Thursday, April 17, 2008

Printing On Fabric: One Woman's Tutorial

As I've said, I am no expert at this, but have figured out a method that works for my needs. However, I am currently taking an online class from Beth Wheeler, through QuiltersKeepLearning. It is a beginning Photoshop Elements class....Beth is such an expert at not just Elements but also fabric printing that I know I will get more articulate with my process. (She is really nice, too!)

O.K., with that disclaimer, here we go:

I always pre-treat my fabric with Bubble Jet Set 2000. This helps prevent the ink from dispursing too much and making a blurry-ish print. It is required for dye-based inkjet printers like those made by HP to make the ink bond permanently to the fiber. For pigment-based ink like my Epson CX6600 uses, technically this is not necessary, as the pigment is permanently adhered to the surface of the fabric.
But as I say, the Bubble Jet Set gives a consistenly superior print for me.
Here I am soaking my prepared for dyeing fabric--cotton sateen--for the required 5 minutes. After soaking the fabric I pour the leftover Bubble Jet Set liquid directly back into the bottle. It can be reused as often as one wants.

Then you lay the treated fabric out to dry. You are not supposed to wring it out but I obviously do. When it is damp I iron it the rest of the way dry and it flattens right out.

This is the only thing that consistently works for me to get my fabric through the printer with no jamming: I adhere it to full-size label paper, pressing it on by hand and then ironing it to get out any little bubbles. Freezer paper just doesn't cut it for me.

Then I trim it to the size of the label paper, which is the standard 8 1/2" X 11".

As extra insurance that my fabric will feed easily into the printer, I tape the edge with Scotch tape, and crease it sharply with my fingernail...I also clip the corners a bit, as shown.

Here is the image I am going to print.
Because the colors are not as vibrant on fabric when printed as they are on paper, I compensate by upping the saturation level in my digital image before printing it.
There are all kinds of color management techniques for getting "that perfect print" that I don't know, but I am counting on Beth to enlighten me on a few of them. For now, this works fine though.

And here is my print.
To get the label paper off, first I will slice off the taped edge with my rotary cutter and then I will iron this on the paper side....the heat loosens the grip of the adhesive and it peels off pretty easily.
Et Voila!

Hope this has been of some use to you....

On another note, Bev asked in a comment yesterday where those pincushions came from shown in the last picture of my post. They were made by a great gal named Shirley Greenhoe. You can read about her here (scroll down to the second artist). She always brings them to sell at the quilt conference we both attend every year at Point Bonita. But you may be able to track her down via the webpage and get her to sell you one. I LOVE mine..they help me keep all my different sized needles within easy access!


Deb Hardman said...

Thanks for a nice tutorial. I've always used the premade printer fabric. I'll have to try the Bubble Jet some time.

Maya Sara Matthew said...

Thank- you for that insight Allison.I'll have to check around for something similar to Bubble jet because we don't get that in India.This is so exciting.

Marty52 said...

Oh, Yay! I'm going to need this tutorial to print the center block of my Midsummer quilt. My idea to have Nat paint silk didn't work so well, so now he is drawing it for me and I'm going to scan it and print it out on fabric. Thanks!

Threadspider said...

You are a natural teacher Allie-that was so clear and inviting. I have bookmarked it along with other "tutorials from Allie" I have saved. It was a beautiful image to print.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever tried using Freezer paper as your backing? It has worked for me, just be sure you have NO steam in your iron when you press it to your fabric.
Enjoy all your wonderful ideas and beautiful stitches.

Shel from Maui

Sandra said...

That's great, Allie. I just bought an Epson R2400 which uses pigment inks - but I bought it for photographic prints and I'm scared to put any fabric through it!! I used to with my old Epson but I did get some messes.

Bethel of Bethania said...

Well I'll be blowed you always tell us something that I'm in need of knowing at the time ... thanks for sharing this about the Bubble Jet Set - now to find what we have here that's the same or simular ... OOroo ... Bethel

Rian said...

Very nice tutorial. I have had Bubble Jet Set on my shelf for I might just get da noive to use it!

Conni said...

Thanks for the great tutorial, Allie. I tried it the other day. I didn’t have label-making paper, so I fused Lite Steam-A-Seam to PFD cotton and just smoothed it by hand onto 28 lb printer paper. It printed perfectly.

Paul Technology Review said...

Amazing article before seeing this I think only inkjet label printers sale can do better printing results but actually it works