Professional Tip & Tricks
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Using Heat Transfers Correctly
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On our "Heat Transfer Paper" page we explained the technical aspects of heat
transfer paper. Now on heat transfer tips and tricks let's look at some important business
aspects, when using the paper. One of the most difficult tasks for new and even experienced
entrepreneurs to accomplish is to keep their biases out of their business
decisions and methods. When they don't, they limit their opportunities.
a practical business viewpoint, what you like and don't like
is not very important. The two really important questions
are what does my customer want and can I deliver a value with that product
that keeps us both happy?
is the main reason that we offer economically priced “Alpha Sampler
Packs”. One sampler pack contains 20 each of all five of our heat
transfer papers. The other sampler contains twice that much paper, with additional savings.
The Alpha Trial sampler provides 4 sheets of each paper.
you are positive that you will be producing only one type of shirt
look, then get a 25 or 100 sheet pack of the only one that you want. If
you are not sure, then get the sample pack.
sample pack contains enough heat transfer paper to let you practice a bit,
make a sample of each and still be able to produce a small order.
are important! Most of your customers will have no ability to visualize what you are talking about. An old sales axiom states
“Unseen is usually unsold”. Believe it!
About Washing Instructions
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Washing instructions are simple and the same for every heat transfer type:
“Turn the garment
inside out, wash in cold water with no bleach, on a gentle cycle. Remove
the garment within a few minutes of the spin cycle finishing. Dry on
high/cotton setting and remove as soon as possible, after
drying, and shake out the shirt.”
The instructions are simple but some customers won’t follow them. A few will return the garment (of course swearing that they followed the instructions exactly) and expect you to do something about it.
What you do is your decision, but here are some clues that tells you what happened-
T-shirts are almost always washed with other items. Some items are quite abrasive (like towels) and if the shirt is not inside-out, friction can cause quite a bit of wear and tear.
Washing in cold
water reduces color loss (just like it does for the dyes in colored
fabrics). Most times, however, a decorated shirt is in with a full load
of whites and will be washed in hot water. This won’t destroy
a good heat transfer but the color loss is more noticeable with OEM
Bleach is used to remove color stains. Some soap actually has quite a bit of so-called “color-fast” bleach in them. Again that doesn’t destroy an image, but it doesn’t help.
It makes sense that a gentle cycle reduces the violence of friction caused by garments rubbing together.
99% of the time, a shirt was left in the washer too long, if a customer returns a shirt that looks like the colors have bled. This is caused by osmosis, not by anything that you did. Fading after one wash (as opposed to bleeding) is usually caused by bleach or ink that is too water soluble.
Quickly removing a garment from a dryer is fairly important. Even if you dry on low to medium heat, the middle of a load of clothes is hot! If a wadded-up shirt stays in a dryer with 20-30 lbs. of clothes on top of it, it will look a little crumpled when it comes out of the dryer.
It is not necessary to over-think potential care problems but knowing the results of improper care can help you.
Making A Profit
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There are many good
brands of shirts, suitable for heat transfers. A nice basic 6.1 oz. shirt
is produced by “Gildan”. We decorated a few ten thousand of
those in our old retail days and always had good luck with them.
abound on the web. However, it would also be a smart idea to check in your
town or the closest big city near you. Look in the Yellow Pages under, “T-shirts
– Wholesale”. Freight is not getting any cheaper and close suppliers
can also be very handy when you need to fill a rush order.
Heat transfer paper
is deadweight and expensive to ship overnight. Keep a little extra on hand,
to avoid expensive overnight freight charges.
Look for anyone wearing
unusual or striking clothing at a special event. They are a natural to want
Miss no opportunity
to take a picture of a child with a pet or engaged in sports. When the customer
buys, ask if they think granddad/mom might like one.
If you are taking
photographs at a special event, consider having a price for one shirt and
giving small discounts for 2, 3 and 4 shirts with the same picture. Call
it a "Family Special". This encourages customers to buy more than
one, perhaps even for family members that are not there.
Remember that "Unseen
is Unsold". T-shirts are a visual medium and prospects have little
imagination. Make samples of every single thing that you want to sell. You
might even consider having at least one really nice type of shirt. They
cost more but
they sell for more.
While you probably can't make an actual sample of
everything that you can produce, you can have a portfolio of designs,
Also at special events you could have "mix and match" sets
of caps and shirts, to help sell more.
about a his-n-hers coordinated set
with a shirt and cap!
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a lot of new (to you) garments, until you test them. Some manufacturers
put a stain resistant chemical in their fabrics. Heat turns this chemical
in the fabric, brown. Test, before you buy a lot.
Let your print
dry for a few minutes (especially if it has heavy, dark colors). If
you are in a hurry, hold the transfer paper by a corner and "wave"
it in the air for a few seconds.
To help reduce
cracking, stretch your shirt, a lot, just before putting it onto the
If part of your
transfer is coming off when you peel it, you probably need to increase
your pressure a "tinch".
If you don't
have one, buy a paper cutter. You have to trim heat transfers. A
paper cutter is much faster and easier.
cannot produce a "white" color. It's impossible. If you have
to design some with white, make it an off-white. This is why problems
with photographs are rare. Photographs almost never have anything pure
white in them.
Lettering, by itself,
does not look good on a shirt and who has the time to individually trim
each letter. Here's two ways to handle lettering. If it goes with a
graphic or photograph, put the lettering on it. If the transfer is just
lettering (like a name), try this trick. Draw a proportionally thick
(relative to letter size) rectangular box around the name. Fill in the
box with a coordinated background color. The transfer is easy is easy
to trim and looks great, if you do it right.
irregular shaped transfer, which has been cut with scissors, can be
difficult. Here's an easy help. Make sure your image is printed on the
paper with the exact same orientation that it needs to have on the shirt.
Before you trim your transfer, flip it over and draw a cross hair over
the image. It doesn't have to be exactly in the middle and you can use
the paper edges to make sure it is an exact cross hair. When you put
your image on the shirt, make sure each of the cross hairs evenly point
to the sides of the press. You will still need to pay attention to position
but at least you will know that your image is not turned to the wrong
For most, peeling
a transfer from a hot shirt is no problem. What is sometimes difficult
is holding the hot shirt down, with the other hand. An oven glove or
mitten is clumsy. Use a potholder. It is easy to pick up and hold between
thumb and fingers.
Don’t have a
thumbnail to speak of? Here’s a trick to help you peel your hot transfer.
Cut up very small pieces of copier paper. Nudge one of these small pieces
under the bottom corner of your transfer (but not up into the picture).
When you heat your transfer, the film will stick to the paper. Viola! Instant
Heat transfers can
be trimmed all the way to the edge of the picture. Many use scissors, a
paper cutter or a box cutter (along with a straight-edge). When trimming
Alpha Gold Dark we prefer a roller cutter (like is used for fabrics). Here’s
why. A pointed instrument pulls, as it cuts. This can stretch the paper
and leave a white line around your image. A roller cutter does not stretch
the film on the paper.
Here's another tip
about Alpha Gold Dark (or any other opaque paper). Sometimes
folks with no fingernails have the dickens trying to get the film off the
paper back. Click Here, to
see an easy method.
Stuff You Should Know
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Protect paper from
moisture by putting it back in the package when you are finished. Never
store paper on the floor or around an air conditioner.
Moisture in a garment
can also mess up a transfer. Again, keep shirts protected. If you think
you have a moisture problem, put the shirt on the press and pull the heat
press head down to the shirt (you don't have to lock the press), for about
three seconds. This will evaporate moisture. When you lift the heater head,
"brush" off the garment with a clean rag. This removes enough
surface heat to keep your transfer from sticking, as you position it on
Don't just tell your
customers about washing instructions, print them and include them with every
shirt. Put instructions on a piece of paper large enough that they won't
be washed for at least 24 hours, after transferring. Give the image time
to "settle down".
Teflon Sheets can be a real
friend. It is one of those things that is much better to have and not need
it, than it is to need it and not have it. Teflon easily wipes off. A Teflon
sheet on top of your shirt and transfer blocks any build-up of inks or adhesive
(from the transfer edges) from building up on your heater block. A sheet
of Teflon inside your shirt keeps what is called "blow-through"
from being able to happen (This is where loose weave fabrics have a tendency
to allow some of the film to blow through, to the other side of the shirt).
A Teflon pad slips onto the bottom of a heat press, like a mattress cover.
This allows you to easily slide garments on and off your press. It also
blocks excess dye (from colored shirts) and other grunge from building up
on the rubber pad.
Never leave a heat
press turned on and unattended. Yes, they are very safe, but why take a
beauty of starting a heat transfer business is that it can be as simple
or involved as your business dreams and budget allow.
with all of our information, many questions sometimes remain. It is never
a bother to answer questions and it is always a pleasure to make a new friend.
Call us: Roy or Jack at 800-908-9916.
is the end of your basic tour. We conclude it by offering you one of our
sayings, using the three basic building block words we discussed at the
beginning of this section-
plan your work and then persistently work your plan." You will succeed.
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Our last demo provides several useful heat transfer tips and tricks and ideas. We used a cap for a demo showing a different
way to use Alpha Gold Dark heat transfer paper (used for dark colored fabrics).
The method works for shirts too.
Bottom line, we
wanted to produce a humorous graphic, on a colored fabric, with white lettering.
we created a yellow frame. Next, we pulled the two pieces of clipart into
the frame and positioned them. At that point we could have just added black
text (run your cursor over the hat to enlarge), printed our design and transferred
it to the cap.
What would have
happened, however, is that the background would have been white and made
the design look like a patch. We didn't want that kind of look.
Instead, we used our color tool to automatically fill in a red background
(Note: We picked a red that we thought coordinated with the cap. It is virtually
impossible to match an inkjet ink to a dyed fabric).
We then typed our
text message in white. Inkjet printers cannot print
white, so when it comes to "white" letters, it prints nothing.
The white letters are produced by the white of the Alpha Gold film.
While we just produced
our cap for a showroom sample and a picture, our mail carrier demanded to
buy it. We gave it to him with our compliments.
We deliberately chose
a cap for the last thing on our tour so you would keep them in the back
of your mind. A great number of the same folks who buy T-shirts, buy caps.
a Rhinestone or two turns a simple image on a shirt into a 3-D effect
that adds perceived value to your customers. It provides a whole new
dimension for pennies!
As a general closing thought, remember where your competitive niche is located.
While you may occasionally offer preprinted transfers, printing your own
transfers provide these additional advantages. You can profit with small
orders. You can offer very fast turn-around time. You can easily offer full
color. You can do "on-demand" printing, as needed. You have no
dead inventory, from a pre-printed T-shirt not selling. If you have artistic
or photographic talent, why pay someone else for their work.
However, there is
one specific situation where it makes perfect sense to have transfers made
for you (to be applied with your heat press). This is where you have an
order for several hundred, of the same design, using one or two colors.
If you have a need for that service, call us and we will
share some excellent sources for volume, custom printed transfers.
Whew! We know this has been a long "Heat Transfer Tips & Tricks"
tour and congratulate you for hanging in there with us.
Hopefully, you know a lot more than when you started.
In building for success, there is no substitution for education.
Because you probably still have some unanswered question,
we again encourage you to call us. Whatever we know is yours for the asking.