Inky Jams and Paper Thin

I’m working on a series of pieces that I want to have words on and it has to be done fast, inexpensive and easy. Printing on fabric is perfect. I can use lots of different fonts, sizes and arrangements. I have used my home printer to print on fabric before and it has worked great. You just iron your fabric to the waxy side of freezer paper, cut it to the same size as printer paper, put it in your printer and print. So that’s what I did. The first sheet came out just as I remembered with no problems. The second sheet got jammed up in the printer. The third sheet got jammed up as well.


Okay, now I’m beginning to wonder if the printer is out of whack. So I print the copy on plain paper and everything is fine. I tried it again and the fabric/wax paper combination jams again.


Now I’m on YouTube checking out other options and suggestions. It looks like I did everything right but now I’m becoming concerned about the fabric not being pre-treated and the printing running and fading once I get the printing to work again. This bunny trail leads me to Dharma Trading Company ( to buy Bubble Jet Set 2000 and Synthrapol.


Okay back to the drawing board. Someone on YouTube said to press the fabric into the wax firmly and to check for bubbles in the fabric. Alright back to the ironing board and pressing. Now the fabric and the wax paper are one, really one. The printing goes better but now I have black marks on the top edge of the fabric.


So it’s back to YouTube. I learned about the little fuzzy pieces of threads that might be on the leading edge of fabric/wax paper. These little threads will grab the ink in the printing process and spread it around. Now I’ve got my finest appliqué scissors trimming the fuzzy threads off the edges. Yea, one sheet goes through okay. Boo, the next one jams.

I need a break before I tear my hair out. It’s back to the bunny trail. I’ve got enough trashed samples to try something. Let’s see if the printing will run or fade if it gets wet or washed. I put one of the printed disasters into the bathroom sink and turn on the water. Nothing happens. I swish the fabric around in the water. Nothing happens. I scrub it and I can barely see any change. I add some soap to the water, swish the fabric around and scrub it real hard. Finally I can see some real difference. And after all of the water, soap and scrubbing, I can still read the printing.


Alright, I am using black ink only. Maybe the stuff I bought from Dharma works great on colored printing. Wait, I just remembered something I learned many decades ago about colored fabrics that have dye running in the wash. White Vinegar!


I still use it with my fabrics that refuse to hold their dye when wet. Dye catchers are great most of the time, but some fabrics are still a problem. So why not use White Vinegar and water to set the ink? It’s cheap, fast and worth a try. I soaked the good printed fabric pieces in a solution of 1 part Vinegar and 4 parts water for a few minutes. Well, maybe longer as I got side tracked.


I’m still bummed about the printing. It’s more Youtube and more information to glean. If the wax paper is curling as it enters the print rollers, maybe I need a heavier paper. Now I have the cardstock out. (I have a partial ream of bright green left over from an anniversary party.) I start this time by cutting the fabric slightly smaller than the cardstock. To get the fabric to stick to it, I used temporary spray adhesive to the back of the fabric and then iron the two together to seal the deal. To keep the fuzzy fibers from catching the rollers and causing ink to spread, I use Scotch Magic Tape on all of the edges. This kind of tape sticks and is removable.


Yreka! Finally I have a process that I can get to work fairly consistently. Yeah, I know. There is ink on the tape that transferred to the fabric edges. Now I know why. The tape wasn’t pressed down real good before I sent it through the printer. There is also some discoloration at the bottom of the fabric not in the photo. The can of spray adhesive I was using was running on low and the fabric shifted in the printing process.


No matter what method works for you, I hope my inky jams and paper thin messes will help when your printing on fabric goes wonky. And with Valentine’s Day this week, think about printing something personal to include in your quilted gift. If you start with the fabric and the freezer paper method, maybe your first try will work too. If not, go with my last method and skip the frustration. Please let me know if you have a better way of printing on fabric that doesn’t jam up in the printer or cost a lot of money. And if you do try to print on fabric, share in the comments what you did with it. I’ll post on Thursday what I just finished now that I have some successful pieces of printed fabric.


Thank you for taking your time to read my blog. I would love to read your comments. Did I provoke a thought you would like to share? Let me know what you think.

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