Monday, June 26, 2006

How to use a heat tool to transfer images to cloth

Several years ago I stumbled across a transfer tool in a rubber stamp shop. They use it for transferring images onto paper. Being a crazy quilter who has bought expensive silk prints in the past, I thought, why not cloth? So I had copies made from greeting cards and experimented with various copy machines and fabrics before I arrived at the best materials. The tool did not come with directions and the rubber stamp shop lady had never used it on fabrics. I have found this method to be water proof, crisp (depending on original print quality) and fast. Here is the method I would like to share with you for making transfers onto cloth.

Have copies of photos, copyright free images, etc made from a *DRY TONER LASER COPIER.* The UPS stores have them in my area. (IN) Dry toner is key! It will not work otherwise. Plug in tool and let heat for 5 minutes before attempting to transfer. (check to be sure transfer tip is screwed in tightly or it will not heat or transfer properly)I place a 9" square of chipboard under the cloth because the tool has no heat gage and gets extremely hot.(950 degrees)

Transferring works best on natural fibers such as silk and cotton. If using on satin or other fabrics with polyester, test first as it may melt. I mainly use dupioni or 50/50 blend.

Using small circular motions, work in a 2 inch area pressing down firmly on photocopy face down on fabric.Do not rub in one area, but move tool around or it will melt or stick to fabric. Peel away enough to peek at transferred image usually after two or three circles while fabric is hot. If it sticks to fabric then it either melted or the tool is not hot enough. If it transferred, lay photocopy section back down and move to another area until you have all of it transferred.

Because this tool is small, I use it on 6" or smaller images which is perfect for a "ciggie" to use in crazy quilting.

You can purchase the heat tool fromWalmart, Hobby Lobby, Joann Fabrics near the wood burning supplies, and possibly a rubber stamp store. At Joann fabrics it is called a "Versatool" and is made by Walnut Hollow which comes with other metal tips for various crafts.This year they offer the transfer tips separately for under $4.00.

A copy from your home printer will not work.
Muslin does work and other smooth fabrics.
Unplug immediately after use and I wouldn't use it near small children or pets.
You will melt fabric, so don't be discouraged.
The harder you press, the darker the image, use the edge of tool to "rub" the photocopied image from the paper to the fabric.


  1. Thank you for creating some entries on advice using this transfer tool. I appreciate it very much :) I finally got it the tool to work for me. It seems that a hard surface for rubbing the fabric on is what I was missing.

  2. Wow. I can't believe this. I was just at the California Mid State fair this weekend. I have a love of quilts, although I cannot sew at all and have no real interst in doin so, I just really appreciate the work. Anyway, there was a quilt there with images on it, photos, newspaper articles, etc. I was thinking of doing a curtain for the closet in my office/studio instead of doors, and was thinking of how I could do the transfers of images to the cloth without it having that iron-on, be vary careful vibe. And then I find this! I'm pretty excited now about it, whereas before it was just an idea. I'll let you know how it goes!


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