Polyester fabric presents an interesting problem when it's used as a base for printing. The synthetic fibres do not absorb paint or ink like natural fibres such as cotton. Acrylic paint works as the medium to use when printing on polyester. An acrylic painting medium applied beneath the paint will help to keep the paint colours true. The paint must be heat-set in order to prevent cracking and pealing. This process is used both in hand painting and stencil printing on polyester fabric.
Wash and dry the polyester fabric in a washing machine and dryer prior to beginning the printing process.
Lay the polyester fabric on a flat surface. Remove any wrinkles by pulling each corner of the fabric. Smooth the fabric from the centre to the outside edges using your hand.
Place a piece of cardboard under the desired printing area.
Place a stencil of the desired print design on the fabric. Secure the stencil to the fabric using masking tape.
Optional: Squeeze acrylic fabric medium on a paper plate. Acrylic fabric medium, found in the paint section at hobby and craft stores, is like a gesso that artists apply to a canvas prior to painting. Dab the end of a stencil brush in the fabric medium. Pounce the stencil brush up and down on the edge of the paper plate to remove excess paint. Start on the outside edge of the stencil and work toward the centre. Dab the brush on the print area. Make sure to pounce the brush straight up and down to avoid getting excess medium under the stencil. Repeat the process until the area is covered. Let the fabric medium dry for 15 minutes.
Squeeze a quarter size circle of acrylic paint on a paper plate. Dab the end of a stencil brush in the paint. Pounce the stencil brush up and down on the edge of the paper plate to remove excess paint. Start on the outside edge of the stencil and work toward the centre. Dab the brush on the print area. Make sure to pounce the brush straight up and down to avoid getting excess paint under the stencil. Repeat the process until the area is covered. Let the paint dry for 15 minutes.
Remove the stencil. Lift the polyester fabric and cardboard and place it on the ironing board. Put the pressing cloth over the printed area.
Turn the iron to a polyester setting. Let the iron heat. Press the printed area. Place the iron on one section and hold in place for 10 seconds. Move the iron to the next section and repeat the process until the entire print area has been pressed.
Remove the pressing cloth. Let the polyester fabric sit for three minutes before moving. Remove the cardboard from under the fabric.
Use brown packing paper or butcher paper in place of a pressing cloth.