This page is intended to provide helpful hints
and resources for four methods of photo transfer to fabric. Associated
pages include references for: Photo Prep *
Printer Info *
Photo Editing *
Photo Transfer Fabric Selection
Photo Transfer to Fabric isn't brain
surgery but it is quirky. This great technology caught my attention in about
1998. I disremember the exact date however, I did start constructing
photo quilts about that time.
We Can Do This For YOU!!! Photo Transfer
The history of this technology has been one of continuing improvement.
Many products are now available for home use.
NOTE & WARNING! The following information is editorial opinion
only. Whatever process you choose, please follow manufacturers'
1. Printer Fabric: You can purchase printer fabric at most
fabric stores, office supply and on-line. This fabric works and newer
versions are more durable, washable and with a lower fade parameter. Printer
fabric is expensive averaging $3 per sheet. How it works is that the
fabric is treated with a chemical that allows printer ink (usually ink jet)
to set into the fabric. It is expensive enough that you might
want to be sure to use every smidgen of it. You can set printer fabric
with several images depending on the size of photo panel you are looking
for. Some hints for digital editing for photo transfer can be found
HERE: Photo Prep
NOTE: If you are using the printer fabric for sewing projects, be
sure to figure in your seam allowance for each image. Also be sure to
soak finished print in water to 'bleed out' excess ink. If you don't
the first time you use it, it will bleed all over your project.
Note: As with all things 'quirky', you are going to burn some
printer fabric until you get your printer ink calibration set correctly. See
Hints for Printer Calibration HERE: Pinter Info
Quality: Printer Fabric tends to be of lower thread count per inch
(tcpi) The best I've seen is at 200 tcpi. As a comparison, our
studios use 400 plus tcpi fabric for photo transfer. I have even cut
up 1200 thread count sheets (but only once). See more on this topic at
Photo Transfer Fabric Selection
Recommendation: Don't like it, won't recommend it.
2. Chemical Soak: There are products that allow you to soak
your fabric with the chemical used in option #1 above. I've done this
and although many will argue, I've found that I'm not quite as fastidious
with chemical measurements etc to achieve good results. After soaking
the fabric in a chemical such as Bubble Jet Set, you lay flat to dry.
Then you must cut freezer paper and the fabric to the size of your printer.
Iron the freezer paper to the fabric and then load printer and print.
Quality: Earlier versions of products like Bubble Jet Set had
warnings regarding fading with exposure to light. One company even
recommended storing photo quilts etc in closed closets to avoid fading.
I tried to dialogue with the company owner about this stupid idea but he
refused my attempts to clear his thinking. Imagine that?
To be clear, my dislike of this method is so high, I have not tried any
recent versions of Bubble Jet Set or any other product. This does NOT
mean that this process does not have a purpose.
NOTE: I found the chemical soak to be stinky - use well vented
area. If you want to make up a large batch, you need a lot of flat
drying space. It isn't always easy to cut both the fabric and freezer
paper to the exact size of your printer. If you don't iron the freezer
paper to the fabric properly, it will separate or clog your printer.
3. Hand Iron Transfer: Any office supply store will sell you
T-Shirt fabric transfer paper. Early on, this is all that was available.
The main complaints with the hand iron transfer paper are: Shiny
surface, transfer failure, stiff texture. All of this is true.
Hand Iron Transfer works best with smaller transfers at say less than 4"
square. Large transfers can be done with a hand iron but you must be
prepared for failure and 'do-overs'.
NOTE: This is a NO steam process and the steam holes in the iron can
cause transfer failure or glitches. If you use a steam press or iron,
you must do the transfer in 'quick bits'. This means moving the hand
iron constantly around the transfer image.
Quality: Not as great as using Heat Sublimation (see category #4)
Good for quickie projects like kid's tee shirts, novelty party items etc.
Click on MORE for Category 4