Friday, July 4, 2008

Tutorial: Fabric Labels

As promised yesterday, here is the self-printed fabric label tutorial. Basically, it is a method to make your own bubble jet set for cheap. Gotta love that.

Here's what you need:

2 1/2 oz. Alum (found in the spices at grocery store - mine costs 89 cents per 1 1/4 oz.)
2 tablespoons Washing Soda (found with the laundry detergent)
1 teaspoon fabric softener
2 1/2 cups hot water

Freezer paper (found with the aluminum foil and such)

Mix first four ingredients together in a large bowl. It will bubble. Science!

Cut pieces of fabric in sizes that are slightly larger than a sheet of printer paper. My fabric is Kona cotton, prewashed to remove any sizing. 1 yard will yield about 8 sheets.

Starting with 3 of the sheets, soak in the solution for about 10 minutes. Make sure that the fabric is submerged as best you can. As you continue with the process and you have less of the solution in the bowl, you'll probably only want to put in 2 sheets at a time. You will have enough solution to do about 12 sheets.

After the 10 minute soak, remove and squeeze out excess solution gently. You don't want to wring it out completely, just enough that your sheet is no longer drippy. Hang to dry.

When the sheet is dry (you can use a blow dryer to speed up the process), cut a sheet of Freezer Paper to roughly the same size. The freezer paper will help the fabric sheet feed through your printer.

Using a press cloth, iron the fabric sheet to remove any wrinkles. Then put the freezer paper, shiny side to the fabric, and press gently. I usually do this with the paper side up. It will look wrinkly.

Cut the fabric (now fused to the freezer paper) to 8 1/2" x 11", to feed through your printer.
If the freezer paper comes unfused, just take it back to the iron and hit it again.

This part is a little more art than science. You want to make sure that the top of your sheet (that will be the part fed into the printer) is fused together well. But beware of insane wrinkles and scorching.

Using the label function (like for address labels) on your computer, make your label design. I have only used black ink for mine, and I don't have much experience using color. Print a sample sheet on printer paper just to make sure it looks good to you.
Feed your fabric sheet into your printer and PRINT! For best results, use the "Best" setting in your printer preferences.

Now, here is the hard part. Remove the freezer paper and let these set overnight. I know, but really, the longer the ink can set, the better.

The next morning, rinse the sheets quickly in cold water with just a touch of fabric softener. The fabric softener acts as a gentle detergent. I usually swish to the count of 15 and remove.

After rinsing, don't wring! Lay your sheets on a towel, fold the towel over and gently press out the excess water. Wringing at this point could redistribute the ink.

When the labels are just damp, I give them a good dousing with starch. I like the kind that you mix yourself rather than the spray, because I think it soaks into the fabric easier, but I'm sure either kind would work. Press well.

The starch makes the labels more crisp and easier to cut. I usually use a pressing cloth for this part, too, but if your iron doesn't have tons of gook on it, you may not need to.

Cut your labels! This is the fun part. I usually go with about 1/4" on all sides.

Ta-Da!!!!! You have made your very own label!

I usually apply mine with a strip of Stitch Witchery or Heat n Bond and then zigzag around the edges. I have also pinked the edges and then used a straight stitch just inside the border. Totally up to you.

Now, I certainly am not smart enough to have made this up. I found most of the info at craftster. A generous and talented crafter posted a formula for the bubble jet set (85% hot water, 10% alum, 4% washing soda, 1% fabric softener) and all I did was use my scale to figure out the amounts. You can find out tons more by going to craftster and searching "Homemade Bubble Jet Set." There is an extensive forum post about this. But I have done this now a few times, with great success, ever since my label maker on etsy decided to call it quits.



tanyBUG said...

wow that is really remarkable!
I will have to bookmark this for later!

SisterDG said...

Holy Moly, this is the coolest thing ever! Why have I lived so long without knowing about this?! Thank you so much for putting together this very clear tutorial - your photos are super-helpful.

Inky Productions said...

What a great tutorial! Loved it! Your pictures are fab!

Rascallion said...

This is awesome, thanks so much! I have been wondering how to do this, great tute.

Sew Gracious said...

Great tut, Mendy!!!

Glad to see you back! :-)

Kristen said...

Great tutorial! You make it look so easy :) Thanks for sharing.

Beadiful Things said...

I'm not much of a sewer, but this makes me want to sew something!!

Capree said...

Wow! Thanks!

Black Eyed Susie said...

What a great topic for a tutorial! Thanks so much!

Anonymous said...

hey just wondering how good do they hold up in the washing machine??