Blackcabbit's World

Blackcabbit (aka. Dionnie Takahashi) is an illustrator living in Japan. She loves drawing whimsical animal characters, as well as doing handmade crafts to beautify the world she lives in.

Iron-On Transfer vs Printable Fabric

Recently, I was making key covers for my online stores. I intended to feature the Kokeshi illustrations that I created a while ago, by using iron-on transfers as well as printable cotton. As it was my first time working with both medium, it was indeed an exciting “blood, sweat and tears” experience.

First with the Iron On Transfers…

Having an Epson inkjet printer, I decided to get Epson’s Iron-On Printer Paper (アイロンプリントペーパー). One pack with 5 pieces of A4-size iron-on transfer paper.

The good…

  • The colors turned out brilliant and vivid. The illustrations really stand out.
  • I love the “vinyl” rubbery feel to image.
  • I managed the Japanese instructions well. (Thank you Epson Japan for providing illustrations ^_^)
  • And yes, I remember to “flip” it to make an mirror-image, prior to printing.
  • The paper on the transfer peels off easily after cooling.
  • It survived the washing test well. (First I soaked it in detergent water. After over four hours, then I remembered to hand-wash it).

The bad…

Because I was overly excited and wanted to have them printed as soon as possible, I failed to do a test print (on normal paper). Yup, and Murphy’s law came true… “If anything can go wrong, it will.” I unintentionally messed up the page setting and the print was larger than A4 size. So part of the illustrations were cropped. If you’ll see the previous picture, yup that was my mistake put to good use.)

After I had successfully printed out the illustrations, I cut them into desirable shape with nice border around the main image. Ironed them one by one onto white 100% cotton fabric. And to my horror (after peeling the paper)… TINY bit of HAIRS stuck between the fabric and the transfers!!! Where on earth do they come from?! Sigh, end up not able to use that lot! Sob!

TIP for preventing that from happening again:
Lightly brush the transfers with your finger.
Use the sticky lint remover on the cotton fabric.
Do a final inspection before ironing on.

When I finally have hair-free transfers, I took one of them and completed a key cover. Despite my best effort, something was bothering me. The transfers were ironed onto NEW white 100% cotton. Somehow I felt the transfers made the cotton fabric looked used and dirty. Maybe it’s just fussy old me but I wanted to do it differently. So once again, I forgo that lot too!

Finally, I had better quality when I decided to be generous and used more of the iron-on transfer paper. Instead of trimming along the image’s outline, the iron-on transfer and its cotton fabric backing were cut according to the size of the key cover.

Yup, pleased at last! Out of 4 pieces of iron-on transfers I used (and wasted), I managed to create only THREE precious successful key covers.

Next Up, the Printable Fabric Sheet…

Printable fabric comes in two types – the fused (iron) on or sew on. Not wanting to work with the hot iron this time, I choose the sew-on type, which is not easy to find in Japan. Fortunately, I stumbled across Kawaguchi’s 100% Printable Cotton. Though its on the pricier side, it is a Japanese brand that is pretty reputable with a wide range of handicraft supplies.

The good…

  • I had a 100% success rate with the printable fabric, which is fortunate… cos one pack has only 2 pieces of A4 printable cotton. And it is really expensive so I cannot effort to waste any!
  • Print directly with no fuss or complication. Glided easily and do not need to flip/mirror-image.
  • So much easier with sewing. It is soft and pliable, compared to the stiffer iron-on transfer.
  • No heat setting required.

The bad…

Colors are less saturated. Printed illustration has a wash out “seasoned” look. Hmm, although it will still appeal to a different customer pool.

Here are the pretty lot that I made using the printable fabric.

A close-up comparison between the Iron-On and Printable Fabric.



Blackcabbit’s Handmade Adventures


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This entry was posted on December 23, 2009 by in Craft / DIY Projects and tagged .
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