Sometime last year….I started the epic journey of printing on fabric at home. I eventually worked out how to get the fabric through the printer without making a complete mess of it all, but my next challenge seemed to be in making the printed material colourfast and washable without fading. Well, you can see the results here if you want to see what happened when I washed the fabric. Terrible!

In my last post I also mentioned that I found out that printer inks are actually made with two types of bases. These bases being a pigment based ink and a dye based ink. What’s the difference you ask?

The Difference Between Pigment Based and Dye Based Ink

I could get really technical about it, but I think I’ll keep it simple. Dye based ink is water soluble. As soon as water touches the ink it tends to smear, or drastically disappears when washed (as I found out). Pigment based ink is more durable and tends to be fade, smear and water resistant. You should be able to spill something on your printed paper or highlight over the printing and not have any smearing or smudging.

I tested this theory and was delighted with the results.

The Results

You can see below the piece that I printed with My Brother printer that has dye based ink. It looked beautiful until I put it into water. See the pinkish text? That was black before I washed it. This made me worried because I didn’t want to make something for my little girl and have her chew or suck on it and have printer ink going into her mouth.

brother washed sample

brother washed sample

 

I recently purchased a new printer with pigment based ink. I came across a blog that recommended Epson printers for printing on fabric and with a bit of research I found an inexpensive one that I thought would be worth a try. My choice ended up being the Epson XP-410 along with the Durabrite inks. This is just the printer I chose to use, but there are many printers that use the pigment based inks. I found a great list here. It very clearly shows which printers use pigment and dye based inks. Be sure to check because some printers use pigment based ink for the black and dye based for the colour ink and vice versa.

Below you can see how well the Epson printed onto the fabric. The colours in the rainbow came out bold and bright and minimal smearing. I’m extremely happy with the results. The photo also printed up a treat (what a cutie Elyse is!).

epson printed

Printed with my new Epson XP-410

 

I also trialled a colour fixative called Retayne. I was pleasantly surprised to see that it helped the fabric hold the colour better after being washed on a cold water wash (even thought the test in the photo says gentle hand wash) in my front loading washing machine. below you can see the printed fabric on the left, which has been washed only. The printed fabric on the right was treated with the Retayne and there is a noticeable difference with the fabric holding onto more of the ink. You can see the rainbow colours are brighter on the right and there is more colour in Elyse’s face as well.

comparison washed and treated

Left: Washed only Right: Treated with Retayne and then washed

I’m so happy that I’ve found a printer that works well. Yippy! I’m currently working on my tutorial now for how to print on fabric using an inkjet printer. So stay tuned for that in the near future!

Until then, happy sewing!

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