Post 3081: A printing on fabric tutorial

Often when I post projects on instagram or facebook that utilize my photos on fabric – I get asked how I print on fabric. There are half a dozen ways to do this – but this method has always worked for me and I haven’t seen it written up elsewhere – though it’s very similar to the freezer paper method. I don’t love the idea of sending waxed paper through my printer and I find this to be a more stable technique. Likewise, you can purchase printable fabric with stabilizers or backing paper – but that really limits your choice in fabric.

What you will need:

  • an inkjet printer
  • Avery shipping label sheets #8165 – 8.5 x 11
  • Plain cotton fabric you wish to print on
  • A digital image that you want to print

First off – the Avery labels are the largest size shipping labels – one sheet is one label:

Take your shipping labels and fabric over to the ironing board and iron your fabric flat. Once you have done that, unpeel one of the labels and put it, sticky side down on your fabric. Make sure that it is really stuck onto the fabric, the corners in particular. I usually finish off a piece by flipping it over and ironing it lightly (and on the dry/no steam setting) on the fabric side as well.

Next, trim your fabric from around the edges so that your sheet is a cleanly-trimmed 8.5 x 11 sheet.

Now what you have is fabric with a stiff paper backing, which your inkjet printer will treat like a heavy stock paper. To print on it, put it fabric side down in the printer and then print your image as normal. You can put more than one sheet at a time in the feeder, I usually don’t – because I don’t want to risk fabric/sticker jams which can happen.

I recommend, before printing – that you make some test prints on paper so that you can see what your image is going to look like on the fabric. If you are using a plain cotton fabric, your image will print identically to what you see on the blank paper.

Once your fabric is printed, peel off the sticker back:

Iron your fabric on the dry setting again – several times to get it nice and hot. This will heat-set the ink which allows the fabric to be washed without losing the print.

You can print in colour just the same – note that the ink comes out a bit less crisp on fabric so you might want to saturate your images more in the prepping process.

And yes, it is that simple.

(Note – the fabric I used for these samples was dyed with berries which is why it is pink – that has nothing to do with the printing process.)

2 Comments on “Post 3081: A printing on fabric tutorial

  1. So you don’t treat your fabric with anything? Heat setting is enough? I’ve been buying the commercial fabric sheets, but am not really happy. You sure make it sound easy.

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