Fabric Printing Guide
Fabrics that have been professionally prepared
Fabrics You Can Print Yourself
Fabric should be treated for colorfastness.
Printing on Fabric
How to Print on Fabric
- If you’re using a product to pre-treat the fabrics, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for treatment and drying.
- Tear a 12-inch section of freezer paper and cut away a section that is just over 8 1/2 inches across.
- Using freezer paper as a guide, press a piece of treated cotton fabric that is slightly larger than the freezer paper. Steam should not be used on pretreated fabrics. Remove any remaining loose threads from the fabric’s surface.
- Place the shiny side of the freezer paper on top of the fabric’s wrong side (if there is one), and press the paper side with a medium-hot iron (no steam)
- Trim the glued pair to 8 1/2 by 11 inches with rotary cutting equipment, a size that works with most printers. If the fabric splits from the freezer paper along one edge, iron it again. It’s critical that all of the fabric’s edges are securely fastened to the paper and free of loose threads.
- Create and trace around an 8 1/2 by 11-inch template if you don’t have rotary cutting tools (a piece of cardstock works nicely, and so do templates made from file folders). Cut the bonded fabric using scissors.
- Check to see if the fabric should be positioned face up or face down before inserting the sheet into the printer’s manual feed area.
- Create a print on the bonded cloth. The printing options vary. Select the highest quality level available on your printer, which is typically referred to as a ‘photo’ setting. The best results are obtained by using a high-resolution photograph (photos downloaded from the Internet are usually of lower quality).
- Allow the inks to dry completely before carefully peeling away the freezer paper backing.
- If you used a commercial fixative agent to pre-treat the cloth, rinse or wash it as directed.
- To set the inks, some people propose rinsing them in a vinegar solution, however, this doesn’t always work. If you’re printing images, you’ll want them to last, and commercial solutions can help you do that.
- While working with small pieces of freezer paper may be easier than attempting to control bigger yardages, your results may vary. To see which way you prefer, try both.
inkjet inks are a type of ink that is used in printers. Gloria Hansen provides excellent advice on the many types of inks used in printers, including a comparison of pigmented versus dye-based ink prints, as well as how the same images printed with each type of ink have aged over time. Inkjet printers and their inks are always changing. With different types of inks, you can get fantastic results with HP and Epson printers, as well as good results with a little Canon printer. If you don’t already have an inkjet printer, check reviews and look at manufacturer websites.
Fabric printing with a laser
Laser printing on fabric is comparable to inkjet printing, except you don’t have to pre-treat the fabric. As previously described,
- adhere the fabric to freezer paper and feed it through the printer’s manual feed area.
- Place the print on newspapers outside or in a well-ventilated area with the freezer paper still attached.
- Apply many light coatings of Krylon Workable Fixatif to the fabric (or another similar product).
- Laser-printed fabric is stiff and difficult to hand quilt since the toner can be thick and the fixative adds depth. You might want to save laser-printed fabric for fabric postcards, machine-quilted parts of wall hangings, and other crafts that don’t need to be quilted at all.
Experiment with different procedures and products to see which ones work best for you. Only the maximum dimensions that will feed through the printer limit the size of the fabric you can create.
Best Fabric Printers
Here are our fabric printer reviews.
1. Epson ExpressionEpson printers are popular for printing onto fabric. The images are printed onto fabric transfer paper, which can then be transferred onto the fabric, usually using heat (a basic iron usually works fine). This Epson printer can be a great choice for printing photos and other images. It will likely work best with smaller, 8.5 x 11 designs and prints.
- Epson printers work best with Epson inks
- This printer can print, copy, and scan
- Can do wireless printing and can also do network-free printing, so sending images from a phone or tablet is easy
2. Epson SureColor SC-P400This amazing printer can do so many different things that many other printers can’t do. The printer can print images up to 13”, which is great for customized projects. The printer is considered by many to be of professional quality. The color prints from this printer are vibrant and are far more true than many other printers.
- The printer can print on sheets of paper or on rolls of paper
- Can print images as matte or as gloss
- Has an eight-color pigment ink set, and features individual 14ml ink cartridges
3. Canon PIXMA TS9520 Wireless Photo All in One PrinterMany different inkjet printers can work well for printing onto transfer paper and then transferring to fabric using heat. This Canon printer has a five-color, individual ink system for beautiful-looking photos and for easy ink replacement. The printer can support many different paper sizes, all the way up to 11×17 paper.
- Print from a computer, smartphone, or tablet
- Can print double-sided as well, on double-sided matte photo paper
- Also a copier and a scanner as well as a printer
4. Transfer Crafts T-Shirt Heat Press & Digital Sublimation MachineThis machine uses pressure and high degrees of heat to transfer images onto items. The machine has electronic time and heat control programming to allow for higher degrees of accuracy and customization. The machine already comes fully assembled.
- Works great on t-shirts, totes, and other apparel items, as well as many other non-fabric items
- The heat plate on the machine is aluminum and is Teflon coated for even heat distribution
- The machine gets hot up to 500 degrees F
Fabric Printer Buying Guide
Printing designs at home is a great way to customize and personalize items without spending a ton of money getting it done commercially. Printing can cost more money when done at the store and sometimes you’ll need to order in quantities that aren’t realistic if you’re just getting a project done for one or two people. Many inkjet printers will work for printing on all different types of transfer paper, though it is suggested that Epson printers and Epson inks often work very well for doing image transfers.
Buying on a Budget
Inkjet printers can be budget-friendly if you wait for a sale. Even if you don’t buy one on sale, many great quality printers can be purchased for under two hundred dollars. Depending on how often you use the printer, the ink might last for quite a long time. Inkjet printers can do so many things- they aren’t just great for image transfers, so if you need a quality printer that you can use for printing documents, photos, and more, an inkjet printer is often a great investment.
The quality of an image transfer might surprise you. Many times, a personalized item like a t-shirt, tote bag, or blanket, will actually turn out quite well. Transfer paper is often quite inexpensive in itself. You can now make your own logos, designs, personalized projects, and more, all at home. Some items like t-shirts and blank canvas totes can also be purchased on a budget and are quite easy to customize.