Create a Laser-Transfer Design with Heat-Press Letters

Exit 57 Graphics combines laser-transfer paper, Stahls’ Chino Letters and heat-transfer vinyl to create a unique multimedia design.

Sara Gale, owner of Macomb Township, MI-based Exit 57 Graphics, shows off a design that may be a more cost-effective alternative when screen printing would raise the cost of the finished garment. This design is suitable for use in the boating community or for school clubs and college fraternities and sororities.

What decorating techniques were used in this project?
Sara Gale: Laser-print transfers, and Stahls’ Pre-Sewn Distressed Chino Letters and heat-transfer vinyl.

How were the techniques combined?
SG: The finished design was laser-printed on two-part transfers that are weedless. The image is printed onto a carrier sheet, and then heat-pressed on to a transfer sheet. The transfer sheet sticks only to the ink in the design, eliminating the phantom “square” of extra paper around the design. The Chino Letters were added over the printed design with a heat press. They’re able to be pressed on top of the laser-printed transfer without any issues. The letters stick just as they would on a blank garment. Securing the letters with heat tape before pressing ensures they stay in place while pressing occurs. The vinyl was added for extra effect. It was cut on a CAD-CUT machine and then weeded. The vinyl is also applied using a heat press.

Why do these techniques work well together?
SG: Everything is transferred or sealed using a heat press. The Chino Letters can be applied right on top of the printed transfer without issue and create a more distressed and worn look. The vinyl gives additional visual interest and also furthers the theme of the piece.

What equipment and materials did you use?
SG: The laser transfer was printed with an OKI Color Laser Printer on ImageClip Laser Transfer paper. The pre-sewn Distressed Chino heat-applied Letters and the CAD-CUT Vinyl Premium Plus were purchased from Stahls’. The vinyl was cut using a CAD-CUT machine. All items were applied using a Hotronix Fusion heat press. Heat tape and a vinyl weeder were also used.

What’s the target market for this kind of design?
SG: We thought this design would work well for the boating community. The name of the customer’s boat combined with the anchor design, with the added effect of initials or dates in the Chino Letters would, we thought, be appealing to this market. This decoration technique could also be marketed to high school or college clubs as well as fraternities and sororities.

How could a decorator sell this type of design?
SG: The key to this design is attractiveness and versatility offered at a reasonable price point. All materials are transfers, which means that the cost is less than might be assessed with other decoration options, and the time to create the design may be less as well. Groups looking for attractive and personalized decoration but don’t have the budget for screen print or sublimation may be ideal customers.

Hot Tip: If printing a large quantity, print all the transfer carriers needed and press them to the transfer sheets in one sitting. Doing this means that they’ll be ready to be heat-pressed to the garments one after another. Pressing all the same design element at the same time means that you only need to have one setting on the heat press. Each design element requires different temperatures and settings on the press, so printing all of one portion of the design elements at a time means you don’t have to switch settings constantly.

Take This Class: Heat-Applied Distressed Letters and Numbers
Decorate on demand with a kit of Stahls’ Pre-Sewn Distressed Letters & Numbers. With only a heat-press machine, this is a great way to achieve the trendy vintage look quickly (there’s no sewing or embroidery required). Pick the required letters and numbers, place them on the garment, and heat-press for a permanent application. Watch the video below: