With this post I’ll show you how to print on fabric at home, just using the stuff you already have. There are four different methods you can use and I will discuss each one with all the pros and cons.
Three of the fabric printing methods involve using a home inkjet printer. I have printed on paper napkins and tissue paper before with my inkjet printer. But did you know you can also print onto fabric with a home office printer?
Printing on fabrics is a great way to upcycle old fabrics such as bedsheets to make fun crafts like fabric mushrooms. Or you can personalize your crafts by using the method to print photos onto the fabrics.
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The Different Ways of Printing On Fabrics at Home
The four methods of printing discussed here are:
- Freezer paper printing
- Printable fabric sheets
- Iron on transfer paper
- Image Transfer Fluid
1. Freezer Paper Fabric Printing Method
For this method of printing on fabric at home, you will need freezer paper (plastic coated). This is a suitable method for thin fabrics such as linen, or even old bedsheets.
1.. First, choose your fabric which should be thin enough to go through a home printer. Lighter coloured white or cream fabrics are best too.
Lay the fabric you want to print ontop of freezer paper. Make sure that the plastic-coated side of the paper is in contact with the fabric. Then with a hot iron, iron the fabric until it sticks to the paper.
2. Next, using a rotary cutter and mat cut the freezer paper backed fabric so that it is computer paper (A4) size.
3. Next, feed this paper into your inkjet paper feeder. Make sure that the image is going to print on the fabric side and not the freezer paper side.
4. Print as normal from your computer but make sure that you go into the printers advance menu settings and choose the best quality print option.
5. Once the image is printed onto the fabric, simply pull away the freezer paper backing.
The Pros and Cons of Freezer Paper Fabric Printing
- Can print on upcycled fabrics such as old bedsheets
- No film added to the fabric so it maintains its texture.
- Cheap as all you need to buy is freezer paper
- The fabric used has to be thin enough to go through the printer
- Can only print as big as your printer so A4 or A3 (if you have a large printer).
- Only really works well with light coloured fabrics.
2. Printable Fabric Sheets
This method of how to print onto fabric at home has to be the easiest. It is basically the same as the freezer paper method. However, the work has already been done for you as the printable fabric sheets come preprepared for the computer.
The Pros and Cons of Fabric Printer Paper
- Easy as ready to go, no prep needed.
- No film added to the fabric so it maintains its texture.
- Sticky back version available
- Only one type of fabric to choose from
- Can only print A4
- More expensive then using your own fabrics
3. How To Print On Fabric At Home with Iron-on Transfer Paper
Strictly speaking this and then next printing fabric methods are transfers. That is the images are transferred onto the fabric via a medium.
1.. Iron on transfer paper comes in two different varieties one for light coloured fabrics and the other for dark coloured fabrics. Choose the paper depending on what colour fabric you want to print on.
2. Place the paper in the printer paper feeder. Make sure you put the paper on the right side for printing. This will be marked on the paper.
3. Again in the advance printer menu select the best quality print as with the other fabric printing methods. However also this time you will need to select the mirror print box in the menu settings. This will print a mirror image of the picture.
4. Next, trim the printed out image close to the edge of the image you want. Then heat up an iron to the hottest setting, switch off the steam settings.
5. Place the image face down onto the fabric and press down with the iron. The length of time you iron depends on the instructions that come with the iron on transfer sheets. However, it is about 20 seconds per section.
6. Leave the paper to cool for about a minute, then peel away the paper backing.
Pros and Cons of Iron On Transfer Paper
- Can print on a greater range of fabrics. I have even used transfer paper to print on leather.
- Vibrant colours
- Can print on dark materials
- Iron-on paper can be expensive.
- The print aplies a film to the fabric. This stiffens the fabric and alters the feel.
4. How To Print On Fabric at Home With Image Transfer Medium
1.. This is another transfer method of printing, which means that you will need a mirror image copy of the picture you want to transfer. Follow the instuctions on the packet.
2. The methods for all the transfer mediums are very similar. First, cut out the mirror image you want to print onto the fabric.
3. Next, place your image face up on a protected surface (as the medium may leak). Brush the face of the image with an image medium. You want a thick layer so the image becomes opaque.
4. Next, place the image face down on the fabric where you want it to print.
5. Next, roll over the paper with a rolling pin to eliminate and any creases or bubbles. Then leave the image to dry for at least 4 hours.
6. After the medium has fully dried, soak the back of the paper with a sponge of water for about 2 mins. Then carefully rub away the paper. The image will now be transferred to the fabric.
Pros and Cons of Using Transfer Medium to Print On Fabric at Home
- Can print on a big range of fabrics from cotton to leather. I’ve even used the paste to print on wood.
- Can print on darker materials
- Takes a longer time than other methods. As you have to allow for drying time.
- Applies a film to the fabric which stiffens it and alters the feel.
- The image is not as vibrant as with other methods.
Which Print At Home Method Is Best
I’ve listed the pros and cons of each fabric printing technique. There was not much difference in the quality of the printed images between them all. The iron-on transfer was the most vibrant but it did alter the feel of the fabric.
The quickest and easiest printing method was the fabric printer sheets, but it was also the most expensive. The freezer paper method was great for upcycling fabrics.
With both the transfer methods, iron-on, and medium there is a greater range of fabrics you can print one. Especially with the transfer medium as you can also use it on wood and I’ve even printed on rocks with it. However, the medium was by far the longest process.
One of my favourite things to print onto fabrics is vintage images especially flower illustrations and other wonderful botanical drawings. There are lots of wonderful free vintage images and maps on Pictureboxblue which would be great for printing onto fabric.