Fall has arrived and my wheels have been turning with autumn home decor and craft ideas. I have so many ideas and so little time. This week I’ve created some DIY Fall Tea Towels using heat transfer paper. These make a nice addition to your autumn kitchen home decor or as a beautiful hostess gift for Thanksgiving dinner.
Also known as flour sack towels, I was curious where the name “Tea Towel” came from. They were often used for serving tea in Ireland and England. I found this helpful/fun article for 50 Unique Ways to Utilize Flour Sack Towels if you want to know more.
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HEAT TRANSFER PAPER TIPS
Before we begin, I want to point out a few important things.
First, there are different types of paper for heat transfer. Some work with inkjet printers and others are for laser printers. I’m using the heat transfer paper for inkjet printers.
Second, depending on the color of your fabric, there are two different types of paper. One for light fabrics and one for dark fabrics. I am using a light fabric paper.
Third, the paper I am using will work well for graphic vector-style images and photos.
If you want to learn more about heat transfer paper, there is a good article here.
SUPPLIES FOR THIS PROJECT
- Jetpro Heat Transfer Paper
- Utopia Kitchen Flour Sack Towels
- Inkjet Printer (this is the printer I have)
- Cricut or Silhouette Cutting Machine (I have a Silhouette)
- Weeding Kit
- Heat Press or Iron
- Easy Press Mat or board
- Parchment Paper
DOWNLOAD THE DESIGN
I created this DIY Fall Tea Towels design in Photoshop. It has taken me about a year to learn the technical skills to design these files. But, I am so excited that I can take my creative ideas and turn them into digital files to share.
They are available for free to my newsletter subscribers in my PRINTABLES & CUT FILES TAB. If you would like access to the library, just subscribe in the sidebar or at the bottom of this post. You will be sent a welcome letter with the password to access the library. Then you can download any of the files you would like. This file is saved in JPEG format for use with Cricut and Silhouette. There is also a printable PDF file and a Silhouette file.
PRINT THE IMAGE
Place your heat transfer paper in your inkjet printer. Be sure the paper is facing in the right direction for your printer. You want to print on the plain white side of the paper.
If you are cutting the image by hand, open the file and print it out. Be sure your printer settings are set to color and the image text is backwards.
If you are using a cutting machine, open the file in you cutting machine software. I only have a Silhouette Cameo, so I cannot give instructions for a Cricut. Just be sure your registration marks are turned on and your image text is mirrored before you print.
For Silhouette users, the Silhouette download for the DIY Fall Tea Towels should already be set to cut. Just double check that the registration marks and cut lines show up when you open the file. Make sure your printer settings are set for color printing. Then send it to your printer.
CUTTING MACHINE SETTINGS
You do not need to use a cutting machine with heat transfer paper. You can use scissors (Cutter Bees are my favorite) to cut around the outside of the image and leave the inside white. I personally like the way the image looks when the extra paper is removed. It looks more professional.
The image below is from a previous project using vinyl, but it is helpful if you are new to a Silhouette machine.
Be sure your white rollers are properly spaced out to grab the size paper you are working with. Put your heat transfer paper on the mat and line it up along the blue line with arrows on the left side of your machine.
Then press load mat on the touchscreen. Once the mat is loaded, use the arrow keys on the touch screen to line up your blade with the top, left, black square registration mark on your paper. This will help you avoid the “cannot read registration marks” error message.
Next, go into your design software and make sure the material is set to copy paper. (This setting worked better than the heat transfer paper setting.) Then adjust your blade depth to “1” manually. All machines are a little different. I cut my heat transfer paper with a blade depth of 1, Speed 10, Force 15, and Pass 1. You can select (TEST) to do a test cut, unload the paper and see if they are right for your machine. Then reload the paper and send your file to the cutting machine.
Pull the extra paper up off the mat. Then use the spatula from your weeding kit to lift the image from the mat. I started at the bottom of the pumpkin and lifted one side of the vine at a time and finished the text in the middle. Take care not to rip the paper image while you are lifting it.
HEAT TRANSFER TIPS
There are things that can go wrong with the heat transfer process. It’s important to read the instructions and gain an understanding of the process. Always practice on a scrap piece of fabric before you begin your project.
It is recommended that you wash and dry your fabric without fabric softener before doing heat transfer.
I have used a regular iron with a board many times to do heat transfer. But, it does take more patience and time to get the job done. I usually need to go over my project a few times with heat. Never heat the fabric for too long in one area. Hold it for 30 seconds and then remove the iron. I check the transfer paper and if it doesn’t look like it attached to the fabric, I go over it again after the fabric has cooled a little. If you hold it too long in one place, you can scorch the fabric.
You have more control over your time and heat settings with an easy press. It takes the guess work out of heat transfer.
IRON THE TOWEL & POSITION THE IMAGE
There are a few ways to do this. I found it easier to iron the whole tea towel flat. Then fold it in half once and iron along the crease. Then fold the left and right side in, until they just meat in the middle. Now iron the left and right side folds/creases. Your towel should now look like a long narrow dish towel. Now open up the tea towel and place your image in the middle of the right (wide crease) facing you. Be sure your seams are facing down.
Use a ruler and measure up an inch from the bottom hem and place your image face down. Then center it from left to right between your iron creases.
HEAT TRANSFER PROCESS
- Preheat your iron to the highest heat setting. Be sure to remove all of the water from your iron. You should not have water or steam with heat transfer.
- Place a board or Easy Press Mat under your fabric. Then place a piece of parchment paper between your board and the fabric.
- Preheat your fabric for 5-10 seconds
- Position your transfer face down
- Place parchment paper over your transfer
- With your iron on high heat, press the design for 30 seconds. Don’t move the iron around. Just press with medium pressure in one area for 30 seconds. Be sure to use a timer.
- If using an old iron, you may need to press it a couple of times. My iron is old and doesn’t get as hot as it should, so I had to repeat this process a few times. Always let it cool a little in between ironing. If you have a new iron or an easy press, it will probably work the first time.
- Always keep parchment paper over the design when applying heat. The directions don’t say to do this, but I see it as added protection.
- Peel the carrier sheet off when the transfer is warm to the touch (not hot). I started at the bottom of the pumpkin and pulled in an upward zigzag motion.
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This was such a fun fall craft project! I hope you enjoy making these DIY fall tea towels!