I have been working on image transfers for several weeks now. It is a subject that just fascinates me. It is an area that can be creative, and very addictive.

Anyone who gets into graphics transfers has to stop by The Graphics Fairy. She is a one stop, free shopping center for ideas, how tos, and great downloadable graphics. The minute I found this site I knew I had to try EVERYTHING! Compulsive be my middle name. So many ideas, so little time.

Image Transfer Pillow

Over the last few weeks I have done a whole lot of transfers, some successfully, some funny failures that ended up in the garbage. You need to match your transfer method to your transfer material. Some methods work better on fabric, while other work better on painted surfaces, and still others on wood without paint. For today I am just covering the methods I used on fabric.

First, the printer. The minute you read about transfers you learn that you need to use a laser printer. Christmas came early for me, as Mr. MCH bought me an HP Laser Jet Pro color printer. You will find it is great for all sorts of projects.

Second, the fabric. The fabric should usually be 100% cotton. Pre shrink before you transfer, and the transfers work better on more tightly woven fabric. The examples used here are all drop cloths from Lowes.

Graphic pillow on painted chair cloth

There are lots of transfer methods and I have now tried almost all of them. I am not a fan of iron on image transfers. Most of them leave you with a plastic layer. This can work for quick small projects, and you can clip around the image to minimize it, but you can’t remove it altogether. I tried a transfer medium and that was a complete mess that I ended up throwing away. I also tried Citri Solve, and that didn’t work at all.

Then I stumbled across the lacquer thinner method. I got this tip from Mademoiselle Chaos, (what a great name!). Essentially, you place your graphic ink side down on the fabric and tape it in place. Coat the paper with lacquer thinner and burnish for two minutes. I do it in sections, and it works like a charm. I have washed the pieces on gentle in my machine, and no major fading.

Truck Transfer

I did try this method on a painted surface, but that was another failure. The thinner can’t soak into the wood like it does on fabric. I also made a funny mistake, and poured mineral spirits out into a jar instead of lacquer thinner. That left me a black smudge that made a new rag for the rag bag.

Pillow and Flour Sack

I have done flour sacks and a couple of cute pillows with this method and the more I use it the more I like it.

The other easy method is trace and paint. Use carbon paper to lightly trace the image onto the fabric, and then hand paint over it. You can use an ink jet printer for this method. My artist friend Penny Whiting from New Zealand used a free hand version of this method for the Maine Country Home pillow. We used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® diluted with water.

Maine Country Home Pillow

So far we have done pillows, and seat covers, mostly on drop cloth fabric. But we have some great projects in the works for spring. They will even include some original graphics. Next week I will do a post on graphics on wood and painted pieces.

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