diy project: inkjet transfer table settings

for my third textile upgrade project, i drew inspiration from the work of lisa stickley. her vintage china tablecloth is truly gorgeous and i love how she employs photorealism in her work. i wanted to do the same, so i used a simple inkjet printer transfer paper for these and i was amazed with the results. transfer paper has come a long way in the past few years. gone are the days of glossy, rubbery images; these transfers are crisp and clean and completely flexible and soft on the fabric. you can do so many variations on the images for these linens: botanicals, figurines, vegetables, plates of your favorite foods, cooking utensils, tchotskies, etc. i recommend printing everything at life size to compliment the realist look. get your camera and go to the grocery store! have fun! –kate pruitt


CLICK HERE for the full project after the jump!


1. photos of food, dishes, figurines, plates, etc. (anything you want, make sure it high resolution)
2. scissors
3. inkjet printer transfer paper
4. inkjet color printer
5. napkins and placemats (mine are from ikea and cost less than a dollar each)
6. iron
7. computer



1. if you don’t want to take the photographs of objects yourself, you can find some great images in food magazines, or cookbook images, or just search flickr for yummy food photos. upload your photos to your computer and play around with them to get them to be the size you want. make a couple black and white prints on 8.5 x 11 paper to check that you like the size and detail on your photos. you want your images to be something you can cut all the way around to have a freestanding object. the transfers print in reverse so if that matters to your object, you need to reverse the image on your computer before printing.

2. when you have the images ready at the size you want them to be, print them in color on your transfer paper according to the directions on the package of the transfer paper. if you have the option on your printer, you should choose the highest quality of printing.

3. allow the transfer prints to dry. meanwhile, iron all the wrinkle out of your placemats and napkins on high temperature with no steam. allow these to cool.

4. cut out your shapes with scissors. you want to cut all excess off your shapes and cut right up to the edge of you object.

5. lay the transfer paper down on the fabric and iron it down according to the transfer paper instructions.

6. continue following the transfer instructions for cooling, peeling off the backing, and setting the image.



  1. kristy says:

    darling! I love the whimsy of the floating donuts! what a cute idea!

  2. These are so clever! I am going to try this for napkins as well.

  3. great idea, i have used these, but i love the food photos as imagery! well done!

  4. amy says:

    Why no steam when you iron?

  5. Too cute! Would be a lot of fun to try for a little girl’s Alice in Wonderland tea party with the fun assorted tea cup and saucer images on some placemats and Mad Hatter hats, and white rabbits on others; maybe pocket watches on the napkins?

    Thanks for the idea; really adorable and because its super easy and relatively quick to make I’ll be more likely to give it a try.

  6. codger says:

    Are they washable?

  7. carol says:

    such a cute idea :)

  8. Abby says:

    These are so fun and could be used a million different ways. I love the floating food on the white background but also want to know: are they washable?

  9. juliette says:

    I think steam could leave moisture in the fabric thereby causing the transfer not to adhere properly. I’m loving this idea and need to know the German for transfer paper, ha!

  10. love this, kate! i can definitely handle this :)


  11. jess says:

    Just to warn you, most grocery stores have a “no camera” policy. I know Whole Foods does, and I wouldn’t be surprised if other chain grocery stores do too. I’m not saying it isn’t worth a try, but don’t be surprised if you get asked to leave for taking photos.

  12. Marlene says:

    What a fantastic idea! I’m off to IKEA this weekend to get napkins to do this project.

  13. Kayt says:

    So cute! I’ve used transfers before, but I never thought to use them like this.

    Amy: Most of the iron-on transfers get kind of smooshy, for lack of a better word, when they get steamed. They don’t iron on properly. This is a total guess, but I think the steam creates little pockets under the transfer that don’t stick right. All they need to adhere right is straight heat.

    Codger: I haven’t made this exact project, but I have used that type of transfer paper. In my experience, it’s best to handwash the fabric. If you put it in the washer, the transfers tend to wrinkle, crinkle, and peel a bit.

  14. ginny branch says:

    stop it! i love this so much! now that i have a printer, i will have to give this a shot!

  15. kim says:

    this is so exciting… i’ve been dreaming up all sorts of transfer paper ideas recently, so i am glad someone was able to comment on the quality of the paper.

  16. gwyn says:

    such a fun and happy project!

  17. Shanon says:

    I love this project, it looks like so much fun. I’d have a hard time trying not to each those donuts though. haha

  18. Shanon says:

    Eat, I mean. haha I clearly meant “eat.” ; )

  19. These are simply amazing. I really love them!

  20. Caroline says:

    I think pictures of a knife, fork & spoon would be especially great — you know, as a trompe l’oeil place setting.

    I don’t even own any placemats, but I may have to go buy some to do this project… Too cute!!

  21. Wilhemina says:

    Hey, Juliette, I think the German word is Zwischenträgerpapier.

  22. Nativeson71 says:

    What brand?
    How much?

    1. grace says:


      any brand will do, and you can use as much or as little as you like, depending on how many images (and at what size) you’d like to do.


  23. Kate says:

    Great project! You’re right that transfer paper is what it use to be… I use transfers for almost everything I do these days. I have a hobby size heat press and it makes the transferring quicker. I transfer images to all sorts of things… tiles, wood, paper, fabric, paper. The high heat of the press also avoids the wrinkling you will get if you use a standard hand iron on fabrics.

  24. Vie Lewis says:

    stop stop I have enough craft things to do..

  25. Helen says:

    @Juliette and Wilhelmina: “Zwischenträgerpapier” is not iron-on paper.

    Just go to any paper store and ask for ‘Inkjet Transferpapier für T-Shirt und Textilien.’ There really is no German word for ‘iron-on transfer’ unfortunately.

  26. Helen says:

    But the stacked teacups in the main photo…where are they from? I’m obsessed and have been searching Flikr, to no avail :(

  27. SusanO says:

    @Helen – just type “stacked teacups” into Google, including the quotation marks, and when the results page pops up click on “images” in the top left corner. Tons! Have fun!

  28. Esther says:

    @ Helen – it looks like she took the photos herself b/c there are a bunch of tea cups in the other photos, if you notice. :) They match the stacked ones.

  29. printers says:

    Steam iron should be avoided because it can leave moisture in the fabric thereby causing the transfer not to adhere properly.

  30. karumen says:

    this is too cute! i wonder where can i get these transfer papers..??

  31. Susan says:

    You have to hand wash these? Napkins? Really? That makes this unworkable. It seems you can wash clothes with transfers, why not these?

    1. Grace Bonney says:


      you can machine wash them after you’ve hand washed them a few times to ensure adhesion of the transfers.


  32. Patti says:

    Are these images (of the candies) available? I’d love to try using them.


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