Thursday, September 11, 2014

how to image transfer DIY

On my DIY hunt to find a way to "screen print" on a tshirt, I came across a ton of DIY blogs that claimed to have the "easiest" or the "best results". I tried about 3 different types. Its not that they didn't work, I just wanted something with a better quality. Some came out smudgy, if tha'ts even a word (don't judge!), and other stiff. I didn't want to go out and buy a ton of screen printing materials just for one design either. So I finally decided I was going to give it one last try using lacquer thinner.
The tutorial I found here said to use paint thinner. I tried that, it DID NOT work! A lot of other commenter's pointed out the same thing. One comment has said lacquer thinner worked, so the second time I made the trip to Home Depot, I grabbed some lacquer thinner.
At this point, I just had my fingers crossed. I had tried other ways and they didn't work, so this was kind of my last ditch effort before throwing my hands up and ordering a screen printing kit!

Things you will need;

- Lacquer Thinner
- Spoon (Or something to rub the design onto the fabric or t-shirt)
- Q-tip
- T-shirt or fabric
- Tape
- Laser print of image you want to transfer REVERSED! (It MUST be laser, inkjet will smudge.)

Grab your design. Create it in photoshop, or whatever program you have. Remember it will be in black and white! Then you need to reverse the image, so it looks mirrored. Print your design out.
(I am told you can also print this out on a copy machine as it uses the same ink but I have not tested this out!!!)
You can also grab one of my designs HERE or HERE. They are for personal use ONLY. Please do not redistribute elsewhere or use to products to sell!

Once you have it printed out, and this is optional, cut off any success from the edges and use tape to hold it down on your t-shirt. I didn't use tape to hold it down the first time, and it turned out fine, but this helps your fingers so you don't have to hold it so tight!

The lacquer thinner has a very strong odor, and is toxic, so I just had the jug beside me and as soon as I dipped the q-tip into the paint thinner I immediately put the lid back on to reduce the fumes!
You also need to work quick with lacquer thinner, it dries fast!
Then I rubbed the lacquer on the print, only in small patches. At first I tried 3-4 letters at a time, but it was drying to fast and I couldn't rub it quick enough, so stick with small patches. Trust me! 
The rubbing part reminded me of those transfer things my parents bought me as a kid. It came with a little plastic tool to rub the image off onto something else. Does anyone remember those? Do they even make those anymore?! Ok, back to the transfer...
Then I took my spoon and rubbed the back of it against the print to burnish it on to the fabric. I worked at little at a time, lacquer then rubbed, until I had the finished the whole design! Some parts came off darker and cleaner than others, I think that was just how fast I could apply the lacquer and rub it. That and my printer needs more ink...
And this is what it turned out like!

Now I'm told it doesn't wash off. I haven't tested that yet. So when I do, I will update with more photos to test the durability!
The other thing I love about this process over the paint or the image transfers you buy, is that it has clean lines and it is not stiff at all. The design is as soft as the t-shirt itself.
And if you attempt this, I would LOVE to see how yours turned out!
Happy Thursday :)


  1. Good work…unique site and interesting too… keep it up…looking forward for more updates.Good luck to all of you and thanks so much for your hard-work.
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