How to Print on Fabric with Inkjet and Laser Printers

Unlike a few decades ago, you can DIY your own style fabric with Inkjet printer and laser Printers. Today, we don’t need to iron fabric to freezer paper to stabilize it before running the sheet through any more. With the improvement of the printer inks, people can use their home printers for paper photographs and fabric printing. And the materials required are quite optional for many manufacturers produce sheets and roll of treated fabrics that are ready to pop in the printer.

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Choice to Print on the Commercially Prepared Fabrics
You can get pre-treated fabrics at some craft stores or through the Internet, either in the shape of sheet or roll. The sizes of the fabrics are on your own decision. Printable fabrics are specially-made which means they are strong enough to flow through a printer for they are made by rigid materials. You don’t need to worry about how to remove excess inks and the inks will fade. When you purchase the fabrics, the sellers will tell you how to print with their products and treat the fabrics to solve the problems.

Please do notice that commercially prepared fabrics sheets are designed for ink jet printers only, which means using the laser printers will cause serious problems. Laser toner’s construction is not fir for the pre-treated fabric sheets. Two reasons prove my suggestion: firstly, it is because commercial printable are more dear than the normal ones mounted to freezer paper and the toner must be sealed in a different way to keep it from disappearing; Secondly, the heat inside a laser printer can melt products which back the printable fabrics.

Freezer Paper
The sturdy paper, the freezer paper, is available at most grocery stores. Reynolds is a normally used brand in a blue package that you will usually find near rolls of plastic wrap. The freezer paper has two sides. The shiny side will stick to the fabric, though you iron it, the paper just keep a good-looking surface.

Freezer paper is an excellent backing material for it is suitable for both inkjet and laser printers. According to my own experiences, it will work better to use smallish pieces of freezer paper than larger ones.

Print the Fabric
To keep the ink colorfast, I suggest you pre-treat the fabric with a commercial product in advance. According to the printer you use, you can refer to the C. Jenkins Co. it will offer several options. Choose a correct product base on your printer and operate following the instructions. Krylon makes a product called Preserve It! that can be used to help ‘set’ pigmented inks on fabric after printing.

1.Cut off about 12’’ of the freezer paper and then cut away another portion which extends over 8-1/2’’ .

2.If you want to get a colorfast fabric, then use a product to treat and dry following the manufacturer’s instructions.

3.Operate as step 2, you will get a piece of treated cotton fabric, it should in a size little than the freezer paper. Please do remember that do not use steam and make sure no loose threads stand still on its surface.

4.Set the shiny side of the freezer paper down on top of the wrong side of fabric (if there is a wrong side) and press from the paper side with a medium-hot iron (no steam).

5.To be fit with the printer, you need to get a trim the bonded duo to 8-1/2″ x 11″ using some cutting equipment. Be sure that all edges of the fabric are secured tightly to the paper and are free of loose threads. If not, hit it with an iron again.

6.Insert the sheet into the printer’s manual feed area after checking to see if the fabric should be positioned face up or face down.

7.Print the fabric. Look for the highest quality setting your printer offers, often labeled as a ‘photo’ setting. Using an image with a high resolution provides the best results (photos downloaded from the internet are usually of lower quality). You can refer to the article scanner resolution and color depth, which may give you some useful instructions.

8.Wait the inks to get dry and then remove the freezer backing carefully. Wash as instructed if you used a commercial fixative product to pretreat the fabric.

Laser Printing on Fabric
The operation of on laser printer is similar to the inkjet. The only difference is that you don’t need a pre-treated fabric. Connect the fabric to freezer paper as the instructions above and run it through the printer’s manual feed area. Leave the freezer paper in place and place the print on newspapers outside or in a well ventilated room. Coat with several light mists of Krylon Workable Fixatif (or a similar product). For the toner and the fixative is different, the later fabric you get will be stiff. So you are suggested to reserve this type of print to make fabric postcards, like the example shown (larger image), for areas of wallhangings that will be machine quilted, and for other crafts that may not need to be quilted at all.

However, all the instructions above are made just according to my own experiences. With enough experiment, you will discover your own methods and products which best fit your needs.

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Andrew Lu - Marketing Manager - Shopper+ Networks Canada

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