Saturday, 27 April 2013

How I print onto fabric

A few people have asked me how here's how I do it.

First of all there's two different ways I do it printing directly onto the fabric and using an iron on film. We'll do that one first.

I use t-shirt transfer film, which was created for people to add their own images onto t-shirts. I buy mine, for light backgrounds, from Wilkinsons.

As these are A4 in size, and what I usually want to print is smaller than that I add enough images on to fill the whole page to cut down on wastage.

One thing you MUST remember, if there's any writing or images that have to be a certain way around you need to print them in mirror image (you should be able to do this via the advanced properties section of the printer function on your computer). Once you've sorted that out print your image onto the plain side of the paper (it depends on your printer which way round you need to put the paper so that it does that, in mine, it's right-side up).

To use the image, cut it out of the one you want and place it face down onto the fabric you want to add it. Make sure your iron is on the next to hottest setting, and iron over the paper, making sure you keep the iron moving. After about a minute check a little corner to make sure that the image has started to come away from the paper. Pull the paper of in one go if you can, otherwise you'd leave kinks in the image.

The image on your fabric now is made from a film so putting a needle through it is hard and it leaves holes. A sewing machine will work though, but remember, if you make a mistake and have to unpick it, it will leave a hole.

The image on this pillow is one printed onto film, ironed directly onto the fabric of the pillow. This rose pillow is available in my Folksy store.
This image has been printed onto white cotton that has been sewn onto the backing fabric. (This collage is available to buy in my Folksy store.
 Printing directly onto fabric means you can do a lot more with your image. To print onto fabric, take an A4 piece of thinnish card and add strips of double-sided sellotape to the card. You could add sellotape to the whole of the card, but to save tape I have found that what's on my example below does okay. You need to make sure that there's plenty at the leading edge of the paper as this is the first bit into the machine.

I've used calico, cotton, hessian. You just need something that's not overly thick. A little bit if of trial and error will let you know how well your machine prints onto difference fabrics. 

Cut out a piece of fabric and stick it to the card with the sellotape, making sure it is as smooth as possible. Trim the edges of the fabric, if necessary, so that it's exactly the same size as the card.
A piece of fabric attached to the card ready for printing.
Pop your fabric covered card in your printer so that the images print onto the fabric, remembering to print on mirror image, the same as for printing onto the transfer paper. Peel your fabric off its cardboard backing. I've not tried to wash anything that I've printed directly onto fabric so I don't know whether it is colour fast or not.

Images printed onto cotton.

Images printed onto rough linen.

You can reuse the card with the tape on it for a few more time, you just have to make sure that it is still sticky enough to grip the fabric.

Now you can print onto fabric, your world is your oyster.

Have fun.

I'm taking oart in Handmade Monday, pop over to read what other makers have been up to here



  1. This is great to know! Thanks for sharing! I would never have thought you could put fabric through a printer!

  2. Seeing your success with printing direct onto fabric makes me want to have another go - so far I've had mixed success but it's great when it works!

  3. Thank you for sharing this with us - it looks a great way to make a different type of topper for my cards. Hope you have a good week.

  4. This is really interesting to know about, with some gorgeous results! Thank you very much for sharing :) x

  5. This is something I've been meaning to do for a long time. There are so many possibilities - thanks for sharing.

  6. Oh my word I have to try the direct printing, it looks such fun! Failing that I'm going to Wilkinsons for some of that film. Thank you. xxx

  7. There is so much that you can do with this. As you say the possibilities are endless. Thanks for sharing.

  8. I have been wondering about this for a while so thank you for the information. It seems to work well for you so I am going to have a go!

  9. I like the iron on method, I didn't know Wilko's done the transfer paper, there is one local to me so I'll be popping in soon and giving it a try, thank you for sharing this.

    Jan x

  10. I've been printing my own t-shirts, using the iron-on method, for years. It's a brilliant way of making unique clothing.

    Never tried printing directly onto cloth so will have to try it xx

  11. Wow - your images look great! I always worry with home printing that they won't come out looking very professional, but yours look wonderful and very professional! Simmi x

  12. Hi Louise, what lovely, lovely pillows. I love the way you embellished them. Thank you for sharing with us how you made them.

  13. Great information! I want to have a go now! Great name btw (from another Louise!)