Is there a printer 'transfer sheet' that just transfers the 'ink' image (or has a transparent backing) when applied to fabric?

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sparkiehill wrote
on 4 Feb 2011 8:37 AM


I'm new to asking questions online so forgive me if this isn't the proper format to seek HELP for a fabric/quilting problem. I am putting together a Chuppah (wedding canopy) for friends that are getting married.  The wedding will be held outside and the center of the Chuppah will have very sheer fabrics to allow the sun to shine through onto the couple.

The couple want several short verses to be printed on the very sheer, semi-transparent and flimsy fabric. At first, I didn't think it was a problem because, in the past, I have used images from my computer files and printed them onto transfer sheets that feed through my printer. I then ironed on the image to all types of fabrics. Of course the fabrics were always opaque and heavier.

The problem is: I can't find a transfer sheet that allows just the transfer of the letters in the verse. They all seem to have an opaque backing that transfers along with the text when ironed onto the sheer fabric. I had thought that I could find transfer sheets that would transfer only the 'ink' from the printer image (similar to what I had used 30 years ago as a teenager to transfer 'blue' colored images of simple designs to embroider) or one that had a transparent backing. Is there such a product out there? If so, what is the brand name so I can purchase some. I've had no luck with my on-line search.

I have also experimented with hand painting the letters of the verses onto the fabric but that is turning out to be a mess since the fabric is so sheer. I even backed the fabric with freezer paper to add stability but the paint still bleeds even with a thicker fabric paint. Is there any type of a 'fabric medium' that is transparent when dried that won't really alter the look of the sheer fabric but will coat the fabric to prepare the surface for fabric paint? Here I had thought the quilting aspect of the canopy was going to cause me the headaches but that will turn out to be the easy part!

Thanks in advance for any info!  Sparkie H

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Muppin wrote
on 4 Feb 2011 11:46 AM

You should look into "Extravorganza" by Jacquard.  It's printable organza fabric.

Also, I moved your question into the general quilt discussion group.


Cheryl / Muppin

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sparkiehill wrote
on 4 Feb 2011 3:12 PM

Thanks Cheryl! I knew after I started that I may be in the wrong spot and just couldn't locate the 'general' discussion page. Appreciated for the tip. Sparkie H.

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ckquilter wrote
on 5 Feb 2011 1:28 AM

hi sparkie

what color is your sheer fabric?

and are the letters going to be a different color? it is kind of hard to picture sheer letters on sheer fabric if they are the same color. the

letters won't show up.

the extravorganza would be an option. they are semi transparent fabric, already adhered to freezer paper, and ready to put through

the printer. but they are only 8 1/2 by 11". although the could be stitched together to make longer sheets.

are you in a warm climate area? i have had good luck with sun printing on sheer fabric. but you need warm sunny days to do it -

which does not work this time of year in the northwest.

another option - stabilize your fabric onto freezer paper, like you have done, and then make a stencil for the lettering, and adhere that

to the top of the fabric. then use a crystalline fabric paint to paint in the letters. it dries transparent, and does not alter the color of the

fabric. but the crystals will sparkle. or you could paint the letters with a color different from the color of the sheer fabric. it would still be

transparent after drying, but a different color and sparkly.

the crystal paint does not bleed. it stays right where you put it. do not wet the fabric first. just paint the crystal right onto the letters.

but it will make the fabric stiff. i always do the painting after the quilting - because i don't want any particles getting down into my

sewing machine. and i don't want to have to sew through the stiffened fabric.          but i have used it on already quilted cotton fabrics. and

i have used it on a sheer fabric, with sun printed letters, without using any stabilizer at all, and it works fine. stays right where i put it.



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sparkiehill wrote
on 5 Feb 2011 11:31 AM

Hi ckquilter,

The fabric in the center of the canopy is a very sheer white and the lettering will be dark black or dark brown. The lettering, a fancy calligraphy  look, will be set to size on the computer in a 1" height and in an arc shape (semi-circle) to  go around the large double wedding ring center design of the canopy.

The reason I wanted to use a printer transfer sheet, or some kind of a rub on then iron transfer sheet was because I just wanted to transfer the lettering without any kind of a background/carrier sheet. Since this will be used outside any kind of a background behind the lettering won't look very nice. I want the couple and guests to look up and be able to easily read the verses they picked out. The 'Extravoganza' may work and I will try it since I don't really want to hand letter.

Would you please provide some additional info about the sun printing. . . I've done several projects over the years but not on fabric. Thanks for your interest. I was beginning to get worried because I couldn't  come  up with any other ideas and none of my friends could help. Very appreciated!! 

Sparkie H.

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ckquilter wrote
on 6 Feb 2011 12:51 AM

hi sparkie

ok, so the center is sheer white, with dark lettering. is the lettering solid or sheer?

if solid, the letters could be cut from dark fabric and fused on. stitched if it needs to be permanent.

if sheer letters, they can be cut from dark brown or black sheer, and fused onto the base sheer. stitched if needed. the fusible will

be very transparent once melted.

if you use extravorganza, it will need to be attached over the base sheer. the sheets are small, and you may need to use several -

in which case the edges of the extravorganza may show.


the sun printing is fun. you paint the fabric in the shade. then lay shapes over the top - my favorites are pressed leaves and ferns and

letters ( Foamies work well). then move the fabric, while wet, into the sun to dry. then remove the shapes - and wherever they blocked the

sunlight - the original color of the fabric will show through the paint.

you can start with white fabric, in which case you will get white shapes. i also love starting with bright yellow/orange/red batiks.

i then paint with just one color paint, my favorite is moss green, and i get wonderful shading with yellow/orange and red colored shapes.

you must use a specific paint. either pebeo setacolor transparent (the opaque will NOT sunprint) available from dharma. or you can use

dy na flo (i can get it locally - bu i am sure it is also available from dharma. it also comes in a small starter pack which would be a good

start kit)

both paints must be mixed with water to sunprint. a good start is equal volumes. which will give good intense color. for lighter values,

just add more water.        all of the colors are mixable. so i buy the 3 primaries and black. i also use a lot of moss green, purple and

sienna, so i buy those too.

i don't heat set anymore. just let the paint cure onthe fabric for a week. then run it through a regular washer/dryer cycle.

the paint will make the fabric just a tiny bit stiffer - but not much. it stays very stitchable and quiltable.

i can make it sparkle by adding up to 20% metallic paint (lumiere) - but no more if you want it to sunprint. and the fabric will be stiffer.

the metallic does not work too well on sheers - the particles go through the fabric. so when i want sparkle on the sheers, i wait until

they are stitched and quilted, and then paint them with the crystal paint.

i have sunprinted white cotton, colored cottons, and many sheers. a friend has given me bags of upholstery and drapery fabrics and sheers.

and i have sunprinted on a lot of them. all different fiber contents - silk, rayon, cotton, polyester, nylon. they all sunprinted. i had the paint

wash out of one - but everything else went through the process fine.

hope that helps.        i am gonna post this. and i hope to post another - with pictures of some sunprinting samples.          ckquilter


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ckquilter wrote
on 6 Feb 2011 1:00 AM

hi again

this large quilt (about 90"wide and 50 long) uses all sunprints for the background. if you look close (i will try and post a close up) you

can see the bright orange sunprinted ferns at the bottom center .            ckquilter



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ckquilter wrote
on 6 Feb 2011 1:06 AM


this is a closer view - and you can see the sunprinted ferns on the lower left and sunprinted nandina on the lower right. i started with

bright autumn colored commercial batik. it was painted with just one color of setacolor - my favorite moss green.

because the paint is transparent, it blends with the colors of the fabric to give great shading, and the shapes come out in wonderful

colors, rather than just white. there were 4 or 5 different fabrics used for the background. but all were painted with just moss green - easy.


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on 6 Feb 2011 2:47 AM

There is another alternative... you could machine the letters on direct, as densley stitched as you want.

I have machined on organza, and the best way to do this to stop it puckering or even laddering, is to sandwich it between two pieces of water soluable fabric.  I don't know what brands you have in the US, but here in the UK we have lots of different weights - hot water, and cold water soluable, and also soluable paper (which I think will stay together enough to go through a printer, ie the wet ink won't dissolve) .  Anyway it can be totally transparent, and you can write on it.  So make up the sandwich and machine over any words, cut away excess soluable and wash away.  The economic thing is that you don't need a complete piece, the extra surplus pieces that you cut off can be utilised further on.

Or another alternative is to free machine the letters/words just on the soluable itself, dissolve and then attach.  If you've never done (free) machining on soluable - you need a 'grid' for the stitches to hang on to, otherwise it can unravel, become loopy.  Its just a matter of a few base lines one way then another before filling in.

Or, don't bother with a base grid and stitch on fine net (with the soluable on top, marked up).  This has a couple of bonuses - no need to worry if all the stitching knits together, cos there is the net grid already.... and no need to densely stitch if you use the net.  But it does take an age to cut out - but you could stitch whole words/phrases, leaving tiny bits of net between the letters/words to hold it all together, so it would be like attaching a lace to the organza.

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sparkiehill wrote
on 7 Feb 2011 6:36 AM

RE: ckquilter images

Good Morning,

I returned late last night and just got around to checking my email. . . what a beautiful surprise to see these images. They are stunning!! I never dreamed this process could be carried to such a level! Thank you for sharing such wonderful inspiration!

I have a graphic arts background and I assumed (always a mistake!)  such a simple process used with paper and other crafts would be almost as simple to use on fabric. It is sometimes and I have had good success in the past. What is making what I want to do so difficult this time around is the extreme sheerness of the white fabric and something I hadn't mentioned is that the fabric has vines and flowers embroidered throughout. Also, since light will shine through the fabric I can't have anything else detracting from the simple lettering of the verse such as an opaque background around the letters, seams, cut fabric edges etc. My hand lettering isn't that great so I figured setting up the verse on computer, using a fancy font and sizing it and spacing it perfectly to go around the center double wedding ring design would be easy. Print it out on a printer transfer sheet, place it over the fabric, rub it down in place to transfer the inked letters, heat set if I have to or finish it, by putting a clear gel medium over the letters to protect them and help seal them in place and it would be done.  I decided I will give the Plaid product "Extravorganza" (sorry if I spelled it wrong) a try if I can find it.  Or I will cut a stencil using my computer file as a guide and use creamy stencil paint for fabric and hand finish each letter so it doesn't have that 'stencil' look. Stencil paint is very dry, so it won't bleed and I can build it up to make the lettering opaque so it will show up. I need to move on to the quilting part of this project.

A sincere THANK YOU to everyone who responded and I'll check this site often to see if anyone else responds with other alternatives closer to what I originally had in mind.  i still have a couple of weeks before I have to do the lettering.   Sparkie H

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ckquilter wrote
on 7 Feb 2011 7:16 PM

hi sparkie

you say your sheer is very sheer. and you don't want opaque edges of another fabric showing through. then printing on the extravorganza will be a problem.  it is a fairly sheer fabric. and you would either need to cut out the letters and attach them to your sheer, or apply the whole sheet - inwhich case the edges of the extravorganza will show. if you cut out individual letters and fuse them to your sheer, then the edges won't be a problem. the dark letters have to have edges anyways. but printing the letters on your printer will let you get the font you want. then remove the freezer paper backing.  then fuse  the fabric to a fusible web (put the fusible on the wrong side of the letters). then you would need to cut each letter out, individually, place it on your sheer, and fuse in place.  it will be important to pay attention to which side of your sheer the lettering goes on. if the underside, then print your letters right side up, and put the fusible on the back of the letters. if the letters are gonna go on the upper side of the sheer (towards the sky), then the fusible will need to go on the right side of the letters.              another possible problem - the letters would need to be large enough, that they are sturdy once cut out.   skinny lines might be difficult to work with.

another writer suggested stitching the lettering on. which would also work. but will be very time consuming if there  are more than just a few words. and you will need to well stabilize the sheer before stitching.  and the stitching will need to be dense to show up. which may be a very heavy look on the sheer.

using the transfer sheet to print your desired font on might be best. if they will transfer the letters to the sheer ok. if the sheer is smooth, it will be easier. if the flowers and vines in the sheer are printed, it should transfer ok. but you indicated they are embroidered - and that could be a problem, if they are bumpy, when trying to transfer.

another option - make your stencil, and use the shiva paintstiks. they are an oil paint, in stick form. so no liquid - thus no running or bleeding. you would still need to stabilize the sheer first. and then attach your stencil. the paint stiks work best applied with a stencil brush. they come in many colors, as well as iridescent.

along a similar path - using the fabric pens with the stencil. again,  no paint - so less running and bleeding - although there will be more than with the paintstik. but might be easier to control than a brush with paint.                                            ckquilter

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sparkiehill wrote
on 8 Feb 2011 5:59 AM

Good Morning ckquilter,

I've gotten feedback from several different places and the product that I'm looking for does not exist. What a great product it would be if it did!!!!!!

I cut a small stencil of several letters and tried a couple of different paints including the one you just mentioned (Shiva Paintstiks). It's gonna be tricky and time consuming. I'll be holding my breath the whole time but I think it will work out. Touching up the letters afterwards takes away the stencil look so I think it will do.

Thanks for the wonderful support everyone!  

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nsmouw wrote
on 11 Feb 2011 9:29 AM

Have you tried TAP paper?  I have bought some, I have not used it yet,   but I am pretty sure it does what you asked.  Here is a link

You could also print what you want onto a transperancy sheet, (in mirror image) then use the gel medium transfer method.

Good luck!  Natalie

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donnarae2 wrote
on 12 Feb 2011 8:17 AM

I haven't read all the replies so this may have been mentioned. You might try the inkjet_transfer group at yahoo. Some very experienced "trasferers" are on that list and happy to help others. Good luck!

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sparkiehill wrote
on 12 Feb 2011 9:30 AM

Natalie, Thanks! I did contact them and they are sending a sample sheet to try. The stuff sounds pretty good and even if I do not use it on this project I will for others.    Sparkie

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