Back to business. Last article I promised to show you how to knit up some trim for around the jacket. I have to admit to getting bogged down with the design, and will have to revisit the trim a little later. I want to include small chips and beads, and the pattern and weight of the trim is taking a little more experimentation than I anticipated.
But, before we move onto fall, there is one more tool available in developing your own unique look--coloring your fabric. Nowadays we have, generally, 4 methods most of us can use to color fabric, dying, pens, painting and printing. There is also silk screen--and-stuff--but these techniques require added tools, and a deeper skill level.
Today we will begin discussing the ins and outs of printing on fabric.
HOW TO PRINT ON FABRIC
If you have an ink jet printer, you can actually use it to print on fabric. The process is very simple, but, you do have to be aware of a few things.
First, your printer must have pigment in its ink. Unfortunately, the ink packaging usually does not say, so you need to research the ink and the printer before hand. You have to research both, because as I discovered, yes Cannon does produce a pigmented ink, but my printer can't use the cartridges. I was to discover all is not lost, as we will discuss later, but, since I had bought the Cannon to print on fabric, I was not pleased. There is a little bit of trial and error, even when you get the right ink, but once you get it down, a whole new creative world opens up.
My first foray into printing on fabric began with an Epson printer. It was worthless for business, it cost $40.00 and went through ink every 50 pages and had a printing speed 1 page per minute. But, it completely spoiled me when it came to printing on fabric. Dura Bite is the pigment based ink with Epson, and it is superior to any other brands out there.
First, the print is immediately color fast. Once the fabric comes out of the printer, you should let is sit for at least 10 minutes. Some suggest ironing the print with a steamless iron--and I ended up doing this with the Cannon, but the Epson, never needed it. After waiting to let the ink set, rinse the fabric with cold water. And this is where you will see the difference in ink quality. The Epson almost never shed a hint of color, where as HP and Cannon do. The implication being that over several washes, you will have more fading with the Cannon and HP than the Epson. On one ministering quilt, I included photos and very fine script writing, even after several washings, the writing looked sharp, and the photo kept its detail.
So, you ask, why didn't you keep with Epson. Sadly, it clogged and was eventually not worth repairing. Had I known then what I know now, I think it would have been worth repairing. But I tried to move on to something I thought better. My ideal was a business printer that could also print on fabric. I tried the HP, but only the black ink is pigmented. The ink is sharp, and did a great job, but I wanted color. And, that is why I went with the Cannon.
Unfortunately, I discovered that my printer could not use the cartridges that had the pigmented colored ink. Fortunately, the black ink is pigmented so I can still use it for printing on fabric, just not in color. The Cannon has one addition quirk I did not encounter with the Epson and HP. Before printing, the copier has to be set at, standard, grayscale, and high quality. Apparently this setting affects the percentage of pigmented ink used by the printer. I don't know if other printers require this, but if you find a great deal of washout with an ink that should have pigment, it may be due to the settings of your printer.
And thus ends my saga of trying to find the perfect printer and ink to print on fabric. The old saw, "The grass is always greener on the other side," comes to mind. Would I go back to the Espon? Yes. It is a more expensive printer to purchase, and to run. Sadly, still has problems with dependability, but the quality and color fastness of the ink produces a professional product, that will last through the harshest washings.
Next week we will cover fabric and process involved in printing it. Until then, thank you for joining me this week, and have a blessed week to come.