Printing on Fabric

Posted by on Jan 10, 2014 in blog | 0 comments

Printing on Fabric

Photos can be a great thing to incorporate into fabric crafts. One way to accomplish this is to purchase image transfer paper for inkjet printers. With this product, you can print a reverse image of your photo on to the image transfer paper and then iron it on to a piece of fabric. But you can also just run a piece of fabric through your printer.

You don’t need much to do this project. You’ll need a piece of cardstock, spray adhesive, white or off-white fabric, vinegar, a baking dish, scissors, an inkjet printer, and a pot of black tea if you wish to change the color of your fabric.


Find a piece of fabric and cut it slightly larger than a sheet of paper that can go in your printer. Then hand wash it. I had some white fabric handy, but I wanted more of an ivory color, so I decided to tea dye it.

If you’d like tea dye your fabric, it’s really easy but keep in mind that most synthetic fibers won’t dye well. Stick to natural fibers like cotton or linen. Fill a pot with enough water to submerse your piece of fabric. Bring the pot to a boil and then put your tea in it. Use one tea bag for about every 8 oz. of water you use. Let it steep for a few minutes. If your fabric isn’t already wet from washing it, get it wet again. This will help the fabric dye more evenly. Then drop your fabric in the tea; make sure all of the fabric is submersed in the tea, then let it sit. The type of fabric and the amount of time you leave it in the tea will determine the color. Certain natural fibers hold on to the color better than others and the longer you leave it in the tea, the darker it will be, so check it frequently. Take the fabric out when the it is slightly darker than you want it to be. It will dry lighter. Don’t let it get too dark or it will mess up the color when you print. Rinse it in clean water, tumble it dry, then iron it. The heat from the dryer and iron will help set the color.

Spray a piece of cardstock that can go in your printer with spray glue. Don’t spray the fabric or it will get sticky. Be very careful with spray glue and make sure you only use it in a well ventilated area. Smooth the fabric on to the cardstock. The fabric should be nice and smooth. It should stay in place on the cardstock, but peel off easily. Trim the edges of the fabric so it’s exactly the same size as the paper. Load this in your printer. Make sure you load it so the fabric side will be printed on.


For this project I decided to print a photo and a couple graphics that I found at Format your photo and print it on to your fabric. I was prepared for a massive printer jam at this point, but the fabric/cardstock went through just fine. Let the ink dry for about 10 minutes then peel the fabric off the cardstock.


To make the photo more permanent, fill a baking dish or tray with a lip with white vinegar and soak the fabric in it for about five minutes. I was sort of nervous putting the fabric in the vinegar because I was fully expecting all the ink to wash away. Amazingly, it didn’t. Then I thought it would wash away when I rinsed the vinegar out, but the fabric was fine. Rinse your fabric with water until it doesn’t stink anymore. I was still pretty gentle with the fabric. Instead of wringing it out when I was done, I rolled it up in a towel to get excess moisture out. Then let it dry and iron it flat.


You can see in the picture below that even though your printing surface has a texture, you can still get really nice detail.


Then, you can do whatever you like with your fabric. You can frame it. I chose to frame the photo with an embroidery hoop instead of a traditional frame. I made a hair clip with the graphics I printed. You can make the fabric into any number of things like a throw pillow, a bag or change purse, or other small accessories. I think printing on fabric is one of the easiest crafts I’ve ever done.


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