How to Scan My Photos to Fabric

Written by kristy barkan
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Integrating photos of family and loved ones into your fabric crafts can pave the way for the creation of truly meaningful gifts and home accessories. Fabrics with photos on them are often used in quilting and purse making. Other interesting uses for photo-printed fabrics are Christmas ornaments, scarves, pillows, tablecloths, curtains, potpourri pouches and fabric belts. Making custom fabrics from your photos is simple once you know how, and the creative applications for your new photo fabrics are nearly limitless.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Scanner
  • Computer
  • Image editing program
  • Colour inkjet printer
  • Iron
  • Ironing board
  • Printable fabric sheets
  • Iron-on transfer paper
  • Light-coloured cotton, polyester or cotton/poly blend fabric

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    Use Printable Fabric

  1. 1

    Place the photo that you would like to put on fabric facedown on a flatbed scanner, or feed it into a feeder scanner. Most scanners feature a "Scan" button; click the button and wait for your photo to scan. Locate the file that was created by the scan: many scanners save to the computer desktop. Open the file in the image editing program of your choice.

  2. 2

    Trim away any unwanted areas of the scanned photo. Most image editing programs feature a crop tool. Use it to select the area of the image that you want to keep.

  3. 3

    Load your inkjet printer with one piece of printable fabric. The fabric will have a throwaway backing attached, so make sure that the piece is fed into the printer in such a way that the fabric side will be the one printed on.

  4. 4

    Navigate to the "Print" button in your image editing program, and print your photo with the settings for a plain piece of paper. Selecting photo printing mode or any of the other modes may apply too much ink and cause the image to bleed. Allow the piece of printed fabric to dry for 10 minutes and remove the paper backing.

  5. 5

    Iron the fabric, image side up, for 2 minutes with an iron set to the highest setting. Do not use steam or put too much pressure on the image.

  6. 6

    Rinse the fabric gently in cold water, dab with a paper towel and allow to dry completely.

    Use Transfer Paper

  1. 1

    Scan your photo and save it as a file on your computer.

  2. 2

    Open the image in any image editing program and flip it horizontally. It will print to the transfer paper this way, but when you iron it onto your fabric it will reverse again and appear correctly.

  3. 3

    Load one piece of transfer paper into your printer so that the matt side will be printed on.

  4. 4

    Print your photo using the paper settings listed on the package of transfer paper.

  5. 5

    Smooth out your fabric onto an ironing board. Make sure there are no wrinkles present in the area on which you want to put your photo.

  6. 6

    Wait around 10 minutes for the ink to dry and carefully place the transfer paper facedown on your fabric. Preheat your iron to the hottest setting. Press the iron firmly over the transfer, starting in the centre of the image and spending about 15 to 20 seconds on each spot. Iron over the entire surface a few more times with a circular motion.

  7. 7

    Pull the transfer off before it has time to fully cool if you want a matt finish. Leave the transfer paper to cool before you remove it if you would like a gloss finish.

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