In the spirit of the Holidays, Patterns for Pirates is posting 5 days of freebies. Today’s freebie is a template to make your own clothing size tags. I’m here to tell you that while the tag template will work beautifully with any machine capable of cutting htv vinyl, I’ve had some success using an alternative printing method, because I don’t own any sort of fancy vinyl cutting machine.
Disclaimer: My advice is based on my past experiences printing on fabric and the testing I did with my current ink jet printer. Your results may vary depending on your printer model and ink. For a million reasons I can’t guarantee results and your mileage will vary. So have fun and consider this to be an experiment! 😉
and now I present you with a series of tips on how to print on fabric using an ink jet printer.
Step 1: Choose your fabric. A natural fiber such as cotton with absorb the ink the best. If you pick a woven fabric something will need to be done later to prevent the edges from fraying too much. Fray check, zigzag stitch, or a straight stitch a hair away from the edge will work fine. You can also just use a 100% cotton knit with no fear of fraying. Huzzah!
Step 2: In order to get the fabric of your choice to feed through the printer, you will need to stiffen it up a bit by adding a temporary backing. You can iron-on freezer paper or apply contact paper to the back of the fabric. After your fabric has the backing, you can cut it down to the size of a regular sheet of paper.
Step 3: Before printing on your fabric sheet, you’ll want to test print on plain paper to make sure the image size is to your liking. Since I knew the tags would be an actual tag in the clothing, I reduce the template size enough that I could fit two on a regular sheet of paper. I did this using Photoshop, but this is something that just about any graphics program can do.While I’m rambling about pre-printing. You’ll also want to make sure the printer uses only black ink, by selecting a black and white or “gray-scale” option, and that it also prints at the highest quality possible. If you don’t know how to already do this, your printer manual will probably have the relevant information.
Step 4: Once you have successfully printed the template onto fabric you will want to “set” the ink by pressing a dry iron on the hottest possible setting. I pressed for 30 second increments for a total of several minutes on both the back and front of the fabric. Be sure to peel off the backing before ironing!
Step 5: Retayne (affiliate link for 16 oz bottle) is a product designed to “fix” dyes onto fabric. I discovered it when I can across a discussion how quilters use it to prevent fabric bleeding on finished quilts. I’ve found the product works great for not only keeping tricky fabrics from bleeding dye, but I also use it to set hand-dyed projects. I highly recommend after setting the ink with a hot iron, giving the tags a soak in just enough water to cover the tags mixed with a capful of Retayne. The bottle recommends hot water, but I used lukewarm with my tags in order to keep the potential bleeding before the Retayne has a chance to work to a minimum.Just fyi since the whole point of Retayne is to permanent fix dyes, you do not want to use it if something has stains, splotches, or anything you hope will wash out.
Besides the 16oz bottle I linked to above, you can also get Retayne in a smaller 4oz bottle (affiliate link).
Step 6: Finally, as I said before, how colorfast your tags will be can vary greatly on your printer and ink. Even with my best efforts I still experienced some initial fading which gave a vintage chic quality to the tags. My Epson ink jet printer was loaded with cheap generic ink, so I figure if my printer can do it, then many of you might have success as well!
Good luck and I’d love to see your results. Tag me on Instagram using @pensebrox or @craftylikearox.