of inks.

1. Screen Print/Silk Screening

Using a stencil and a screen, ink is applied to a surface to create a screen print or plastisol heat transfer. While the process of setting up the screens to create a screen print transfer is time-consuming, you can use the same tools and set up to make dozens or hundreds of transfer sheets! Transfer sheets can then be dried and applied to t-shirts at a later date.

In general, the process for creating screenprint transfer sheets is the same as it is for creating screen print designs, with the exception of a few minor tweaks. If you’re using plastisol ink, the transfer paper won’t stick as well without an adhesive powder.

  1. Using a Cricut, hand-cut stencils, or a graphic design software tool, you can create a mirrored design. You may want to use a light emulsion procedure on your screen to create a stencil for professional-grade screen printing transfers (you can find details on this in the next section). Using your Cricut or hand-cut cardstock, you can create a physical stencil for a simpler design.
  2. Because you’ll be applying the transfer to your shirt upside down, you’ll need the design stencil in reverse.
  3. Because you have to layer one color at a time using separate screens and stencils for this type of printing, the simplest screenprint transfers use just one color.
  4. Make sure your mesh screen is secure before applying the stencil. For transfer printing, a fine mesh screen of roughly 150 threads per square inch is commonly used.
  5. It is possible to use adhesion powder to adhere your finished print instead of the transfer paper at this point.
  6. Ink the stencil with plastisol at an angle of 75 degrees. To prevent ink from leaking behind the stencil, apply a thin, even coating of ink.
  7. Use a professional press to apply the transfer paper on your screen and then press them together. The inked screen should be carefully aligned over the paper if you are using a screen set up by hand.
  8. Flash-cure the transfer paper at 180 to 260°F after removing the stencil.

Mixing the sticky powder into the plastisol ink rather than dusting the paper may be a better option in some situations. Using this method, the transfer paper is coated with a thicker, raised ink.

2. Plastisol Transfer

It is a piece of transfer paper with a screen printed design on it that is called a plastisol transfer. In order to apply the plastisol ink to the cloth t-shirt, you need to heat press. It’s possible to make an inexpensive one-color plastisol transfer by following the guidelines provided in the preceding section. A more advanced method of transfer can be achieved utilizing an emulsion stencil by following these steps.

  1. When using a dark room, follow the manufacturer’s directions on how to mix up the sensitizer and photo emulsion in the correct amounts. In most cases, water will be included in this mixture.
  2. Pour the emulsion mixture across the bottom border of the screen with the screen facing up, and then use a squeegee to drag it across the entire screen in a smooth coating. To spread the emulsion, insert your squeegee into the wooden slat of the frame and do this again, turning the screen so that you can see within the screen.
  3. For at least eight hours, let the screen air dry completely.
  4. Preparing the stencil screen is the next step. Color separation is needed for more complex drawings, thus a cutting machine like a Cricut isn’t the best option. Each of the image’s colors can be represented by a unique stencil and screen.
  5. Transparency sheets can be used to print your design. Alternatively, if you’re making a multi-colored print transfer, print one sheet for each color layer.
  6. Set up the light exposure when your design is ready and the emulsion screen is dry. Install a 150-watt bulb within a metal reflector to achieve this effect. Make sure the screen is at least a foot away from this light.
  7. Using an upside-down transparency, place it behind your monitor so that it is visible from the inside. Cover the transparency with a piece of glass or acrylic (the glass insert from a large picture frame works well).
  8. Expose the screen for 45 minutes to an hour with the light on.
  9. Finally, run cold water over the screen after you’ve taken it to a sink. You should be able to see the results of your hard work on the screen!
  10. Before printing with plastisol ink on transfer sheets, let the washed screen to completely dry.
  11. In order to create a multi-colored design, you would have to repeat the instructions for each color layer/stencil screen.

3. Full-Color Transfers

Using a sublimation printer or a DTG printer is the quickest and easiest way to produce full-color transfers. Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages. Screen printing can produce full-color images, but only after first utilizing color-separating software and then making a light emulsion stencil for each of the different colors used in the picture.

There are many advantages to sublimation transfer printing, the most important of which is that it is possible to print full-color designs utilizing the sublimation printer’s digital color model (CMYK). The hues and shades of your photo will be re-created by your printer if you employ sublimation printing.

Sublimation transfers can be applied to any synthetic cloth or hard surface that has been coated in a synthetic material. Creating full-color sublimation transfer prints is also a breeze.

Sublimation transfers may only be used on polyester t-shirts, which is its main drawback. Cotton can’t handle them. In addition, a sublimation printer is required. You must utilize sublimation transfer paper and the correct sublimation dyes that can evaporate and bond with polyester fibers to get the best results.

DTG printers are expensive, but they are the only means to print DTG/DTF transfers at this time. These printers print with a water-soluble ink that actually soaks into the fabric, as opposed to remaining on top of it.

A DTG printer can be used to print full-color designs onto transfer paper if you have a professional setup or plan to start a small business.

To make a sublimation transfer print, follow these steps:

  1. Preparing a digital design is the first step. A photo, typography, or anything else you might think of can be used. Before printing, make sure to either mirror or flip the image horizontally.
  2. The papery side should be facing up and the writing side should be facing down when printing with sublimation transfer paper in the printer.
  3. Make a copy of your design by printing it out. Don’t worry about the fact that it will appear a shade lighter than your digital design.
  4. It’s done! You’ll need a heat press to apply the transfer on a t-shirt, but the actual sublimation process is a breeze!

4. Iron-On Transfers

Unlike other forms of print transfers, iron-on transfers stick to the garment permanently thanks to a heat-activated glue on the reverse of the transfer’s backing. You don’t require heat to apply the ink and then peel off the transfer paper with this method!

One of the main advantages of using this method of transfer is that it gives a solid foundation for the ink. As a result, dark-colored t-shirts can be worn without fear of the colors bleeding through. It is not necessary to mirror your design when printing onto an iron-on transfer because the iron-on ink side is facing up.

For designs on iron-on transfers, plastisol inks and screen printing can be used. You can also use a DTG printer on iron-on transfers. You can also sublimate onto certain types of heat transfer vinyl, but you have to make sure the HTV contains polyester for that process to work.

5. Cricut Transfers

For designs on iron-on transfers, plastisol inks and screen printing can be used. You can also use a DTG printer on iron-on transfers. You can also sublimate onto certain types of heat transfer vinyl, but you have to make sure the HTV contains polyester for that process to work.

With plastisol inks and screen printing, you can utilize iron-on transfers to make your designs. Iron-on transfers can also be printed with a DTG printer. Heat transfer vinyl (HTV) that contains polyester can also be used to sublimate, but only if the procedure works.

  1. The first step is to create a digital image in Design Space that you want printed. To build many stencils for different screen printing colors is time-consuming, therefore you’ll typically utilize just one color.
  2. Cut out the design in reverse by flipping it around. The “mirror” button in Design Space makes this task a cinch.
  3. Using standard sticky vinyl, cut out the pattern on your Cricut.
  4. Make sure that you remove all of the negative space from your design before peeling the vinyl from the cutting mat. It is important to leave some white space so that the ink may be used to fill in the rest of the design.
  5. The stencil should be carefully peeled away after the weeding is complete. Remove the adhesive backing and adhere it to your mesh screen with the sticky side down. Smooth the vinyl with a squeegee to remove any air bubbles that could have gotten trapped!
  6. Extra security can be provided by wrapping transfer tape around the vinyl’s edges.
  7. Using your stencil-prepared screen is as simple as printing on a regular piece of paper. Once the stencil is ready, you will use a squeegee to spread the ink across the stencil and onto the transfer paper below.

6. DTF Transfer

These transfers are frequently referred to as DTG, or direct to garment, whereas DTF stands for direct-to-fabric and DTF stands for direct-to-film, respectively. To put it simply: When printing on a transfer, you are not printing directly on the garment! DTG/DTF transfers work in much the same way as printing directly onto a t-shirt, but there are some differences.

So, what is a DTF transfer, exactly? DTG printing was used to apply a mirror image on the transfer film. Using a heat press, you can transfer the printed design to the final product, such as a t-shirt or other similar item of clothing.

The beauty of this method is that you can use it on a wide variety of materials, including cotton, polyester, and even leather!.

There aren’t too many steps to this print transfer procedure aside from using a DTG or direct-to-film printer.

  1. DTG film can be purchased in sheets or rolls. To begin, cut a piece of paper that fits your printer.
  2. Prepare your digital artwork. You may effortlessly incorporate full-color images like photos.
  3. A white layer should be printed on top of the image. Since a DTF printer can perform all of this at once, you won’t have to waste time printing on film twice.
  4. Next, while the ink is still damp, delicately dust hot melt powder for DTG transfers over the design. Later, your transfer film will adhere to the fabric with the help of this adhesive powder.
  5. Use a heat press set to 350°F for two minutes to cure the adhesive powder and ink.
  6. A completed conversion film is now available! Using a heat press set to 284°F for 15 minutes, adhere the film to a garment, and then remove it using a cold peel method.

How Long Do Screen Print Transfers Last?

As long as you keep them in a cool, dry place, plastisol transfer prints will last for many years. Under these circumstances, the ink will not degrade or fade. The ink can be sealed onto the final surface at any time by using a heat press.

You must store your plastisol transfers in airtight containers like large Ziploc bags in order to extend their shelf life. Cool and dry air is preferable than hot and humid or moist air in your area.

You should also avoid placing them in direct sunlight or any other source of strong light.

Can You Press Screen Print Transfers?

The ink on a screen print transfer to a shirt or another surface can be sealed with a heat press! In order to accomplish this, simply follow these steps:

  1. Make sure that your heat press is turned on and set to 325°F to 350°F, according to the directions that come with the transfer sheet package.
  2. To get rid of any creases or moisture, heat press the garment where the design will be applied.
  3. Place the ink-side-down transfer sheet on the fabric.
  4. For five seconds, use the heat press.
  5. Carefully pull the transfer paper from the surface. Using the heat press again for a few seconds may help remove it.

In order to get the greatest results, use a professional heat press or clamshell heat press. When using a small heat press, you’ll need to apply pressure to it for the full five seconds of the heat window.

What Printer Do I Need to Make Transfers?

Depending on the type of transfer print you desire, a variety of printers are available for use in creating transfers.

Printers with sublimation capabilities are required when using sublimation transfers to transfer images onto polyester. Though the dispersion dyes required for sublimation printing can be pricey, these are not prohibitively expensive.

You don’t even need a printer to do screen printing! Screens that are covered with a mesh can be built by the user if desired. However, if you want to run a professional screen printing operation, you’ll need a press that can hold numerous screens at once.

An inkjet printer capable of printing on DTF/DTG is required for this process. A lot of money goes into these. The majority of the time, this type of printer is used by experts that run large-scale businesses.

What is the Best Transfer Paper for Screen Printing?

It is necessary to utilize plastisol transfer paper for screen printing transfers to be successful. Epson, Reich Supply, and Ryonet are just a few of the companies that supply this type of transfer paper.

Plastisol transfer paper can be ordered online or found in a variety of craft stores. This can be found in several office supply stores, as well!

For screen printing, avoid using inkjet transfer paper or other transfer papers, such as sublimation paper or DTF film.

Should You Make Your Own Screen Print Transfers?

His handy summary of advantages and disadvantages will help you decide whether to print your own screenprint transfers, print straight onto the garments or order custom transfers.

advantages of screen-printing transfer

  • Transfers can be made and saved for future use. This implies that if a large number of clients request a certain design, you’ll be prepared with it on hand.
  • Transfers, on the other hand, take up far less space than folded t-shirts when it comes to storing them.
  • It isn’t necessary to spend a lot of money on blanks that could be squandered if no one is interested in the design you have chosen.

Screenprint transfers have some drawbacks:

  • As a result, it takes a little longer than printing straight onto the blank.
  • Screenprinting is essential. Custom-ordered transfer prints can be applied to blanks using a heat press if you have no prior experience in this field.
  • When the transfer is attached to the blank, you may view the final product for the first time. For all of your previous screen print transfers, you may have committed a mistake or error.

How to Make Screen Print Transfers to Sell

Manufacturing screenprint transfers to sell vs making them for your own use has one major difference: if you plan to sell the transfers, you’ll want to make multiple copies of the same design.

Print transfers, rather than full shirts, mugs, or baseball caps, are a terrific way to get your business off the ground! Instead of buying blank t-shirts, hoodies, or hats, you just need transfer paper.

Additionally, you may be able to use this strategy to provide consumers with personalized work depending on your printing method. Alternatively, you could just print the specified design onto transfer paper and ship it to the buyer. A heat press is then used by the customer to apply the design to the item of their choice.


Cricut stencils or a DTG printer on DTF film can be used to generate your own screenprint transfers! Ink is applied to a transfer sheet in any form of print transfer, and this is the underlying principle. After printing the design on a sheet of paper, you can store it until you need it on a blank t-shirt, hoodie, or other surface.

Plastisol transfers utilizing classic screen printing and light emulsion stencils or simple screen printing using a Cricut-cut stencil are two popular methods for creating print transfers. If you have a sublimation printer, you may also print your design onto sublimation paper. In addition to a printer and a particular DTF film, a second popular print transfer method requires DTG printing.

If so, have you ever transferred an image to another medium? How did you accomplish this? Let us know what you think in the comments section.

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