Fabric + Freezer Paper + Printer = Fun

IMG_4814If you’re crafty, love textiles, and want to customize your projects, you probably already know the technique I’m going to explain here. I’ve known this technique for quite a long time, and used it many times in the past, yet had forgotten about it–so maybe the same goes for you!

I want to remind you how easy and satisfying it is to print any image or words on fabric, using humble freezer paper, your trusty iron, and your home computer printer.

IMG_4784It’s a great technique for textile artists and crafters to have in their repertoires—it’s super easy, very inexpensive, and gives you custom fabric pieces that can be used in a gazillion ways.

I’m planning a quilt and, for part of it, I want to embroider the words of an old song on fabric panels and stitch them together.

I could just write the words on the fabric, and embroider over that, but I want a calligraphy typeface. So I chose one on the computer and typed up the stanzas of the song. You can choose anything, though—words, graphics, photos. You may be surprised at the quality of the print you can get! Just take into consideration the color of your fabric and how that might affect the colors you’re printing onto it.

I used my rotary cutter and cutting mat to cut cotton fabric into pieces that my printer could handle. These rotary cutters are commonly used by quilt makers but I use mine, with the mat, to cut all kinds of things—fabric, paper, cardstock, lots of stuff. If you don’t have one, just use your scissors.

IMG_4788Then I just ripped off a piece of freezer paper bigger than my fabric. Be sure you have freezer paper, not waxed paper!

Put the fabric face down on an ironing board or protected surface. Place the plasticized side of the freezer paper, shiny side down, on top of the fabric.

IMG_4791Make sure your iron is dry and will not spit steam all over the fabric. Empty it of water and turn the steam option off! I have an old iron that was never designed for steam so I use that.

Get the iron really hot and run it over the back of the freezer paper. Press down firmly and check often to see if the bond is complete. You don’t want corners that peel up or any spots that shift. When this is ready, it will seem as if the pieces of fabric and of freezer paper are one.

Let it cool a bit and trim the freezer paper right up to the edges of the fabric. Avoid any raveled threads that could gum up your printer!

Then, if you have your images ready, all you need to do is pop the fabric piece into your printer, making sure you know which side the printer will print on, and run it through!

IMG_4799Since I am embroidering over the lettering I printed and I’m not planning to launder this quilt, I’m not worried about the printed image fading. If you’re printing an image that will stand on its own and/or be washed, you should look into a spray-on fixative.

After the ink has dried fully, you can gently remove the fabric from the freezer paper and go ahead with your project!

IMG_4806Make a quilt with family photos!  Add fancy frames and borders around the photos! Make little fabric pennants to spell out a name! Make a fabric coffee coaster for your Valentine with downloadable graphics!

IMG_4804The possibilities are limited only by your imagination and the size of paper your printer will handle. And, of course, you can also use this method to stabilize fabric while you write or draw directly on it.

I’ll show you more of this quilt and tell you the story behind it as I get a little further along.

Have you used this technique before? What did you make? Can you add any helpful tips that I missed?

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62 thoughts on “Fabric + Freezer Paper + Printer = Fun

  1. also have never seen this technique before, would love to try it sometime. i am determined to get back to crafting but have to choose less “hands” intensive. i bought a new overlocker last summer and haven’t even taken it out of the box yet!

  2. Nice idea to personalize the project. I grew up doing cross-stitch samplers (the ones with the blue X’s). As we travel I have collected counted cross stitch designs from various locations. I actually finished one from 15+ years ago, but the other are waiting for some day when I sit still… Must be the call of those dry-wall bucket projects. 😉
    Oscar

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    • I wonder. It’s not an item that’s in big demand here so it’s always on the lower shelves. Next time you’re in a bigger market, look in the aisle where the plastic wraps are. It should say freezer paper, though–it’s not waxed paper. I hope you find it!

    • I’m making the quilt for a specific challenge and it has a deadline–I hope I can get it done!

      I’m glad to know you’ve used this technique–most commenters hadn’t heard of it!

  4. I love this technique and used to do this with our old printer, however, we have one of those high-tech new printers now…and I’m afraid I might damage it! So instead I I use transfer paper and later iron the image on the fabric, cushion or piece of clothing. I also use an old iron that has no steam function 🙂
    Good luck with the quilt!!

    • So, I have a question–does the transfer paper you use leave a film on the surface? I avoided using that kind of thing because I need to embroider and hand quilt and I didn’t want to have to fight the fabric.

    • I’ve enjoyed using the technique for embroidering–it lets you makes your own designs and words. My big concern about the quilt is getting it done in time–there’s a firm deadline and I’m sort of a slow worker . . .

  5. OHHH I LOVE your freezer paper printing of the calligraphy saying. What a lovely idea. I will have to try this some time. And from the tiny bit you have begun…your stitching is exquisite! Thanks for visiting my blog. I love doing handwork of any kind, but especially hand quilting!

  6. Thank you for your great instructions. As a quilter, I am always trying to figure out the best way to make labels. I have heard about using your own fabric and freezer paper, but had been hesitant to do it. I will be trying this technique soon.

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  11. I loved learning about this technique. It’s new to me, too. I did a couple of photo transfer projects using cloth printer paper, but it’s pricey. I think I got six pieces for $20. I made a pair of squirrel photo pillows for my garden swing last year, and a few years back I made a banner for a blogger using her photos of the garden. It was fun to see images come to life on fabric. I used to do a lot of embroidery. Your posts are always inspiring.

    • I remember the squirrel pillows! I can’t bring myself to buy that expensive fabric, although it might be the best option for photos. But for this technique, where the printed words are going to be embroidered over anyway, my technique is perfect!

      • Ah, that’s a good point. I was so nervous opening up the package for printing, fearing the worst: that my printer would “eat” the sheet of fabric. It all went swimmingly, and of course I had six sheets in a package and only needed two. Funny the things we fret about. I love everything you create. You’re a wonder.

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