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Inkjet Printable Fabric Types

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fabric transfer

Although it is not a new product, there seems to be somewhat of a resurgence when it comes to inkjet printable fabrics. Perhaps due to widely available computer programs for art and artistic design, or possibly the vast improvement in inkjet printing technology, printers and inks that allow for excellent reproduction of color, but for whatever reason, more and more people seem to be interested in using printable fabric for a wide variety of reasons.
There are several products available in the market, each with their own range of benefits in all aspects of inkjet printing such as performance, cost, flexibility, suitability, etc.
You should also be aware that there are also products on the market that approximate the look and feel of fabric. While these products certainly have their uses and benefits and are perfectly fine to use and will produce great quality work, if you are looking to print on actual fabric, be sure that is what you are purchasing and not ‘fabric textured’ paper.

As stated, there are several different types of fabric you can purchase, depending on what it is you want to produce. I'd like to focus on two specific ones, both available through Photo Paper Direct.

100% Cotton Canvas

Have you ever viewed a portrait, still life or landscape and thought, “that looks so real”. That’s the result you can achieve with a good quality inkjet printable canvas. It is absolutely possible to print gallery quality prints, portraits and images using this product on a good quality inkjet printer, using dye-based or pigmented inks. Some of the benefits of using our 100% Inkjet cotton canvas are:

  • Exceptional for high end portraits, photography and print work
  • Unbeatable for the printing of fine art reproduction
  • Wide color gamut allow true color reproduction
  • Water resistant
  • Instant dry: can be handled straight off the printer, no more smears!
  • Lightly textured matte finish
  • ‘Easy-feed’ coating allows for smooth feeding and no jams
  • Can be stretched, folded and even sewn without any damage or distortion to the print

This product is manufactured by taking 100% cotton canvas and coating it (one side only) with special formulated coating that allows it to accept, retain and properly exhibit inkjet inks. The resulting lightly textured matte finish will have the same look and feel of the canvases you’d purchase and use for watercolor or oil based paints.

For all the reasons stated, this is an exceptional product for portrait, print and photography art work, amongst other reason. As an example of the incredible versatility of this product, one of the more creative uses that I have been told about is printing images of family, friends, special places or special times, and adding that panel into quilts, making it a highly personalized and treasured family heirloom.

Just a few tips:

  • Print on the whiter, slightly chalkier side
  • Always use the highest resolution available (minimum 1440dpi)
  • Keep any unused sheets in its ziplock bag and store in a dry, cool area away from direct light.
  • Use UV inks for longevity or use a fixative spray if using ordinary inks to enhance the longevity of the image

Inkjet Transfer Paper

Although not technically a fabric, because this product is used on fabric, many people think of it as one. This Inkjet transfer paper is most often used for t-shirt, tote bags, aprons, tablecloths, etc. It can also be used on canvas and any other cotton or cotton blend fabric. As such, if you used this on a piece of canvas you can achieve similar results as the 100% cotton canvas.

As with the canvas, this is done using a normal inkjet printer, and using normal inkjet inks (dye based or pigmented). Inkjet transfer paper suitable for light colored fabric (whites, creams, pale pastels) and dark (including black) colored fabrics, however the methods of application are slightly different.

I have explained transfer paper in greater detail in earlier blogs but briefly, when using on white or light colored fabric, the image is printed in reverse (sometimes referred to as mirror image) onto the transfer paper. The printed image is then placed face down onto the fabric and heat is evenly applied, either by heat press or home iron, to create a chemical process to allow the ink to bond with the fabric. The backing paper is then peeled away, leaving your image on the fabric. The image is the ‘set’ by placing a piece of silicone paper over the image and re-heated for just a few seconds. This further bonds or ‘sets’ the image to the fabric.

When using on black or dark colored fabric, the image is printed onto the transfer paper (no need for reverse printing) that is specifically designed for dark or strong or multi colored fabrics. You would then peel the image off the backing paper and placed it onto the fabric. A piece of silicone paper is then placed over the image and heat is applied. Once the heat and pressure process is done, the transfer is complete. You can then remove the silicone paper and your image is set. If applied properly, both will produce a soft, flexible, stretchable image that is also washable.

Just a few words for clarification on textured papers. Although they are not actual fabric, they have been cleverly and meticulously manufactured to be similar to fabric in many ways. This includes our Inkjet Canvas Textured Photo Papers, Inkjet Photo ‘Rag’ Papers, Inkjet Watercolor Paper, Inkjet Bartya Photo Paper and Inkjet Museum Etching Paper. These are all exceptional papers with varying degrees of texture, sheen and weight, and all can achieve exquisite quality prints, portraits and images.

We would be interested to know what your use of our 100% Cotton Canvas for, let us know and pass on any hints and tips you may have.