TAP Paper Tips and Tricks

January 19, 2015

If I were to consider myself an expert in something it would be eating lava cake; however, a close second to that is using TAP paper on fabric.  For those of you just tuning in, I have an etsy shop.  I used to only sell pillows, and I made these pillows with TAP paper, but I sell supplies now, so naturally I had to add TAP Paper in my inventory.  I discovered TAP paper through The Graphics Fairy and this tutorial (If you’ve never been to her website, she has a bazillion free graphics to use for whatever your heart desires).  Over the past few years, I have discovered quite a bit about this paper.  And while I don’t consider any transfer paper 100% perfect every time, I completely agree with Karen that TAP paper is the Holy Grail of transfer paper.  In fact, I considered it my own little trade secret when I was selling pillows.

In addition to being able to transfer onto fabric, TAP paper can be used on metal, wood, glass, canvas, paper, and more!  But let’s focus on fabric…

My number one resource: Block Posters.  This website resizes images to fit on multiple pages, it is amazing for creating a larger transfer from a small image.  You will be left with multiple pages resembling puzzle pieces that you can then layer together.  I trim off AS MUCH WHITE as possible, then use double stick tape or painters tape to piece all of my pieces together.

  • Why trim off as much white as possible?  Well, I sometimes noticed red markings left on the fabric when I pulled the paper off.  For a long time, I thought this was from the tape.  I discovered that it was not the tape, it was from overlapping the paper.  After discovering this, I now only leave little ‘tabs’ of white to tape the paper together.

Get your iron HOT HOT HOT.  I let mine warm up for awhile before I transfer.  You won’t burn the paper, so don’t be afraid to use your iron liberally.

Once the paper heats up, it’s game time.  Your first transfer might come off as a disappointment,  or you may get a perfect transfer, and then the next time have horrible results.  When I first started out, I was constantly having to redo pillows because of ‘patchy-transfers’.  It was SO frustrating.  One day, I realized that as soon as your iron hits the paper, the ink begins to melt into the fabric.  If you don’t press extremely hard (I mean strain yourself!), you will end up with a ‘vintage’ looking transfer.  The moral of this story is that you need to go at your fabric with confidence and immediately press as hard as you can while moving your iron in small circular motions.

The tip of the iron is your best friend.  As you pull up your paper you may see places that didn’t transfer perfectly.  I found that it is best to pull up your paper slowly, and as needed, use the tip of the iron and rub the ink into the fabric.

Don’t let your iron hit freshly transferred places.  The ink will smear everywhere and completely ruin your project.

The paper will only come up while it’s still hot.  Sometimes the paper will want to stick to the fabric, use the tip of your iron to heat up a corner and slowly pull it up.

You can go back and blend ‘white spots’.  There will be white space that you won’t be able to trim (i.e. if you’re transferring something with wording).  Use the tip of your iron to go back and blend in any white spots that are noticeable after you pull up the paper (but be careful not to blend any ink!).

Washing the fabric…  I’ve had mixed results with this, and I don’t recommend washing transferred projects often.  I would scotch-guard and spot clean as needed, and only wash if you absolutely have to!  Once, I washed a pillow that had just been transferred, and when I pulled it out of the machine, the image was nearly all gone.  I think this is because I didn’t place the pillow in a mesh bag or use the gentle/hand-wash cycle.   I’ve read reviews that say TAP projects are completely washable, but do so at your own risk!

If you’re unsure about TAP paper, watch the video below.  It’s a little lengthy, but I walk you through my entire process so you can visualize all of my little tips and tricks!

If you have any questions or problems (or tips of your own), feel free to post them in the comments section and I will do my best to answer them or add them to this list!

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  1. When using TAP on burlap, I found that the areas I could not trim leave a hazy look to the material in between design elements…which shows a difference in the burlap and the hazy part,,,should I trim in a square fashion to have a "cleaner" transfer? or is there a way to blend out the shadow effect left by the areas one can’t trim. Thanks for you input.

    • Hi Leslie!!! Ahhhh burlap… It’s a tough one! The ‘halo’ you’re referring to, is a nightmare!! My two tips: you can go back over it with your iron, use the tip to go in small circles to blend the halo into the fabric (just be very careful not to smudge any ink… Only touch parts of the ‘halo’ that you’re sure don’t have any ink). My second tip would be to upload your image into the Cricut design space, and use the print and cut feature, that way you have a super precise cut. I hope that helps!