I LOVE talking about blocks, studying blocks, and playing with them in Photoshop... I am always on a quest for great blocks and trying to figure out what makes them so great ... So I started this companion blog that will be devoted to this quest. But also check out my regular blog at http://olderrose.blogspot.com

Friday, August 12, 2011

Printing Images.....Answers and Important Tips!!!

2 part question from follower Sandi:  "May I ask what kind of fabric you use to print on? "

Well as to fabric ...this question comes up often on CQI list and there are almost as many preferences as there are members... Since I was struggling with this myself until recently I can only tell you what I prefer myself...  I knew I didn't like silk  ... the images were washed out and it had little body and in general difficult for me to deal with.. I had trouble with the brands for available   at fabric stores as they were jamming up my printer or misprinting altogether.  I tried lots of different products and techniques and have settled on what is pictured at the left.  Some stitchers do not like poplin but I LOVE it and now I back it besides with the wonderful Fusible Knit Tricot recommended by Allie.

I have never had any "silkies" to work with and now will be buying a new printer to print some of my own images.  I need to buy the most reasonably priced printer that will do a good job.  I've read a little online, but kind of lost...do I need an inkjet or laser?   Thank you so much for your help, Sandi W.

I'd go for an inkjet as they are cheaper and even the cheapest printers are great now... I would recommend one with a scanner as it would be useful.  The higher price for most models are for all the extra bells and whistles..which you probably don't need..  As for brands I've always had HP with no problems... You can get a better print by checking the options or preferences feature on your printer... Choose the best or most dpi (dots per inch) for the most ink put down..

The most important things you can do are BEFORE you send the picture to the printer. 

Almost all software that comes with digital cameras have good editing options.  And there are some likely already on your computer...  Microsoft Office software has an excellent one called Microsoft Office Picture Manager and I know I sound like a broken record but unless you have photoshop or something equivalent you should absolutely download Google's Picasa...  It is FREE and has superb photo editing features which are so very easy to use by even the most inexperienced users.

Whatever you are using look for the terms like Color Editing, Color Adjustment or Color Enhancement.  It will vary with programs.  At the left is the Color box from Microsoft Office Photo Manager.  When you find that catagory the key thing you want to look for is the term "saturation"  There is usually a little bar and an arrow you can slide either way.. see bottom of photo on left.

When you increase the saturation  it intensifies the color already in the picture. Usually when you print you lose some of the color in the original and your printed version looks washed out...  By increasing the saturation before you print you get a much stronger image with very good color even though the saturated view on your screen looks rather powerful..  On the left is the original photo in my file... I kept moving the arrow on the saturation scale until it is as high as it will go and that is on the far right..  Allowing for inevitable color drop in printing process the final print from saturated photo will equal or be better than original..

As an aside if you move the satuation arrow to the left you can change a color photo to black and white.  This is often preferred if you are looking for a vintage look..

The second most important thing you can do for a better print is look for the option that allows you to sharpen your image... It will usually just says "Sharpen."  Not all programs have this option but Google's Picasa does and I use it on ALL my images for print.. This does indeed sharpen all edges in the photo and gives a much clearer print. Like losing color when you print you also lose detail... This takes care of that aspect.  Below it is not quickly apparent the difference sharpening makes  but look at the detail on the flowers and in the nest and on the wing and you can see it.  This is a subtle difference but  is the finishing touch for a superb print..  Try it.


  1. Thank you THANK YOU for this great information. I am slowly delving into printing my photos on fabric and appreciate your experienced suggestions.

  2. Gerry,

    Thank you for taking the time to give us all some excellent advice. I will be sure to read and reread. I can't wait to try it. The difference in the sharpness in your two pictures is very apparent.

  3. I have often wondered why the images I have printed, on fabric, have a washed out look. I thought it was the ink jet printer. I have had excellent luck ironing a high thread count sheet fabric, to a piece of freezer paper. I cut the fused fabric/paper to an 8 1/2"
    x 11" size and stick a strip of transparent tape all along the top edge. This seals that edge and stops the fabric from lifting and jamming as it runs through the printer.
    Thanks again for sharing your knowledge with us!

  4. I have been looking for this info for a long, long time. Many THANKS!!!

  5. Thanks for sharing, Gerry. Printing to fabric presents challenges for a lot of people and what you have shared is very helpful.

  6. Very helpful. thanks so much. Jane in MO

  7. Gerry, If you (or anyone else for that matter) are buying a printer just to print silkies, the cheapest printer isn't always the way to go. Be sure to check the price of the replacement ink cartridges as this is where they make their money off of you. I'd choose a printer with the cheapest replacement ink cartridges! (-; I believe the printer has to be an ink jet - right?