How to Make an Iron-On Transfer Using an Image Printed with a Toner Printer or Copier

A quick, easy (and cheap!) way to create an iron-on transfer is to use an image printed on a toner printer or copier. Learn how I did it with no special supplies.

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Peeling off the paper to reveal the image.

Back in May, my quilt guild challenged its members to sew name tags to wear to meetings. I was all on board since I appreciate the members who wear name tags because we only meet once a month and I’ve only been attending for about a year and a half now. (I still feel like I don’t know everyone!)

I didn’t know exactly how to put my name to fabric. My handwriting isn’t fancy and embroidery would require extra needlework I didn’t have time for. Alas, buried in the depths of my memory was a 5th grade project my mom helped me with, where we ironed a photocopied image onto a piece of fabric. While I can’t remember the specific requirements of the project, we had to create something about a book we just read (and, no, I can’t remember what book it was). I decided to embroider the image used at the beginning of each chapter onto fabric and then (with a lot of my mom’s help) make it into a pillow. I don’t even know why, but the technique for creating an iron transfer has stuck with me.

Here’s what we did: we simply photocopied the image from the book. We enlarged it and darkened it, too. The more toner the better. Then, my mom ironed the image onto fabric. Voilà! I then had an outline to follow as I embroidered. I’m pretty sure this pillow no longer exists, so while my classmates and teacher seemed impressed, I question my 5th grade handiwork.

It was with that knowledge, that I started on my name tag. I first pulled up Microsoft PowerPoint, because it seems like the most “designy” program in the Microsoft Office suite. I wrote out my name (and my nickname—I wasn’t sure what I’d want fellow quilters to call me). Then, I searched the “Help” section for mirroring text. Instructions for that quickly popped up and I followed them. It’s here I’ll note that you have to mirror the image if it matters, as it does with text. Because you ultimately flip the printout over and iron it to the fabric. I made a couple of sizes to see which I liked best and then printed the sheet using the darkest setting I could. Remember, more toner creates a darker transfer.

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I mirrored the text (image) and played with the size.

I cut out several pieces of the text and practiced ironing it to 100% cotton muslin. I put my iron on high heat and I pressed really hard. I suggest practicing. And, depending on what you plan on doing with your transfer, you may not need it to be perfect. My plan was to leave the transfer as-is, so I wanted it relatively dark. If I was embroidering it, I wouldn’t have needed it as dark, just dark enough to see where to put my needle and thread.

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Post ironing. The regular ol’ printer paper (no need to buy anything fancy!) curls with the heat.
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Carefully peeling off the paper. As you can see, even though it’s dark, it still has a nice distressed look, which I like.

After transferring my name, I stitched it into a name tag, and put a pin back on it.

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The finished name tag.

Here’s the kicker. I don’t love it! The thing I like most about this name tag is the lettering. I’m not crazy about the other fabrics or the size of the whole thing. In fact, I don’t like it so much that I’ve never worn it to a quilt guild meeting! But you know what? That’s how making goes. You’ve gotta make a whole lot of “meh” to get to some good stuff. And, that’s alright with me, because I always enjoy the process.

In a nutshell: How to Make an Iron-On Transfer with an Image Printed with a Toner Printer or Copier

1. Make sure the printer or copier you’re using uses toner. I’ve never tried this with an inkjet printer and I don’t know what a space-age copier uses these days. As far as paper goes, I just used what is in my printer, that is, nothing fancy. Ditto with the copier we used in the 5th grade. Whatever was loaded in there, we used.

2. Select your image and mirror it. If you’re printing from a computer, see if the program you created the image in allows for this. (Search the “Help” menu or Google it.) If you’re using a copier, see if there’s a setting that allows you to mirror.

3. Print the image, cut it out, and select your fabric (I’m thinking 100% cotton probably works best). Turn your iron to a high heat (another reason 100% cotton works—synthetics may melt!).

4. Press really hard and iron the entire image. Play around with what gives you the best results for your purpose. Embroidery outlines may not need to be very dark, but if you’re not doing anything else to the image, you may want it darker.

Now, don’t ask me how this transfer holds up to washing, because I’ve never washed one! But, if you know, by all means, drop a comment below and let us know.

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Mended M&M’s Quilt & 3 Tips on How to Extend the Life of a Quilt

My M&M’s quilt was in dire need of repair after 18 years of use. I removed the damage, added new binding, and discovered with tips for extending a quilt’s life.

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After years of use, my M&M’s quilt had holes and the binding at the top was falling off.

When I left for college, my mom gave me one of the first of her M&M’s quilts. She collected M&M’s fabric for several years and then decided to make a quilt for each of her 6 kids. Luckily, I graduated high school just as she was beginning this endeavor and didn’t have to wait too long for mine. It was my dorm quilt—the quilt I slept under every night for 4 years of college. (I had other quilts and blankets that I layered with it, too.)

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My beloved M&M’s quilt. I love how my mom made log cabin blocks from the colors of M&M’s.

After college, I kept using it and although my mom made and gifted me at least 2 more quilts since the M&M’s quilt, I’ve used it regularly in the 18 years I’ve had it. That is, I used it until the top of the quilt started wearing out and the binding came off and I couldn’t use it without getting tangled up.

Mending this quilt has been on my to-do list for at least a year (it’s on my 2019 To Make List) and the quilt has sat in my office/sewing room for probably that long. (Okay, so maybe I only used the quilt for 17 years before I had to set it aside for mending!) I even bought the fabric for the mending about a year ago! Finally, finally, I set out to mend this quilt last month.

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I bought some M&M’s fabric online that was listed as “cotton.” Alas, it was some type of blend, so I went with this fabric, which I think blends well with the backing of the quilt even if the colors aren’t 100% M&M’s.

It really didn’t take too much time. My method was simple: I cut off the top row of blocks that had all the wear. I then made binding (continuous bias—my first time!), stitched it to the front of the quilt where the batting was now exposed (going a bit down the sides to create a secure finish), and then hand-stitched the binding to the back. Done!

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So, I knew it had to be done, but putting a quilt under my rotary cutter was emotionally hard! I felt like the Yellow M&M’s seen in the fabric! Ha!

As I was working on it, my 4-year-old put dibs on the quilt, so for now, he’s sleeping under it. There are still some worn areas that I know with more time—and probably sooner than 18 years—will require more mending, but I’ll just mend as I go.

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Here, you can see the contrast between the old binding and the new binding.
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My mom had simply folded the backing up to the front to create the binding. Such a good trick!

This was a learning project for me. I made continuous bias binding for the first time. I used the Fons & Porter method, which you can find a video here. My mom had sent me a page from a magazine that explained it and it had a handy formula for how big of a square to start with.

Then, this project really had me thinking about how to extend the life of my quilts. I’m a firm believer that quilts should be USED. They should be slept under and enjoyed and worn out…and mended. How can I get as much use out of a quilt before I have to mend it?

3 Tips on How to Extend the Life of a Quilt:

1. Make non-directional quilts. Don’t design a “top” or “bottom” into a quilt. The M&M’s quilt has directional fabric, all going from top to bottom. I think this is correct and my sense of right and wrong is what led me to keep making my bed with the top of the quilt at the top of the bed! If a quilt is non-directional, then you can do number 2.

2. Rotate your quilt on your bed. Every time you pull it out and put it on your bed, flip what you had been using as the top to the bottom, again and again. My quilts show obvious wear at the top even though I swear I don’t gnaw on them in my sleep!

3. Finally, have lots of quilts to use! This tip is my favorite, because can we really ever have too many quilts or make too many quilts? I don’t think so! With many quilts, you can change the quilt on your bed frequently, instead of just rotating it like in the second tip. I know a lot of quilters make holiday quilts, which I think is a great way to incorporate this idea. Sure, each quilt will be used less than if it was used every single day, but they won’t need mending quite as often.

Have you ever had to mend a favorite quilt? How did you do it? What are your tips for making your quilts last? Let me know in the comments!

New Quilt Pattern Tested: One Block | Three Designs—Desert Series

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Desert Sun Quilt by Maeberry Square

Last month, I had the opportunity to test the newest Maeberry Square quilt pattern by Jessica Plunkett. This unique design uses a single block, but demonstrates 3 different layouts for distinct design options. I chose to make the 42” square Desert Sun design.

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Crop of Desert Sun Quilt

I’ve had a gift card to my local quilt shop in my wallet for some time. It’s not every day that I go to the local quilt shop and I wanted to use it to buy fabric for a special quilt. Now was the time! I flipped through my visual journal of sorts for color inspiration. (It’s a simple composition notebook that I occasionally tape clippings from catalogs and magazines into. Think of a primitive Pinterest board. Except, I cutout items or patterns that strike me and then occasionally, I task myself with adding to the pages—putting like colors or textures together. It’s just for fun with no goal, but it conveniently serves as inspiration for selecting fabrics for quilts.)

Here’s the one I chose: this photo/collage of juicy fruits. With the help of my young daughter, I chose a honeydew-green fabric, blueberry-blue fabric, and strawberry/raspberry-red fabric. I have yet to acquire the fabric for the backing and binding yet, but I’m thinking a deep blackberry purple for the back and cantaloupe-orange for the binding.

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Inspiration collage. Look at all that juicy fruit!

The squares are easy to cutout. The pattern lists exactly how many strips of each fabric to cut and then trim into squares. Having the strip number is so helpful! The blocks come together easily. This pattern uses a half square triangles, so if you’re a beginner quilter and haven’t learned the easy-peasy technique for making them, this pattern will let you in on that secret.

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Desert Sun Quilt

I’m pleased with the result! I thought that my colors would be gender-neutral (it’s a baby-size quilt), but I think the strawberry/red color skews it a bit more feminine. But then, who cares? Once I bind it, the added color may change the overall look. Although, I don’t have specific plans for this quilt just yet. I don’t know how to quilt it—hand, machine, or tie. And, I have three other quilts in progress right now. So, this one will probably be put on the back burner while I work on those. Isn’t it wonderful to have multiple quilts going all at once? Then, you don’t make any rash creative decisions. Haha! At least, this is what I’m telling myself.

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Desert Sun Quilt

If you want to make this quilt (or one of the other variations), the pattern is now available in the Maeberry Square Etsy shop.

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Desert Sun Quilt by Maeberry Square

Completed Zipper Pouches Made from Repurposed Clothes

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Completed pouches from upcyled clothing.

The pouches I had planned to make in April are finally finished! I’m happy with how they turned out and I’m excited that the only new material and notions I used was a bit of batting, some interfacing, and zippers. All of the fabric came from 2 thrifted men’s shirt, a thrifted dress, and a shirt I’ve had in my closet for over a decade (that I never really wore).

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Chambray shirt, silk dress, pinpoint oxford shirt, cotton wrap shirt.

I’ve been visiting the thrift store often this year, and when I see the amount of clothing, I can help but to wonder, what if all the clothing and fabric I need already exists? As in, I don’t need to buy new clothing and I don’t need to buy new fabric for my sewing and quilting projects. There are a few things that don’t mesh with this idea. It’s hard finding the exact piece of clothing you’re looking for in your size (and in good condition!). Also, if using clothing for sewing, the fiber may not be what you want. I purposely stuck to natural fibers. I didn’t want polyester. But, I think it’s a good goal to keep in mind, or at least to make it a goal to always start your shopping with a secondhand retailer. This is especially true for clothing. With online secondhand retailers, you can filter by size, brand, color, and more. So, if you don’t have time to go through the racks at a thrift store, online is a good option with the same outcome.

I digress! Let’s take a look at these pouches I made.

I loved using the chest pockets to create larger pouches. I added some handstitching and a wrist strap to one. I just love the idea of using that chest pocket for pens and pencils, note flags, needle books, maybe a dollar or two.

I tried my hand at the quilt-as-you-go technique. I was pretty loose with my fabric selection and didn’t cut with a ruler. This is probably the closest I’ve come to improv ever. Because it’s quilted, this pouch is thick and stable.

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Right is quilt-as-you-go pouch with fabric from all 4 pieces of clothing. Left is the Essential Pouch from the chambray shirt and floral wrap top.

Using the Essential Pouch pattern from Sotak Patterns, I paired the chambray with the green floral fabric from that shirt I’ve had forever. It was a wrap-style top, so I cut off the ties and used one as a zipper pull.

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Pencil-size pouch from a shirt I kept FOREVER. I think I kept it for so long not because I wore it, but because I loved the fabric!

Finally, I made a pencil-size pouch with the floral top. The lining (which you can’t see here) is the lining from the shirt. I love it!

At some point, I’ll get these listed on Etsy. I had so much fun making them, they deserve to be enjoyed. Plus, who couldn’t use another pouch. I love having one in my purse. I keep to-go sewing supplies in another. Give me a pouch and I’ll find a use for it! Surely there are other pouch enthusiasts out there!

April’s Sewing Goal Unfinished: Zipper Pouches Made from Repurposed Clothes

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Pouch pieces waiting to be sewn.

You read that title right. I did NOT finish my zipper pouches! This was my goal for April’s One Monthly Goal by Elm Street Quilts. My sewjo slipped away and after I was done prepping and making a craft for my daughter’s preschool Easter party and baking a lamb cake for Easter, I was left wondering where the month of April went.

But! I did make progress! I have pieces cut out for 4 pouches. I tried a quilt-as-you-go technique for one of the pouches. I just need to attach the interfacing and stitch them all together.

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Progress on the quilt-as-you-go pouch.

What can I say? Sometimes I can get it done and other times life gets in the way. I think I’m going to take a break from next month’s One Monthly Goal because I now feel like I’m off track. My goal for May was/is to make myself a dress. But, I want to finish these pouches. But, I don’t know if my sewjo has completely returned and I’m not sure if I can finish these pouches and make a dress in a single month. We’ll see!