Transferring Photos to Fabric for Heritage Quilts
The ease of transferring images to fabric has allowed the creation of heritage quilts to be less labor intensive. You no longer have to print out your images on rigid plastic iron-on sheets that slowly dissolve in the washing machine or fade over time. There are a few options out on the market now that integrate your photos with your fabric, allowing your heritage quilt to move and wash just like any other quilt.
Your first option is Inkjet Cotton Printable sheets. The sheets, because they are made of cotton, allow for a more flexible structure, such as what you would find on a quilt. They are also machine washable. An insider’s tip when using these printable sheets: when you are finished printing on the sheet, allow it to dry for a few hours. When it is dry, dip the fabric in liquid fabric softener and allow to dry overnight. The fabric softener allows the cotton to loosen up while upholding the integrity of the image. Two popular brands are VV Prints and Jacquard.
Another very popular option for people who would like to use their own colored fabrics is a called a ground medium. Ground mediums are generally used to prepare canvases for a variety of art, but the particular medium you are looking for is specifically for digital prints. Insider tip: wash your fabric before applying two coats of the digital ground medium. Allow those coats to thoroughly dry before attempting to run your fabric through the printer.
Inkjet Transfer Canvas is another popular option for sturdier quilting squares. Usually, these are sold as mixed medium sheets. The plus side to using these kinds of transfers is that after you print on them, they are weighty enough to take on other mediums, such as paint. Be careful with the amount of heat that you use with these as they tend to be heat sensitive.
They also make gel transfer mediums that work well with fabrics. Paint them onto the image. Insider Tip: Be certain that if you are printing out words for your quilt, that you print the mirror-image of the words, so that when they transfer they read correctly.
Whatever transfer you choose to use for your heritage quilts, be certain to check out reviews of the products online and through other quilting blogs. There are also helpful videos online with techniques for applying your transfers.