Yesterday I shared a post on printing from Silhouette using a png file for sublimation.
But what if you do not have a sublimation printer?
There are still options for you. One of those is heat transfer paper that can be printed on your home printer.
Now, a couple things to keep in mind here are the brand of heat transfer paper, the ink/printer used, and the printer quality settings will all be factors in how well this turns out for you. The only way to know for sure is to test it.
Heat Transfer Paper can also be used on more apparel than sublimation prints. You do not have to worry having a high polyester content like you do with sublimation.
Tutorial written in Silhouette Studio v4.4.552
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In today’s post, I’m going to be using Heat Transfer Paper to print the same design I showed in the recent
Print Sublimation Designs from Silhouette Studio – Basics post – found HERE.
For today’s example, I am using the Silhouette Heat Transfer for dark colored fabrics.
You do want to make sure that whatever brand you are using is going to be compatible with your current printer. The Silhouette Heat Transfer for darks is compatible with inkjet printers only and not laser printers. If you are looking for laser compatible, Heat Press Nation has some options – find those HERE.
Not all brands of heat transfer paper will be created the same and the only real way to know what will hold up is to test it. I have seen many failures from store bought brands. I have also heard some failures with the Silhouette brand as well, but it has held up well for me. I have been surprised that shirts have lasted 1-3 years and I will fully admit that I have not followed the care instructions. All my laundry just gets thrown in together and in the dryer as well. For best results, follow the manufacturer’s care instructions.
This is an example that I created for my online Heat Transfer Paper Print & Cut lesson with Silhouette using the Jetpro for lights. This shirt lasted for almost 3 years before the image started to look really worn. And it was washed a lot as a kid’s shirt.
With Heat Transfer Paper, it does need to be set up to cut around the design as a print and cut. For detailed instructions on setting up a print and cut project, check out the Let’s Explore v4 – Print and Cut Basics found HERE.
I would recommend practicing with cardstock or copy paper until you have a good cut before you use the more expensive heat transfer paper.
The process of print and cut is the same no matter what materials you are printing and cutting on. I would highly recommend using the default registration marks to get the most accurate cut. This also eliminates many things that can be the cause of inaccurate cuts or misreads when doing a print and cut project. The biggest issues we see with print and cut are usually something in the setup – this can range from registration marks moved, page size not set right, mat hanging down in front, design interfering with the reading of the optical eye, etc.
For more in depth information and troubleshooting, check out the step-by-step
Print and Cut Basics to Design Files to Troubleshooting Course found HERE.
I have over 2+ hours of instruction that covers a wide variety of print and cut options.
Since we are using a png file, it will either need to be Traced or the Autotrace feature used in order to get cut lines around it. A png is a graphic image that has no cut data. So you may need to create that cut data by Tracing to get a cut line. The biggest thing about tracing is that every single design or image will be different in what might work for it. Practice is the only way to know what works best. I usually trace and then increase the Threshold up until everything I want turns yellow, then I trace it. For the most part that works well.
In this case, with the png image I’m using, it was designed for sublimation so it has transparent areas inside of the design that do not trace. But, we can still work with that.
Now, do you have to do this with all images? No. Every image you use can vary because they are all created differently. The more you do this and work with things in the software, you will start to recognize patterns and start to see what you might need to do.
For this png image that I am using, what that means is that with the Heat Transfer Paper for darks, it will leave a white border around the entire design.
The biggest thing here to keep in mind is that all images and designs can vary in what they need to make them work.
Keep in mind that the print quality is going to be dependent on the settings you choose. I print on Heat Transfer Paper with the highest quality Photo Matte option especially if it’s going to be on a shirt that will be washed. I also like to select the Print Preview just to check it once more before it uses up my ink and paper.
Once printed, click on the Send tab in the top right corner and set the cut settings.
This is where you can check where the bold red cut border is and if it will cut where you want.
Make sure that you do not move anything on the file after it is printed. For print and cut projects, it has to match up exactly with what was printed or it may not work.
Load the printed page on the cutting mat exactly as it shows on the screen in the top left corner of the cutting mat.
Whenever you are cutting a new material, test cut! However, with print and cut you do not want the test cut to be in the default location or it can interfere with the reading of the registration marks. Type out a capital B and move that to a location outside your design and use it for your test cut. I share more details on how I use the B in this post HERE.
I ended up increasing the blade depth up to a 2 on this material. My blade is well used and a 1 just didn’t “cut it”.
Weed away the excess.
Carefully peel the heat transfer paper off the backing and place onto the object to be pressed on. I immediately cover with parchment paper as the heat transfer may start to curl when it’s close to heat.
I am using a Craft Pro 15″ x 15″ press from Heat Press Nation and I love the pull out bottom platen so I can get my object prepped without burning my knuckles. Mine is plain old white, but they have more colors available now.
It is a little bit different look but it is still an option to use designs like these without a sublimation printer. The best part about Heat Transfer Paper is that you can use it on colors and cotton shirts or materials. You are not as limited by only polyester or specially treated products for sublimation.
I would recommend waiting at least 24 hours before you wash, just like you would for any HTV or sublimation prints. No need to take any chances too soon after creating your project. And I’d recommend following the manufacturer’s care instructions for your garment. Unless you are a little daring like me…. but really, it’s more because I’m lazy and just throw the laundry in.
In 2019 I taught a class at the All Things Silhouette Conference using heat transfer paper and I found you could use it for all kinds of projects if you want to add graphics to them.
Check out the Print and Cut with Heat Transfer Paper post HERE
for more ideas on what you can do with it.
For step-by-step classes on Print and Cut and Heat Transfer Paper check out these 2 classes available on my Teachable site:
Silhouette Print and Cut Basics to Design Files to Troubleshoot Course
Heat Transfer Paper Print & Cut Lesson with Silhouette
If you are looking for tips on printing from Silhouette for Sublimation, check out these posts:
Beginner Sublimation – Basic Sublimation Print with Silhouette Studio
Printing Sublimation Designs from Silhouette Studio – Basics – PNG files
I would love to see what you are creating with your Silhouette software or machines!
Or if you have any questions, feel free to post photos or questions on my Facebook group at
Silhouette Secrets with EllyMae.
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Or if you are looking for more in-depth, step-by-step classes, check out all of my online Silhouette classes on my Teachable site HERE.