Photo Transfer Tutorial

I have been playing with some photo transfer techniques and thought I would share. (especially for Judy and Jan!)

There are lots of other tutorials and information on the internet, and I suggest you do a Google search and find out more for yourselves. I have read lots of directions, seemingly none the same. I had read that Heat n Bond (HnB) would not work. Had read the same for WonderUnder. WELL! That is all it takes to make me want to try it. (actually, I had some HnB lite and have not been out to JoAnns or WalMart, so decided to use what I had) I have played with this for a week now, and think I have my own method of what works for me.

Today (pajama day 7) I decided to work on one of the panels for my own Triptych. I finished all of my Triptych Challenge pieces, and mailed them out yesterday. So I need to do my own too! One will be pieced, and it is in progress. I thought this technique may be appropriate for one of my photos.

After you have your photo edited and sized how you want it, set it on MIRROR image if it is directional, then print it on regular computer paper. I happen to use the cheapest white copy paper Staples sells. I print the photo with printer settings on best quality and standard paper. I have an ink jet printer, by the way.

Here is my picture: (which I just now realized I forgot to mirror image)


Cut a piece of HnB lite (and that is the only weight of HnB I would use because the rest is too stiff) a little bigger than your picture. Cut a piece of white muslin, lawn or other fabric a little bigger than the HnB lite. (fabric doesnt have to be white, but keep in mind the fabric color can affect the outcome….so play a little!) You can also use very sheer fabric, but mine is all orange, pink or glittery and I havent been shopping. I have read organza works well and I need some. But hey, what longarm quilter doesnt have muslin cut offs handy for this kind of experimenting?

Iron the HnB lite to the RIGHT side of the fabric.


Peel off the paper.

Lay your printed photo on your ironing board, face up. Lay the bonded fabric, face down on top of photo.


Fuse with iron. I prefer to iron both sides at this point.

Let it cool. Take to sink and run water on PAPER side only, until paper is saturated.


Lay it on counter, fabric side down, and scrape off all paper. I use my fingers and a little scraper. Once it is all off, I give it a very quick rinse. Too much water makes you loose some color intensity.


I pat the fabric between paper towels to get rid of some excess water. Then iron between feedsack towels or muslin fabric so you dont get ink on your iron or ironing board.

And youre done, ready to stitch, frame, or use however you want!


And here is one for my triptych that will be made from pictures I took at Arches National Park in June 2007.


If you try my method, let me know how it works out for you. And if you know better ways to do it, let me know that too.

Edited to say:  I have NOT tried washing this yet.  Therefore, I don’t know how colorfast it will be.  If you happen to test that, let me know the outcome!  I dont plan on washing this little piece, so havent tested yet. 


16 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jan
    Jan 25, 2008 @ 20:25:13

    Oh that is cool!!!!! Thanks Gayle!!


  2. Michelle Wyman
    Jan 25, 2008 @ 20:33:07

    I have never heard of this technique before! Way cool!! Sure beats the bubble jet wash and dry and then rinse again way…


  3. Vicki W
    Jan 25, 2008 @ 21:49:54

    Thanks for the tutorial – I’ve never hear of this before!


  4. TracyeQ
    Jan 25, 2008 @ 23:41:41

    You are amazing!!!
    I’ve never heard of this! But, I have to try it!
    First I have to read it again, I’m not sure I have it down. LOL


  5. John B.
    Jan 26, 2008 @ 07:35:54

    A very cool idea! My wife LOVES to sew. In fact she is sewing my daughters wedding dress right now. Quite the project! I spend to much money on cameras and she spends a ton on sewing machines! I never knew a sewing machine could cost so much! 🙂


  6. sammi
    Jan 27, 2008 @ 00:38:22

    I am fascinated by the Arches photo. Exquisite!


  7. Irene
    Feb 01, 2008 @ 11:44:09

    You really are amazing! If its okay with you,
    I’m going to print a copy and try this–sounds like it should be fun!


  8. Aggie
    Feb 10, 2009 @ 07:00:46

    another great idea for me to use on a tshirt quilt.. thanks…


  9. Jun
    Dec 08, 2009 @ 11:00:45

    I’m sorry but I’m not familiar with HnB lite. What is it? Where could I get it? Thank you.


  10. Gayle
    Dec 08, 2009 @ 15:18:28

    Heat and Bond Lite is available at my local Joann’s and WalMart. Try those places in your area.



  11. Joan
    Jan 27, 2010 @ 17:38:58

    Did you find out how this washes yet?


    • Gayle
      Jan 27, 2010 @ 18:34:21

      Because I use this method for small art quilts that I don’t plan to wash, I really have not experimented with the washing afterwards. If you try it, please let me know how it turns out after washing the end product.



  12. Tavette
    Apr 09, 2010 @ 05:33:43

    Somehow I’m not following this. In step #1 you iron the Heat n Bond to the right side of the fabric and then peal off the paper (which would leave “sticky stuff” on the fabric). In step #2 you adhere the photograph to the now sticky fabric. In step #3 it says to rinse off the paper. I thought we got rid of the paper in step #1?????

    Clarification would be appreciated as I’d like to try this technique.



    • Gayle
      Apr 09, 2010 @ 08:59:51

      The photo is printed on paper. That is the photo you adhere to the sticky fabric. Then you rinse off the paper from the photo.

      Hope that clarifies your confusion.



      • Tavette
        Apr 09, 2010 @ 14:38:24

        Thank you for replying so quickly. I wasn’t thinking of the photo PAPER. Now makes perfect sense and I’m anxious to try it. When I’ve tried photo transfer by printing on specialty photo transfer fabric – the photo gets quite muted and I like bold colors to remain bold.

      • Gayle
        Apr 14, 2010 @ 16:17:38

        Just to clarify…. the paper I used to print my photo on is cheap copy paper.

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