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Old 03-30-2008, 02:45 PM   #1
heartbeeps
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Cool 20 steps to making a custom shirt using DARK transfers - "how-to" procedures

Since I never used a transfer before, I've been reading the threads on this board for the past month to figure out how to make custom t shirts for my family's upcoming trip to Disney... using DARK TRANSFERS ONLY!

Warning: I am a beginner; I have NEVER done this before!.

ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS IN THE PACKAGE OF TRANSFER PAPERS; the steps that follow are just a guideline!

I found this video on the web showing a visual of how to iron on transfers - click here!

07/05/09 - added info about placement to step #16 and note to bottom about going to end of thread to ask a question rather than reading each post


Here's what I've learned (along with my specific decisions at each step):

1) Print out these guidelines while deciding on a theme to use
(a) DH's b'day + Family + the Incredibles and
(b) DAK & first names on Mickey heads

2) Decide on quantity
- I need 20 of various sizes (ok so now I'm at 48 and counting!)

3) Decide on a specific design
(a) Mr. Incredible Birthday/Family for adults; Dash Incredible Birthday/Family for kids;
(b) safari Mickey heads/DAK shirts
(c) "First Time" shirts
(d) Birthday shirts
(e) P&PP shirts
(f) Tote bag

4) Determine if selected design needs to be customized (yep)

5) Figure out the timeline for having shirts ready when you need them
- I started with my departure date of 4/30 and worked backwards from there, allowing time for designing, shipping, prep, etc. I plan on bringing all 21 shirts to Disney and distributing them there b'c of lack of time to mail them to everyone beforehand.

6) Get design customized
- I couldn't do step #1 without the wonderful Dis-igners here on this board being so generous with their time and creativity!
- proof read EVERY version of EVERY design you print so you are sure the spelling in each transfer is correct before you print! (I wasted about 9 transfers by not catching a typo before wasting ink and transfers; fortunately, I didn't waste the shirts, too!)
- write down the name of the designer/their "handle" whose design you use so you can appropriately credit them for their work when you post your finished product!

7) print the designs on white paper and "size them up" on the t-shirt to ensure they look good
- gosh I hope the t-shirt colors I picked work!
- some say you can print them in black and white but I really needed to see them in color! and it helps to take the paper print outs to a local store to look for shirt colors if you haven't already done that yet
- printing them on white paper first also confirms what you will get when you print on transfer paper. (after all, you don't want to waste expensive transfer paper so ensure you've got it all right - including the spelling, whether you need to reverse the image, etc.)

8) Decide on shirt - store, style, color and order
- bought from shirtsupplier.com (there's a public frequent buyer discount code - it's FBP8) and from jiffyshirts.com as well as from Michael's, Dollar Tree, and Wal-mart.
- 100% cotton T shirt
- yellow haze color of various sizes (21 ordered for the Incredibles design)
- be sure to understand the company's return policy, restocking fees, suggested quantity to buy to allow for defects in original order, etc.

9) Make sure timeline is still valid
- I originally forgot to add to my timeline enough time required to select the t shirt colors (not being artistic at all, I agonized over the right color to coordinate with each design)

10) buy transfers
- I used HP.com - buy 1 get 1 free offer (Like being a Pepsi gal, I'm gonna be on the dark side of transfers)
- If putting design on a white shirt - you can use either light or dark transfers; On any other color shirt - use dark transfers or else ALL white areas of the design will be the shirt color.
- Dark transfers tend to have more vibrant colors and are more of a matte finish and light transfers are more shiny.
- the MINUTE that the printer flashes the "ink low" message, CHANGE THE INK CARTRIDGE. Do not try to get one more transfer out of that ink cartridge. (I did that and wasted a transfer because the transfer had vertical stripes through it! )

11) wash, dry and iron the shirts
- NO fabric softener, no dryer sheets, no spray starch!

12) if happy with the positioning of the print outs on paper, then print the design on the transfer paper itself
- HP dark transfer paper states "Set Print quality to BEST" [for HP Iron-On Transfer]
- Check printing directions for the type of transfer you are using. Normally, dark transfers print normally and White transfers should be reversed before printing.

13) let the design "set up" on the paper for a day
- not sure this is absolute but won't hurt if you've got the time built into your timeline

14) 'trim' around the design otherwise the un-used or un-printed white backgrounds will show on the shirt

15) take the transfer, parchment paper, shirt, and iron to a flat, hard surface
- coffee table ideal b'c it's lower and you can hover over the iron
- dining room table or floor can be used as long as you protect it
- note - I used the coffee table protected with a pillowcase folded double - TOOK THE FINISH RIGHT OFF THE SURFACE!

16) while heating up the iron (follow the directions on the transfer package), [for dark transfers] remove the transfer from the backing before you iron it on the shirt then put parchment paper on top of the transfer before you iron it. (You can use a ruler to position the transfer on the shirt or just "eye ball" it. I used 5-6" on adult t's - depending on size of shirt and less for kids' t's.)
- These directions are for Dark Transfer shirts as the ironing is a little different for white transfers (not much, just a little (i.e., you DON't take the back off for white transfers)
- make sure all of the paper is off the back including at the point where the two sides of the paper meet; sometimes a little bit is left that needs to be taken off before ironing
- I left my iron heat up for at least 8 minutes before starting

17) iron the transfer onto the shirt using parchment paper (provided by the transfer mfr.) between the transfer and the iron
- FOLLOW THE MFR. DIRECTIONS to the letter!
- while prepping the shirt (i.e., making sure the tee is flat and not wrinkled, be sure to keep the transfer AWAY from the hot iron!)
- make sure the transfers is flat, centered, and straight and there are no corners bent under
- make sure you iron long enough so the transfer not only comes off the transfer but ADHERES to the shirt
- make sure you let the transfer "cool down" before trying to lift the parchment paper off the transfer (the tissue paper should lift right off with NO problem; if the tissue paper feels like it's "sticking" to the transfer that's a sure indication that you haven't let the transfer cool enough)

18) wash shirt in a vinegar wash (some folks skip this step and step 19 and it turns out fine; personally I didn't skip it so that's why you see it here - it's your call... and questionable whether it will run in the rain with or without the vinegar wash)
- 1 cup vinegar in the washer only, nothing else, just the shirt(s) and vinegar, no detergent no fabric softener (and the water of course) and put it through it's regular wash cycle
- if you're concerned about a vinegar smell, you can use a second rinse cycle
- I turned my tees inside out before washing
- I've read that the purpose of the vinegar wash is to bring out the bright colors. As an fyi, additional info found online stated that the acid in white distilled vinegar is too mild to harm fabrics, yet strong enough to dissolve the alkalies in soaps and detergents.
- some folks have reported that their shirts "bled" after doing this vinegar wash (my thought is I'd rather it bleed at home than in a rainstorm at Disney); I can't say for sure why the bleeding occurs occasionally but I suspect it may have something to do with holding the iron to the transfer either too long or having the iron too hot as I did 20 "Incredibles" themed shirts and the first few bled but then when I spent less time with the iron on the transfer the later ones did not bleed. All I can say is this is just a theory, your results may vary (YRMV).

19) If doing step 18, then dry the shirt on a low heat setting *
- Not no heat, it needs SOME heat!
- If only drying a couple of shirts, put a towel or two in the dryer to keep the shirt from bunching up

20) Post pix back to the boards to thank the Dis-igners for sharing their talents and surprise the family
- if taking a pix indoors, the pix looks better if you can turn off the flash and set the camera to "macro" then get close enough to read the design but also see the "look" of the tee (i.e., the collar, sleeves, etc.)

Sit back, and enjoy!

A word of advice... don't underestimate the amount of time you need to make these shirts; there's a lot of steps involved. Add a couple extra days to your timeline to allow for snafus!

* some folks say they Scotchgard the shirts (inside & outside) before wearing them to help protect them from bleeding. Personally, I haven't done this and two of my shirts bled when the wearer used Purell to disinfect their hands! LOL

I hope this helps everyone who isn't familiar with the steps required. I've attempted to keep up with any modifications offered by the posts made after this initial post so you don't have to read every post in this thread (well, at least through post #321 that is). You're more than welcome to read each post or just go to the bottom to post your question and hopefully someone experienced may be able to answer; however, if you don't get a timely response, feel free to post your question into a separate, new thread as I do not monitor this thread daily and it sometimes gets buried 10 pages down or more!

Last edited by heartbeeps; 07-05-2009 at 04:10 PM. Reason: 7/5/09 - added note about not needing to read each post btwn 1st & 321 as well as measuring for placement is optional step#16
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Old 03-30-2008, 03:07 PM   #2
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Thank you! This is just what I need!!
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Old 03-30-2008, 03:24 PM   #3
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Talking learning the long way

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Originally Posted by The Disney Bunch View Post
Thank you! This is just what I need!!
yeah, me too but I'm figuring it out the looong way!
(reading a trillion threads!)
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Old 03-30-2008, 04:14 PM   #4
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Probably not necessary to add these, but
if doing a dark transfer you need to remove the transfer from the backing before you iron it on the shirt. I have tried ironing it on without removing it & it doesn't work.

Before ironing make sure transfer is not upside down (Yup, made that mistake also.)

Don't forget to put the tissue paper sheet on top of the transfer before you iron it. (forgot it once, it is VERY difficult to clean the iron of the transfer material, it was easier to buy a new iron).

No matter how many shirts I make (now over 100) I invariably mess one up each trip.

Maybe this time I will print out your directions and tick them off as I go through each shirt.

Have fun, Penny
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Old 03-30-2008, 05:05 PM   #5
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Be sure you buy the right transfers! (I have learned this the hard way!)
* If you are putting the design on a white shirt - you can use either light or dark transfers.
* On any other color shirt - use dark transfers or else ALL white areas of the design will be the shirt color.
* Dark transfers tend to have more vibrant colors and are more of a matte finish and light transfers are more shiny.

~ALSO~

Be sure to pay close attention to whether or not the design needs to be rotated. Most light transfers you NEED to rotate or flip the design and most dark transfers you do NOT. But this is not a rule, read your directions very carefully.
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Old 03-30-2008, 06:33 PM   #6
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Vinegar Bath Question

I have made some shirts (not all) for my trip but I read somewhere that the vinegar step was not necessary until you wash after wearing the t-shirts. Is that true? Someone mentioned the t's look crisp and new if you don't do that step until you return home? Anyone have experience with this or advice?
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Old 03-30-2008, 09:41 PM   #7
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Thumbs up step 16 updated!

Quote:
Originally Posted by chaoscent View Post
Probably not necessary to add these, but
if doing a dark transfer you need to remove the transfer from the backing before you iron it on the shirt. I have tried ironing it on without removing it & it doesn't work. Before ironing make sure transfer is not upside down (Yup, made that mistake also.)Don't forget to put the tissue paper sheet on top of the transfer before you iron it. (forgot it once, it is VERY difficult to clean the iron of the transfer material, it was easier to buy a new iron).
OMG I had NO idea. Thank you so much for adding these tips! I updated step 16 accordingly.
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Old 03-30-2008, 09:44 PM   #8
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Question Vinegar anyone? now or later? white or what?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Disneymommy2006 View Post
I have made some shirts (not all) for my trip but I read somewhere that the vinegar step was not necessary until you wash after wearing the t-shirts. Is that true? Someone mentioned the t's look crisp and new if you don't do that step until you return home? Anyone have experience with this or advice?
maybe somebody can confirm. I'm assuming we're talking about WHITE vinegar here and I'm wondering if you wash it a 2nd time to get the vinegar-y smell out after setting it with the vinegar wash.
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Old 03-31-2008, 08:03 PM   #9
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Exclamation set print quality to BEST

I just printed my first transfer. HP Dark transfer instructions state
"Set Print Quality to BEST" (as opposed to Normal or Light on your printer).
There was some question about this in another thread. We now know the answer for HP (but they also sell INK so perhaps they just want us to waste more ink than we have to!)
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Old 04-01-2008, 12:51 AM   #10
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Lightbulb a consideration for designs

if you've never done this before, and you don't have a lot of artistic talent, you might want to stick to the boxed or framed style designs the first couple of times. I'm currently cutting out the "extra white" on 20 Mickey heads by hand and it's tedious and time consuming. (I was going to have a head on the front and back of the shirt but changed that strategy quickly after having to cut the button out on top of the safari hat with fly tying scissors!)
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Old 04-01-2008, 12:55 AM   #11
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Exclamation supplies for making custom shirts

Supplies needed once the design is made -
  • design
  • transfer paper
  • computer
  • printer
  • a software program to view/modify/print the design from
  • fresh ink cartridges (buy an extra of black & color in case there's a problem)
  • scissors (multi sizes help - especially ones that cut in small spaces)
  • a paper cutter would really help by cutting down on the amount of freehand trimming required; if not a straight edge would probably be helpful too!
  • iron
  • flat, hard surface like a coffee table
  • a pillowcase

ok that's as far as I am right now; I'll post more when I get there!

Last edited by heartbeeps; 04-02-2008 at 12:08 AM. Reason: added "straight edge" to list of items
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Old 04-02-2008, 10:29 AM   #12
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Old 04-02-2008, 11:18 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by heartbeeps View Post
maybe somebody can confirm. I'm assuming we're talking about WHITE vinegar here and I'm wondering if you wash it a 2nd time to get the vinegar-y smell out after setting it with the vinegar wash.
OK, yes, you use white vinegar. Can do an xtra rinse if you are afraid of the smell. Can do upon first wash if you don't mind the risk of it running if you are caught out in a sudden rain storm. I have never had one fade so much it didn't still loook new.
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Old 04-02-2008, 09:29 PM   #14
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Post white vinegar was b4 wearing!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Disneymommy2006 View Post
I have made some shirts (not all) for my trip but I read somewhere that the vinegar step was not necessary until you wash after wearing the t-shirts. Is that true? Someone mentioned the t's look crisp and new if you don't do that step until you return home? Anyone have experience with this or advice?
Disneymom92 confirmed that you "could" wait until after you wear them the first time but there is risk in doing so that the shirts could run. I confirmed with a crafter today that the purpose of washing them in white vinegar (thank you Disneymom92) is to "set" the color so it doesn't run. It was explained to me in terms of doing the same thing when you color eggs - use vinegar to set the color!

After confirmation from Disneymom92, I'm doing the vinegar wash with a 2nd rinse BEFORE we wear them. (Be just my luck it'll rain the day we're wearing them and we'll all look like cameleons! ) I updated step 18 accordingly!

BTW, I'm now bouncing back and forth between steps 12 and 14 getting all my transfers printed out.

Last edited by heartbeeps; 04-02-2008 at 09:33 PM. Reason: advised all what step I'm currently on 4/2/08
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Old 04-03-2008, 06:06 AM   #15
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Thanks

Thanks for the info...I will do the vinegar wash too. On our last trip to Disney in 2006 there were a few PM rain showers...
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