Rebecca Runham of Target Transfers demonstrates how a little foil goes a long way

Are your customers always asking you for something new, something that gives their designs an edge? Do you want to expand your customer base by offering high-end and distressed looks? If so, then it‘s time to add some foil to your repertoire, suggests Rebecca Runham, from the application team at Target Transfers.

Foil is simple to add to a design – you can add it to specific areas of a garment or design, and it can be used on cotton, polyester and polycotton fabrics. “All you need is a heat press and a vinyl cutter or some custom transfers,” explains Rebecca. First of all, using a plotter-cutter (a Silhouette Cameo 3 was used here), cut out your design using a cad-cut adhesive for a clear base – Martin recommends the Stahls‘ Cad-Cut Heat Press Adhesive. Alternatively, a custom plastisol transfer can be used. The adhesive or transfer is then heat-pressed onto the fabric; remember to pre-press the garment first to remove any moisture and create a flat, even surface.

Once the adhesive or transfer has cooled and the backing has been removed, it‘s time to lay the foil, shiny side up, on the parts of the design where you‘d like the foil applied. Foil-only patterns can look dramatic, and applying contrasting foil patches to a colour print can lift a design and create a far higher perceived value for only a little extra work and cost. The Stahls‘ Fashion Foil used in the step-by-step, for example, costs £9.99 for a 5m roll (width 30cm) and is available in 12 colours, while the Cad-Cut Heat Press Adhesive is £34.99 for a 9.1m roll (width 30cm).

Once the foil has been heat-pressed on, you can either stop there or heat press it again quickly to give the print a matt look. Distressed looks, which are popular in retail at the moment, are also easily achieved with foil, Rebecca reports. To add some imperfections to the final look, simply scrunch the foil up before heat pressing it – leftover bits from other jobs are perfect for this.


(1) Create your design. There are then two options available to you: either use a cad-cut adhesive, which creates a clear base onto which the foil is applied – the adhesive can be cut on most plotter cutters and is applied like a heat transfer vinyl layer – or use a plastisol transfer

(2) Once you have cut your adhesive or created the transfer, get the heat press up to temperature. The Stahls’ Auto-Open Press was used for this design

(3) Pre-press your garment. No matter what material or finish you are applying to your textile, you must always pre-press. This removes any moisture from the textile and creates an even surface on which to apply the design

(4) Get your adhesive or transfer in place and apply the heat press for eight to 10 seconds at 149-160°C, depending on the manufacturer’s specification. Remember to use release paper to help protect the design

(5) Wait 15-20 seconds for the adhesive or transfer to cool down, then cold-peel the backing

(6) Place the foil shiny side up. You can either cover parts of your base layer or the whole design, depending on what look you would like to achieve. Protect with release paper then put under the heat press for eight to 10 seconds at 149- 160°C; again, this depends on the manufacturer’s specification

(7) Wait for the foil to cool; this should take 15-20 seconds. Once it is cool to the touch you can peel it back

(8) The final look


(1) To create a distressed look, try scrunching the foil up a bit before you place it on the textile. This will add some imperfections and character to the design. It’s also a great way to use up any foil off-cuts. Scrunch up the foil; rose gold Stahls’ Fashion Foil was used here

(2) Place over the heat-pressed adhesive or transfer

(3) Cover with a release paper then heat press for eight to 10 seconds at 149-160°C

(4) Peel off the foil when cool to the touch

(5) The final look

(6) For more of a matt finish, heat press the foil design again for eight to 10 seconds