Inkjet Printing on Fabric

I mailed one of my new no-sew fabric postcards to a Postcrossing friend in Italy. In her profile she talked about her passion for creating handmade things including sewing and découpage, and said that she’s always looking for new techniques. 
Wood hyacinth fabric postcard

Wood hyacinth fabric postcard

When she got the postcard she asked for the link to my blog to find out more about printing on fabric. I found an old post that gave an overview but not much concrete info, and it’s high time for me to give you a full-fledged post with the basics of my favorite art process. After you read this if you’re itching to learn more, please check out my Inkjet Printing on Fabric ebook or online workshop.
Printing fabric
Printing on fabric with your inkjet printer isn’t hard, but knowing a few things before you start will save you lots of time and money. There are two main components: your printer and the kind of ink it uses, and the fabric you’re printing on.
First: inks. To get the lowdown on the difference between dye and pigment inkjet inks and why that matters in printing fabric, go on over to CraftArtEdu to watch my free basic workshop about inkjet inks. Or here’s the really quick version: dye inkjet inks are not colorfast or waterfast, so they fade over time and run when exposed to moisture. Because pigment inks are colorfast and waterfast, they are by far the best option for printing on fabric.
Fabric printing color shift dye ink

Dye ink prints: colors fade and shift

Second – you need to choose what kind of fabric to print: (1) untreated, (2) fabric that you treat yourself, or (3) pre-treated commercial fabric. There are pros and cons for each, and what you want to use the fabric for is a factor, but in this post I’ll tell you about commercially pre-treated fabrics, because they’re the most versatile and give the best results for most purposes.
Untreated vs pre-treated fabric

Untreated vs pre-treated fabric

Pre-treated fabrics are backed with paper or plastic to stiffen them so they’ll go through your printer without crumpling up and jamming your printer. You want the fabric sheet as flat as you can get it so the edges don’t catch as the printer heads go back and forth, which can make the fabric shift or leave ink on the edges.

Fabric shifted in printer

There are a lot of different ways to flatten fabric — some tips: try curling it the other way by hand, flattening the sheet under a stack of books, or ironing it.

With so many pre-treated products to choose from it’d get expensive fast to sample them all to find the ones that work best for you. I advise starting out with a few that let you buy small quantities so you can test and compare. I’ve tried most of them, and my favorites for printing with pigment inks are Cotton Satin and Cotton Lawn by EQ Printables. The fabric feels wonderful and the quality of the print is great. In my opinion the plain EQ Printables (the package says only “Inkjet Fabric Sheets”) is not worth the money, so make sure the packages are either the Cotton Satin or Cotton Lawn. I also like June Tailor’s Colorfast Sew-in Inkjet Fabric. It’s stiffer than the EQ but the print quality is great and the stiffness can be ideal for certain projects: I use it for some of my fabric postcards and a lot of my home decor creations like fabric vases and bowls, covered light switch plates, etc.

Fabric vases

Fabric vases

After printing all you have to do is remove the backing from the fabric sheet. If you’re using pigment inks there’s no need to heat set or wash; you can use it right away in your sewing or other art projects. However, even though the fabric will feel dry to the touch, it actually takes quite a while for pigment inks to thoroughly dry. If you don’t need to use the fabric right away you’ll get best results by putting it aside for a week or so.

That’s it for the basics! If you want to learn more this is the link to my blog post about my ebook “Inkjet Printing on Fabric.” My website has a page with links to all of the different options to find my ebook, including the kindle version where you can see a preview of the book.

 Or click here to go to my online workshop on CraftArtEdu, which also includes a free preview.

Lars quilt

Lars art quilt, made with different kinds of printed fabric

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No Sew Fabric Postcards

I started making fabric postcards years ago because I didn’t have the sewing chops or time to make bed-sized quilts. Postcards are my way to make very small-scale art quilts with the added wonder that they’re mail-able! Click here to see my 2012 blog post about my fabric postcards. I had been collecting vintage postcards since I was a kid, and once I began to print my own photos and designs onto fabric it was a small hop to sew them into mixed-media fiber postcard form. Here’s an example, my self-portrait photo that I printed on cotton, then adorned with a bit of gauzy fabric and stitching around the design.

Fabric Postcard

Here’s another, my photo of an egret flying with random stitching around the design lines.

Egret soaring fabric postcard

For these fabric postcards I adhere the front to thick stabilizer and then add a backing. I designed this back by scanning the back of an old postcard in my collection, cleaning it up in Photoshop Elements, and adding my name and website.

Fabric postcard back

I print this back onto fabric and then sew the front/stabilizer/back together and edge the sandwich with a satin or zigzag stitch.

These mini-quilt postcards are so much fun to make – but I recently came up with a much quicker no-sew version. I use the same design for the back, but instead of printing onto fabric I print it onto paper cardstock. The front is fabric – I print a few of my postcard-sized designs onto a sheet of pre-treated cotton, then cut each out and run through my Xyron machine to back them with permanent adhesive.

Fabric postcards

You don’t have to use a Xyron, you can use glue or double-sided tape, or spray with adhesive. Then I bond them to the cardstock backs, using a bone folder to make sure they’re well-adhered so the edges won’t come apart during their trip through the mail.

Fabric postcards

I just checked with my local post office, and they said the normal postcard rate would apply: that’s .34 for delivery in the US and $1.15 internationally. Since the postcard rate in the US applies to cards up to 6 by 4.25 inches if you want to make them larger just use the current first-class letter rate, which is now .49.

Anna's hummingbird fabric postcard

Interested in learning how to make the mini-quilt type of fabric postcards? Click here to see a free preview of my online class on CraftArtEdu, “Fabulous Fabric Postcards.”

Want to learn how to print your own fabric? Click here to find out more my ebook, Inkjet Printing on Fabric.

Inkjet Printing on Fabric Workshop

Inkjet Printing on Fabric

Workshop taught by Heidi Rand

The Village Shops, 10330 San Pablo Ave.,  El Cerrito CA

Saturday January 18, 2014 — noon to 3:00 p.m.

$40 plus supplies

Inkjet printing on fabric: One-day workshop

Welcome to the exciting world of fabric printing!  Learn to print your artwork, images and designs on fabric using your home inkjet printer. This exciting craft opens the door to endless possibilities for creating original fabric to use in quilts, art pieces, gifts, home decor, and much more.

Fabric vases

Fabric vases

I take you step-by-step through the entire process, from preparing your files to print, to choosing the right fabric and getting it ready to go through the printer, to post-printing treatment, and much more.  I will discuss the importance of knowing what kinds of inks your printer uses, and give you tips to get fabric through even the most finicky printer.

Fabric cuff bracelet

Fabric cuff bracelet

With many examples of printed fabric and fabric artwork and crafts, you’ll get new ideas about what to do with your images and designs, and the knowledge to go home and start printing your own!

If you can’t make the workshop, I also have an ebook to teach you to print on fabric.

Pre-registration is required. If you have any questions or you’re interested in registering, please email me

My other scheduled workshops:

INTRODUCTION TO SELLING YOUR ARTWORK ONLINE : February 8, 2014, Noon to 3:00 pm, $60

Overview class designed to teach you about the many different options to market and sell your artwork and/or crafts on the internet.  You will learn the pros and cons of having your own website, selling through print-on-demand websites, selling your handmade work on Etsy or similar sites, using blogs and other social marketing tools, and much more.  This information will save you much time in doing the research on your own, and save you from wasting time and money on the wrong kind of venue for your situation. Handout included.

Sell Your Artwork & Crafts Online book

EXPLORING LUTRADUR : ONE-DAY WORKSHOP : April 5, 2014, Noon to 3 p.m., $40 plus materials

Learn how to create personal art with this exciting new product that combines the best qualities of fabric and paper.  Lutradur looks, feels and folds like translucent paper and doesn’t tear or fray. It’s the perfect medium for a wide variety of mixed media art, crafting, and sewing.  Each person will complete at least one project at the workshop.  Handout included.

Inkjet Printing on Lutradur Ebook

INKJET HEAT TRANSFER TECHNIQUES : May 24, 2014, Noon to 3:00 p.m., $40 plus materials

Learn to make creative and unique artwork, crafts and gifts using heat transfers and your inkjet printer.  We will explore several products and techniques to transfer images and text to a wide variety of surfaces.  Each person will work on two transfer projects at the workshop.  Handout included.

Click here to see a list of all of my workshops.

Etsy Craft Party: Fabulous Fabric Fun

On June 20th people around the world will meet and mingle to create, collaborate, and just have fun at countless Etsy Craft Parties organized by Etsy artists and crafters in their own hometowns. This year’s theme is “Craft for Community.”

etsy craft party logo

Michele Battise, of Battise Fashions, generously included me in her vision of the ideal Craft Party. Michele is a clothing and accessory designer whose mission is to help women look and feel their most uniquely fabulous.

Animal Print Jacket, by Michele Battise

Animal Print Jacket, by Michele Battise

I met her several years ago through the SF Etsy group, when she contacted me about her idea to use some of my nature-design fabric in her clothing line.We really connected, and bonded over our love of fabric and original design, and the value of collaboration and supporting other artisans. Having Michele include my fabric in one of her dresses has been a high point in my artistic career.  That backstory explains how this Craft Party came to be, and also our philosophy behind it. So, on to the details!

We have planned for you a fun-fest of creativity and inspiration, a chance to learn many different unique and easy techniques for DIY projects. It’s Thursday, June 20th from 7 to 10 pm at the Gateview Clubhouse, 555 Pierce Street, Albany CA. Proceeds from the $10 ticket sale and raffle will cover supplies and your donation to La Clinica de La Raza, a healthcare organization serving low and moderate income families in the East Bay area.

We’ve got projects for everyone! You can learn to print your own artwork and photos directly on fabric with an inkjet printer.  I’ll do hands-on demos all night using your images (see below for details*), taking you step-by-step through the whole process. I’ll let you know what equipment works best, show you how to prepare your files, give you all of my secret tips to get fabric successfully through your printer, and much much more.

Pillow made with inkjet print fabric

Pillow made with inkjet print fabric

Expert photographer and printer kayla garelick, of daydreaming arts, will demonstrate printing lengths of fabric (think scarves). She’ll show you the great potential in using a large-format inkjet printer, but also scale down her advice so you can get similar results from the smaller inkjet printers that most people use at home.

kayla garelick printing fabric

kayla’s large-format printer setup

The most exciting thing about teaching printing on fabric is watching people get their first print! kayla and I will have time for at least 15 (hopefully more) people to print their own images at the Party. To be fair, it’s first-come, first-served, so if you want to get your own photo or artwork printed, register for the Party and then email me (at HeidiRand@gmail.com) a jpg of your work. The file should be 8 x 10 inches, at around 300 dpi. Email me any questions as well.

What else? You can learn to print on fabric using stamps and stencils with Grace Taormina, author of “The Complete Guide to Rubber Stamping” and “The Complete Guide to Decorative Stamping.” Grace will bring a huge variety of stamps, stencils, paints and other supplies and equipment for you to create and experiment with. She’ll have 12 inch muslin squares as well as other fun fabrics for you to use in your projects.

Grace Taormina

And the marvelous Michele will teach you several quick-sew or no-sew projects using felt for ponchos, scarfs, and more! She’ll have sewing machines for you to use so you can complete your project at the Party. And since one of her specialties is designing and sewing clothing, purses, and accessories with leather, she’ll have recycled leather pieces that you can use in your designs and projects.

Michele Battise leather purse

Michele Battise leather purse

Do you have a fabulous fabric technique you’d like to share?  Let us know so we can include it.

We’ll provide all the crafting supplies and equipment needed, but feel free to bring your own favorite supplies, fabric, stamps, paint, paper, etc! Oh, and last but not least – plenty of refreshments to keep our creative fires stoked!

You can register by clicking on this link. See you there!

Handmade Jewelry With Your Inkjet Printer : Workshop

Learn to make personalized jewelry using your own images, designs, and artwork.

Swallowtail butterfly lutradur earrings

Swallowtail butterfly lutradur earrings

We’ll explore several techniques to create unique earrings, necklaces, bracelets and pins from paper, fabric and lutradur that you print on your inkjet printer. Each person will work on at least one project at the workshop, and you will go home with many ideas and new things to try on your own printer.

Fabric cuff bracelet

Fabric cuff bracelet

Making a personalized gift saves money and shows that you care to take the time to create something special for friends and loved ones, as well as for yourself! Using your photos and scanned memorabilia of your own life ensures that your gifts will be treasured and kept forever.

Photo charm necklace

Photo charm necklace

The workshop will be held Saturday June 8, 2013, noon to 3:30 p.m. at The Village Shops and Galleries in El Cerrito (between Eureka and Stockton Ave.)  Cost is $40 plus materials.  For more information or to pre-register, please email me at heidirand@gmail.com.

Learn to Print on Fabric

Inkjet Printing on Fabric

Workshop taught by Heidi Rand

Sunday February 24, 2013 – noon to 3:30 p.m.

The Village Shops and Galleries, 10330 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito

$40 + materials

Inkjet printing: scarf

Welcome to the exciting world of fabric printing! Learn to print your artwork, images and designs on fabric using your home inkjet printer. This exciting technique opens the door to endless possibilities for creating original fabric to use in quilts, art pieces, gifts, home decor, and much more.

Butterfly purse

I take you step-by-step through the entire process, from preparing your files to print, to choosing the right fabric and getting it ready to go through the printer, to post-printing treatment, and much more.  I will discuss the importance of knowing what kinds of inks your printer uses, and give you tips to get fabric through even the most finicky printer.

Fabric cuff bracelet

Fabric cuff bracelet

With many examples of printed fabric and fabric artwork and crafts, you’ll get new ideas about what to do with your own images and designs, and the knowledge to go home and start printing your own! Each class member will print at least one sheet of fabric.  Pre-registration is required because I keep the workshop small so everyone gets plenty of attention.  Please email me.

Upcoming workshop:

Inkjet Heat Transfer Techniques

Saturday March 9, noon to 3:00 p.m., $40 plus materials

Have questions? Interested in registering?  Email me

If you can’t make the workshop, I also have an ebook to teach you to print on fabric and an online class at CraftArtEdu.

Handmade Fabric Postcards

I love postcards! I’ve been collecting vintage postcards for many years, and when I started printing on fabric, I quickly realized that using my fabric designs and images to make postcards was just going to be way too much fun. This is one of my favorites, a self-portrait with text incorporated into the design, some stitching, and a bit of gauzy fabric.

Fabric Postcard

Here’s another, just a photo of our cat Lars that I stitched around.

Fabric Postcard: Lars Sleeping

I’m in the middle of writing and recording a new online class for CraftArtEdu, to teach you how to make your own unique fabric postcards. I just got to the part where I show different options to make the back of the card, and I thought I’d give you a preview. There are so many options to design the back of your card, but one of my favorite techniques is to scan the back of a vintage postcard. Remember if you’re going to sell the cards to use the copyright-free ones. Here’s a photo of two that I picked to use as examples in the class:

Vintage postcard backsI scanned them:

Postcard backs scannedThen I cleaned them up in Photoshop Elements.

Postcard back postcard backs scan 02b smallI’ll work on them some more, might take the color out of the bottom one, depending on how it prints on my fabric.

Have you made fabric postcards? Interested in giving it a try? Let me know! Well, back to making the class now — I’ll let you know when it’s ready. Click here for the link to the online class, check out the preview if you’re interested!