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.

Garden Delights Gift Sale and Open Studio

Wow, I can’t believe it’s Open Studio time again! I’ll be open the first two weekends of December -the 3-4th and 10-11th, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. My studio is clean and I’ve had so much fun setting up my artwork and crafts. I haven’t taken photos of it yet, but this is one from last year, the view when you come in the door:

I have a lot of new things to show this year. I’m really excited to present my new collection of silk scarves.

Silk scarf - sunburst

Along with my framed and unframed prints and art pieces, I have a wide assortment of gifts for all, ranging from decorated boxes and tiles, purses, totes,  baby bibs and onesies, t-shirts, bowties, home decor including fabric vases and bowls, fabric-covered light switch plates, ornaments, pillows, original-design fabric yardage, and more.  I’ve got lots of different kinds of handmade jewelry.  I even have original-design pet collars for dogs and cats, and catnip bags.

There are many gifts for less than $20, and lots are less than $10! Since the weather is good I’ve also got room outside for a sale table and snacks. Come by to chat – never any pressure to buy!

For you out-of-towners, check out my website and online galleries!

http://GardenDelightsArts.com
http://GardenDelightsArts.artfire.com
http://GardenDelightsArts.etsy.com
http://zazzle.com/GardenDelightsArts*

If you’re busy with your own holiday sales or can’t make it, I leave the studio all set up for about a month, and I’m always open by appointment.  If you have any questions or need directions, email me at heidirand[at]gmail.com or leave a comment here.  Oh yes – I’ve been collecting milkweed seeds (for the monarch butterflies) to give out as long as the supply lasts -free!

NATURE + ART workshop

Join me in this hands-on workshop to inspire and teach you basic and advanced techniques to enrich your artwork with natural objects and images, including flowers and plants, and animals and wildlife.

I’m limiting enrollment in this workshop, and molding it to the interests of the participants. We can cover topics such as improving your nature photography, using nature in mixed media art, how to find natural subjects or attract them to your garden, and much more.

Masdevallia orchid box

Masdevallia orchid box

No equipment is required, but if you have them, bring along your digital camera and/or laptop computer (including iphone or tablet).  Or bring your favorite paints, pencils, pastels, etc.

Sunday June 19, 2011, noon to 4:00 p.m., $60 plus materials. At the El Cerrito Canyon Trail Park Art Center.  Pre-registration is required. If you have questions, or to register, please email me at heidirand@gmail.com

And click here for the complete list of my upcoming classes.

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?

Art where you work

Where I work there’s a long long hallway, and time was, when you’d be walking down it from here to there, it would be the most boring walk – unless you brought a book along to read as you went — which I often did.  Somewhat more than a year ago, an enterprising fellow decided to jump through the hoops necessary to bring art to the hallway.  He hung a marvelous set of pieces, mostly I believe from the collections of fellow employees and bosses.  And recently he announced that he was taking suggestions for a new set of art – it could be employees’ work, or our family members’, or pieces from our collections. Guess whose hand went up fast?  Pick me! Pick me!  And so I got picked to adorn a section of that long grey concrete hallway — to show the people I work with, most of whom have no idea what I do when I leave work, the arty side of me.

But what to choose!  The pieces had to be hang-up-able, none of my fabric vases or bowls, no mixed-media boxes, no bowties or lutradur butterfly earrings.  I did want to show some of the unusual and innovative materials and processes that I use, and I wanted to show my range.  So what do you think — here’s my display:

A closer view of the pieces on the left side (if you click on the picture you can see it a bit larger):

First on the left is your basic framed print, my shot of an odontoglossum orchid (say that 3 times fast), below that is my mixed media piece called Hidden Treasure, which is a heat transfer to canvas of a self-portrait double exposure I took of myself years ago. If it’s familiar to you, we’re probably Facebook friends, because the image is my FB avatar.   Above that to the right is my Lavender Rust art quilt in a frame that I finished with Transfer Artist Paper.  I’ve written about my process in making the quilt at this link. And I’ve written about finishing it and framing it at this link. Then the last piece in this section is a framed print of my Bamboo image, which is a photograph of a bamboo shoot in our garden that I simplified and rendered to look like a pencil drawing.

And the other side:

First at the left top is my Koi Pond and Wisteria blended collage, which I printed on lutradur.  I framed it in a glass floating frame, to emphasize the translucency of the lutradur. This is my blog post talking about the piece.  Below that is my Fallen Log and Fossil blended collage, which is a Transfer Artist Paper transfer to an art board.  This is my blog post about that piece. Above that to the right is a small art quilt, a print of my Iris Dream blended collage on cotton, which I quilted with metallic thread and mounted on a piece of metal mesh and adorned with pearls stitched to the mesh at random.  Finally at the bottom right is another framed print, this one of my Egret Swirl image – a photograph of an egret fishing in Lake Merritt, which I rendered to look a bit abstract and dreamy.

Next week he’ll put up the bios that we wrote and the blurbs for each piece, and I’m very curious to see whether people let me know what they think.  Before I left work today, I walked down the hallway and two of my co-workers were looking at the Hidden Treasure piece.   Near the top is a piece of copper that I embossed with the title of the piece: “Hidden Treasure”.  They weren’t sure what it said, so I just sidled over and said, “Yeah, it’s ‘hidden treasure'”.   I probably shouldn’t have intruded, they didn’t react, but oh well.

So I didn’t tell you about the rest of the art along the long hallway — there are some incredible underwater photographs printed on canvas, and two sublime quilts.  I love the variety of the entire collection.  Anyway, I’m just sayin’ — if you need a push to get the courage up to ask to adorn a blank wall where you work, where you get your coffee every morning, whatever, consider yourself pushed!