Transferring an image to fabric can be accomplished by a number of means, but I think the easiest is to use an iron-on transfer sheet. These sheets allow an image to be printed onto the sheet, cut out, and ironed onto the fabric. The above photo shows two different types of iron-on transfer sheets.
The image with the white background was created with HP Iron-on Transfers for Color Fabrics. I printed the image on the transfer paper and transferred it to the fabric (following HP's directions) as follows:
Iron-on transfers work best when the fabric is supported by a firm surface, not an ironing board. I used our granite counter top protected by several layers of newspaper. I added a layer of craft paper between the newspapers and the fabric to prevent the newsprint from rubbing off onto the fabric.
After placing the fabric on my ironing surface, I ironed the fabric to remove wrinkles.
Next, I printed the image, cut it out, and peeled the paper backing off of the image. This type of transfer is placed face up on the fabric.
I placed the provided ironing sheet over the image and pressed with a hot iron according to their instructions.
After allowing it to cool for one minute, I removed the ironing sheet to view the finished image.
As you can see, the white background remains on this type of transfer. That's because it is made for transferring photos and other images onto dark or intensly colored fabrics. The white background prevents the dark fabric from showing through any light areas in the photo or image. Since I would prefer not to have a white background behind this image, this type of transfer paper isn't the best choice for this application.
Next, I tried Soft n Easy Inkjet Iron On T-Shirt Transfer Paper. This transfer paper is made for transferring images to white or light colored fabrics.
Using the same ironed fabric, I applied the image using the instructions that came with the transfer paper. First, I printed a mirror image of my image onto the transfer paper and trimmed with scissors.
Then, I placed the image face down onto the fabric and pressed it with a hot iron.
After allowing it to cool for two minutes, I removed the paper backing.
This transfer paper worked well, transferring the image with a clear background. If I wanted to transfer the image with little or no clear transfer material showing, I would have to carefully trim the image from the transfer paper before ironing.
The above image and others are available at sidetrackedartist.etsy.com.