Mistakes to Avoid When Heat Printing Apparel

Avoid poor heat-printing results by adhering to this list of do's and don'ts

To get that perfect press and avoid any customer complaints, keep this heat-printing knowhow in the back of your pocket at all times.

  • Don’t forget to preheat your garment to release moisture and wrinkles before applying. This can cause the adhesive of your transfer to not adhere correctly.
  • Don’t scorch the garment. Some fabric types are heat sensitive and if you use a transfer that applies at a high temperature you risk scorching the fabric. This can be solved by using a transfer that requires a low-temp application.
  • Don’t apply the wrong transfer to the wrong fabric – like nylon, for example. Not all heat transfers have an adhesive that will hold to nylon fabric. Make sure the heat transfer you’re using is recommended for nylon use (or whichever fabric you’re using) specifically.
  • Avoid dye migration. Keep your white heat transfer white by using a heat transfer that will block or inhibit dyes. Dye-sub fabrics require a heat transfer that blocks dyes from migrating through. Garment-dyed fabrics require a heat transfer that inhibits dyes from migrating through.
  • Achieve proper alignment. Utilize accessories that will help you with aligning your transfer correctly every time. Laser-alignment systems help tremendously. It helps to know the proper placement standards for all types of applications including left chest, front center, full back, and sleeve. If this isn’t feasible, at least verify with a customer’s placement request.
  • Avoid the wrong pressure for application. Some heat presses do not offer a pressure read-out, which means the heat printer is guessing whether they’re using a light, medium, or high pressure. This will cause application issues and the potential of a transfer falling off the garment in the wash cycle.
  • Always use the correct application instructions. With a variety of heat transfers in the industry, it makes it difficult to remember all the instructions that go along with them. Keep application instructions on hand or invest in a heat press that has the application presets at the ready.
Jenna Sackett

Jenna Sackett


Jenna Sackett is an educator and content creator for Stahls'. Jenna has dedicated her time with Stahls’ learning the ins and outs of heat printing and educating nationwide at industry trade shows and events. She also hosts web-based classes, webinars and creates educational videos for Stahls’ TV YouTube. Whether you are making custom apparel for friends and family, running a brick and mortar business, or selling online, she knows the tips and tricks that make an apparel decorator successful in this ever-growing marketplace.

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