Tuesday 14 March 2006

easy ink jet printing on fabric

my lovely sister has requested some instructions on how to print onto fabric for a few projects she has in mind so i thought i may as well make a post out of it in case it helps anyone else out there. this is a super easy method, perfect for items that don't need to withstand washing. (sorry it's not a proper tutorial with pics, it's night here but next time i do some printing i'll take photos an add them in.)

spray glue
box cutter or exacto knife
cutting matt
A4, letter or legal sized paper (regular weight, not card stock)
inkjet printer

1) choose your (light coloured) fabric. 100% cotton is best, linen also works fairly well, synthetic and blends tend to bleed. iron the fabric before hand or make sure there are no heavy creases or wrinkles.

2) lay the newspaper out, preferably outside, and place the A4, letter or legal sized down on it (as many sheets as you want to print). lightly spray the paper with glue and allow it to sit a few moments to become less tacky*.

3) place the paper onto your fabric, pressing down lightly to make sure it adheres. put fabric and paper on the cutting matt and, using the ruler and knife, trim the fabric around the paper edges, making sure there are no ragged threads hanging off the edge of the sheet. you should be left with a standard sized A4, letter or legal sheet with fabric on one side.

4) on your computer, set up your images the way you want them to sit on the desired size of paper. you can have one large full page sized image or a few smaller ones that you can later trim out.

5) put the paper with fabric attached into the inkjet printer, with the fabric facing the side that prints (if you're not sure which side this is, do a test first).

6) print as per usual except that you probably don't need to print with the highest photo quality settings, as the fabric will become saturated with too much ink and possibly bleed. because all printers are different, print at a medium resolution to start and see where to adjust from there.

7) let the ink dry for about 5 minutes then slowly peel the paper away from the fabric. voila!

* make sure you don't use too much spray glue on the paper or it will be impossible to peel away from the fabric in the end.

a note about the permanance of these prints: i have always used epson printers for my fabric printing and have had great results. for my most recent purchase, i made sure to get a model that uses the Durabrite inks - from the epson website "With Epson DURABrite Ink, you get bold, black text and rich, vibrant colors, for results you'll enjoy for years to come. DURABrite is also water and smudge resistant, which prevents accidental damage caused by moisture and spills. What's more, DURABrite is fade resistant, so your cherished photos and important documents will stand up to harsh outdoor sun or indoor lighting." to further protect my images, i always spray them with an archival matt fixative (available at art stores) after they dry.


  1. came over from wee wonderfuls & wanted to say thank you for posting this tutorial!

  2. Anonymous3:38 am

    Thank you so much. I'm going to have fun trying this out.

    I also use the Epson printer and think their DuraBright inks are the best for this type of printing.
    I found out the hard way after printing something on an HP printer and then attempting to age the paper in a tea and coffee bath...it was a mess. Epson inks are totally waterproof.

  3. Anonymous8:31 pm

    Thanks for this interesting post - it looks like FUN! I'm going to try it out....

  4. thank you for sharing this method. I wíll definitively try it.

  5. Anonymous12:21 pm

    Great quick tutorial. Takes the intimidation right out of printing on fabric. I am a professional Artist/Animator and very glad to see that even the printer used was discussed. I love Epson for the quality prints but I wasn't sure if the inks would bleed as the HP. Glad you decided to share this "How to."

  6. Anonymous7:55 am

    I've been using non Epson dyes to print on fabric, but these dyes really clog the printheads.

    Has anyone had problems with Epson ink clogs?

    Many thanks,


  7. Anonymous1:21 pm

    Bunnings has a 'removable' spray adhesive...works pretty well... I use it to hold down fabric onto board for screen-printing...can usually use it for whole session of printing without re-applying...

  8. Wonderful tutorial, can't wait to put some of my digital artwork into a quilt or wall hanging. I love my epson durabrights as well.

  9. Gail McCormack5:27 pm

    I found your tutorial through Kerryanne - Shabby Art Boutique. I have been experimenting with fabric printing for ages, my method was pretty much the same as yours, but I was using the freezer paper instead of the spray on adhesive - makes things way easier and way cheaper too!!
    Thankyou so much for your wonderful tutorial
    Your work is fantastic

  10. leslie6:05 pm

    thanks gail! freezer paper is a good method too but it's not very easy to come by here in australia (or in canada where i am from). it's not sold in supermarkets and is only available from certain craft/quilting suppliers at a pretty hefty cost compared to what it is in the states.

  11. Gail McCormack6:22 pm

    Hope you didn't mind, I just linked up to this post on my latest blog post - thanks, please let me know if this is not OK and I will delete the post
    Thanks again

  12. this is original and really intriguing. I will definitely try this one.

  13. Anonymous9:20 am

    Hi, You mentioned protecting your images with an archival matt fixative. Can you recommend a brand that you use and does it make the fabric to stiff to use for pillows. Thanks for your help, loved your information. Judie
    email: jrgill1@darientel.net


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