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I really like those stereotypical farmhouse cushion covers with the writing on them. You know the ones that have what looks like an old store sign/feed bag/whatever printed on them? Yeah. They’re cool.
But they can be really expensive. And I am very cheap.
So one of my favourite ways to save money when decorating is by creating my own custom cushion covers using iron-on transfer paper.
The process is really simple. All you need is some iron-on transfer paper (you can get some here), some plain cushion covers (you can get a cheap multipack here or buy a single cover from IKEA), and some cheap cushion inserts (again, IKEA is a good source). Create your design, print it, then iron it on. Repeat with several different designs and you’ve got unique cushions for every room in your house without spending an absolute fortune.
Here’s an example of one I made this week:
I also used this technique to transfer the design on to the flower market cushion I posted a few weeks ago.
While making these cushions is pretty easy as far as DIY projects go, iron-on transfer paper can be a bit temperamental if you’re not familiar with it. By “a bit temperamental”, I mean I’ve definitely burnt a cushion before. I’m a walking hazard.
With this in mind, below I’ve included a few beginner-friendly tips and tricks for using transfer paper (and not burning your cushion in the process).
Using iron-on transfer: Tips & tricks
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
Don’t try to iron the design then remove the backing paper all at once. Instead, work in small sections. 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 (during my first attempt at the customised calico bag) and it ended up leaving an ugly brown scorch mark.
Free downloadable design
If you’d like to make the cushion in this post, click here to download the design.