I’m about to share with you the coolest secret ever.
Let me just say first that I didn’t originate this idea, I read about it first here. But I had so much fun with it- and the possibilities are limitless- that I just had to pass it on.
The trick to this method involves two things: images printed from a toner based printer (i.e. black and white only from a copy shop or a home printer that takes toner, not inkjet cartridges) and Citrasolv Natural Degreaser (I found it in my grocery store in the natural cleaners section).
As far as I know, you could use this technique on most fabrics. It does seem to work better with medium to tight knits, and I decided to use 100% linen. One yard cut into thirds made some decent size dishtowels (which I learned online really have no standard dimensions haha).
One great site to get your started with images is The Graphics Fairy. All of the images there are free to use, and she has awesome collections for pretty much any style. I chose this set of three vintage beaters for my towels. When you print, you’ll want to adjust your printer settings to “mirror image”- especially for text! Otherwise everything will end up backwards.
Once you have all your printouts, trim the image so you have enough border to pin it in place to the fabric. Take a craft paint brush and dip it in some Citrasolv (don’t use too much, just enough to wet the paper). Then take the back of a spoon and RUB RUB RUB. You have to rub pretty hard for several minutes, but the image will transfer. You may need to brush on more solvent. I left one corner unpinned so I could kind of peek at it as I went.
Don’t be freaked out if the Citrasolv bleeds onto the fabric, it will wash clean. After the transfer is complete, you’ll need to set the ink with heat. I laid a clean towel on my ironing board and then laid my new image on top (to keep the ironing board free of Citrasolv). Then I ironed right over the image (face up) for about 30 seconds.
Finally, I hemmed all the edges and tossed the towels in the washing machine on a cold, delicate cycle. You could either air dry or machine tumble dry on low heat. Iron as needed (linen is wrinkly!)
Here’s how they turned out:
Pretty neat, huh? I love the way these images look slightly weathered and not hot-off-the-press new. I think it’s a feature unique to the method.
There are SO many projects you could do with this technique. I’m going to make more dishtowels, maybe some personalized pillowcases, and some placemats. Think about the awesome housewarming gift something like this would make! What about a cute apron? Or table runner? The possibilities are endless! Have you ever tried this?
To all my friends: you know what you’re getting on your next birthday.