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I really like cushions that are a bit different, like the ones made from old feed/flour/grain bags or with interesting vintage images printed on them. But they’re not always the cheapest things to buy, so I sometimes like to make my own.
Here’s one I made this week:
Making these cushions is pretty straightforward. All you need is some iron-on transfer paper (you can get some here) and some plain cushion/throw pillow covers and inserts (IKEA is a good place for plain covers and cheap inserts).
For your cushion, you can either choose an existing picture of make your own design. If you’d like to make the above cushion, click here to download a printable design. If you’d like to use an existing picture, here are some of my favourite places to find images to use for creative projects. If you’d like to make your own design, you can do so in a program like Word or Photoshop.
Print a mirror image of your chosen image/design on to the transfer paper. If you don’t print a mirrored version, your text will transfer backwards. If you’re not sure how to print a mirror image, see step 2 of this article, which explains how to mirror an image on both Windows and Mac.
Then, iron the image/design on to the cushion.
If you’ve used iron-on transfer paper before, you shouldn’t run into any big challenges with this project. If you’re new to using iron-on transfer paper, I’ve included a few tips below that might help you out 🙂
Iron-on transfer: Tips for beginners
1. Print on the right type of paper
There are two types of iron-on transfer paper: Light and dark. Light transfer paper should be used on light fabrics, while dark transfer paper should be used on dark fabrics. You can use dark transfer paper on light fabric in a pinch. Light transfer paper, however, can’t be used on dark fabrics.
2: Print using an inkjet printer
While you can find transfer paper for laser printers, most transfer paper is designed to work with inkjet printers. If you’re not 100% sure if your printer is inkjet or laser, look up the model number on the manufacturer’s website to find out.
3: Mirror your design
If your design includes any text, you’ll need to flip it to create a mirror image before printing, otherwise the text will be backwards.
Most image software has the ability to flip a design horizontally. Alternatively, you can sometimes do this in your printer settings. For example, to print a mirror image on Mac OS:
- Click File > Print
- Under the drop-down menu labelled ‘Preview’, select ‘Layout’
- Select the checkbox next to ‘Flip horizontally’
4. Remove as much ‘white space’ as possible
When I first used iron-on transfer, I tried to iron the whole page on to my cushion. It was not a good look. It made my cushion stiff and gave the whole thing a bit of an ugly sheen. Since then, I always trim as close to the design as possible, removing as much ‘white space’ as I can.
5: Preheat your iron
Iron on transfer paper works best with a hot iron with the steam setting turned off. I use the hottest setting on my iron and allow it to heat up for at least 5 minutes.
6. Use a hard, flat surface
Iron-on transfer paper works best when you iron on a hard, flat surface. The transfer won’t work as well on a soft or uneven surface.
7. Work in small sections using circular motions
As the paper cools, the backing paper tends to re-stick to the transfer material, which makes it really hard (and messy) to pull off. To get around this, you need to peel the backing paper off while it’s still hot. To do this, you can work in small sections (I tend to work in sections roughly 2″ x 2″ in size).
Using firm pressure, rub the tip of the iron in circular motions across a small area of your design. Gently peel the backing paper from that small section away, then move on to the next bit of the design. If you find that the backing paper is hard to lift, you need to iron the section for longer. Keep ironing until the backing paper peels away with ease.
8: Apply firm pressure
It’s time to work out dem guns [muscle emoji]. Press down on your iron as firmly as you can while transferring your image. This will help the process along.
9: Always keep the iron moving
Never leave the iron in one spot – always keep the iron moving (even if it’s only tiny circles). I once left the iron in one spot and it ended up leaving an ugly brown scorch mark.