Talents? Who, Me? or How I Create Imprinted Photos on Fabric

—Yay, January 3rd and my third post…so far, so good! Now I just have to get my other seven blogs up and running, and I’ll be on my way to meeting my early goals for 2015. 🙂

 

 

So the writing prompt from the Ultimate Blog Challenge nicely dovetails with yesterday’s post about writing FAQs for my businesses:

Day 3: Don’t Overthink It

We all have things that are unique to our experience, talents and life. Just because it’s something you live with everyday doesn’t mean it won’t be interesting to someone else.

 

So I thought I would once again talk about my OTHER business, K-Lee’s Kreations, especially since I’m working on improving my marketing and promotion for it after having an increase in pre-holiday orders at both my Etsy shop and my Bonanza booth (my own K-Lee’s Kreation site is newer than either of those; I haven’t really done much promotion and have only had one sale through that site so far).

 

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. 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 effectivey 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).

 

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

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 about 25 seconds of about 400-degree heat and pressure successfully transfers the printed image onto the fabric. Then I sew the imprinted photo fabric squares into various products.

 

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, 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!

 

So there you go – that’s the story of how I added to my repertoire of “kreative” talents and imprinted photos have become my most popular option for the products I make.

 

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

 

Did you have any idea before reading this of how much was involved in the process? What about you? Have you recently added to your list of talents? Care to share what it is?

 

13 thoughts on “Talents? Who, Me? or How I Create Imprinted Photos on Fabric

  1. Wow! Truly awesome and I had no idea how much work actually went into creating one of those photo creations! Thank you so much for sharing!

  2. Hi K’Lee, I have to admit this is not really an interst area of mine, but i really like the way you have laid this blog out and i think if anyone was interested in this line of business they could be up and running in no time by doing nothing other than following your tutorial, they would obvioisly, also need some of your artistic ability 🙂

  3. this is great. My mom has done this for years. All through my daughters sporting events. She has many pillows with her on them.

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