How to Print Photos onto Fabric

    by Deborah H. Schreiben

    About the Author

    Deborah H. Schreiben is a freelance writer and an editor with more than 15 years experience in the field of journalism. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications from Almeda University. Her writing has appeared on various online sites and in Midwest newspapers.


    Make one-of-a-kind creations by printing photos directly onto fabric. After preparing the fabric so the ink will be permanent, you can transfer photos from your computer onto fabric that can then be sewn into pillows, tote bags, quilt squares or clothing. The possibilities are nearly endless. To begin, you must have a digital image on your computer. This could be a new photo that you’ve downloaded from a digital camera or an image you’ve scanned into your computer. Always use high-quality pictures for best results.

    Things You'll Need

    • Cotton fabric
    • Fabric printing solution
    • Flat pan
    • Rubber gloves
    • Freezer paper
    • Iron
    • Scissors or craft knife
    • Ruler
    • Computer
    • Ink jet printer

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    Cut a 9- by 12-inch rectangle of cotton fabric. Soak the piece in fabric printing solution in a flat pan, according to the manufacturer's instructions. Make sure the fabric is fully saturated. Let the fabric soak for five minutes.

    Wear rubber gloves and remove the fabric from the solution, allowing any excess liquid to drip back into the pain. Let the fabric air dry.

    Press the fabric to the shiny side of a piece of freezer paper using a dry iron. Flip the fabric over and iron the other side. Make sure there are no bubbles.

    Cut the bonded fabric and freezer paper to 8 1/2 by 11 inches using scissors or a craft knife and ruler. Cut off all loose threads to avoid jamming your printer.

    Open the photo on your computer and set it to print to the desired size. This process varies considerably depending on your computer, software and printer. If your printer has a setting for fabric or T-shirt printing, use this option; otherwise use the best quality print setting available. Send the photo to the printer.

    After printing, allow the fabric to dry for 30 minutes. Wash it with cold water and a mild detergent to remove excess ink and set the image.

    • Prepare multiple sheets of fabric at the same time so you have them ready for future projects.
    • After soaking your fabric, pour any excess fabric printing solution back into the bottle so you can use it again.
    • Prepared inkjet fabric sheets also are available in some craft stores. These sheets eliminate the need to prepare fabric squares with fabric printing solution.
    • Work in a well ventilated area when working with chemicals.
    • Printers do not print white ink. The fabric color will show through where white appears in your photo. If your photo has white in it, use white fabric.