Tutorial: Specimen Tags

This is my first ever tutorial which even includes my own voice! So I do apologize for the “roughness” of this first, in hopefully, a series of tutorials.

The idea of creating specimen tags, as what I call it, was inspired by some tags I saw on Pinterest a while ago and my mind has been spinning with ideas on how to achieve a similar look – transferring images into fabric (scraps). A few years ago, I purchased a rub-on transfer for fabric (I don’t think that exists anymore) but that was limited to only white and not much option on the design or imagery.

All you need are:

  1. T-shirt iron-on transfer paper
  2. Inkjet printer
  3. Fabric scraps
  4. Rubber stamps
  5. Ink pads (preferably ones with pigment inks)
  6. Iron

Step 1: Collect images you want to use. In my case, I searched for vintage botanicals which I found that were royalty-free. Depending on the size of your iron-on transfer paper, consolidate the images into the page size and then print.

Note: Do not forget to reverse your image if there are any visible words. For mine, they were too small to be legible so it doesn’t matter.

STEP 2: Once your page has finished printing, I recommend to fussy cut each image because some iron-on transfer papers leave a bit of the paper residue on the fabric. To be on the safe side, I cut my images close to the image but still keeping a narrow white border around as it’s easier especially when the image has a lot of details.

Next is to gather your materials…

STEP 3: Gather fabric scraps or strips. Can be cotton or linen. I chose linen because it has the sort of vintage-y look that I am going after. Also best if you choose plain/solid colors especially if you have a colourful image to transfer.

STEP 4: Gather the ink pads you want to use. The Versafine is the best, in my opinion.

STEP 5: Gather some rubber stamps. I recommend those simple ones with frames, journaling ones or any that you have and you think will work well with your tags.


I experimented with 2 approach which I will share below. The first approach is directly stamping first on your fabric scrap.

STEP 7: Then iron an image on top of that stamp you just did.

STEP 8: The other approach is to first iron the image onto your fabric scrap.

STEP 9: Add a stamp on top of the image that you just transferred.

Some final thoughts:

  • Read the instructions for your iron-on transfer paper ie compatibility with different printers or whether it is specific for dark or light fabric.
  • Check the heat settings on your iron for your iron-on transfer paper. Different paper may have different heat requirements and how long you need to place it under your iron.
  • I have encountered that if I let the image cool on the fabric, you will never be able to peel the paper no matter if you run the iron on top again. So I had to peel the paper as soon as I put the iron down.
  • Depending on the image, your stamp may still be visible underneath. On some of my specimen tags, part of the stamping did not show through.
  • Experiment with different fabric colours and texture or weights or even fabrics with simple patterns. You might get a cool result.

As promised, here is the video of how I made my specimen tags.

Can’t wait to see what you make with this tutorial and when you do, please tag me on IG — @abshanghai #arlynaspecimentag

Have fun!


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