Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Printing on Fabric with your Computer - Part 1

So I'm doing some printing this week as Craft Fair prep. A lot of people have asked me about the fabric printing so here's a step by step as to how I do it. There are directions on the bottle, but I didn't find them to be specific enough and did some research after my first failed project.

Here's what you need:
Fabric - %100 Cotton
Bubble Jet Set
Mild Detergent
A clean cake pan
Full sheet labels
Ink jet printer
Large bowl
Washing machine

Cut your fabric to a bit bigger than what you want (in my case bigger than 8.5x11). It will shrink some (you don't need to pre-wash) and you need trimming room. Use 100% cotton. I've also heard that you can use silk, but I haven't tried.

I pre-treat with Bubble Jet Set 2000. You can order it online. This makes the print washable.

Get a clean dish or tub and pour a little BJS in. Then lay a piece of fabric in, add just enough more BJS to saturate it. Lay the next piece of fabric in a press it down (wearing gloves) to soak up as much liquid as you can, then add more to saturate. This method is less wasteful and less clean up then what the bottle says (which is to pour the whole bottle out and soak the fabric, then pour it back in the bottle).

Let it sit for 5 minutes, then hang to dry.

5) Iron the treated fabric onto a full page label. I've tried freezer paper and found that it doesn't work nearly as well, not heavy enough for the printer. It could just be cheap freezer paper though. Make sure that the label is fully adhered with no bubbles. Bubbles will snag in the printer leaving you with a white streak.

6) Trim the excess fabric. Be neat about it so that the printer will be happy.

7) Print your image, hand feeding the paper backed fabric to make sure it doesn't jam. Mine likes to jam, kind of guide it in so that it doesn't curl funny. If you want the colours to be vibrant you will need to start with an overly bright image, as it doesn't show up as bright on the fabric.

8) Wait ten minutes (I don't, but you should) then peel the backing off. Put the fabric somewhere safe to set for 24 hours.

Go to Part Two!