Photo Transfer to Fabric with Freezer Paper

So you have a photo that you want to transfer to fabric, right? There are many photo transfer techniques but my favorite is printing the photo on fabric with the help of freezer paper and an ink jet printer.

I was thrilled when I learned how to do a photo transfer to fabric using freezer paper!

I had no idea that printing a photo on fabric could be so much fun nor that I could come up such meaningful yet inexpensive homemade gifts!

Not only could this printing photo on fabric thing fall under the "gifts under ten dollars" category, but it’s one of my all-time favorite photo craft ideas yet. And what a unique way for sharing personal photos!

So let’s get on with it.

Photo transfer to fabric tutorial

First things first - gather your supplies. Cotton-based fabric, scissors, freezer paper and iron. I also found my see-through omnigrid ruler, rotary cutter and cutting mat to come in quite handy.

I used this simple muslin fabric. It has little tiny brown specs in it that I thought would work nicely for a vintage-looking photo memory quilt. I also practiced printing photo on fabric that was bright white, which made the colors pop quite a bit more.

For these ink jet transfers, I found it best to cut the fabric to the exact same size as a piece of paper - 8 1/2" x 11"

Place the fabric WRONG side up. Lay a piece of freezer paper on top, SHINY SIDE down. The freezer paper sticks to the fabric, making the fabric stiff enough to hold its shape when it runs through the printer.

Then iron. Look - I didn't even use an ironing board! (Not sure if my mother would approve of that one...) I just ironed right on the kitchen cabinet. I liked how the hard surface helped bond the paper to the fabric. If you use your own kitchen cabinets, just use extreme caution and don't blame me for any damage!!

Next, trim away the excess freezer paper. Some people say to cut the freezer paper before ironing but I found trimming the excess after ironing much easier.

Meanwhile, prepare your images. My favorite digital image editing software is Adobe Photoshop Elements. It does much (not all) of what Photoshop does but for a fraction of the price. You'll see on the screen, I set my canvas size to 8 1/2" x 11" to perfectly match a regular piece of paper. The images here are placed far apart so that I would have plenty of seam allowance.

Next, place your fabric in the paper tray and run it through your INK JET printer. Print directly onto the fabric.

Don't try photo transfer technique with a laser printer - it's too hot and will melt your freezer paper and cause a horrible mess!

(Sorry, no picture for the actual printing step. I was too excited to see that it actually worked!!)

And see? It DID work! Those veritcal lines and crinkles in the corner that you can see are actually from the image itself. The actual printing turned out fantastic. As you can see, the edges of the fabric freyed a bit, so I think on the next one, I'll leave more space between the photo and the edge of the fabric.

The final step is to peel the freezer paper off. You're left with a successful photo transfer to fabric that's ready to become photo quilt blocks, a personalized photo blanket, custom apron, photo pillow or whatever you might be making.

I did several ink jet transfers to make bean bags for all the kids (ages 1 to 12) for our family reunion and I have to tell you - they loved it, even the tweens! And it was so nice not to have to wonder or track who's beanbag belonged to whom.

Have you successfully completed your own photo transfer to fabric project? Please share!

Return to the top of Photo Transfer to Fabric with Freezer Paper

Go to Photo Crafts

Go to Photo Gifts and Ideas Home

only search Photo Gifts and Ideas