Print Your Own Fabric!

A friend of mine was telling me recently about a website that prints custom fabric.  I am an avid “Project Runway” watcher, so I was aware of the fact that custom fabric printers did exist, but I did not know that the possibility existed for non-fashion designers like myself to take advantage of them.

All kinds of personalized projects popped into my head!  Oh, the things I could make if I could design my very own fabric!!

I looked at the website, though, and, while I still thought it was a great service, the price was kind of more than I wanted to spend.

Then I ran across a tutorial for printing on fabric with an inkjet printer!  This was something that was more up my alley….I have an inkjet printer!  I can do this myself!

The tutorial that I came across was simple–basically all you have to do is stiffen up the fabric so that it will feed into the printer.  It recommended ironing freezer paper to the back of the fabric to achieve this end.

Well, I didn’t have any freezer paper, but I did have something better:  Iron on adhesive.  It comes in a roll.  The brand I used is called “Heat n Bond Ultrahold,” but there are others that should work the same.

The first thing I did was cut a sheet of the Heat n Bond to 8.5″ x 11″ inches.  That is the size of a standard piece of printer paper.

This stuff is magical.  If you don't have any in your house, you should get some.  You would be amazed by all of the things you can use this for!

This stuff is magical. If you don’t have any in your house, you should get some. You would be amazed by all of the things you can use this for!

Follow the directions and iron the paper to the back of a piece of muslin.  I used unbleached muslin, which is kind of a tan color.  White muslin will definitely show colors better, but I was okay with a muted printout, and, honestly, all I had in the house was unbleached muslin and it was raining pretty hard outside and I didn’t want to go anywhere.

Be sure to turn the steam setting on your iron to "off" before you do this!

Be sure to turn the steam setting on your iron to “off” before you do this!

After you have the paper and adhesive ironed to the back of the fabric, cut the fabric to the same size. Now you have fabric ready to print!  Decide what you want on there, and print it out just like you would a piece of paper.  My printer was being a little difficult and required me to manually feed the fabric (check your printer manual if you are not sure how to do that), but once I figured that out, it worked fine.

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to use my printed fabric for, all I knew was that I wasn’t leaving the house.  I dug through my box of stuff and found this teeny tiny canvas, and that was good enough for me!  If you decide to do this, I highly recommend a larger, white canvas.  But, for the purposes of this experiment, the tiny black one was good enough.

Print a tester of your design on a piece of paper, first.  I would have been really mad if I had wasted fabric on this initial design, which was too small for the canvas.

Print a tester of your design on a piece of paper first. I would have been really mad if I had wasted fabric on this initial design, which was too small for the canvas.

I printed a design that was the right size for the canvas, and then cut it out, leaving a large enough overlap to wrap around the edges of the canvas.

There are some printer imperfections here, but that might just be my printer.  Nothing that really bothered me, and I like things to be pretty perfect.

There are some very slight printer imperfections here, but that might just be my printer. Nothing that really bothered me, and I like things to be pretty perfect.

Next, the removal of the paper backing (Do not take the paper backing off until AFTER you cut your design out).  Once the paper comes off, you can see that you have a heat activated adhesive on the reverse side of your fabric.  Genius, huh?  Honestly, with this technology available, I don’t know why anyone sews anything at all anymore.

From the back of the fabric it was easy enough to see the design, so I centered the canvas that way.

Center the canvas before you flip the design over.

Center the canvas before you flip the design over.

Then I ironed it from the front, following the directions of the Heat n Bond.

Cut a diagonal line into each corner to make it easier to fold.  You might not have this issue with a larger canvas, but the tiny ones really need it.

Cut a diagonal line into each corner to make it easier to fold. You might not have this issue with a larger canvas, but the tiny ones really need it.

Presto!  It was stuck on there like glue!  I cut in the corners, and then ironed the sides and the back down onto the sides and the back of the canvas.  If you want to, you can do it the hard way and use a staple gun for a more durable hold.

I finally figured out that it was easier to just leave the iron upright and slide the sides across it.

I finally figured out that it was easier to just leave the iron upright and slide the sides across it.

How easy was that?  You could go over your canvas with a clear coat of polyurethane, but I think it looks pretty good as is!

I love an easy project!!  This one is extremely easy, and the possibilities are endless!  If you are really artsy, I bet you could add some paint and really make something extraordinary.  But I am pretty impressed with just being able to print my own custom fabric and stick it to a canvas and hang it right on the wall.

Question:  Does inkjet printer fabric hold up to a run through the washing machine?  Answer: I have no idea.  That would have required me to do extra laundry.

Less than 30 minutes from start to finish!

Fabric11

 

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