DIY Fabric Prints

I had a set of four 11×14, blank canvases sitting in my closet from a DIY project I gave up on last year. I wanted to create some artwork for my soon-to-be-born son’s nursery. I remembered these canvases and went about coming up with some ideas on what to put on them.

Given my background in art, the idea of breaking out my oil paints and just painting them crossed my mind. The logistics of doing that with my preschooler hovering and wanting to paint too made it easy to move on to something else.

My baby’s nursery was going to have a koi fish theme with colors in aqua, orange, grey and lime green, and while I found a ton of art inspiration online, not a lot of it was right for a baby’s room. 

In the end, I created my own koi fish art on my computer and then went about figuring out how to put it onto my four canvases.

I found a few blog posts describing how to print directly onto fabric using an inkjet printer. HP’s website says they are “ideal for printing on fabric” because of the way their cartridges spray ink instead of other methods. I’m not sure what those other methods are, but since I have an HP printer it gave me the confidence to give this crazy idea a try.

And I couldn’t be happier with how they turned out!

Materials needed:

  • Stretched canvas or whatever kind of surface you intend to mount your printed fabric to. Other items that can totally work include wood blocks, embroidery hoops, or thick foam board. I have even seen this look really nice mounted to shoebox lids!
  • 100% cotton fabric, cut at least an inch or two bigger than what you will be mounting it to. Many polyester or poly-blend fabrics can absorb the ink differently and may cause bleeding. 
  • spray adhesive (Scotch’s Super 77 is my fav)
  • scissors sharp enough to cut fabric
  • paper or card stock to attach the fabric to
  • an inkjet printer & computer (a laser printer won’t be able to do this)
  • scotch tape
  • whatever art you plan to print
  • staple gun (if you are using canvases)

Directions:

I picked up a yard of white, cotton muslin and ironed it to make sure there were no wrinkles or creases.

My printer can print on 13×19 paper, which was perfect for my 11×14 canvases, giving me enough fabric to wrap around the stretcher bars. I used spray adhesive to adhere the fabric to a piece of 13×19 photo paper, careful not to get any globs of glue on the paper. I opted for photo paper because I wanted something a little thicker than plain paper. I smoothed out bubbles and wrinkles with the palms of my hands and left the spray adhesive to dry a bit before moving them.

Note: Please use spray adhesive outside or in an extremely well-ventilated garage. It has a tendency to get everywhere and is some very nasty stuff if inhaled!

Next I carefully trimmed off the excess fabric. If any threads were sticking out, I trimmed them off instead of tugging on them.

To make sure my printer didn’t try to separate the two layers when it “grabbed” the paper, I wrapped a piece of scotch tape along the top edge.

I hand-fed the paper into my printer and printed them, one page at a time, on the “best” print setting. I let each page dry for a little while before handling. 

Once the ink was dry, I peeled the paper off the back. The adhesive stayed on the paper, so I was just left with beautifully printed fabric.

Next I set about mounting them onto my canvases. I laid out all of the canvases side by side and lined up the art.

Using my staple gun, I stapled the fabric to the back of the canvases (I didn’t want the staples to show on the sides). I started in the middle of the each of the stretcher bars and slowly worked my way out to the corners, pulling the fabric snug.

Since these were pretty lightweight, I just used Command Picture Hanging Strips to hang these on the wall. The strips don’t stick to fabric very well, so I added a couple of staples to the strips that were adhered to the back of the canvases.

The finished product! I don’t care for the paint color on the wall, but at least there’s some artwork up that I like.

Notes: Most inkjet printers use water-based inks, so I do NOT recommend this printing method for fabric that you intend to wash, wear or use where it can get wet. When researching how to do this project, I found quite a few methods where an ink-fixing solution was used called Bubble Jet Set. You essentially soak the fabric in this solution before printing and it is supposed to set the ink better. A lot of comments on some of the posts say their image still washed out when the fabric got wet, so I can’t vouch for just how well this solution actually works. I think the brand of ink and printer may have something to do with it. This link shows how to make your own Bubble Jet Set solution if you want to give it a try. I chose to skip this step because my fabric was going to be hanging on the wall.

Another way to get custom printed fabric is to upload your artwork to SpoonFlower and have them print it for you. You’ll get the ability to choose from a handful of different weights and textures and they do a really wonderful job.

5 Responses to DIY Fabric Prints

  1. These are amazing! They look so easy. Thanks for sharing.

  2. These are SO excellent! Love so much!

  3. They look great and easy! Love it!

  4. I love how they look. They are beautiful I would love to try this for my bedroom.

  5. I totally love this what a great inexpensive way to decorate!

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