Inkjet Printing on Fabric

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Introduction: Inkjet Printing on Fabric

About: I like to make things for the internets. I also sell a pretty cool calendar at supamoto.co. You'll like it.

Forget about printing on some transfer paper and then ironing it onto some fabric. With some freezer paper you can print right on the fabric itself. No need to reverse the image and it's faster, cheaper, and more effective.


Step 1: Materials List

Cloth? Check.
Freezer paper? Check.

Step 2: Cut to Size

Cut a piece of fabric a little bit bigger than the 8.5"x11" that your printer can handle. Or, if you have a bigger printer, go bigger.

Cut the freezer paper to an even larger size to give you a nice margin of error here.

Step 3: Iron Together

Place the working side of the fabric onto the ugly old ironing board you have lying around. Now place the plastic side of the freezer paper down on that.

In other words, the working surface is safely facing the bottom and the paper side of the freezer paper is facing you. Now iron it together. The two pieces will become one.

Step 4: Cut to Size - Part 2

Trim the combined fabric paper to something your printer can accept. For me, that's letter-size. For my friend, who bought a massive Epson printer while flush with cash, that could be two-feet by whatever.

Step 5: Stick It In

You now have a piece of fabric that is supported by the attached piece of freezer paper. This makes the resulting combination solid enough to be grabbed by the printer without flopping about. Treat the finished piece like a regular piece of paper and stick it into an inkjet printer. My printer flips the paper over and then prints on it so I placed the piece in the tray with the fabric side down.

Step 6: Print!

Find some image you want on a piece of fabric and print away. You'll be surprised at the level of detail. This Instructables logo in the picture is just over two inches wide.

You can print anything you want. I found this technique because a friend wanted to create some treasure maps for a pirate party. If you want the image to be on something that will get a lot of use you might want to treat it with this stuff.

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210 Discussions

Two questions please: where are we copying a pattern to go on the fabric? Is it like copying a photo off the computer or do you have to use the copy machine on the printer? and after this is done...can it be put in the microwave? I want to make a herbal pack and it has to be microwaved. Thank you

does anyone know if this will work with a laser printer ?
Dont want to mess up my printer - its a big professional laser printer I use to print business cards on.

5 replies

Another article I read said 'No', but the comments below speak for themselves. One other thing the article I read said that there's a product called bubblejet set, which apparently helps the ink stick to the cloth. Also indicated that 'pigment' ink is better than 'dye' ink. I have no idea what the difference is.

Actually when I first started looking for this technique, everything called for laser printers, so I tried it on my inkjet and it worked fine as I wasn't able to afford to go buy a laser printer. So yes it will work on a laser printer, just as with any printer, be sure that there are no fabric threads to get caught up in the printers. Trim neatly first before sending it through your printer. Good luck and hope it works out.

Also, when your finished and let your image set for about half an hour, iron your image with a thin towel or ironing cloth to help set your colors when done.

I have tried a laser printer, not treated the fabric [cotton sheet from thrift shop]
and it was great [guy at post office helped-as it was the shop printer and i had to pay of course about 60p a A3 size print ] backed with freezer paper
came out great and i washed it in washing machine [with some dark towel ...in case the colors ran , but it came out looking as good as it did before being washed
also tried inkjet not bad - but def not washable, faded to very pale black with no colors i was really disappointed-i would buy a laser printer-but they are so large [as i would want an A3]
i even tried a homemade pre-treatment [on the net] took time and results were abysmal and almost all of it washed away

i think the laser printing is beautiful [though check your colors i as the guy in post office sharpened up my pics and density and lightened them up a tad-what a difference that made
so........
i would only use inkjet -if i never intended to wash the printed piece -end of

dude I just did this with a laser printer and the image is great! I've read some places that toner is really waterproof too (I'm not certain of this statement's validity, as I have not personally tested it). Best of luck :)

As you see, the title is: "INKJET printing on fabric". So, the answer is "no".
It only works with inkjet printers.

Hi! I want to ask if we could use "STICKER PAPER" instead of "FREEZER PAPER". We cannot find any freezer paper here in the Philippines. Thank you for your reply.

3 replies

there no freezer paper here too. i suppose sticker paper should be fine but way way more expensive :/

The first time I tried this technique was about 15 years ago and we used wax paper and it works great

what printer is that

Hi, no freezer paper here in Australia. I've had success with putting wide masking tape down all four sides of my fabric .. half width of tape on one side, fold over the edge and the other half on the back.... if you see what I mean!

2 replies

Hi there, just thought I would let you know, in case you ever needed it, that Spotlight sell freezer paper. They keep it hidden away under the counter where you purchase fabrics and sell it by the metre.

Hi, Could you please explain your technique in more detail? For instance did you put masking tape down the edges of the fabric, fold it over and stick it to the other side and then feed the paper into the printer? You would have to keep the photo inside the taped edges then?

My printer doesn't have settings for paper thickness, so I tried the paper types. It spit out glossy and crumpled up plain paper, but finally worked on matte.

I had some difficulty with ink blobs along the top edge, dragging down onto the image when I ironed the fabric all the way to the top of the freezer paper.. I cut the fabric slightly smaller all around, approx. 1/2" and it made a much cleaner transfer. Otherwise this is a great method to print on fabric. I also had purchased some 8-1/2" x 11" freezer paper sheets in the past which make this process a little easier.

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EllE4

2 years ago

can i use calico instead of cotton?

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ghau

2 years ago

For those who cant get freezer paper, try using repositional tape or repositional adhesive spray. I have used this to print on ribbon. You can get it with scrapbooking supplies or art supply stores.

My printer was haphazard. It would accept 1 sheet of fabric then the next one would jam. So far i have resolved the problems by doing the following: I cut the fabric a little larger than the freezer paper. I set the iron on high heat, and layed the fabric on top of the shiny side of freezer paper. I ironed slowly, pressing from center towards the edges to get out air bubbles. (but not so long that the fabric burns!)

While its still warm i place the ironed sheet under a large book so it stays flat. Then I carefully trim all 4 edges using a quilt wheel and straight edge so it exactly matches the paper.

I set the printer to "best" quality print and chose "other photo" paper.

It has worked every time. Hope this helps!