Thursday, September 24, 2009

Print on fabric with this homemade solution
Note*  if you are looking for information on printing fabric with an inkjet printer and or, a homemade Bubble Jet Set solution......please click on the "Tutorials" tab contains the most complete and up to date info

Recently, I had tried a homemade solution for printing onto fabric using my inkjet printer with limited success. I have tried a few different things since then and have come up with a solution that actually works quite well.
I'll show you first what happens when you use a simple solution of soda ash mixed with hot water. This image in the upper right corner are test subjects side by side. These were printed using fabrics prepared with Bubble Jet set (left) and a solution of soda ash and water ( right)
as you can see, there is not a huge difference between the 2 after rinsing but I still seem to be losing a fair bit of reds and to some extent the blues. .....good...but not good enough.

Next is the result using the best recipe I have come up with so far. The first 2 photos is what the print looked like fresh from the printer. These were printed on fabric prepared using the recipe below. Then you see them again after not only being rinsed but also being washed with detergent. I deliberately chose images that contained a great deal of reds/pinks and while there still is a little colour loss I'd say that this really does work quite well.

So what is the recipe? well it is as follows:
1 Tablespoon of soda ash
2 Tablespoons alum powder
1 cup hot water.
Important! sure to mix this in a large container......even though this is a small quantity of ingredients, believe me when I tell you that this mixture is really going to "fizz"
Once it has settled down it is ready for use. I gave my fabric a thorough 20 minute soak in the solution, left it to dry and then printed as usual. The mixture can be stored and used again just like the Bubble Jet set solution.
I have an inexpensive Canon printer that really seems to do a pretty good job, I am going to assume that since each printer and the ink used is different, your results may vary.
If you are planning to make an item using photo transfer that will likely be washed a great deal I'd probably stick to the tried and true commercial product.........but for art quilts and projects where they would not likely be exposed to a lot of laundering this just might be something worth exploring in your own studio. I have nothing against the Bubble Jet set solution, after all, it works great, but it is not always easy to find locally and I am not keen on using a product containing formaldehyde so for those reasons, I will continue working toward finding an alternative for my use and share with you the results of my experiments.

I have had a couple of questions put to me about my last post regarding this process.
........... what are these items, what is the cost and where are they found?
Okay so Alum, comes in a powder form (it's what gives pickles their crunch) and can be found in the spice section of your grocery store ( it is quite expensive in those little cans) so better yet is to purchase it at a bulk food store. To give you an example the little can ran about $3.49 Canadian funds for 65g while at the bulk food store 100g is only $1.32
Fabric dyers out there are familiar with Soda Ash, as this is what is used to prepare their fabrics to better accept the dye. I have seen many threads online about soda ash and washing soda being the same far as I can tell they are not. I purchased this box of Soda Ash at Michael's Craft store. It was right around $10.00 but you know you can use your 40 or 50% off coupons and it then becomes much more affordable. Since only a small amount is necessary for each "batch"of solution, I think this box should give me a pretty good yield for the bucks

The images............I have been playing with my Photoshop Elements software and just wanted to show you how some of those photos printed onto fabric started out.
They really were pretty poor images, I cropped, adjusted, spent a little time playing with levels and filters to achieve those interesting effects.


Anne Huskey-Lockard said...

I can't wait to try this! Thanks for posting the recipe.
One other place to buy soda ash in bulk is at the pool supply store. I found some on close out at the end of summer for a pittance of what the preboxed costs for dyeing fabrics. (so naturally I bought about three gallons....duh!) But it is the same thing.
Interesting the difference the alum makes; I assume it is due to the mordant properties?
Very nice!


Diane J. Evans said...

WOW!! What a tremendous amount of love and effort you've put into this process and its documentation. You've done all the research and saved the rest of us much time -- are you sure you don't have a degree in chemistry, too???


connie said...

I can hardly wait to try this. I thought there had to be something out there that would work and sounds like you have found it. Thanks so much for sharing.

Zlaty said...

Wow, thank you for recipes and all the details! I have never tried that but wanted to! I have to gather my ingredients and give it a try,

Happy sewing!


Clare W said...

wow you are very indistrious. You should work on writing a book.

Finishing Lines by K.Sperino said...

Thanks for posting all this great info!!

Mary-Kay said...

Thanks for all the great info. There seems to be a lot of different opinions about setting your fabric up for dyeing. You've taken all the guess work out of this equation. Thanks again.

Kitchener Quilter Girl said...

Hi Quilt Rat,

I tried your recipe, seemed to hold colours quite well. I had some trouble with burning when I heat set the prints, so I gave up on the idea, and tried something else. Probably not what you want to hear, just giving feedback.

Quilt Rat said...

just a quick note about using this recipe ( or even Bubble Jet Set solution)
You do not need to "Heat" set your images.
Simply print the image.....let it set for roughly 30 minutes and then place in cool water that has a splash of fabric softener,
thoroughly rinse and let dry.

( I did find with my recipe that there still could be a little colour loss........mostly reds. When you put your printed image into the "bath" you will see any colour loss actually begin to lift and float off the image.

I always rinse in a container large enough to allow the image to lie flat and not fold on itself as this could cause some colour transfer problems.

If you experienced some scorching you may have had the iron a little too hot, or possibly not had all of the solution thoroughly rinsed out of your piece.

also when I iron/press a piece, I generally use parchment paper to protect both the image and my iron.

HM Pearson said...

this is great! I am making three picture quilts for christmas and could not afford to do it with the bubble jet solution but this is perfect! Can't wait till christmas well a little more sewing to do to get done but the pictures with this methid are amazing!

gcsteidl said...

Hello Quilt Rat,

Thanks so much for the recipe. I want to make a picture quilt for my parents 50th anniversary this year. I have never transfered pics to fabric and want to try but didn't want the I really hope this works!! Thanks again for the recipe.

stellahayn said...

The amount of information in here is stunning, like you practically wrote the book on the subject. Your blog is great for anyone who wants to understand this subject more. Great stuff, please keep it up! Visit us on Digital Printing.

Zonika Engelbrecht said...

Do I need to put some fabric softener to this receipe?

Toni Delli-Compagni said...

Hi, I live in the UK. as far as I know I can only get alum by prescription. Is there anything else I can use?

Toni Delli-Compagni said...

Hi, I live in the UK. as far as I know I can only get alum by prescription. Is there anything else I can use?

Quilt Rat said...

Hi Tony.....I hope you check back here. I could not email you directly as you are set as a no-reply blogger

You should be able to find Alum at a bulk food store. It is the ingredient used to give pickles their crispness...Do you know anyone who makes their own preserves? perhaps they could tell you where they find it.
I wonder what the difference is between what we buy in the grocery aisle and what is sold through a pharmacy
Sorry I could not be of more help

Toni Delli-Compagni said...

Hi, Thanks it's taken me a while to track down the Alum - ended up ordering it from Amazon US. I'm still on the experimenting stage - I've seen so many different recipes all which call from different amounts of Alum. I still have a bit of fading every time I wash my print. I'm doing your recipe today which calls for the largest amount of Alum - which I guess must be for main ingredient that holds the colour.

I just wanted to ask about the fabric softener - your recipe doesn't call for it. I'm guessing it must for for our own benefit rather than the image........

Quilt Rat said...

Hi have your setting as a "no reply" blogger, so hopefully you will see my answer here.
I don't use fabric softener...BUT I do use a drop or two of Retayne in my rinse water.... think results will vary for everyone as we are all using different printers, inks, fabrics....etc....I have achieved excellent results with this method...good luck.

The City Dweller said...

Hi Quilt Rat, would you mind updating your posts on this topic again? The reason I ask is that I have to scour the comments for extra steps, such as placing the (treated and printed) fabric in a flat bowl of cool water with a splash of fabric softener and/or Retayne for 30 mins, etc... if this step is important enough for you to do, your readers who are learning (like me!) would love to see all the potential steps when building the recipe.

Quilt Rat said...

Hello City Dweller......I hope you see this as you are a No reply blogger, I could not email you a response.

At the time of this post I was still experimenting and learning what worked best.

I hope to post a stand alone page about this process in the near future......trouble is that because these early posts are so popular.....I think the search engines will still direct you here. I may have to put an "edit" on each of them. Hope you found the info you were looking for and you are enjoying success

The City Dweller said...

Ah, I see what you mean about the search engines, especially after they've "cached" the pages (I think that's what it's called). No worries. It's so tough to find a recipe that doesn't have several commenters write "this didn't work for me!" and I know it's a challenge when you're experimenting. I see your two posts of recipe, and I am going to give the updated version a try today, with the 30 min soak after printing. Thanks for the posts and pics!

Quilt Rat said...

I just managed to upload a tutorial has the recipe and the steps I take to ensure a good result.....prepping to rinsing

click on the "Tutorial" tab at the top of the page.....just under my banner.

Hope you find this helpful

The City Dweller said...

Many thanks! I'll check it out

Copyright Jill Buckley