5 Tips for a Perfect Iron On Transfer

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I really love these little tote bags and I want to provide five key tips for executing a flawless iron transfer project.

These tote bags are just the right size for a few binders, but not big enough for me to weigh myself down.  They make a great gift too. The best part is how easy they are to decorate! Take any image, print the reverse onto iron transfer paper, spend 3 minutes ironing and va-la! A custom made beauty! All for about $4.

I just know you’re tempted to make one, so here are 5 tips to allow you to proceed with confidence:



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  1. Insert the image into a software you know how to manipulate. This will save you a little stress while you inverse the image (like looking in a mirror) and situate it perfectly on the page. If you’re really careful, you might even be able to print two on one sheet. While you could do this with any image, I’ve done some of the work for you in a few of my downloadable products. With these, I’ve inserted the image into an MS Word document (.docx). You can play with the file or print as is.
  2. Include a background and border. If your image is floating text, consider adding a border and/or a background color. You’ll need to trim around the edge of your image and anything left ‘clear’ doesn’t really show up totally clear. So a background color with a border offers a nice line to cut and can be a welcome pop of color. In the files I sell, I simply layered a shape under the image, choose a thick border and filled it in with a color I liked. You can change easily the background color in the document.  I try to always include a .png file with a clear background in the image packages I sell, but if your image doesn’t have a transparent background, MS Word has a ‘set transparent color’ tool under ‘Format’ -> ‘Adjust.’ (Microsoft likes to move everything around with every new software release, so just search in the help bar to see where this tool is in your version.) Use this tool by clicking it and then clicking in a white space of your image. Everything that color should disappear!
  3. When you purchase your iron transfer paper, make sure it matches your printer type. I’m working with an ink-jet printer, so I chose the Avery “Light Fabric Transfers” paper for ink jet printers (6 sheets for $7) at Walmart.
  4. Pick an ironing surface carefully. It should be below waist height, which was surprisingly important to me. You’ll need to put quite a bit of pressure on the table while you’re ironing and it’s really hard to apply pressure to something above waist height.  You’ll also want to pick a surface that’s very durable (or that you don’t mind damaging). I guess an actual ironing board would be ideal if the ironing board cover was thin and not too padded, but I picked my TV tray instead. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but now the finish on my TV tray is a little messed up due to the high heat for an extended time.
  5. Read those instructions! Each variety of transfer paper is bound to have some unique instructions!Listen Slowly Tote Bag


I purchased “Create Out Loud” canvas bags at Walmart (3 for $8)

I understand you can do this on T-shirts as well, but I haven’t tried it.


If you didn’t want to go the DIY route, or you wanted the quality to be kicked up an notch, you could also upload the image to a site like Shutterfly and have them print it onto a tote bag (or anything else) for you. I’ve tried this once before and was really impressed with the print quality, although the specific bag I chose happened to be a lot thinner than I was hoping for.

I hope these tips helped! Enjoy your new, infinitely more inspiring tote bag!


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