A Detailed Guide On How To Heat Press A Shirt – July 2022

Do you ever wonder how graphics t-shirts came into being? Imagine if you could customize your own shirt at home? Sounds, cool right? Well, that is exactly what a heat press allows you to do. So, if you are planning on creating a customized tee for a concert, an event, or just for everyday wear, you have come to the right spot.

Today in this article we are going to be looking at a detailed step-by-step guide that will help you learn how to heat press a shirt. But before we get into it let us first understand what is a heat press, how to use a heat press, and what a heat press is used for. So, without further due, let us get started.

What Is A Heat Press?

As the name suggests, a heat press is a specifically designed machine that allows you to transfer prints and designs onto various materials such as glass, ceramics, shirts, hats, and more. Using heat and pressure over a control time period, you can transfer different prints onto different substrates. You can say that it very much works like an iron. Think of it as two giant iron plates that come together to heat press the fabric from both sides. It comes with various temperature, pressure, and time settings which you can adjust as per your requirements for a successful application.

What Is A Heat Press

How To Use A Heat Press?

When wondering how to heat press a shirt, you need to first learn to use a heat press. It might sound complicated, but it is not. There are only two major factors that you need to consider when heat pressing a shirt;

1- The Settings

Your transfer paper/sublimation paper will come with a set of instructions regarding the heat, pressure, and time that it will need to transfer the image onto the substrate. Furthermore, your heat press manufacturer will also provide you with a guide regarding the settings based on various materials.

Thus, it is important that you read through both the guidelines before transferring the print as it will directly affect the end results.

2- Position of the Substrate

Before you close the lid of the heat press or even place the transfer paper onto the substrate, make sure that the substrate such as your shirt, hat, or mug is correctly placed onto the iron plate. It is important because if your substrate is wrinkled or not positioned right, your resultant image will be blurred, distorted, or smudged.

Related :- https://highfiveprint.com/best-sublimation-printer-for-t-shirts/

Step By Step Approach To Heat Press A T-Shirt

Know that you know what a heat press is and how heat press machine works, let us get to work. Whether you are creating a customized shirt for your personal use or which to start a heat press business, this step-by-step guide will help you achieve your end goal. So, let us get started right away.

1-Design Your Image

First things first. Design your image. You can get a pre-designed image from the free programs on the internet such as Design Space or you can create a customized image using software such as Canva.

2-Print Your Image

Once you have your image, it is time to print it. Now, this is a tricky part. You can either use photo paper to print the image using your regular inkjet printer or you can use a sublimation printer to print on sublimation paper. The choice is yours, but we suggest that you use a sublimation printer as the resultant image is better in terms of quality and longevity.

3-Adjust Your Heat Press Settings

Next, you need to adjust the sublimation heat press settings. You can get help from the heat press time and temperature chart that comes with the heat press machine or you can check online. On average you need to set your heat press to 400O F at medium pressure for 10-30 seconds depending on your transfer.

4- Position Your T-Shirt

Now carefully place your t-shirt onto the heat press. It is important that you securely look the shirt in place, so it doesn’t move during the process. You can lay it on top of the plate or threat it onto the plate depending on the type of heat press that you have.

Use your hand to spread out the shirt so all winkles are removed. This step is important because wrinkles can cause the print to be distorted and smudged and you don’t want that.

5-  Pre-Press Your Shirt

This is an additional step but comes in handy all the time. To ensure high-end results, it is best to pre-press your shirt using the heat press, so it removes all the moisture and wrinkles from the shirt before the actual press. Plus, pre-pressing also helps with pre-heating the shirt which ensures that the print firmly adheres to the shirt during application.

6- Place The Transfer On The Shirt

Now place the transfer (the paper with the printed design/image) onto the shirt either facing upwards or downwards. The direction of the transfer depends on the type of transfer that you are using so make sure to read the instruction on the transfer paper before placing it onto the shirt.

7- Close The Lid

Now close the lid to lock down the transfer paper in place. Let us sit for a few seconds and once the timer goes off, remove it to check the result.

8- Peal The Transfer Paper

Lastly, you need to remove the transfer paper from the shirt. It will be hot so be careful as you don’t want it to burn your papers. Depending on the transfer, you will either have to peel it either when it is hot or when it cools down. Again, read the instructions on the transfer before following this step.

Frequently Asked Questions

Heat pressing is an easy process. No matter which item you wish to heat-press, simply follow the steps below and you should be good to go;

  • Pre-set the heat press
  • Print your design
  • Place the workpiece onto the heat press
  • Put the print on the substrate and close the lid
  • Let it sit for a few seconds, peel the transfer, and you are done.

Simple, right? If you are wondering, how to heat press on dark shirts, how to heat press hats, how to heat press wood, or how to heat press on glass, the above step-by-step approach is the way to do it.

For a heat press, you for sure need a heat press machine. Other than that, you need the substrate that you wish to heat-press, the design printed on photo paper or sublimation paper and that is all.

You can heat press a shirt at home by using a print on a sublimation paper and a heat press machine. If you don’t have a heat press machine or a sublimation printer, you can use iron and a regular printer for photo paper print. But remember, the results might differ as irons aren’t designed for image transfer.

You can use a regular inkjet printer if you wish to use photo paper as a transfer. But if you want professional results, we suggest that you get a sublimation printer that supports sublimation paper and dyes. You can also use a regular printer with piezo technology that supports sublimation dyes for superior heat press results.

No, you can’t heat press on any material. Certain become toxic when heated while others do not allow the dyes to adhere to the surface, hence do not allow heat transfers.

The temperature settings depend on the kind of transfer that you have. But on average you should set your heat press between 3750 F and 4000 F. Any temperature in between is ideal for a t-shirt transfer but still it is best to read the instruction on the transfer paper.

Probably, yes! The texture of vinyl can make it hard for it to stay in one place therefore transferring prints using vinyl can be highly time-consuming. Therefore, it is best to tape the vinyl onto the substrate so that it stays in place during the application.

A heat press can cost anywhere between $200 to $3,000 depending on the type, model, and brand that you get. For beginners, it is best to invest in a simple heat press which will cost up to $500 max. But if you wish to secure a professional heat press that allows you to cater to various materials at high-end temperature and pressure settings you will have to spend somewhere between $1,000-$3,000.

A 3D heat press is a type of heat press that allows you to sublimate prints on three-dimensional substrates such as mugs, ceramic tiles, wooden logs and so much more. Since they are used for industrial printing hence are not widely available.

No, you can’t heat press on plastic. The reason is that you will need the temperature to be between 120-150 degrees Celsius for the transfer which is impossible for a heat press to achieve. You can use vinyl to transfer prints onto plastic.

Yes, you can easily heat press on cotton using a heat press machine at medium pressure and 400 °F temperature for 15 to 20 seconds. Cotton is the easiest material to transfer on so as a beginner we suggest that you start with that.


Easy right? There is no rocket science behind heat pressing a shirt. So, what are you waiting for? Whether you wish to heat press a mug, a shirt, a hat, wood, or glass, simply print

your image on a sublimation paper and get started. We hope this article helped you with what you were looking for. Let us know how your shirt came out in the comments below.

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