Add designs to your clothes with clip art

Applies to
Microsoft Office Word

Using clip art is a great way to dress up your documents and presentations, but did you know that clip art can also dress up your wardrobe? With help from T-shirt transfer paper, you can use clip art to personalize your kids' school clothes or create T-shirts for a special event.

Finished T-shirt

About this project

Customizing your clothes is fun and simple. All you need are some regular household supplies and transfer paper, which you can find at your local craft store.

The example in this article tells how to create a T-shirt for a company special event. However, you can apply these instructions to creating anything from T-shirts for your family reunion to sweatshirts for the kids’ soccer team. No matter what your project is, let yourself be creative and have fun. This is a great project to do with friends and family.

Getting started

Gather all of the following supplies before you start working on the project—this will make the process more efficient:

  • One white or light-colored T-shirt
  • Transfer paper
  • Clothes iron
  • Clip art from the Clip Art and Media site on Microsoft Office Online
  • Microsoft Word
  • Scissors
  • Cotton pillowcase or cloth
  • Clock for timing

Creating your T-shirt

For best results, set up a workstation on a large flat surface.

To make your design

  1. Choose one or more clips from the Clip Art and Media site. Download the clips, and then open a new Microsoft Word document.
  2. Copy and paste your clips into the Word document. There, you can resize your images and add text through the WordArt feature, located on the Drawing toolbar.

 Note   If you are adding text to your clip art, you need to select the text box and then choose In Front of Text, on the Picture toolbar. This lets you position your text on top of the clip art.

  1. To group the text and clip art together, you'll need to change the text wrapping option. For WordArt, the text wrapping option is located on the WordArt toolbar. For clip art, the text wrapping button is located on the Picture toolbar. Select Square as your text wrapping option for both the text and clip art. You can now group the text and clip art together by selecting each element while also holding down the SHIFT key. Then right-click the image and click the Grouping option. The image and text should now move as a single piece.
  2. Select the image, and then on the Drawing toolbar, point to Draw and then click Rotate or Flip. Finally, click Flip horizontal. This creates a mirror image of the clip that will appear correctly when ironed onto a T-shirt.

 Note   Click and drag the image to position it where you want it on the document, making sure to leave a margin on all sides to accommodate your printer.

  1. Print the document, and set it aside to dry. Follow the printing instructions on the transfer paper package—different brands have different procedures for loading the paper.

 Note   You might want to print a test version on draft quality to make sure the image has been flipped correctly.

  1. With a sharp pair of scissors, carefully trim the transfer paper, leaving a ¼-inch margin around the printed image. Because the blank areas will transfer, it is important to trim the excess.

Before and after flipping image horizontally

To prepare your workstation

  1. Preheat the iron to the hottest setting.
  2. Prepare your ironing surface by placing a cotton pillowcase over the surface and ironing out any wrinkles. It is important that the ironing surface is completely flat and wrinkle-free.

 Note   Your ironing surface needs to support up to 50 pounds of pressure, so an ironing board might not work. Instead, try using a sturdy table or countertop.

  1. Lay your T-shirt over the center of the pillowcase, and iron it until completely smooth. Your T-shirt must be wrinkle-free and completely dry. You might want to iron for an additional minute to remove any moisture.
  2. Position the transfer paper with your design face-down on the T-shirt, in the exact location where you want your design to be.

Hand ironing T-shirt Hands placing transfer paper on T-shirt

To transfer your design

  1. Place the iron over the transfer paper and then press, making sure to apply at least 50 pounds of pressure. Using both hands with elbows locked, start at the corners and move the iron in small circles around the perimeter of the transfer paper, and then start moving toward the center. Make sure your iron overlaps the edges and corner so that all areas of the paper get transferred, and keep the iron moving.

Tip Refer to the transfer paper packaging for recommended ironing times. Depending on the size of your design, the ironing time can range from one to three minutes.

Hands pressing transfer paper with heated iron

  1. Set the T-shirt aside, and let it cool.
  2. Tear one corner of the transfer paper away from the fabric using your fingernail or a dull knife. Continue to peel using one hand to hold the fabric, while the other hand lifts the paper. If the paper begins to tear, start peeling from another corner.

Hands peeling transfer paper away from T-shirt

After the transfer paper has been removed, your customized T-shirt is ready to wear. When you wash it, turn it inside out and wash it in cold water without bleach. Place in the dryer immediately after washing to prevent the colors from bleeding.

Finished T-shirt

Experiment with placement

Don't forget that the entire T-shirt can be used. You can try placing a smaller version of your design on a sleeve so it can serve as a logo, or you could use a shirt with a collar and place your design on there. The possibilities are endless, so don't limit yourself!

Why stop with T-shirts?

These transfers will work on anything cotton, so try adding clip art to a party tablecloth or baby onesies.