Thursday, February 2, 2012

It's all about Heart and with Helen you get it and more...I heart iron on transfers….

this month Madame Samm tells me is Hand and Hearts month – well I know I’ve twisted that theme a little but wanted to show you how much I looooove iron on transfers…
All of my Hugs ‘n Kisses stitchery and embroidery patterns include wonderful, easy to use iron on transfers…this saves you having to trace my little detailed designs onto fabric using a lightbox or window – yes, you can get straight into the fun part- the stitching! and because all of those little drawn lines and details in the design transfer exactly onto your fabric your stitching – if you just follow the lines, will also look perfect! no wobbles, missed bits or mistakes…
chatelainescissor colourquetree ilovestitchingcoverpic
another plus of iron on transfers is that you can choose whatever fabric you like to put them on – you are not restricted to fabric that I used to screen print on in my pattern packs.. and yet another plus is that my iron on transfers (and I gather most others) can be used more than once!! so you can make the same thing many times if you really love it…
they are only good if you follow the instructions and transfer them well, which is why I have twisted the theme today just a tad to give you a quick tutorial on using them…
Firstly, the transfer will look just like a drawing or design printed on standard copy paper. The lines will look black on the paper and will be very fine (because I computer trace them and make them as fine as I can so a single thread can cover them). When they are transferred the colour is actually called a quilters blue – a greyish blue colour which blends well under many coloured threads.
My transfers will always have a label on them which will say something like ‘I heart you iron on transfer’ as opposed to ‘I heart you design sheet’…..P1090560
and there should also be a little ‘transfer test’ patch on there somewhere.
Another clue is that the design will be reversed – so if there is any text, it will be back to front….P1090561
always make sure you have the right sheet – that is the transfer and not the design sheet (I always include both – so when your transfer does run out you can still trace more if you really want to make more).
Now, all of the ink on the transfer page is transfer ink. So if there is anything on there that you don't want on your fabric – like the title, and the test patch – you need to cut it off! (remember, use paper scissors to do this!)
You also need, a good hot iron with no steam – turn the steam off and empty any remaining water from the iron – steam is your enemy!!!
why? because steam spreads your ink and makes blurry lines…
P1090555 P1090556
a hard ironing surface – not a nice soft and spongy ironing board. Make yourself a board – just a piece of wood with some wool batting or an old woollen blanket works well or I use my hard Quilters cut n press for small designs.
why? because soft and spongy makes blurry thick lines…
P1090557 (this is good as sometimes I can see the lines through the fabric to line up my design squarely) – note: can you see all the transfer lines on my mat – yes sometimes they go through so don't do it on your brand new ironing board cover from Aunt Mavis!
Cut your fabric to size – I always cut a little larger than needed and trim back later…
press the fabric to remove any creases…. if its already smooth still press it and warm up the fabric – prewarmed fabric takes the ink much better.
Position the cut out transfer design into position ink side down onto the fabric. ( I cut it out close to the edge of the design so I can position more accurately knowing where the edges of the design are.)
Place the iron flat onto one part of the paper. Hold a corner down away from the iron with a finger, hold in position for about 7-10 seconds ( this will vary depending on your iron and also the fabric you are using – that's why i include the test patch – test first!) the longer you hold the darker your design will be – but the less transfers you will get from your sheet – as the darker it is, the more ink you have used…and there is only so much on there..P1090589
Now, don’t slide the iron across the paper to the next spot!! yes, that's what everyone wants to do – but you will blur your lines…. believe me… please…. whilst holding the paper down with that finger lift the iron and position it down into the next spot… move your finger to another corner and repeat until you have covered the whole design… note: if you don't hold the paper down, when you lift the iron it will stick to it, lift off the fabric and you will never get it back down in the same place again….
P1090567 P1090570P1090571P1090568 P1090569 P1090573 Before you lift that last finger, carefully lift the corner to check that it is dark enough and you have all bits covered….
P1090599 P1090601 P1090603
It is nigh on impossible to reposition the transfer once you have lifted or moved it – so get it right the first time…
I get many questions regarding the iron on transfers so before you ask I’ll attempt to answer them below:
Do I need to prewash the fabric?- although I say on the instructions to prewash the fabric – I don't very often do that!
What type of fabrics do I have to use?
Some fabrics take the ink better than others, some linens are difficult, but overall most things work. It doesn't have to be a plain fabric, tone on tones also work well. The ink will transfer onto synthetic and natural fabrics but if using your piece in a quilt I recommend using a cotton fabric.
Will the ink wash out when I am finished?
This ink is permanent if there is any synthetic element to the fabric. It may wash or fade out of natural fibres (ie cotton) but this has very rarely happened for me so don't rely on your mistakes and blurry lines washing out – they wont – if its a mistake it wont be nice and just wash out for you! I have found it to fade on some fabrics when left in light areas, so if you don't intend using it for some time keep it stored in a dark container.
having said that, now that you have read my little tutorial you are going to transfer them perfectly every time…. and if you have an elna press – that will eliminate any need to move that iron and risk the double or blurred lines at all.
How can I make my own Iron on transfers? my transfers use a special and VERY expensive ink so at this time it is not affordable or available for home use. However there are other products available such as transfer eze, transfer pencils and several other products I have heard of but never tried. I do have a transfer printing service I offer to other designers and stores but it is also not viable for single prints at this time.
Now I’m off to prepare my fabric (that is iron a stabiliser to the back), put it into my hoop and stitch it up! I’ll show you the progress on my blog or Facebook page…
I hope that this helps you all to get a great result with your transfers…. so that you too ‘heart’ them….
off to stitch….
hugs, Helen
OH, just a footnote: I will be teaching some of these projects shown (with transfers) in May in the US – see here for details – would love to see you there…


  1. Iron on's are wonderful! thanks for the post. But... the links seam to be bad :( I'd love to visit her blog :)

  2. Thanks for the tips Helen. It was only about a month ago I used my first iron-on transfer. It wasn't too bad but now I know exactly what to do.

  3. What a time saver. Thanks for the tips!

  4. Thanks for the great tips Helen.

  5. Great tutorial! Now I'm off to your blog to learn more! Thanks for sharing!!

  6. Good Morning Helen.."ohhhhhh my your tips are great ones...and I just love your heart.....the one you made and the one you carry!

  7. Thanks for the tut! I've always wondered why sometimes a iron on will be perfect and sometimes I know!
    Looking forward to using your techniques.

  8. Very informative. thanks a lovely heart!

  9. Thanks Helen! Hopefully I will now get perfect transfers for my stitching projects!

  10. Your links are not working, I wanted to find these patterns because they are adorable. I tried to do a google search but that is not working either. If it gets fixed will you let me know.

  11. That is cool! Transfering is usually the least fun part of the project for me!!


  12. These are great tips - thanks so much! Now my projects will turn out much better!

  13. Thanks for the tips, I can't wait to try this out. ... I'd love to get the heart shaped iron-on filled with the word Love but can't find it on your site... I'm leaving a comment both places, just in case. Thanks!

  14. I would love to try this...just never have been brave enough! Great tips! I've marked this page! Thanks! ♥

  15. Just popping in to say hello your blog is so beautiful I love your posts! I hope you have a wonderful week! God bless, Jennifer ♥

  16. This tutorial answered several questions I had - thanks! blessings, marlene

  17. Hi. I love your purple & yellow iris cross quilt. What size squares did you use? Thanks for your tips.

  18. thanka for the tips! it's always nice to hear from those in the know to get us(me) to try different ways to do a project.
    in stitches

  19. thanks for such an informative tutorial! I swear I can hear your voice in my head--keeping me on the right track, just like Mom♥!!

  20. Great tips. Also I discovered recently that may older transfer will not work. I purchased some from the 1980's at a yard sale and none of them would transfer anymore! I was sad!

  21. How I wish I have the interest in sewing. Three of my aunts are very good dress makers and some of my other aunts are good cook too. I am still trying to figure out what I really want to do besides working.

  22. Just wanted to let you know I am having a short and sweet giveaway starts today and ends on the 11th. Giving away 2 adorable tape measures and more:


You think they are just words...they are sew much more than that...your wee messages tell me, you are kind, smart and important...