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

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.

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.

Betty-cat

We recently had to say goodbye to our wonderful Betty.  Betty was a sweet shy black cat, with the softest furry cheeks.

Betty-cat

Betty-cat

She spent a lot of time in her “cat room”, which is a large closet at the top floor of our house where she would run whenever she heard anyone in the house other than George or me.  For this reason many of our friends doubted that we actually had a third cat. She dearly loved her brother Dorian, and he frequently washed her face.

Betty and Dorian

Betty and Dorian

She didn’t always get along as well with her pesky little brother, Lars, but once in awhile they shared a cuddle.

Lars and Betty

Lars and Betty

A few months ago, our lovely Bee was diagnosed with intestinal lymphoma.  Dr. Benjamin Otten, of allCreatures Veterinary Clinic , referred us to veterinary oncologist Dr. Sabhlok at PETS Referral Center.  Dr. Sabhlok treated Bee with chemotherapy for several months. She rallied for about a month or so, but the lymphoma caught up with her.

In our sadness we were moved and comforted by the outpouring of sympathy from our veterinarians. We got several cards from Dr. Otten and the people who work at allCreatures, from Dr. Sabhlok and the people who work at PETS, and from VCA Albany, where we had also taken Betty.

We wanted to express our appreciation for their kind gestures, and especially for their care and treatment of our precious Bee.  I decided to make mini-quilts for them, and printed my favorite photos of Betty onto fabric. Here are the two that I’ve finished so far:

Betty and Lars mini-quilt

Betty and Lars mini-quilt

Betty and Dorian mini-quilt

Betty and Dorian mini-quilt

Bye Sweet Bee, we miss you…

Wingspread Mixed-Media Art Doll

Wingspread Art Doll

Wingspread Art Doll

Meet “Wingspread,” a mixed-media art doll that I created, using several different techniques to transfer or attach my original photographs and designs to the soft stuffed cotton doll. Most of Wings’ body is decorated with fragments of my Golden Butterfly” photo collage. I used Transfer Artist Paper (TAP) to transfer the Golden Butterfly design to the doll.

Wingspread Art Doll - back

Wingspread Art Doll - back

Here’s Wingspread’s back.  The back of her (his?) head is a TAP transfer of my mandala design that I made from my photos of a monarch butterfly wing and a peacock feather.   This is the image:

And here’s a closeup of the wings on the back:

Anise swallowtail butterfly wing on lutradur

For the large wing on the right side I printed my photo of an anise swallowtail butterfly’s spread wing on lutradur coated with Golden’s Digital Ground. I stitched the wing to the center of the back. I also added a small metal wing, and a dangle of pearl, metal and glass beads.

Wingspread’s headdress is made from beautiful black and white striped hen feathers from Barred Rock hens. They are affixed to the head through another piece of lutradur, which I printed using my photo collage of the open wing of a Barred Rock hen.

Wings wears a colorful bowtie, which I made from my original design fabric.

Wingspread is a bit over 20 inches tall, including the feather headdress.  I love art dolls, and it was so fun to make this one, incorporating my butterfly photos and designs, and using so many different techniques and products.   You can see more pictures at my Artfire gallery.  Have you ever made an art doll?  What materials did you use?

Handmade pet collars — my new online class at CraftEdu!


I just put the finishing touches on my new online class, and it’ll be available for you to preview and sign up for on Craftedu Monday March 7!  I teach you how to make dog and cat collars using re-purposed fabric from garments that you’re no longer wearing or other used material that you have around or that you find in second-hand stores.  If you know how to print on fabric (hint, hint — if not, check out my CraftEdu class on Inkjet Printing on Fabric, or my book on the same subject), you can make truly personalized and unique collars.  And of course you can always use new fabric that you buy.  These collars are great for your own pets, for gifts, to donate to shelters or animal rescue groups, or to sell.  This was my first post about the collars I was making from fabric that I designed and printed myself, and I followed that with this post specifically about the collars for dogs.

I created this class because of the steep learning curve I went through when I first started making the collars myself.  I couldn’t find good instructions anywhere, so I sat down and made this step-by-step instruction guide, with lots of close-up photos and clear directions.   I include a handout that you can print with screen-shots of the entire class.  I also give you a list of places to buy the pet collar hardware, and a guide to common collar and neck sizes for dogs and cats.

Click here to join CraftEdu’s facebook page to get the latest information on all Craftedu classes and notices about when the classes will go on sale (for some classes you can get a discount on the first day it’s offered).  It was so fun making this class — I just love the idea of using fabric that would go into landfill and turning it into a useful object instead!