...a theory on inkjet printers, lettering transfers, and washability...
I wrote this post on the topic of lettering when I was stitching my Breakfast at Tiffany's block.
In that post, I mentioned this class that I had taken with Canby Robertson; a needleartist, teacher and designer who also happens to be a member of my local Embroiderer's Guild Chapter.
While taking Canby's lettering class, she made the comment that she had discovered that she could effectively transfer lettering to fabric using her inkjet printer AND that she had also discovered a way that the lettering would wash out.
She had found that when she printed out in full black, the transfer did not wash out. However, when she printed out in grayscale, the transfer DID wash out.
Hmmm...I have a number of upcoming projects that require lettering so I wanted to test her theory with my own inkjet printer. My printer is an Epson NX400 --it's one of those all-in-one jobs and it is at least five years old if not older and I think it cost me about $99 way back when. In other words, I don't have a fancy printer.
I cut out 4 - 4"x6" pieces of freezer paper and ironed the shiny side of the freezer paper to the back of four fabrics: Two pieces of quilter's cotton, one silk taffeta, and one silk organza. Don't forget to clip at least one corner on the leading edge of your fabric sheet.
Here's what happened...
As you can see, I had mixed success.
First and foremost, I will forever moving forward keep a scrap fabric sheet close to my printer and use this to run through the printer FIRST to clean the heads of the nozzles before passing my good fabric through the printer.
Secondly, the second piece of cotton jammed up the printer and made a mess because my freezer paper wasn't bonded solidly to the fabric and the leading edge of the fabric separated from the paper beneath....and it made a big mess.
Next, the gold taffeta silk fared really well except for that little blob of ink to the upper left.
After the big mess I made in pass number two, I should have re-sent through a "cleaning" sheet. Another lesson learned. Now that little flub is a design opportunity and I'll cover it up with something.
The last one, the sheer silk organza, was the real surprise for me. I expected, because it was white, that it would have ink splotches all over it. But it didn't!
It turned out beautifully. And I like the transparency and the lettering very very much.
Lastly, since I wanted to test Canby's theory that my grayscale printing could wash out of the fabric after I was finished my stitching. [Note: By printing in grayscale, I mean changing the actual color of the font to a light gray in your word processing program or in Photoshop, Image-Adjustments-Hue/Saturation-and increase the lightness to about 75%.}
I took the first piece of quilter's cotton to the sink to wash it...
As you can see below, the transfer didn't come out completely but it's pretty close.
Eureka! This is great to know. Next I'd like to test it on linen.
Now, not all transfers can be washed...especially some fancy fabrics. But what we can do is select the palest gray possible so that the transfer is very very faint.
What I like most about this technique for fancy fabrics is that it lets me print my lettering onto a fabric patch BEFORE I piece it into a quilt block.
And so that's what I'll do next.
There are lots of tips on the internet for printing on fabric and I don't mean to list them all here. That being said, here are a few things I learned from this little exercise:
- Prepare multiple pieces of fabric bonded with freezer paper just in case you have a paper jam or an ink blotch. Though you may not need them, mentally it's nice to prepare yourself by thinking it may take multiple tries to get a really good transfer.
- ALWAYS run through a "cleaning" sheet of bonded fabric first -- a scrap piece that you can keep by your printer to use to clean the nozzles of excess ink before putting through your good fabric. To be safe, also run this through between each printing.
- Make sure that the fabric and freezer paper are bonded well and there are no air bubbles between the freezer paper and the fabric.
- Clip the leading corners so that the fabric and paper have less chance of separating.
- Run your own test using your own printer. The washability of the grayscale ink may vary from inkjet printer to inkjet printer and fabric to fabric.
Have a great day everyone.
I'm off to clean up my sewing area before the I get too far underway with this next project. Otherwise Tiffany blue might end up where it's not supposed to be...