CNCHnet . . . The Textile Arts Webzine of the Conference of Northern California Handweavers

Designing with Ink Jet Transfer Paper

While looking through the Dharma Trading Co. online catalog, I noticed this item, ink jet transfer paper, and wondered how well it worked.  So I added it to my order for dyes and then read through their instructions.

It sounded simple enough.  You use the transfer paper in you inkjet printer and then use an iron or heat press (how many of us have one of those? – I guess if you are in the business and plan to do a heap of them) and transfer the image to fabric or clothing.

So, first you have to figure out how your printer actually works:
Which side of the paper does it shoot the ink?
Where do you load a single sheet?
How do you manipulate the size of the image?
How do you reverse the image?

The paper is a bit heftier than heavy bond paper and there were 8 sheets in the package.

For my first attempt, I decided to play with the logo for the 2014 conference.  I deleted the black background, changed some of the colors, and reversed the image before printing it.  I then transferred the image with my iron onto a moss green scarf.

Not bad  for my first attempt, but I decided it would have been a good idea to cut off the excess around the image and that is what I did for my second run.

my first try

My first try note the the imprint of my iron’s stea vents

When using the iron to set the transfer I made a few mistakes there, too.  I let the iron stay in one place too long and I can see a faint impression of  the steam holes in the transfer emulsion.

my second try

My second try-I trimmed off the extra paper before transferring

There are several other manufacturers of the paper and Dharma carries other versions as well. I plan to try their supersoft for my next project.

In the literature they caution that, if you are doing a large project and you change print cartridge brands, the ink can behave differently and that some newer pigment based inks may react differently with various transfer papers, causing color shifts after heat setting.  So, as with weaving, sample before a large project.

To avoid having the ink bleed from an inkjet transfer, the first washing is pretty critical in setting the image.  Always wash before wearing.  If possible turn the item inside out. Use cold/warm wash cycle and low heat/air dry cycle. Do not let the item sit in the washing machine.  Remove  it and dry it immediately.  After the first washing, you can use your regular setting, but never use a liquid fabric softener or iron the image directly.

And, if you can see any ink on top of the emulsion right after printing or if the paper is wavy, you are using too much ink.  And with all such processes,  read the instructions.  Good Luck.

NormaLee lives in Fort Bragg and is a member of the Mendocino Coast Guild.  She is also the Registrar for CNCH 2014. 

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