You probably know that you can buy special fabric to print on, using your home printer – but it’s pretty expensive. If you have an inkjet printer, there’s a DIY method that is really quick and easy, and much cheaper. The completed fabric is washable (although I’m not sure I’d use it on something that needed to be washed lots of times), so it’s a great fun way to add a totally personal note to accessories like bags, purses, notebook covers and more. There’s a very similar method to this using freezer paper, so if you don’t have any spray mount, but do have freezer paper, and want to have a go at this straight away, you might want to try it instead. I find it generally less successful because the freezer paper doesn’t feed through my printer so well.
ATC swappers – this one is especially for you, because this is a fab way to create unique little bits of fabric for the front of your Artist Trading Card, and a fantastic way to print the info you need for the back of the card.
You will need:
- An inkjet printer – this method is not suitable for laser printers.
- Some spray mount, a piece of A4 paper and some fabric to print on.
- A cardboard box and waste paper to protect your work surfaces.
First cut a piece of fabric about 1/2in bigger on all sides than an A4 piece of paper (if your printer takes different sizes of paper, use whichever paper you would like to put through the printer). Iron the fabric as smooth and as wrinkle free as possible and remove any bits of lint, stray cotton and bits from the fabric too. It will spoil the quality of your printing if there are bits of thread stuck to your fabric.
This is what the spray mount looks like – it’s easily available in art shops/stationers (I love an excuse to go into art shops!):
Put the paper in a shallow cardboard box – I find post office mailer boxes ideal for this, or you can cut down the sides of a larger box. This will stops spray mount going all over your work surface. If you want to reuse the box for further sprayings, it makes sense to line it with newspaper/waste paper.
Give the piece of paper a light coating of spray mount. Read the instructions on the can, but this generally involves spraying lightly all over the paper from a distance of about 6-8 inches.
Gently lay the prepared fabric onto the paper. I have found the best way to do this is to drape it from the bottom, working upwards, and then smooth the wrinkles out when you are done. If you totally mess it up the first time round, don’t worry, you can peel off the fabric and try again. If you really really mess up, you might want to start again with a new piece of paper. I hope you can see my fabric, now stuck to the paper (I cut my fabric a bit small, so there’s not much overlap – it’s much easier if you give yourself a bit more fabric to play with).
Now trim the fabric edges so it is exactly the same size as the A4 piece of paper – the easiest way to do this is with a rotary cutter and ruler. Your fabric is now ready to pop into your printer tray. Make sure you know how your printer feeds paper before loading up the fabric – on my printer, for example, the fabric side needs to be face down in the printer tray. You might also want to convert the printer setting to ‘Thick Paper’ or ‘Cardstock’ to make sure that the paper/fabric feeds through easily – although I have to say I haven’t had to do this with my printer (an HP Pro 8600).
Once you have printed on your fabric, all you have to do leave the ink to dry for a few minutes, then peel of the backing paper, press the fabric to finish, and then use it in your work.
Read on if you are interested in printing the back of your ATC…
First up, create a useful sized template in some photo/picture editing software. I use the (excellent) free software called Paint.NET, because I don’t have Photoshop – but you can use Photoshop or other some other free picture editing programme.
These are the dimensions I used to create my template – you can see down at the bottom there it says Print size – I have entered 3.2 by 2.2 inches. It is best to make your image smaller than the size of an ATC, to make sure that the text will be well within the margins of the back of the card – and to leave room for stitching round the edge.
You could now add text within your image editing software, but I like to use PicMonkey for the text because I really love its funky font selections. So I open my blank ATC reverse template in PicMonkey:
Then I add the text. Remember, your ATC has to have your name and date on the back, as a bare minimum. I like to add the title of my ATC and my email address too:
Then I save my completed ATC back. If you want to keep your blank template for future cards, give the finished back a different file name.
Because I find that printing direct from my photo/picture editing software can cause troublesome sizing issues, my final step is to open a text document and insert the image I have just created. In my software (and I think in Word too) you just select Insert, Picture, From File (if you want to look at a bigger version of the image below – just click on it).
Then find the ATC back picture file you created and insert it into the document:
Then I press print and tada! The reverse of the ATC all nicely printed and ready for me to cut out and use.
You can see I printed some fabric to use on the front of my card too:
I hope all that makes sense – give me a shout if you have any questions about the process. And a disclaimer! I have never had a problem doing this using my inkjet printer – but can’t take any responsibility if your printer isn’t so happy with it…