Do You Know How to Imprint Photos on Fabric? Here’s My Method!

So today’s Ultimate Blog Challenge writing prompt is to share a tip about something we have knowledge about, or experience in doing, that might be helpful or interesting to others. So if you have ever wondered how to imprint photos on fabric, here’s my method! 🙂

 

 

Learning to add imprinted photos to my products has extended my creativity in directions I never thought possible for my OTHER business, K-Lee’s Kreations. My goal for 2017 is to improve my marketing and promotion for it. I currently have my Etsy shop and my Bonanza booth (and I’m working on creating a new primary site, hopefully before January is over).

 

BACKGROUND

 

It’s funny, because sewing, quilting, and creating (“kreating”) in general have become like second nature to me. I’m mostly self-taught, which I guess is consistent with my interest in and pursuit of lifelong learning.

 

I can’t quite remember when or how it happened, but several years ago, another Maine entrepreneur contacted me about collaborating with her to make photo-imprinted products. She had all the equipment to imprint photos on many types of products (mugs, hats, mouse pads, and similar items), but had received several requests for photo “memory” pillows and quilts.

 

That was my introduction to imprinting. For a couple years, she would send me imprinted photo fabric squares to add to pillows and quilts for orders she received, and I would send her the photos and wait for the photo squares back from her for orders I received.

 

Then, in 2007, I took a free 60-hour business course called “New Ventures” sponsored by the Maine Centers for Women, Work, & Community (now known as New Ventures Maine). The outcome of that course was an initial draft of a business plan for my KLK business. In addition, during the course, I received encouragement from the instructor and classmates to consider investing in my own imprinting equipment and supplies. This effectively cut out the “middle woman” (in this case) and helped decrease costs and time overall (especially time spent waiting for her to do the imprinting and mail the squares back to me).

 

SUPPLIES & EQUIPMENT

 

So with my hubby’s agreement and support, I got some advice from this other entrepreneur (who understood and supported the idea), plus I did some research into the whole imprinting process to learn what I needed to purchase:

*Epson C88 printer

*CISS (Continuous Ink Supply System)

*Sublimation ink

*Dye transfer paper

*Heat press

*Teflon sheets

*Poly-poplin fabric

 

METHOD

The Epson printer is rigged with the CISS and sublimation ink. This is what a CISS looks like and how it works in the printer (no affiliate link here – just a helpful video!)

 

 

After printing the photos or text in mirror image on the dye transfer paper, the next step is to use the heat press to transfer the image to the fabric.

 

 

 

 

I place the paper image side down on the fabric on the base of the heat press, and then place the teflon sheet between the paper and the top plate of the heat press. Only 25 seconds of 385 to 400 degree heat and pressure successfully transfer the printed image onto the fabric. Then I sew the imprinted photo fabric squares into various products.

 

 

The combination of the sublimation ink and the heat press transforms the ink into a gas, which permeates the fabric. This causes the photos to virtually become part of the fabric, making them permanent, while the fabric stays soft and flexible (not the stiff ironed-on feeling!)  AND you can also wash and dry the items with the imprinted photos!

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So there you go – that’s the story of how I added to my repertoire of “kreative” talents and learned how to imprint photos on fabric. These products have become my most popular options for the variety of items I make.

 

 

One imprinted square on a table runner I made.
One imprinted square on a table runner I made.

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So what about YOU?

 

Did you have any idea before reading this about how much was involved in this method of imprinting photos?

 

Do you have a particular method for accomplishing something that might be interesting for others to know about? Care to share what it is? (Feel free to leave a link to a blog post about your method).

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6 thoughts on “Do You Know How to Imprint Photos on Fabric? Here’s My Method!

  1. Nice to know how, now I’d just need one of those press things, and the right printer. I can print pictures on fabric, but they have to be small enough squares that will go through my printer. It’s also interesting to see how my teehirt was printed. Thanks.
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