How to apply iron-on designs

Fabrics That May Or May Not Be Used!

YES: cottons, cotton blends, wool, silk, velveteen, velour, denim (the softer the better), t-shirts and sweatshirts are probably your easiest fabrics; lycra, slinky (a little trickier, but possible), cotton sweaters are easiest.  Always test fabrics if you’re not sure, read the garment hang tag.

NO: nylon jackets, velvet, acrylic, leather, vinyl, trigger (fabrics with a finish).  Don’t forget to read the hang tags.

Sue’s Sparklers takes no responsibility for the application or your iron.

Easy to Apply Directions

  1. Always iron on a hard, flat surface (no padded ironing board).  Lay out your shirt.
  2. Peel off the white backing of the design.
  3. Place the sticky side down onto fabric.  If not in the desired place, you may pick up the design and place it again and again.  Cut it apart, change it, nothing is permanent until you press it on.
  4. Put the pressing cloth over the design.  (I prefer the non-stick pressing cloth, because I have scorched all the cotton cloths.  You may use a pressing cloth as lightweight as a man’s handkerchief.)
  5. Set your iron on a wool setting – NO STEAM.  Temperature may be adjusted as needed.  All irons are different.
  6. Place your iron on the pressing cloth on top of the design.  Your iron will sit there a minimum of 45 – 60 seconds.  Do not move your iron.  Let it sit in place.  This makes you nervous.  BUT – the length of time and your temperature is what is melting the glue.  Make sure your iron sits there long enough.  If it sits there long enough and the glue isn’t getting melted, then the temperature of your iron will need to be adjusted.
  7. Once you have let the iron sit in one place for 60 seconds, take the front half of your iron and press down in small sections at a time.  This will help with different size pieces and different heights of pieces in your designs.
  8. If your design is larger than your iron, move the pressing cloth with the iron, and do the next section.  Don’t worry about overlap.  It is also a good idea to turn your shirt inside out and repeat the instructions and press from the backside.
  9. Now, let the plastic cool.  There should be a slight ripple or bubbling in the plastic.  If the plastic is perfectly flat, your iron was probably not warm enough.  If it looks like the edges are shrinking, your iron might be a little too warm. If it is really shrunken and you have melted the plastic onto the garment – your iron is way too warm.  Check your temperature.When the plastic is cool, the glue has had time to cool off.  Approximately 5 minutes.  Your sticky plastic will remove easier.  If you run the iron over the top of the design.  This will warm up the plastic and make it easier to peel off.  If there are pieces sticking to the clear plastic, you have missed a section, OR if you have let the iron sit there long enough, your iron is not warm enough.  Turn up the temperature and repeat process until you get the glue melted.
  10. If there are larger crystals in the designs, size 16ss or 20ss, keep in mind that with the extra depth, you’ll need to use more time to melt the glue.  Approximately 75 – 90 seconds.  If there are small flat pieces next to the larger pieces, make sure they get ironed on securely.

Your project is now complete! Now make sure the pieces are securely bonded. Rub your palms across the design, up and down, back and forth.  Now, use your thumbnail and aggressively scrape at the pieces. If anything feels loose, you’ll need to re-iron. Once the glue is permanently melted, your garment can be machine washed, machine dried or dry cleaned.  TEST IT!  You have to melt the glue to make it permanent.  Everyone’s iron is different. Turn inside out to launder.  Designs that contain FLAT colored metals should be hung to dry.  (such as red, blue, etc.)

Heat Press: Iron for 10-15 seconds at 350 degrees Fahrenheit using light to light medium pressure. If you are using cabochons, make sure to turn the shirt inside out and press again from the wrong side.  Let it cool, remove plastic and press again with more pressure.  You can also turn it inside out and press from the wrong side.

No responsibility is taken for the reliability of your iron. Irons may heat up after being used for awhile.

We also have cutout designs: a rainbow, large and small cut-out star, small stars, small butterflies, large butterfly, small Christmas bulbs, bear paw quilt pattern, ex-large wreath, lightning bolt, poinsettia. These are super easy to use and very fast. They are already cut out for you! They range in price from $3.00 to $16.00.

As much as we hate to say this, we think the sequins should be air-dried. They will last longer if they are not put into the dryer.

Iron-on pearls come in white, cream & blue in sizes 10ss, 16ss, and white & cream in size 34ss. They are the same prices as the colored crystals in similar sizes.

Instructions for changing metals to crystals on Iron on design

Size 6ss and 10ss crystals will iron on easily with the metals, so feel free to change any metal pieces in a design for the crystals. But with larger crystals (I 6ss and up), you should iron them on in a second step. It’s easier to iron on flat metal pieces, (better iron contact), then to try to work around large crystals. If a design comes with 16ss crystals or larger, peel off the crystals, iron on the metals, peel off the plastic – make sure that the metals are adhering properly, and then iron-on the crystals.

A popular example is the peacock. Peel off the backing, and remove the 4mm metals inside the moon shapes, in his tail, and the 3 3mm metals at the top of his head. Save these metal pieces for another project. Iron on the peacock. Remove the plastic, iron from the backside, and make sure the pieces are securely bonded. Test with your fingernails for security. Now place the 16ss crystals inside the moon shapes, cover with a pressing cloth, and iron for a minimum of 45-60 seconds. Make sure the glue is melted. They won’t be secure if it isn’t. Place the 3 10ss crystals at the top of his head. Iron them on. You’re done! Now thank everyone for all the compliments you will be receiving.

The Printer’s Guide to Blank T-Shirts

The majestic t-shirt is the most versatile and recognized piece of apparel in this world. You can wear it with practically anything and to almost any occasion; with a suit to a wedding, on the beach, to the gym, even at your cousin’s Bar Mitzvah!

For some people, it is more than that. It is their bread and butter and what their world revolves around. Yes, we are looking at you the relentless t-shirt printer. If you’re already in the business or just starting out, you need to know what blank t-shirt is right for your store, the brands and types of blanks out there, how to properly choose them, and how to source them properly. Here is a comprehensive guide to help you with all of that.

The Basics
First of all, let’s start with the basics. The printing processes. For soon to be customers, knowing this is as important as the desire to be an entrepreneur itself.
Screen printing

This is by far the most popular and widely used method. Almost all kinds of t-shirts work for this method. It produces results which are durable and will last a long time depending upon the quality of the t-shirt. Screen printing is most cost effective if you produce t-shirts in bulk.

If you’re an existing brick and mortar store, or are planning to produce print t-shirts on a higher scale as an online store, this is the method for you.

By the way, if you’re planning on sourcing blanks for your business, here’s an article we wrote on how to source apparel from Bangladesh!
Heat Transfer/Sublimation

Heat Transfer is another popular method. It’s as easy as taking images from your computer and then putting them on the t-shirts with a special iron. You need to use a special heat transfer paper for this process as well. There are more advanced ones called plastisol transfers which are used by professional printers using more high quality paper.

This would be better for you if your store caters to specific customers who do one-off orders. Stores that tend to be in more touristy areas.
Direct to Garment (DTG)

The direct-to-garment printing process operates much like an ink-jet printer you would have at home. DTG prints ink directly onto the t-shirt and can produce full color images with accuracy. Just like a Heat Transfer, a DTG printer is great for small orders or one-offs. Since there really is no setup cost, you can literally start printing anywhere. So grab an ice cold drink and head somewhere tropical to start printing your wild designs!

This is not as popular in most print shops, but it’s still something that is present in the industry. You need to have specialized equipment for embroidery though, and someone who knows their craft. Either that or you could outsource the orders that demand embroidery.

The T-Shirt
Most t-shirts can be usually be used for almost any printing method, but not all printing methods can use all kinds of t-shirts. When buying blanks t-shirts consider these three things: material, quality, and most importantly your clientele.

The material itself is easy to understand. There is 100% cotton, polyester, 50/50 cotton polyester blend, etc. The quality of the t-shirt will dictate what you pay and what your customers pay. The quality in turn will depend on what your customers want. If you’re in a heavy foot traffic area where your customers come only for the designs or your artwork, then mostly source the basic cotton t-shirts. If your a top of the line fashion line in Beverly Hills, then your customers will prefer the softer kind. Here is a glimpse into the different kinds of blank t-shirts.
The 100% Cotton

100% cotton t-shirts are the most widely used types of blank t-shirts. Whether you are using American Apparel, or good old Gildan G500s, every single blank t-shirt company has a standard 100% cotton tee they make! The basic weight of this kind of t-shirt is usually 5.3 Oz (180 GSM).

You should choose 100% cotton t-shirts, depending on the clientele you have and what they like. If your average customer is an everyday working or they don’t really care about the t-shirt itself, keep Gildan G500s on stock. However, if your customers want t-shirts that are more durable and they plan to use it for a lot of physical activity, then go for heavier ones. T-shirts that weigh around 6 Oz. A great example is the Gildan G200.
100% Ringspun Cotton

These kinds of t-shirts tend to be very softer, lighter, and thinner than the average 100% cotton t-shirt. Walk into a “bougee” boutique store in the Lower East Side (one of Manhattan’s premier neighborhoods) and chances are this is what the use to produce their t-shirts. They are called “fashion tees” and there is good reason why. Ring spun cotton t-shirts are very durable and they can keep their shape and form for a while. The weight of these t-shirts tend to be around 4.3 Oz (145 GSM)

Like the previous paragraph states, if you’re customer base has money to spend then this is the blank to keep. The American Apparel 2001 is an industry standard but Anvil and Tultex also make great ringspuns as well.
50/50 Blend

This is a great choice for getting that middle ground softness and price. The 50/50 cotton polyester blend is highly durable and great for wear and tear. You can wash them as many times you want and yet they keep a nice form and fit. However, be careful when using them for sports too much. A great example is the Gildan G800 at 5.6 Oz (190 GSM).

If your customers want the softest shirts at the cheapest price, then this is the way to go. This would fare well if your customers are high schoolers, college students, etc. For neighborhood printing shops, this is the one to keep!
Notable Mentions

Cottons and ringspun cottons also come in variations. Combed cotton and ringspun cottons are also options for your store. However, they tend to be more expensive. The weight can vary from 4.2 Oz to 4.5 Oz but the general theme of softness is the same. Look into the Bella + Canvas 3001 or the Anvil 980 for great combed ringspun cotton t-shirts.

Polyester t-shirts are also an option, but be aware that they are extremely hard to print on the print tends to come off eventually. Polyester t-shirts tend to be extremely light yet very durable and best used for sports and strenuous physical activity.

Lastly, for the creme-de-la-creme of blank t-shirts, look out for tri blend 50/50/25 polyester, cotton, rayon t-shirts. Very soft, very comfortable, and very expensive. Bella + Canvas 3413 is a great example at only 3.4 Oz (115 GSM). Yes it’s that light!