Remember last week when we talked about printing embroidery designs on fabric, using a home printer?
Well, I continued with some experimentation, and I’ve chatted with some other stitchers about the subject since then and done a little more research and whatnot.
If you jumped on the home-printing idea for embroidery patterns transfers, there are a few things you might want to know before you plunge headfirst into using your home printer for printing all your embroidery designs straight onto your fabric.
I know, I know! We’re always seeking the perfect (and easy and most painless) solution for design transfer – but there are several things to consider before settling on the inkjet printer as the ideal solution.
First, further experiments:
To recap, the embroidery project is an embroidered book cover, and the image is a rather detailed one that is reduced in size to fit the cover. The problem for me was transferring this detailed image to the fabric in such a small space, the whole design being about 4″ high.
It can be done, and it can be done by hand – I could meticulously trace it; I could use prick and pounce. But it would take time and a lot of focus and care, and frankly, I was looking for an easy way out!
I decided to run some fine linen fabric, affixed to a sheet of freezer paper, through my inkjet printer to see if the design would print. I detailed all this in last week’s article.
The important point in the previous article was that I faded the opacity of the line, so that the design printed in a very pale gray.
Inkjet printer ink is not colorfast. And unless you use some kind of fixative solution (like Bubble Jet Set – which is discussed in this tutorial on transferring embroidery designs using silk gauze and a printer), then the ink may very well – and in fact, most likely will – run, if you wash the article.
Even if you heat-set the ink with a dry iron, this does not guarantee that it won’t run.
With the light gray lines, it’ll be a lot easier to rinse the ink completely out.
After running the very fine linen through the printer, I decided to try two other types of fabric: silk dupioni and a heavier, medium-weight linen (Alba Maxima linen).
As you can see in the photo above, the silk was successful.
I did end up with a bit of an ink build up, and it showed up on the edges of the silk and freezer paper.
After sending this through the printer, I printed some normal paper, just to clean up any inky problems that might be going on inside the beast.
All was well.
Then, I sent the Alba Maxima through the printer – this is the medium weight linen.
The printer just wasn’t happy with the heavier linen. It jammed and refused to go any further. I tried again, taking the sheet out and running it back through, but no dice.
And it made a mess of my beautiful piece of Alba Maxima linen. Waaaaaaaaah! (Ok, I didn’t really cry, because I knew what I was getting myself into, but after the fact, I berated myself for the waste.)
Many printers have different settings for different types of paper, and I did take all that into consideration.
Anyway, printing with the inkjet printer offers a solution under some circumstances. If you want to use a fixative like Bubble Jet Set, you’ll have better luck getting a permanent transfer, but if you don’t want the residue (I’ve chatted with some stitchers who say they can feel a residue and they don’t like stitching through it), then make sure your lines are very, very light – the lightest you can get away with – so that, if you are washing the embroidery afterwards, you can rinse it until the ink washes completely out.
As always, test test test! Take the time to test exactly what you plan to do ahead of time. Using the same fabric and same threads, work up a sample and treat it exactly how you plan to treat your planned piece, from start to finish. It definitely takes extra time and effort to work up samples, but in the long run, it may save you some serious grief.
Finally, for those asking about the effect of printer ink on fabric and threads long term, I don’t know if inkjet ink is conservation-friendly. I somehow doubt it. So that’s another point you may want to consider.
If you have any advice, input, experiences you want to share on this subject of printing embroidery designs onto fabric using your home printer, feel free to chime in below.
There are many helpful comments on last week’s article, too, for those wanting to read more about the subject.
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