Transfer Apparel Printing – Pros, Cons, Best Practices

transfers on yellow safety apparel, man and cap

Do you need to make custom t-shirts quickly and inexpensively? Transfer apparel printing might be the solution. It’s an increasingly popular method of creating unique garments in a short amount of time, but it isn’t without its drawbacks. If you’re considering getting into transfer apparel printing, here are some pros, cons, and best practices for success.

The process is simple – take a design or image printed onto special transfer paper and iron it onto fabric like cotton or polyester. The result is often just as good as any other type of garment printing, with vibrant colors and designs that stand out. Plus, because it doesn’t require much equipment or expertise to get started, this printing can be done from almost anywhere at a relatively low cost.

Black Sweatshirt with transfer

But there are also downsides to consider when using transfer apparel printing methods. Most transfers have a limited lifespan – they’ll start to crack after too many washes or fade over time due to UV exposure. Additionally, they don’t always adhere perfectly to certain fabrics, such as those made with nylon blends; they will peel off easily if not applied properly. So knowing what works best before starting will help ensure your projects look great every time!

What Is Transfer Printing, And How Does It Work?

Transfer printing is a technique used to create custom apparel designs. It involves transferring an image onto a garment through heat and pressure. The image can be printed on either paper or film and then placed onto the fabric. Heat and pressure activate special inks embedded in the paper or film that transfer into the material’s fibers. This creates a durable design that won’t fade with repeated washing and wear. Transfer printing has become increasingly popular for its easy application process, low cost, and vibrant results.

Not all fabrics are suitable for transfer printing; some materials don’t accept ink as quickly as others, leading to unsatisfactory results. Before beginning any project, it’s best to research what fabrics are ideal for this printing method. With these considerations considered, transfer printing remains one of the most efficient ways to produce high-quality apparel designs at an affordable price.

Benefits And Limitations Of Transfer Printing

Transfer printing offers several advantages over other methods of apparel printing. One benefit is that transfer prints can be applied to various fabrics and materials, producing sharp lines and vibrant colors. This makes it ideal for creating custom t-shirts or promotional items with intricate details. Additionally, transfers are very durable, meaning the printed design won’t fade or crack over time as some other printing techniques might.

However, there are also some drawbacks to using transfer printing. Because this method requires heat presses for application, it can be difficult to achieve consistent results without investing in specialized equipment. Furthermore, transferring images onto fabric may require additional pre-treatment steps, such as applying a base coat before pressing on the image itself. In addition, since the designs must first be printed out on special transfer paper before being transferred onto clothing, extra care must be taken when handling delicate garments so as not to damage them during production.

Understanding these pros and cons is essential for businesses considering incorporating transfer printing into their product line. Investing in quality materials and proper maintenance of machinery used throughout the process is necessary to create high-quality products that will last customers along. Creating thorough instructions and protocols ahead of time can help ensure consistency across all orders produced by a business as well.

Tips For Achieving High-Quality Transfer Prints

Transfer apparel printing is a popular method for creating custom designs on garments. However, there are some key features that people should consider to ensure the highest quality prints. Choosing the right transfer paper and setting up the printer correctly are essential steps in achieving optimal results. It’s also important to pre-treat the fabric before transferring images. As this can affect how vibrant the colors look after printing.

Finally, using high-resolution images when designing artwork for transfer printing is critical. Photos must be at least 300 dpi or higher, and vector graphics work best since they will retain their sharpness even if resized. Following these tips ensures your transfers print with clarity and vibrancy and last through multiple washes without fading or cracking.

Common Mistakes To Avoid

Regarding transferring apparel printing, some common mistakes should be avoided. One of the most frequent errors is not testing the transfer paper with a sample piece before going into production. This can lead to costly misprints and time wasted in making corrections. Additionally, many printers forget to account for or adjust their settings. When dealing with different fabric types, it results in poor-quality output and frustrated customers.

It’s also important to avoid using too much heat when pressing transfers onto garments. As this can cause them to discolor or damage. Similarly, care must be taken to prevent over-stretching designs during application as this may distort them beyond recognition. To ensure successful prints every time, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and proofread all artwork thoroughly before transferring it onto garments. With these best practices in mind, you’ll have no problem avoiding common pitfalls when working with transfer apparel printing.


Transfer printing is a great way to create custom apparel designs with ease. It has many advantages, such as producing full-color prints quickly and cost-effectively. However, it has some limitations, such as its inability to print onto darker fabrics. To ensure you get excellent results from your transfer printing projects. It’s essential to remember best practices for prepping artwork, choosing the right paper type, and applying heat correctly. Additionally, avoid common mistakes like using incorrect settings on printers or presses. And not testing out your transfers before production runs.

By following these tips and guidelines. You can quickly maximize the benefits of transfer printing while avoiding any potential issues that may arise. With proper technique and attention to detail, you can achieve high-quality transfers every time – perfect for creating one-of-a-kind apparel designs. So whether I’m producing shirts for my business or designing unique gifts for friends and family. Transfer printing can help me make something memorable!

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Antonio Massey

Production Team: Folder

Antonio Massey recently joined NWCA in June of 2022. His role on the Production Team has greatly improved our processes and productivity. Antonio is always willing to lift heavy boxes or help his co-workers during busy times. In his free time, he enjoys playing with his dog and mastering video games.


Alicia Wada

Shipping Clerk

Alicia Wada is passionate about helping her co-workers at Northwest Custom Apparel in any way that she can. She works in our Shipping and Logistics department. Alicia, who goes by Ali, has a bachelor’s degree in Applied Mathematics. She lived in Japan for ten years and recently brought her family to America in 2019. She is interested in learning crafts and textile art from around the world.


Erik Mickelson


Erik Mickelson’s position as Manager is more than a job, it’s a passion. It’s always fun and exciting because he enjoys marketing, computers, and coming up with innovative ideas to help NWCA grow. He majored in accounting and finance at Washington State University, graduating in 1996, and returned to school to obtain his Master of Business from WGU, graduating in 2016. Erik continually strives to advance his education through podcasts, audiobooks, and industry tradeshows. He is married to a remarkable and caring wife named Wendy, a Registered Nurse, with whom he shares his many hobbies and a love for the outdoors.



Ruth Nhoung

Production Manager

Ruth Nhoung is our Production Manager and Northwest Custom Apparel is lucky to have her. Thanks to her vast knowledge of machine embroidery and dedication to creating a comfortable and supportive work environment, the production plant runs smoothly and customers are pleased with our work. She is a loving mother and grandmother and enjoys spending quality time with her siblings. She says, “I love everything about Northwest Custom Apparel: the people, the atmosphere, the work, and the customers. I love what I do and I embrace all of NWCA’s core values”.


Steve Deland

Art Director

Steve Deland has been our amazing Artist since 2017. He loves working at Northwest Custom Apparel because he appreciates the goal-oriented, progressive-thinking management style. He is most passionate about his art, which includes scroll saw woodwork, and his five grandchildren.



Taylar Hanson


Taylar Hanson is a highly acclaimed Saleswoman at Northwest Custom Apparel. She has a BA in Apparel, Merchandising, Design, and Textiles from Washington State University. “Go Cougs!” The best part of Taylar’s job is getting to work with longtime customers who trust us to do the best work and take care of their needs. She is passionate about appreciating nature, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.


Nika Lao


Nika Lao is very knowledgeable in how the business is ran because she began as an Embroidery Machine Operator and has worked hard to become the excellent and personable saleswoman she is today. She enjoys the stress-free environment and the many chances to connect with her co-workers over potlucks, BBQs, and bowling parties. Nika is a proud sister of two highly successful brothers and can boast mastering three languages herself: Khmer, Thai, and English. She is an avid camper, enjoys going to farmer markets, and loves cooking.


Bradley Wright


Bradley Wright has been a vital team member of NWCA since 2017. As our accountant and knower-of-all-things, Bradley is proud to work closely with his wonderful colleagues. He studied at the University of Washington. These days he dedicates his free time to his new house.


Dominic Nguyen

DTG Operator

Dominic Nguyen recently joined our Direct-To-Garment department. He says he loves the family work environment at Northwest Custom Apparel. In his free time, Dom likes to listen to music, hangout with friends, and play video games. He comes from a very big family which can be very chaotic at times, but is always exciting.


Sothea Tann

Production Team: Trimmer

Sothea Tann recently joined the Production Team in 2022. She finds Northwest Custom Apparel to be a good working environment with helpful and friendly staff. In her free time, Sothea spends quality time with her family and, overall, focuses on a peaceful and happy lifestyle.


Brian Beardsley

DTG Supervisor

Brian Beardsley has been with Northwest Custom Apparel since 2018. He is our DTG Supervisor. Brian loves that he gets to work with high-tech machines in a fun atmosphere. He has a bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design. He said, “I always wanted to create visually interesting assets in a variety of mediums”. In his free time, he enjoys building and painting models, playing video games, designing, and playing his guitar.


UT Tri Tran

Embroidery Machine Operator

UT Tri Tran loves Northwest Custom Apparel so much that, although she has already retired after a long career in machine embroidery operations, she is happy to return part time. She says, “I love the family style work environment and how everyone shares food, laughter, and fun on a regular basis.” In her free time she is dedicated to living a healthy and peaceful lifestyle with her friends and family.



Embroidery Machine Operator

BunsereytheavyHoeu, who goes by Theavy, won our Operator of the Year in 2021. She takes on many roles in the production team. She says, “These are not my co-workers, these are my family! I cherish all the memories we make together”. When she goes home to be with her family, she makes the most of her time with them by holding family get-togethers and even karaoke competitions.


Sreynai Meang

Embroidery Machine Operator

SreynaiMeang is a hard-working Machine Operator. She is most passionate about helping people. Sreynai, who goes by Nai, likes to exercise in her free time and talk with her family in Cambodia.


Kanha Chhorn

Embroidery Machine Operator

Kanha Chhorn has been an Embroidery Operator with Northwest Custom Apparel since 2018. She is delightful and always makes everyone smile and laugh. Kanha takes on additional tasks that allow us to exceed our customers’ expectations. In her free time, she can be found at her local temple or spending quality time with her family and friends.


Savy Som

Embroidery Machine Operator

SavySom is one of our Machine Operators who is passionate about embroidery and sewing. She enjoys working at NWCA because of its flexibility. She has two teenage sons and loves spending time with her family on the weekends.



Embroidery Machine Operator

SorphornSorm has been a Machine Operator since 2011. One of her four sisters works here as well. Her other relatives are in Cambodia. In her free time, Sorphorn studies English, listens to music, and enjoys exercising.


Jim Mickelson


Jim Mickelson, after a successful career with a major oil company, founded Northwest Embroidery in 1977. This was the first commercial embroidery in the Pacific Northwest. Over the years, Jim has become the guru of embroidery never refusing to answer a question or offer advice to his fellow embroiders. Jim and his wife Leeanna raised four wonderful children who went on to successful business careers.

Northwest Custom Apparel
Northwest Custom Apparel
152 Google reviews
Janice Herron
Janice Herron
Love their amazing customer service! From ordering over the phone, through email, or in person at Northwest Custom Apparel, everyone is very helpful, and very nice! Always! We have been ordering our apparel for our local small business through them for many years! Thank you Thank you!
Morgan Pero
Morgan Pero
Excellent people, products and customer service!
Drew Halverson
Drew Halverson
Great product offerings/results, swift communication, and helpful staff. Highly recommend!
Tim s
Tim s
Northwest Custom apparel always does great work! We have been a customer for over 25 years and are always satisfied with the products we get!!
NW Custom Apparel treats us like we’re their only customer! Everyone is always so friendly and helpful. They’re great!
Randy Birch
Randy Birch
We us Northwest Custom Apparel for our work shirts and they are incredible. The staff is super friendly, the quality of workmanship is outstanding and they stand by the work they do. I love this place.
Heidi Christiansen
Heidi Christiansen
The company I work for has been buying custom apparel for the team members for years now. We love working with NW Custom Apparel because the process is easy, delivery is timely, and materials are high quality. Anytime I’ve ever had an issue, they’re quick to resolve it. We’ve purchased both embroidered items and DTG graphic tees. We’ve purchased blankets, shirts, jackets, hoodies, etc. Everything ends up looking super professional, and our team members always have positive things to say. Ally is always there at the warehouse with a smile and a friendly greeting when I pick up materials. She is so helpful and respectful. Taylar is a wonderful customer service rep. I’ve sent her some complicated orders—like 20 different items with all different colorways and styles or 150 items with three different styles—and she is so good at getting everything just right. I plan to continue purchasing from NW Custom for high-quality custom apparel.
Hoa DeBusk
Hoa DeBusk
Have used them for years. Knowledgeable team that is always so helpful in recommending options or creating designs. Great quality too for embroidery or digital prints. Very happy with them as a vendor.
Stacey Perez
Stacey Perez
We use Northwest Custom Apparel for all of our professional embroidery needs for the orthodontic office I work at. They do great work, are quick and have never missed a deadline. Highly recommend if you need any custom apparel needs.