Tuesday, August 26, 2014

How to Print on Fabric Using Freezer Paper

There are a lot of different ways to get an image onto a piece of fabric: screen printing, iron transfer, stamping, photo emulsion, etc. My most preferred method is ink and freezer paper. Let me explain.

Freezer Paper
Speedball Fabric Ink
Exacto Knife
Firm Paint Brush
Optional: Computer and Printer

Choose or design an image that you want to put on fabric. (I've primarily used t-shirts and baby onesies, but you could use denim, tote bags, skirts/dresses, etc. I even did a little hat once.) Here are some images that I have designed and printed:

Step #1:
Create the image.
You can find images online or design your own. I design/draw my images on my ipad using Sketchbook Pro, then export them to my computer.

Step #2:
Get the Image onto the Freezer Paper
I use Microsoft Word to print the image because I can resize it using the ruler on the side of the document and make my image the exact size I want. Of course, you can also use Photoshop or whatever program you're comfortable with, or good old-fashioned pencil and paper. I've never tried printing right onto the freezer paper, but I will probably try it in the future, I have no idea if it will work. So, I print the image, tape it to a cutting board and tape the freezer paper over it. The freezer paper is transparent enough to accurately and easily trace the image underneath. Trace the image onto the paper side of the freezer paper (not the plastic side) with pencil.

Step #3
Cut the Image from Freezer Paper
Using your most awesome Exacto Knife skills, cut out the image you just traced. Be precise! In your image, there will likely be little bits that "float" (I don't know the technical term for this, so "floating" is what I call it). For example, if you were to cut out the letter "O", the middle of the "O" has to "float" inside the ring, otherwise you are just cutting a circle. Get me? So, I always secure the "floating" parts with little extra, uncut pieces of freezer paper, like this:

(This particular design has two layers (two colors), the blue circle in the middle with the negative space "Big Brother", and the black outline and words "Best Ever". I printed the blue circle first, let it dry, then printed the black layer over the top so the ring in the middle of the words "Best" and "Ever" outlined the blue circle.)

Step #4
Iron the Freezer Paper onto the Fabric
Using a hot cotton setting on your iron, arrange the image exactly where you want it to appear and iron the freezer paper directly onto the fabric. This whole techniques works because one side of the freezer paper is like parchment paper and the other side is covered with a thin layer of plastic. When you iron the plastic side to the fabric, it melts enough to form a great seal, but not enough to damage the fabric, in fact it peals right up easy-peasy. That's why this technique is awesome. When ironing, press directly down, taking great care not to rub the iron around on the freezer paper until every little bit is firmly in place to avoid folding or crumpling any part of your design. The motion with your iron is more like patting, less like rubbing.

Step #5
Cut Away Extra Bits
Remember all those extra pieces of freezer paper you left on your design in order to keep the "floating" parts in their exact right locations? Well, now cut them off, you don't need them, but, TAKE HEED, you must do this extremely carefully with a sharp Exacto Knife. I definitely have cut through my t-shirts when I haven't been careful enough. It is easy to cut off the extra paper without cutting your fabric or displacing your "floating" bit, but it is also easy to mess it up. BE CAREFUL. When done, iron everything back down for good measure.

Step #6
Apply Ink
I use Speedball Fabric Ink. It is made for this and it is the best. It goes on evenly and thickly, doesn't bleed, and there are great colors available. I've used other inks and fabric paints and I don't like any of them as much as Speedball.
Using a stiff bristled paint brush (usually pretty cheap, like dollar-store cheap), apply the ink to the design. Apply enough ink to thoroughly cover the exposed fabric, but not so much that you're frosting a cake.  You want the ink to saturate the area you are coloring, but not gloop on--too thick and the ink will look cracked and could peel later on.
 Step #7
Allow Ink to Dry and Peel Freezer Paper
I usually let the ink dry for a few hours until it is dry to the touch. Then, my favorite part, I peel up the freezer paper with great anticipation and anxiety--did it turn out right? Did any parts bleed? Did I mess anything up? No! Excellent!

I iron over the whole thing again with a super hot iron to seal the ink. Viola! You're done!
Wash and dry the garment as normal.

This is how we announced our second pregnancy. I have no doubts he'll live up to the title.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A Ferris Bueller Day

My days are not particularly "busy", per se.  Of course, every day I am constantly and endlessly employed with the care of my son, my home, and my family.  Those things keep a body busy. However, I don't go "out-and-about" as much as I used too, and spend most of my days at/near home.  Its a nice little life. Yesterday was an out-and-about day, and by my current standards it felt like my own personal Ferris Bueller's Day Off. 

 (not a "day off" at all, but you follow)

First stop: Social Security Office

Otherwise known as "a day in hell".  What a parade of humanity that was. The office is open from 9am-3pm and is located in Manassas.  MAN-ASS-AS. For those unfamiliar with the sprawling suburbs of Northern Virginia, that means a 45 min drive for me (with no traffic).  It also means that a tiny government agency, with 4 service windows, is meant to serve 3 counties worth of citizens, which totals about 1.9 million people, with a huge immigrant population (people who need SS cards). Here's the short story:

I arrived at 11am (first mistake) and the line was out the door and down the sidewalk in the blazing heat.  I stood there for 30 minutes and didn't move a step.  A very kind officer told us that it would likely be over an hour just to get in the building, then probably about 2 hours waiting inside. (Makes you want to sit down and cry, right?) BUT, he said, if you come back at 2:45, right before "closing", the line goes much faster.  You see, they don't "close" at 3pm, they close the line at 3pm.  They serve everyone who is still in line, and they get people from other parts of the office to help process everyone through.  So, are you kidding me?, I bounced.

Little Man was at grandma's and having a grand time, so I went to do my grocery shopping. I was listening to NPR, as I often do.  Kojo Nnamdi was hosting an awesome show about the DC music scene, and I tuned in just in time to hear them talking about house concerts and local venues.  So I called in, knowing that it is very rare to be let through, but thought it would be fun to participate in the conversation.  And, whaddya know!, I got through and talked on the radio about house concerts and other nervous, rapid ramblings--it was thrilling!  You can listen here, I called in with about 8-10 min left of the show, I think.

Wegman's grocery shopping. Uneventful. Unless you count the heavenly vanilla streusal muffin.

Back to the SS Office

Yup, I went back.  Arrived at 2:30. Huge line, but about 15 people less than the morning.  Everything moved very fast.  Was finished with my business at 3:45.

I picked up Little Man and came home. We have taken to playing in the water on our deck just about every afternoon, but this time he added another element. Earth.

Kyle had to go in to work, so I was on my own with the child. Dinner. Bedtime.


When Kyle got home we snuggled down to read Lord of the Rings out loud (cause that's how we roll), and what did I find under my pillow? A big box with a BRAND NEW MACBOOK PRO INSIDE! I could have wet myself! I've been bothering him about a new computer for ages because my trusty Macbook has barely been turned off in over 7 years and has begun to limp along. Turns out, he didn't go to work at all, but went to pick up my present. Oh, this new computer is glorious!  Light! Sleek! Quiet! Updated! Clean! I can't believe how stuck in my old ways I've been and how much has changed in the new stuff.  It is just thrilling.


Kyle worked on installing ALL THE THINGS on my new computer and I started baking a lemon wedding cake that will be assembled and gorgeously decorate<id by Saturday. (Said with unfailing faith, as I've never made this kind of cake before and time this week is majorly crunched by the upcoming holiday...it'll happen, it'll happen, it'll happen...)

So, not the best Ferris Bueller Day, but an eventful one none-the-less. And I shall get through this busy week and clean ALL THE THINGS and pack ALL THE THINGS and finish ALL THE THINGS before we leave on our trip out west next week. Major road trip. First in 7 years. With a toddler. I CAN'T WAIT.