So you want to print on fabric but are confused by some of the products that are available?
Don’t feel bad, you’re not alone. One of the most common questions I get asked, is to explain the difference between the liquid pre-treatments that can be used when printing on fabric using an inkjet printer.
In this post, I listed some of the products that you can use when printing on fabric which also includes several liquid products that can be used to pre-treat your fabric prior to printing, namely Bubble Jetset, Bubble Jetset Rinse, Inkaid and Digital Grounds.
Let’s have a look at how they differ.
Bubble Jetset and Bubble Jetset Rinse
Bubble Jetset and Bubble Jetset Rinse have been around for quite some years now and these products help to solve the problem that quilters once had which was – how to make a printed image on fabric using an inkjet printer, that was permanent and washable.
Bubble Jetset is a liquid solution that looks like water and is used to pre-soak your fabric prior to printing. Once dry, the fabric must then be adhered to a backing paper, usually freezer paper, before it can be fed through your printer. After the inkjet print has dried, it should be rinsed in Bubble Jetset Rinse which is a mild detergent, to ensure that any excess ink is removed. This two-step process will ensure that your inkjet print is permanent and washable either by hand or machine, although when washing it’s wise to remember to use a mild detergent. Detergents that have a bleach additive will fade your prints.
Inkjet prints made using Bubble Jetset and Bubble Jetset Rinse require a little time to prepare, but it’s an easy process and an economical solution if you’re making a lot of inkjet prints.
The alternative to using these products (and my preferred method) is to purchase commercial pre-treated fabric sheets such as my personal favorites EQ Printables.
Printing on pre-treated fabric sheets is the perfect solution for projects where you want to add a bit of hand-stitching. Because the hand of the fabric isn’t affected, the fabric remains soft and easy to sew.
Inkaid and Golden Digital Grounds
Inkaid and Digital Grounds are a range of products that can be painted onto any flat surface that will fit through an inkjet printer in order to make the surface printable. These products are similar in type but made by different manufacturers – Inkaid who specialize in this type of product, and Golden Products who also make acrylic paints and associated products that all play nicely together. Each product range comes in a variety of different formulas which are used for specific applications. For example, porous and non-porous surfaces.
Normally you can’t make an inkjet print on surfaces such as metal, glass or wood, because the ink won’t stick, or will rub off, or will produce a very dull or poor quality print. This is particularly true for porous surfaces where the ink simply soaks into the substrate. However painting these types of surfaces with the appropriate Inkaid or Digital Grounds product seals the surface of the substrate and makes it printable, producing a very high quality, artist-grade, inkjet print.
And if you’re wondering how on earth you can print on a sheet of glass or similar rigid substrate, the solution is simple – you need to use a printer with a straight-through feed.
Because Inkaid/Digital Grounds can be painted onto any type of flat surface, this means that you can also use these products on fabric to produce stunning and high quality printed images that can be sewn. And not just on plain fabric, but also on textured fabric, as well as fabric that has holes in it such as cheesecloth and lace fabrics.
Because these products do change the hand of the fabric, your printed images can be easily sewn using a sewing machine, but it can be a challenge, although not impossible, to add hand stitching
These types of fabric prints are mostly used in textile art, quilt art, and mixed media where the print is incorporated into some type of artwork. However I’ve also had great success using this process to make more functional items such as art bags, journal covers etc.
The difference between Bubble Jetset and Inkaid/Digital Grounds when printing on fabric
Please note that these products are used for totally different purposes.
However for a quick visual …
The image on the left was printed on plain white untreated fabric. The image on the right was printed on the same type of fabric pre-coated with Inkaid. To make this a fair comparison, both fabric prints were made using the exact same settings on the printer and I didn’t do any tweaks to the image prior to printing (which is something I would normally do). Isn’t the difference amazing?
Bubble Jetset is a liquid pre-soak that produces a chemical bond with the fabric which ensures that the inkjet print will be permanent and washable.
Fabric retains its hand so it will be soft, and when an image is printed, although it should be sharp and clear, the ink will tend to soak into the fabric more or less depending on the type of fabric you use.
This product is recommended for those who want to make inkjet prints that they can be washed either by hand or machine. So if you’re a quilter who wants to print out pictures of your family to make a memory quilt that will most likely be washed at some point, then this is the product that you need to use. Either this or commercial pre-treated fabric sheets.
Inkaid/Digital Grounds are products that you paint onto a surface in order to enhance the quality of inkjet prints on fabric (and other substrates), both in color and clarity of detail.
These types of fabric prints are not washable, except when using the “white matte” product which has a certain degree of washability. When using these products, fabric will become semi-stiff to rigid. This product is painted onto the surface of a substrate which means that when the image is printed, the ink sits on top of the fabric.
These products are used by artists who want to make high quality inkjet prints of their artwork, or inkjet prints that can be incorporated into artwork.