Friday, October 16, 2009

Printing embroidery patterns on fabric, a quick tutorial

I've been wanting to mention this for a few weeks now, so I suppose I better get it done before we start shooting down the birthday tunnel. I will be back on Sunday with a birthday party post, then Monday with a birthday post, then on Tuesday I will start the annual great pumpkin count down to Halloween. (Man, is it coming fast this year!). The point is it's now or never, so excuse the late at night kitchen counter photos.

I always am seeing awesome free embroidery patterns on the internet that I never get around to making because the thought of transferring them to fabric is daunting for me. All that tracing with a fabric pen? Blech, no thanks.

I've printed on fabric before to make labels and one day it occurred to me that I could print the patterns directly to my fabric.

Let's figure out how:
Start with a blank piece of cardstock.
Cut a piece of fabric slightly smaller than your cardstock.
Now we are going to tape our fabric to the cardstock. It's important to do two things here: make sure you have enough space around the fabric for the tape to stick to and pull the fabric as taught as you can so it doesn't wrinkle in the printer.

You can see that I OVER tape the edges to the counter in order to get a nice tight piece of fabric. Taping to the counter gives me some leverage to smooth the fabric as I move onto taping the other sides.
Trim up the tape! You don't want any excess tape hanging over the edges or the paper will tape itself to the inside of the printer.

Voila! You have "fabric paper".
Print your image on regular paper and clean it up. Remove all the excess words at the top and bottom of the page (or from around the image).

Alternately you can do this in a photo program, I just find the scissors easier.
Put your "fabric paper" in the printer and print (or copy) your image. (The tape in this photo is clear instead of striped. I had some copying drama and had to make another sheet.)

My printer does not require any special settings to print on the fabric. It does sometimes want to argue about whether or not my paper is compatible with what I am doing, but I just boss it around a little until it cooperates.

Remove the tape and start stitching.

A few hints:
Know which side of the paper your printer prints on before you ruin your fabric paper! My printer actually feeds bottom up, so I have to load my fabric in upside down to get the printing on the fabric side.

The ink really does not wash out. It will get lighter if you wash it, but you will still be able to see it, so make sure whatever you print you are going to cover up with thread.

Easy as pie, right?

**The pattern seen here is from Badbirds .


  1. This works??!! I've got to go find a pattern and try it! Such a neat idea, thank you!

  2. You could also iron the fabric onto the shiny side of freezer paper, and run it through the printer that way.

    Or you could spend a lot of money on packages of fabric that have already been pressed onto freezer paper.

  3. I never thought about that. I would have thought it would come undone and get trapped in the printer. Very interesting. I was going to mention the freezer paper printing too, but I haven't tried that either. Cute image! What's it going to be? For the count down perhaps?

  4. Good tutorial. I do this with labels sometimes. If/when I make them!

  5. Hey thanks for sharing that information. Looks like a quick way to print quilt labels !?!?!

  6. THANK YOU!!!
    I have been planning on doing an embroidery project with my brownie troop and have been kicking around ideas as to how to make it easy for them and I'm so going to do this! (I might try the freezer paper trick too!). I've gotten the fabric you can run through the printer and I know it's too thick for 7 year olds to learn to embroider on. YAY! You made my day.

  7. Like beadgirl I have ironed my fabric onto freezer paper, trimmed it down and ran it through my printer. I do like you idea of taping the edges, though. Just for extra measure!

    I've done this for memory quilts and letting my kids color with crayons on fabric, but it never occurred to me to do it for stitchery! Genius!


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