Photo printing reports, as posted on RCTQ

Date: 2000-10-27 10:55:10 PST

From: LN (
Subject: Re: Fabric softener to print photos on fabric?

That was me. I haven't tried it tho. I'll give you the 'recipe' and you can try it to see if it works...

"Mix 1/2 of Ultra Downey(must be this brand only), and 1/2 water. Soak fabric for 15 minutes. Rinse for 10
minutes, let dry. When dry, iron onto freezer paper, print, let dry at least 1 day. Iron to set colours.

To be even cheaper, I used pillow ticking which is 100% cotton, has a very high thread count, and is cheap as dirt. Other fabrics may give differing results, but go for the highest thread count you can find.

I did have some colour loss, but I think this may have been due to the fact I printed at the highest resolution, and it was excess ink. After washing in warm water with Orvus, I had very little fading, and they look great, feel great, and was cheap, cheap,

I use an HP printer too, which are notorious for their inks not being waterproof. Apparently others have even had BubbleJet Set 2000 run using an HP printer ink.

The small bottle of Downey (remember, must be Ultra Downey!) I had was a free sample, and I just poured the mix back into the container to use again!"

Date: Sun, 29 Oct 2000 13:14:54 -0700

From: Sylvia Steiger <>
Subject: Bubble Jet Set 2000

I ordered a bottle from Hancocks (same price as the BubbleJet website but no shipping charge if you order from the WWW!) and am looking forward to trying it, although I plan to print sample photos and wash them several times to see how it holds up.

Date: Sun, 12 Nov 2000 23:03:39 -0700

From: Sylvia Steiger <>
Subject: Photo printing report

11/12/00: I started washing tonight. For the first load, I washed one of each preparation in the machine using gentle cycle, warm wash/cold rinse, no detergent, and dried them by ironing. Results: untreated fabric: definite color loss, skin/beige road took on a pink hue, some loss of detail but still recognizable. Ultra Nice & Fluffy: noticeable fading, skin/beige tablecloth took on a pink hue, less loss of detail than on plain fabric. Great Value: even pinker than Ultra Nice & Fluffy and same other problems. Downy Care: no perceptible change, but this was on a black-and-white photo. Bubble Jet Set 2000: noticeable color loss but no color change or loss of detail.

Next, I washed in the machine using gentle cycle, warm wash/cold rinse, with a little Wisk Free, and dried in the dryer. I washed both the previously washed photos and a fresh photo from each of my preparations. Results: previously washed plain fabric has lost about 50% of its color but the pink hue is still there, previously washed Ultra Nice & Fluffy has further color loss but the pink hue is still there, previously washed Great Value has further color loss but still pink hues AND has streaks where most of the color is washed out, previously washed Downy Care (black and white) has a little color loss but still looks very good - the black-and-white coloring now actually looks closer to the original photo than when first printed, previously washed Bubble Jet Set 2000 has lost about half the original color and some of the detail but the kids' hair is still red, not previously washed untreated fabric (black and white) has severe fading and loss of detail, not previously washed Great Value has lost a lot of color, not previously washed Ultra Snuggle has lost a lot of color AND has several white blotches on the photo, not previously washed Ultra Snuggle (black and white) also has severe streaks although the color in the small areas not streaked looks pretty good, not previously washed Bubble Jet Set 2000 has a slight color loss but is still clearly the best of the lot, not previously washed Ultra Nice & Fluffy has lost enough color that the red-headed children look brown AND suffered several color-loss streaks, not previously washed Downy Care lost the red in the kids' hair and has one color-loss streak.

I'm having a lot of trouble figuring out what all these results mean, except that washing them in regular detergent is a BAD idea. Downy Care seemed to be the best of the fabric softener prepared fabrics except when I used detergent. (I don't have any Orvus, don't know if any is available here in Cheyenne.) For my last round of testing, I think I'll try ironing the fabrics BEFORE washing in cold water with no detergent and see if that helps set the colors. I was anticipating a little color loss due to extra ink (from what others have written) but this is ridiculous.

Date: 2000-11-13 07:40:07 PST

From: (
Subject: Re: Photo printing report

Although I am not ready to make a photo quilt I have tried a couple of other transfer methods. One of which has worked wonderfully with black and white photos with good definition.

You get a regular photo copy of your photo. (make sure it is a carbon based ink photocopier)  Then with a teaspoon of turpentine saturate the photocopy.  Turn the photocopy, printed side down onto good quality cotton muslin.  (I used an unbleached muslin and it gave me that old brownish photo look)  Then rub with the bottom of the spoon all over the paper photo copy (put several sheets of paper towel underneath the muslin) being careful not to move the paper and muslin.  Keep rubbing, more than you think you need to, rub every single part of the photocopy.  Remove the paper and you will see that your paper photocopy has transfered to the fabric.

Now, because this is turpentine and highly flamable, set the fabric in a well ventilated area and leave it alone for a couple or three days.  Gently soak in clear water squeeze out between towels, iron.  The photo is set.

I have not washed the finished piece as the wall hanging I made need never be washed, but in approximately 4 years the photos I did (a bunch of cats I have "owned" over the years) has not faded or changed that I can see...

You of course need to take reasonable precausions with this method as turpentine burns quite easily, in other words don't smoke while you try this and don't let anyone else who smokes come near you when you are working on this...

Susan in BC

Date: 2000-11-21 20:26:50 PST

From: Nancy Sumner (
Subject: Re: Photo printing report

For what it's worth, I have a package of Colorfast Printer fabric sheets from June Tailor. The instuctions say NOT to use any detergent for the washing...only fabric softener. I wonder if that applies to the fabric softener treated fabric as well? I was pleased with the results, although this is a lot more expensive than the home-made fabric softener preparation.  There was not any instructions re: how long to wait after printing. I choose to wait 24 hours before messing with my photos, as I needed them to go in a quilt that couldn't afford to be messed up. Nancy

Date: Wed, 22 Nov 2000 19:08:27 -0700

From: Sylvia Steiger <>
Subject: Photo printing - final report

11/22/00: I am not at all pleased with the way anything has come out so far, so for my last opportunity on not-previously-washed fabrics, I ironed one of each preparation to (hopefully) heat-set the colors. They have all been printed for  over a week and should be thoroughly dry. (I didn't mean to let them sit so long, just haven't had an opportunity to do anything more towards testing.) I had a couple extra printed fabrics left over, one Downy Care and one Bubble Jet Set, so I left them unironed and washed new AND previously washed photos in plain cold water, gentle cycle, dried in the drier on air only.

First wash results on ironed fabrics: Untreated fabric: color closest to original, little loss of detail. Bubble Jet Set 2000: little color loss, no detail loss. Downy Care: colors a little ruddy, minimal if any detail loss. Great Value: colors are actually more intense! Blue flowers and red hair all more vivid, skin more ruddy as well. Ultra Nice & Fluffy, black and white: lost a little detail and color is a little warmer. Ultra Snuggle: very pink with some loss of detail.

First wash results on unironed fabrics: Bubble Jet Set 2000, black and white: dark a little bit washed out and a little loss of detail. Downy Care: colors redder, a little detail loss.

Second wash results (remember, previously washed in detergent): Bubble Jet Set 2000: noticeable color loss when compared to original, but excellent detail and clear picture. Great Value: about 50% color loss but details still clear.

Third wash results (remember, previously washed in detergent): Untreated fabric: at least 50% color loss, significant detail loss, but can still see picture easily. Bubble Jet Set 2000: colors still pretty accurate but definite loss of detail. Downy Care, black and white: definitely some dark loss and detail loss, but the photo is still recognizable.  Ultra Nice & Fluffy: more than 50% color loss, significant loss of detail.

I was able to purchase Orvus at my LQS and washed everything the second time in cold water and Orvus. (I diluted 1 tsp of Orvus in a pint of hot tap water, shook it around to dissolve, then poured that into the filled washer - I don't think Orvus will dissolve in cold water.)  Gentle cycle, dried in dryer with air only (no heat).

Second wash results on ironed fabrics: Untreated fabric: Significant loss of color and detail. Bubble Jet Set 2000: some color loss but difficult to tell without comparing to unwashed photo. Downy Care: slight loss of color and detail. Great Value: some fading but still reasonable color and detail. Ultra Nice & Fluffy, black and white: noticeable fading, little loss of detail. Ultra Snuggle: too pink and more color loss than BJS.

Second wash results on unironed fabrics: Bubble Jet Set 2000, black and white: a little color loss, a little detail loss. Downy Care: redder with some color loss but not bad.

Third wash results (remember, previously washed in detergent): Bubble Jet Set 2000: some color washed out of darkest parts, but still good detail and completely usable. Great Value: about 50% color loss but detail still good.

Fourth wash results (remember, previously washed in detergent): Bubble Jet Set 2000: less than 50% color loss, moderate detail loss. Downy Care, black and white: significant fading and detail loss.

My conclusions: Don't wash in anything but Orvus and cold water. Ironing after printing before washing may or may not help set the colors, I probably will just to be sure. Bubble Jet Set 2000 seems to help color photos hold up the best, whether ironed before washing or not. Downy Care comes in second, does a pretty good job but that red tinge was still a problem - wouldn't mind using this for black-and-white photos if I run out of BJS. Cannot recommend Great Value, Ultra Nice & Fluffy, Ultra Snuggle, or leaving fabric untreated.

Date: 2000-11-26 18:31:33 PST

From: Sylvia Steiger (
Subject: Photo printing - final report

I'm coming up with more tips now that I'm actually printing what will be my photo quilt. I did something out of laziness that is working out quite well. I made a little cut on the fold of the white fabric and then tore it instead of cutting, which is producing a nice easy-to-follow grain line to cut the individual fabric pieces after treating. I cut 9" strips selvedge-to-selvedge, treated them (Bubble Jet Set 2000 for the color photos and Ultra Downy for the black & white photos), then trimmed off the selvedge and cut the remainder into quarters, which are almost exactly 11" long - certainly close enough to fool my printer. However, anyone thinking of doing this, be forewarned - it takes a LONG time! I've been printing for three days and just now finished the 63 pictures going into this quilt. Some of the problem is that I only have a P150 with 48 meg RAM, so everything that needs to be
done with the pictures (import into Publisher, resize and crop to fit the 4"x6" block) takes a long time. And my printer isn't the fastest. But cutting and preparing the fabric takes a lot of time, too.

Date: Sun, 26 Nov 2000 19:41:01 -0700

From: Sylvia Steiger <>
Subject: printing on fabric with printer

I just posted a long series on my own experiments, but the bottom line is:

1. nothing I found stands up to much washing

2. Bubble Jet Set 2000 holds color printer ink pretty well (unless you wash it much or with detergent) and Downy Care holds color-printing black-and-white photos pretty well (same caveat).

If you find anything that will keep photos intact under everyday use, please share it!

Date: Thu, 01 Mar 2001 19:23:07 GMT

From: Sylvia Steiger <>
Subject: Printing photos on fabric

Actually, Susan, what I found was that Downy worked okay to preserve black-and-white prints but Bubble Jet Set 2000 worked best in preserving color photos. However, "best" doesn't mean "good," there was still significant color loss after two washings in cold water and either no detergent or Orvus.

Copyright © 2002 by Peter and Sylvia Steiger
Last revised: 10/25/2002
For more information, contact Sylvia.