Sunday, November 18, 2012

Print Photos on Fabric to Enhance Memory Quilts

"Parents of the World Unite," photographed by Christine Mann

When people have to evacuate their homes in natural disasters, what's the first thing they grab to take with them? Photographs, that's what. Photos of special people, times, and places trigger some of our most treasured memories. That's why I recommend including photos in your next memory quilt. 

It's surprisingly easy to print photos on fabric with an inkjet printer and printable fabric sheets that you can buy at any fabric or crafts store. You can print your first image on fabric in just a few minutes.

Supply List for Printing Pictures on Fabric

Here's what you'll need to print your own photos on fabric:
  • Printable fabric sheets with a thread count of 200 or more. You will find ink jet printer fabric in a wide array of fabric weights and styles, from cotton poplin designed for quilting, to heavyweight denim and canvas for making purses, to linen and silk for sewing fine clothing. 
  • Photo editing software such as Photoshop Elements® for editing, resizing, and improving the photograph. 
  • A photograph to print. A large, sharp, high-resolution image works best. Don't try to use low-resolution photos from the internet or email, because they won't be sharp enough when you print them at a reasonable size. 
  • Color inkjet printer or copier. For best results, use regular printer inks recommended by the printer manufacturer. Ink jet printer fabric won't work with laser copiers or printers. 

Step by Step Instructions for Printing on Fabric

It’s easy to print a photo on fabric. Here are the steps to follow:
  1. Edit the photo. You may want to cut out people you don't want on the memory quilt, repair tears or other flaws in the image, enhance the color, or change the photo's size and shape for the project you're creating. Some photo editing software can also be used to add words or make visual effects such as giving the photo an old-time sepia tone. A free photo online editing suite is available from Adobe.  This is the sample image I want to print. It's a photo of a snowy owl, which I enhanced by adding some boulders:  
  2. Check the instructions on your printable sheets and set your printer to whatever settings the manufacturer suggests. 
  3. Load the fabric sheet in the printer. Your sheet will have a paper side and a fabric side. Make sure the fabric side faces in the proper direction for the ink to print on the fabric, not the paper. My printer puts ink on the side that faces up, so that's how I load my sheet. Here it is, all ready to print:
  4. Run a test print on plain paper before you print the final image on fabric. (Paper is a lot cheaper for testing purposes than the treated fabric!) Photos printed on fabric tend to look washed out, compared to the same photo printed on paper. You may want to intensify the colors in the photo for printing on fabric.
  5. Print the final image. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for handling the printed fabric during and after printing. Here's my sheet, all printed and drying for a minute, as per the instructions on the package:
The printed fabric is now ready to use in a quilt or sewing project.

Read More about Quilting at Quilter's Diary

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