Making Your Inkjet Printed Fabric Colorfast

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Making photo quilts has been a passion of mine for several years now. When I found that I could print my own photos on fabric through my little ink jet printer, I was ecstatic and that is no exaggeration.  Then along came a product to enable fabric to grab the ink and make it colorfast-Bubble Jet Set. Here are a couple of family quilts I have made:

Photo Quilt

Photo Quilt

Others print their own fabric designs but so far I have been satisfied with mostly photos and maybe a label here and there for a special quilt. Oh, and there was the stuffed doll with my brother’s face on it that I made to present to him at his retirement party.

With all the time, effort and expense that goes into these, are they going to be washable? This is the question posed by clients when they are ordering these, what I call “instant heirlooms” and yes, they are.

I have a couple of blocks that were printed several years ago that I kept by the washer and put through several wash loads just to check. The fabrics are to be treated as any fine fabric-keep out of direct light and I don’t know how many washings they will endure without fading if they do fade. I also recommend spraying with one of those quilt protector sprays that will repel stains and dirt.

I have used both HP and Lexmark printers and had good success with both. I am not endorsing either, just try whatever printer you have. The HP was used for a client’s quilt that was ordered for a gift this past Christmas. From that project there were several misprints and a couple of duplicates [I was really aggravated with all this considering the price of ink] that I didn’t pitch into the trash because I thought they could be cut apart and be put into other things-a pillow, maybe, to match the quilt-something to salvage them.

Then it dawned on me that these could be tested to show their colorfastness. The first blocks that had been washed didn’t have a non washed comparison and here were enough prints to put side by side to really demonstrate  the durability of the prints.

First they were all heat set with my iron then pinned onto my design wall to photo. They had been marked with permanent Magic Marker with how many washings each would go through. Here they are before washing-all on the left row were not washed:

Photo Quilt Tutorial

placed in a laundry bag:

Photo Quilt Tutorial

after 1st wash:
unwashed block on left-no visible difference

Photo Quilt Tutorial

after 2nd wash:
unwashed block on left-still little or no visible difference

Photo Quilt Tutorial

after 3rd wash:
unwashed block on left-still little or no difference

Photo Quilt Tutorial

and after 4th wash:
unwashed block on left-little or no difference

Photo Quilt Tutorial

I am pleased with the results, I have a great example to show and I am especially pleased to be able to have the versatility of making my own fabric.

If you have been thinking about making your own fabric prints, start gathering all those old and new photos to tell your own story. A two part video tutorial is available here on Favequilts to help you getting the fabric ready to print.

For more tips and techniques on quilting including this process you can stop by

Have a great time quilting and crafting,
Carolyn Wainscott


Editor at FaveQuilts at
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