How to Print on Fabric

In keeping with my never ending quest to ruin my printer, I have for you today … How to Print on Fabric.

This is part one in a two part post on an easy Easter craft I have for you. This particular technique however can be used for just about anything.

You think printing on wood was dangerous? This is just as dangerous.

Before reading any further you might want to consider taking a deep breath and centring yourself so you’re better able to cope with the very powerful information I’m about to bestow upon you. At the very least get those handcuffs out of your underwear drawer and keep ’em handy.

Once you learn how to do this you may just need to lock yourself up.

Here we go!

Title

Materials

Freezer Paper
Inkjet Printer (this is the one I use and can guarantee works for this)
Fabric (I used burlap) which was a pretty bold choice.  Thin cotton would be easier to work with.

 

Steps

Step 1.  Place a piece of freezer paper, waxy side down, onto the wrong side of your fabric.  Iron.  The freezer paper will stick to your fabric.

Print On Fabric 1

Step 2.  Place standard sized printer paper on top.  This is so you know how wide to cut your fabric.  Anything wider than 8″ won’t work for most inkjet printers.  It can be longer than a standard sheet of paper, just not wider.  Using your computer paper as a pattern/guide, cut your fabric.

Print On Fabric 2

 

Step 3.  Take the computer paper off, flip the fabric around and you now have the piece of fabric you’re going to print on.  The freezer paper will be stuck to the wrong side of the fabric, and the right side is ready for printing on.

Print On Fabric 3

Step 4.  The freezer paper acts as a stabilizer for your fabric.  Feed it into your printer, like you would regular paper.


 

Step 5.  Press print!

It took me a few tries to get the fabric to feed through the printer so don’t be discouraged if this happens. I was also printing on burlap which is thicker than many fabrics.  If your fabric doesn’t feed through see if your printer has settings for different thicknesses of paper.   Some do, some don’t.  Sometimes putting a small stack of regular printer paper behind the fabric/freezer paper helps as well.


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The freezer paper can be used over and over again. Just carefully peel it off the back of your fabric and iron it on your next piece. If you’re working with burlap and are planning to sew it, it’s best to leave the freezer paper on though because it helps stabilize the fabric while you’re sewing and stops the edges from fraying. Just peel away once you’re done sewing.

Print On Fabric 6

The quality is shocking. You will be shocked.

And yes, it is exactly as easy as it seems.

Come back tomorrow to see what I turned this bunny on burlap into.

And break out the handcuffs.

 

how-to-print-on-fabric,/div>
 

(note: It just occurred to me that it may be possible to print on fabric wider than 8″ if the fabric is a thin cotton by folding the fabric in half or thirds and running it through for printing. Once done, unfold and voila. Wider fabric.)


49 Comments

  1. TucsonPatty says:

    I am so excited to read this – I want to do something for our Silent Auction at our Family Reunion this summer and have been trying to figure out how, and to not break the bank – thank you, thank you.
    I think this will work. If I don’t break my printer!

  2. Jamieson says:

    How can this possibly not ruin your printer?? What are the fabric care instructions – can you wash it? Will the ink come off the fabric later onto other surfaces? This is crazy talk!

    • Karen says:

      It is crazy talk. I agree. Completely and whole heartedly. I haven’t tested washing it, but plan on it. Guess I should have done that before the post, eh? My plan is to spray the print with vinegar then iron it with a hot iron. Then cross my fingers and wash. ~ karen!

      • Stacy.P says:

        Heat setting the ink is a good plan! I might let the ink air dry for 24 hours before running your iron over it (also use a press cloth/scrap fabric to keep your iron clean and safe!)

  3. Raymonde says:

    Do you have a recipe to make our own printer ink? With all your great ideas, I’ll be using a whole lot! 🙂

    • Deb J. says:

      Funny you should ask that. I heard a show on CBC – ‘Spark’ I think – where they talked to a guy who has discovered a bacteria that grows printer ink. And he can grow colours! I believe he intends to open source it. Can’t you just see Karen growing her own ink:) Waiting for THAT post!

  4. Pati Gulat says:

    AWESOME !!! I have some drop cloth fabric that I think this will be great on so without further ado I’m OFF to make pillows for my living room ! 😀

  5. beth says:

    my print on fabric, was not water proof! oops, it was printed on fabric from the sewing store that goes in your printer…hopefully yours will not bleed. love the hare image it’s a classic!

  6. Karla says:

    Let the printed fabric dry for at least 24 hours, then press it at the highest temp the fabric can take, using a pressing cloth (otherwise it may smear on the iron). Handwash the finished product. Quilters do this to transfer printed images for memory quilts.

  7. Amie Mason says:

    Woah! You just wrinkled my brain!

  8. Auntiepatch says:

    OMG!

  9. Tigersmom says:

    Thanks for the laugh in the first line. It sounds exactly like something I would say and I needed it this morning as I have been triumphant in my quest to kill my I-phone by dropping it at least 7-10 times daily.

    I know I struggle with technology at times, but you don’t have to know how crack is made to become addicted to it…..

  10. JennyW says:

    Silly question here, but how do you know if you have an ink jet printer? It doesn’t say anywhere on the printer, and I bought it a few years ago. Why will this work with only an inkjet? I tried to print on freezer paper taped to printer paper once, to make a furniture transfer, and it was all wonky 🙁

    • Karen says:

      JennyW – If your printer takes 2 little ink cartridges it’s an ink jet printer. Chances are, it’s an inkjet printer you have. 🙂 ~karen

  11. Su says:

    OM Gosh super cute… gotta try this!

  12. Sue says:

    JennyW, an ink jet printer has little cartridges of ink (black and/or colored ones) that you have to replace periodically.

  13. Well, honestly. Are you reading my mind? I’ve been wanting to know how to do exactly this with all the cool Etsy prints available, with NO idea where to even start looking for information.
    Thank you muchly! 🙂

  14. sideroad 40 says:

    I have done this on several pieces of burlap as wedding décor. They all turned out beautifully. I made sure to vacuum the printer inside and out a few times in between pieces as burlap is kind of ‘dusty’. Printing can also be done in colour as with paper printing for a cool effect. A year has passed since doing my projects and the printer is still working like a charm!

  15. Ann says:

    OK-I finally have something to tell you that will rock your world. Don’t use the freezer paper. Go to Staples or any other big box office supply store. Buy a box of 8.5 X 11 sticky label sheets. The kind that have the peel off back. Then use the label to adhere your fabric to. It really grabs the fabric and allows it to get thru the printer much easier. I rarely have any issue getting it to go thru first time without it catching any edges and scrunching things up. The only tiny issue is it can pull the fabric out of shape a little when peeling the label off later. But I just take my time and slowly pull. Then gently iron the fabric back into the original shape.

    As far as wash fastness of ink jet printed fabrics. Colors will wash out pretty fast. The black will last a bit longer. You can pre treat fabric with a liquid called Ink Jet Set which you can buy at a quilt/fabric store or on line. Or just not wash what you have printed. I have a pic of a dear sweet departed kitty that has been on a crazy quilt sq now for many years without any real fading. But I have also used this method to make labels for traditional bed quilts and had much of the printing wash away unless treated first.

    You can also spend a little more if you really want permanence, and buy pre-treated fabric sheets with the carrier sheet already on. And this fabric is often the very best for fabric printing. This is what I would use if I were to want to do a precious memory quilt. Or pay someone to professionally print it for you. I think websites like Spoonflower will do this for you.

    But for quicky one time projects the labels are the way to go. I promise it is so much better than freezer paper

    • Karen says:

      HI Ann! I actually read about using sheet labels, but decided to go with freezer paper on my own because it’s easier for people to get their hands on. Most people have a grocery store closer to them than a Staples. But under your recommendation I will give the label sheets a shot! I may even have some here. Thx! ~ karen

    • Theresa Lyvers says:

      When do you take the labels off, before or after printing?

  16. Melissa in North Carolina says:

    LOVE THIS…I have a project in mind 🙂 THANK YOU!!!

  17. Reg says:

    Fabulous idea. Just think what you could do with a 3D printer.

  18. Tina says:

    Golden makes a digital ground that you brush on fabric, let dry, and run through your printer. I’ve had good results with it on cotton, canvas, and a metallic card stock. Unfortunately, it’s not waterproof.

    http://willceau.com/news/2012/06/20/printing-fabric/

  19. Olequiltbat says:

    I did two album quilts this way, and each had 148 photo’s of all family members on them.
    One was for my mom for her 80th birthday and had all our family photo’s on it.
    The other was a wedding quilt for our son and daughter-in-law and had our family and hers on it.
    The one for my mother came back to me after her death, and now hangs in my bedroom, so I see all the family faces every day.
    The wedding quilt hangs in our son & daughter-in-laws home on their stairway wall.
    Don’t think these quilts would be washable. I’d do some kind of stabilizer to make sure the pictures
    don’t “shatter” and you lose some of the design — which happened to my mom’s quilt because the photo’s weren’t printed properly at Staples. The ones I did myself have stayed better…and I’ve done
    several more projects with this system. You can get a product called “Bubble Jet Set” and you soak your fabric in that and then dry it..and your designs will stay on your fabric. Have fun with this and good luck. You’ll really enjoy doing this.
    Sandy

  20. When you talk about freezer paper, is that also called wax paper? I did this a while back but just used regular printer paper and used that spray adhesive to stick my fabric to the sheet. Worked great. Also you could use the sheet more than once…about three times before I would have to re-spray it. Would love to get a hold of freezer paper though and try that! Great post Karen. Thanks!

  21. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Love it..waiting for part two!

  22. Marion says:

    You are a genius. Can I just leave work and print on fabric and craft and sew pillows the rest of the day!?!?

  23. Feral Turtle has a good question. There is wax paper like Cut-Rite; white freezer paper, and then there is the paper that butchers use which I creatively call—butcher paper. Wax paper is out for this one, but I’m wondering if your white freezer paper is the same as butcher paper. If I was only doing one or two, I could get the butcher paper free from the grocery store.

    For any fabric, I wouldn’t wash it and would spray it with three coats of water protector made for SHOES if it was going to be in the elements.

  24. Christina R says:

    I will try this with some handkerchiefs, cheap ones from the dollar store and if it goes well some vintage ones I’ve had forever. Am hoping to use them in wedding invitations or as favors, perfect timing Karen!

  25. Louise says:

    Wow! I LOVE this! There have been so many times I could have used this in the past, and i know there will be many more now and in the future. Thank you!

  26. Janet Thomson says:

    Hello Karen
    Found this on the Free People website and thought it was brilliant!!!! Sending you the link if it is allowed here….now we just need to find out where to get blender pens:
    http://blog.freepeople.com/2014/03/diy-photo-transfers/

  27. Cynna says:

    Fun stuff! This site http://www.thegraphicsfairy.com has tons of amazing (royalty-free) images, plus DYI ideas, and it’s addicting.

  28. Shauna says:

    we are so in sync lately. You’ve now posted two tutorials that I had recently looked up prior to you posting – the printing on wood and the printing on fabric. Both of these I’m using for things I’m making to sell at my craft fair. So, I will not be pointing anyone to your blog who shops at my booth because I want them to buy from me and not learn how to make it themselves 🙂

  29. Maureen says:

    THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING!

  30. Agnes says:

    Karen I have never found freezer paper in any of my regular grocery stores. I always thought it was only available in the U.S…..until I was tipped off to a local source. They carry it in the “restaurant supply” section of the PC Wholesale Club in Waterloo. I bought a giant roll- 900′ for $27 (the paper is brown). They also sold the Ziploc brand freezer paper in white, but it was $5 for only 50′.

  31. Maria says:

    This is a old quilters trick. Being old and a quilter, I know this. In my experience color doesn’t work all that well but black ink will knock you out with how good it looks. Use a hot hot iron, no steam and an old piece of muslin. Cover the image with the muslin and iron on both sides. This will set the ink into the fabric and make it washable. Cold water, tumble dry, no chlorine bleach. I use this technique to make labels for my quilts and to alter quilt fabric Nice tip Karen.

  32. Barbie says:

    YOur so brave to do this on burlap! I’m impressed. I did it on regular fabric to make a flag banner with my daughter and her husbands name for their wedding and I swear it was touchy! I messed up a bunch and finally got all I needed! Came out great. Can’t wait to see what’s next.

    • Karen says:

      I figure if I wreck my printer, I wreck my printer. All in the name of science. Or the blog. Or something like that. 😉 ~ karen!

  33. Johna Van Dyke says:

    Can you write a bit about your image? It is obviously longer than 8.5X11. How do you get the printer to print something so long?
    Wonderful though!

  34. elizabeth weinrich says:

    Can’t wait to try — more ideas please

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