Tuesday, February 8, 2011

How-To: Direct Printing on Fabric

Over the next few weeks I will be covering several different image transfer techniques. This first one is direct printing on fabric using an inkjet printer and fabric treated with a chemical to make it washable after printing. I love this technique...it is my personal favourite. I recently printed some striped fabric to use as legs for a stuffed doll. I will post the picture when she is all done.


Inkjet Printer that uses pigment ink ( I use an Epson printer)
TNA soap (also known as Synthrapol)
Bubble Jet Set and Bubble Jet Set Rinse (or Raycafix)
100% cotton or silk fabric
Freezer Paper (or Loomtak a self adhesive fabric stabilizer)
Iron if using freezer paper
Rubber gloves
Large bowl to soak fabric in
Funnel to pour chemical back into bottle when finished
Masking tape (optional)


1. Prewash your fabric with TNA soap

2. Rough cut your fabric to just over the largest sheet your printer can accommodate.

3. Pretreat your fabric with the Bubble Jet Set or Raycafix according to the directions on the bottle. Hang up and allow to air dry. Iron smooth.

4. Cut freezer paper (or Loomtak) to size and iron fabric to the wax side of the freezer paper. Trim off excess fabric. Also trim any loose threads that could get caught in your printer.

5. I like to add a peice of masking tape over the fabric edge that feeds into the printer. This prevents the fabric from pulling off the freezer paper as it feeds into your printer. (This is a must step for me as otherwise my fabric gets caught in my printer...big mess!!)

6. Print your design onto the fabric. Set your printer setting to paper (not high quality, or photo paper as this will add too much ink to the fabric and your image will be blurry.

7. Remove fabric from the freezer paper or Loomtak and follow the directions on your pretreatment bottle (Bubble Jet Set or Raycafix) for removing the chemical and excess ink from the fabric.

Pros of this method:

Very economical over purchasing printable fabric sheets.
No need to print in mirror image as with T-shirt transfer method.
Finished piece has a nice hand to it. No plasticky feel or look as with T-shirt transfers!
Fabric is machine washable and dryable with very little fading (10% is typical)

Cons of this method:
You are limited to the largest sheet size your printer can handle.
More time consuming then using T-shirt transfer paper or using pretreated paper sheets as you need to do the pretreatment yourself.

If you have unused sheets - these do not last long (couple of months at most) . I think the chemical must slowly evaporate from the fabric. I have not experimented with storing the unused sheets in sealed containers or bags though.

Supplier List:

C. Jenkins Co. - they are the manufacturers of Bubble Jet Set and you can get all the supplies you need from them (aside from the printer and iron)
Dharma Trading Co. - Great supplier for all sorts of image transfer supplies.
Inkbloom - the makers of Loomtak - self adhesive fabric stabilizer
G&S Dye - a Canadian (Toronto) supplier for Raycafix and fabric dying/printing supplies

Links for more information on this technique:

Bryerpatch Studio - lots of in depth info on using Bubble Jet Set
Video How-To using Loomtak
How-To for using Raycafix

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