Printing on fabric

I learned a lesson this weekend. I learned to always follow the advice I give to people about not printing with freezer paper-backed fabric.

After fiddling with photos and figuring out which ones to print on fabric and play with, formatting them and figuring out what to do with the printed pieces, I thoroughly ironed my fabric to freezer paper, lined the front edge with clear tape, to keep the paper and fabric from separating and fed it through the printer.

snafu with freezer paper.jpg
ARG! It has been so long since I worked with printed images that I've forgotten how much "fun" freezer paper can be. Six jams later, I gave up and reminded myself that I had only been using freezer paper because I was attempting to save money by not doing what I should have done in the first place; buying full-sized 8.5 x 11 label sheets.

label sheets.jpg

Had I used up more ink and fabric attempting to do things the cheap way? Yes. Was my sanity creeping steadily towards the yawning chasm of technology smashing? Yep. Did I run, not walk to Staples for the sheets. You betcha. Cost for 32 sheets $15. Fifty cents a sheet. I almost won a printer-hurling contest for a lousy fifty cents a sheet.

Whenever I talk to people about printing on fabric, I enthuse about how much easier it is to print on fabric using label sheets. You iron the fabric, stick on the sheet carefully, trim the fabric edges with a rotary cutter to the edge of the label, set your printer to print a photo, set the paper setting to envelope or heavy-weight paper, depending on your machine, check the size settings and colour settings and let 'er rip.

I must say, the Epson C-88 does a bee-youtiful job:

on fabric with label sticker.jpg
It's been so long since I last used freezer paper for printing that I'd completely forgotten how annoying it can be. Lesson learned. The pennies saved with freezer paper are lost on psychiatric bills.

The results of my printing foray:


Now we're ready to roll!


8 Comments Add yours

  1. MargaretR says:

    I have a D88 which is the UK equivalent of the C88 and I really love it for printing on fabric.
    I use ordinary computer paper with repositionable spray glue and touch wood, I haven’t had a problem. I hadn’t heard of using a label sheet. do those come in A4 size I wonder? Thanks for that report.

  2. Micki says:

    I just bought a C88 last week. It’s still in the box. Thanks for the info on printing. I was wondering though, the top photo of the waves looks like it is longer than 11 inches. Did you use more than one label sheet and does it feed through okay?

  3. Helene T. says:

    I find your technique very interesting but since it is my first experience with printing on fabric other then using transfert paper I have some difficulty to understand the process. I am trying to find a way to print my artwork on different type of fabric and quality would be an important aspect. I have questions to ask before buying the paper and investing in material and ink.
    When you say iron the fabric, stick on the sheet carefully , do you mean to iron the fabric directly on the sticky side of the label sheet?
    Should I peel and stick the label sheet onto the fabric.
    When printing should I place the fabric face up or down in the printer and is the printing of the image done through the side of the label sheet or on the side of the fabric? What kind of fabric is good for a good quality work? (fine cotton or else?) Sorry I am trying to follow your instructions but I am not sure how to do it well! thank you so much for your information and your help. Helene

  4. Judy Bondurant says:

    Thank you so much for the answers to all my problems re freezer paper. Oh how I wish I had visited your site about 1/2 of a nervous breakdown sooner.

    I’m out the door to Staples.

    Thanks again

  5. vickyth says:

    Margaret – I would suspect that the sheets come in A4, or at least, can be trimmed to that size.

    Micki – the waves are actually only 11 inches. I did a landscape printing to fit them on the page. Haven’t tried a longer print job yet, but I wouldn’t anticipate any trouble. It might be wise to overlap the label sheets slightly.

    Helene – no need to iron the fabric to the label sheet. Iron first and stick it on after. the adhesive quality of the sheet should be more than sufficient to hold the fabric. No heat needed. Just peel and stick. Ironing the fabric first is to eliminate wrinkles. Place the fabric face up in the printer and the printing should be directly on the fabric. I have used silk, cotton and poly-cotton with success. Tightly-woven fabric that is clean and lint-free works best. Wash cottons first to remove sizing. I like the fine cotton that is often sold as quilt backing. The quilters cottons are more loosely woven and don’t seem to give as sharp a resolution.

    Just be sure to allow the image a day or so to dry and set before washing it or handling it much!

    Judy – glad that my breakdown could help resolve someone else’s! I just about threw the printer through the window before cluing in.

  6. Lou says:

    Is cotton/ poly OK to print on?

  7. Vicky says:

    Hi Lou,

    Poly/Cotton can be printed on with the Durabrite inks, but cannot be used with Bubble Jet Set. So if you’re planning on printing directly onto the fabric with your Epson, you can get away with poly, but the BJS stuff won’t bond properly with poly fabric and therefore will not be light or water resistant.

    Keep in mind the usual caveats about poly-cotton! Don’t use it for sleepwear or in bed quilts and remember that it is stronger than 100% cotton, with all that that entails.

  8. Hello…I was looking for information on printing on fabrics to help me with some sewing techniques that I am dying to try…and your
    site popped up! So glad that I checked. What a beautiful site and
    thank you for sharing your information. I can’t wait to try it.

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