Printing on fabric can allow you to create personalized and memorable projects. Use fabric printing fixative to transfer photographs, drawings or logos to 100 percent cotton fabric. While you can purchase specialty products for fabric photo printing, these are expensive. Try a homemade fixative as an alternative for all your fabric printing projects.
You have several options for homemade fixative for fabric photo printing. The easiest is simply to dilute concentrated fabric softener. Choose an "ultra" formulation of fabric softener and mix 50/50 with water. Soak the fabric and allow it to dry without rinsing. Create a more durable homemade fixative by combining soda ash or washing soda with alum. Use 2 parts alum to 1 part soda ash or washing soda. Combine 4 tbsp. alum with 2 tbsp. soda ash or washing soda in a large bowl. Add 2 tsp. fabric softener if desired. Dip your fabric after fizzing and foaming has ceased and allow it to dry.
Freezer paper is one of the least expensive and easiest ways to provide the body and structure needed for your project. Freezer paper alone will allow you to feed fabric into the printer and provide the sturdiness required for fabric printing; however, your finished print may not stand up to laundering. Once your fixative treated fabric is dry, iron freezer paper to the back to finish prepping your fabric photo printing project. Cut your fabric and freezer paper to fit your printer, using a standard sheet of printer paper as a pattern. Iron the shiny side of the freezer paper to the wrong side of your fabric using medium heat.
Choose good quality photos or images for photo printing. Be sure that your photo is crisp and clear, and opt for one with high contrast for the best fabric printing result. Set your printer to the fabric sheet setting or thicker paper setting if possible and the highest print quality. Print and allow the fabric photo printing to set overnight. Wash it in lukewarm water with a mild handmade soap, gentle quilt wash or fabric softener. Dry flat. Use your finished homemade fabric photo print in your projects.
With a master's degree in art history from the University of Missouri-Columbia, Michelle Powell-Smith has been writing professionally for more than a decade. An avid knitter and mother of four, she has written extensively on a wide variety of subjects, including education, test preparation, parenting, crafts and fashion.