It’s no secret that there is a barrage of places where you can get yards of clothing embossed with your design. But, you can print custom designs right from the comfort of your home. It would be a dream come true, right?
Today, I’ll walk you through a simple 8-step DIY process that’ll turn this dream into a pleasant reality and take your handmade game to the next level. After all, what better way to infuse your clothing with a personal touch and a sense of quality?
The Tools of the Trade
As an aspiring clothing label maker, here’s a breakdown of the items you require to produce the ideal print for your project that’ll have your family and friends green with envy.
- Inkjet printer
- Backing (Freezer paper)
- 100% cotton fabric
- Rotary blade
- Cutting mat
- 5″ x 11″ packing labels
- A place to soak and wash the fabric
- A PC with photo editing software such as GIMP that is free.
The Step-by-Step Process
By adhering to the steps discussed below, the possibilities are endless when it comes to crafting clothing labels that have a big wow factor.
Step 1: Choosing the Right Fabric
When it comes to fiber content if you want a perfect image reproduction, a 100% silk or cotton fabric is your best bet. Using polyester that comes in different weaves and textures ushers in lower resolution images.
Regarding color, the brighter and whiter the fabric is, the truer to color your print will be the initial image. Keep in mind that the color of your respective fabric matches the highlights and whites of your image. Depending on the color, you can infuse a vintage feel to your print.
Step 2: Prewashing the Fabric
It’s the most effective way to preshrink and wash away any sizing of your cotton fabric then hang it out to dry. Once it’s dried, iron it out nice and flat. But remember, this step applies to a printer with pigment inks.
Step 3: Attach the Fabric to the Freezer Paper
Cut a piece of freezer paper. Ensure it matches the size of your printer paper. It’s typically A4 or letter size (dimensions of 8.5″ X 11″). Then, lay a piece of clothing (about 12mm larger than the letter size) flat on a cutting mat and use a rotary cutter coupled with a metal ruler. Doing so ensures accurate trimming without the fabric getting jammed.
Place the freezer paper on your ironing board with the wax side facing up. Then, place your clothing on top and press with a hot iron on cotton setting once the ink is completely dry. Doing so will soften the wax on the paper and merge it temporarily with the piece of clothing.
Ensure the corners of the paper remain flat as you feed it into the inkjet printer. After all, the last thing you need is a paper jam. If your printer has a thick paper or a cardboard set, then activate it. Furthermore, ensure there are no bubbles just below the clothing.
Using sharp scissors, cut the clothing to the size of the freezer paper, ensuring you don’t pull any loose threads with your fingers as you require crisp, clean edges.
Step 4: Using the Printer
Open your printer and keep your eyes peeled for the ink cartridge number. At times, the type of ink is posted on a printer’s exterior, take a couple of minutes to examine it, inside and out. Pigment ink is waterproof, which means it won’t wash away from your clothing. While a small amount will inevitably rinse away during the first wash, it won’t exceed 10%.
Contrarily, dye ink isn’t independently waterproof. However, you can pre-treat a piece of fabric or purchase pretreated clothing. Before you print, ensure your clothing labels lack heavy text or imagery. Along with demanding a significant quantity of ink, there’s a greater likelihood of the ink bleeding.
Don’t forget to cut between the labels to leave sufficient room for them to breathe. Most inkjet printers don’t print to the edge so leave a broad margin all-round.
You can see our post about ‘What You Need to Know about the Best Sublimation Printers on the Market‘ where we help you choose the right printer.
Step 5: Fix the Ink after Printing
After printing, you’ll require fixing the ink with a setting bath. Conventional printer ink is non-washable and will wash away and bleed in a jiffy, when wet. You can use different fixing methods, such as using a bath of undiluted vinegar or salt in hot water.
Irrespective of the method you choose, you’ll require a container such as a baking tray that’s slightly bigger than your piece of clothing or fabric. Alternatively, you can cut your clothing in half if you don’t have a container that’s large enough. Avoid cutting up all the labels just yet; otherwise, the edges will fray during the washing process. After fixing your labeled clothing, rinse it with plain cold water then hang it out to dry.
Step 6: Test Printing
For the clothing label to show up on the fabric looking its best, it’s advisable to modify the contrast and other levels before feeding it into the printer. Ensure you save the images after making the various modifications so you can refer to it if it’s the one you prefer the most. So,
- Use photo editing software such as Photoshop to open your design.
- Utilize the different lighting levels to adjust the image, exactly as you want it. It’s advisable to brighten the mid-tones and highlights to make image details clearer.
Step 7: Print, Dry, Unpeel, and Rinse
Once you’re satisfied with your test image, it’s time to send it off for the final print. Allow the paint to dry for a couple of hours before rinsing it to prevent smudging, depending on the type of fabric and ink used. Then, slowly peel off the backing during which you may notice some residue left behind that you can easily get rid of by allowing the fabric to soak in water.
Step 8: Bask in the Glory
It’s time to admire your artwork. And remember, these steps are not cast in stone. You have free rein to play around with them as you please until you get an outcome that works best for you.
Now that you know what goes into making clothing labels as fun home projects, it’s time to get crafting. While it may seem confusing at first, as with everything else in life, practice makes perfect.
Do you have a tip or two you’d like to share? Leave a comment below!