How to Print on Fabric: Freezer Paper Method

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Tutorial for Printing on Fabric

Most of the time I use fabric paper when I print sentiment panels for mug rugs. Starting with white, I can leave the panel clean and simple or paint and ink it up with color.

For the Winter Song sentiments, I knew I wanted to print them on snowflake fabric.

It’s simple with the right tools and supplies. Want to try it?

You’ll need:

  • Freezer paper

  • Cotton fabric

  • Iron and pressing board

  • Rotary cutter and self-healing mat

  • Ruler

  • Inkjet printer

If you want to see what tools and supplies I used, everything is linked to multiple sources in the thumbnails at the end of this post.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Start with a piece of fabric larger than a sheet of freezer paper. Iron out the wrinkles.

  2. Place the shiny side of the freezer paper on the wrong side of the fabric. Place your iron on top of the freezer paper. Press iron along the entire sheet to adhere it to the fabric. It doesn’t take long for them to stick together.

  3. Use your rotary cutter, ruler, and self-healing mat to cut the fabric right along each of the 4 edges of the freezer paper. You now have a letter-size rectangle for the printer tray. Check for and snip any stray threads fraying along edges.

  4. Place the freezer-paper-backed fabric sheet into your printer.

    For my Canon model, I place the sheet fabric-side down in the paper tray.

  5. Open the PDF doc and follow printing instructions. I print one page at a time to prevent jams. I don’t like tech problems intruding on my sewing time.

  6. Let the ink dry for a couple of minutes before handling to prevent smudges.

More Tips and Techniques

Once you have a printed sheet of sentiments, there are two choices:

  1. Leave freezer paper on and cut the panels.

    The paper-backed sheet is sturdy and easy to cut. For the snowflake panels, I didn’t need interfacing so I simply cut the panels and then removed the paper from each. I ironed them flat and was ready to sew.

  2. Peel first. Adhere interfacing. Cut panels.

    When I know I need to add interfacing to thin and see-through fabric, I peel the paper off the full sheet before cutting out panels. I iron interfacing on the back of the fabric. The interfacing stabilizes the sheet when I’m ready to cut out the panels.

 I forgot to adhere interfacing first for these panels. You can see that it’s going to be a project!

I forgot to adhere interfacing first for these panels. You can see that it’s going to be a project!

Heavy-Duty Freezer Paper

There are different brands of freezer paper on the market. I have tried many with success. My favorite is heavy-duty. It’s sturdy and the flat, letter-size sheets make it easy to use. My printer likes it.

If you have freezer paper in your kitchen for baking, it will work. Like foil, it comes on a roll. It’s thin. I suggest tearing off 2 large pieces. Iron them together to make one sheet. How?

Put a teflon sheet on your ironing board. Place the first sheet shiny side down on the teflon. Place the second sheet shiny side down on top of the first sheet. Iron to adhere. Carefully peel the now-adhered sheets off the teflon as one unit. Bring it to your cutting mat. Use a piece of letter-size cardboard or card stock as a template. Place it on top of the freezer paper to cut it to the size you need for printing. Now you’re ready to adhere the sturdy freezer paper sheet to fabric.

Fabric Choices

Neutral, light, and soft tone-on-tone fabrics work best for printing sentiment panels.

I pulled out pastel fabrics with subtle snowflakes. My favorite? The light blue fabric with wispy white snowflakes printed perfectly. The black ink is crisp and clear. I may need to order more from this collection. Great results!

The taupe fabric was a bit tricky, but still worked. The snowflakes on the taupe were added to the fabric. Their waxy texture resisted the ink. After printing, it looks like the snowflakes are falling on top of the letters which is nice in real life but doesn’t photograph well. I could take a fine-tipped black fabric marker and do touch-ups, but for now it works. Yes, I just imagined Tim Gunn’s voice in my ear saying, “make it work.”

I’ll be on the lookout for fabrics that don’t have a resist factor for future print-on-fabric projects.

Now that my craft table is filled with sentiment panels, I’m ready to stitch up a blizzard of fun.

I’m going to need hot chocolate…and marshmallows.

On my craft table…

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for supporting Sunporch Studios.

Here are links to products featured in today’s post. I also like to sprinkle in some for added inspiration. Enjoy!