Cats Who Quilt -- Where Quilters and Cats Meet on the Web
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Needlecrafter's Computer Companion
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Return to Cats Who Quilt
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Shop Cats Who Quilt
Buy the book "Cats Who Quilt." Buy your cat the "Certificate of Membership in the League of Cat Quilters." Make your cat very happy. Buy other stuff too, like some of the other cat quilt pattern books featured on this Web site.

Stories About Special Cats Who Quilt
Read stories about special cats who quilt, submitted by visitors to this Web site. Submit your own story about your quilting cat.

Sewing Room Safety Tips for Cats--And Dogs
Please read these all-important sewing room safety tips for pets!

Free Cat Quilt Patterns to Download
Free Cat Quilt Patterns to Download

World's Biggest Cat Quilt Pattern Database
World's Biggest Cat Quilt Pattern Database. Find cat quilting patterns in this "shareware" directory of cat patterns around the world.

Excerpts from 'Cats Who Quilt'
Read excerpts from the book 'Cats Who Quilt'

More Excerpts from 'Cats Who Quilt'
Read more excerpts from the book 'Cats Who Quilt'

Table of Contents
Read the Table of Contents of 'Cats Who Quilt'

Certificate of Membership in League of Cats Quilters'
Read about the Certificate which comes in the book, or can be purchased separately.

History of Cats Who Quilt
History of the Web site, and the book's rocky road into print.

Judy's Page
You can read about me and find out why I do these crazy things.

Unfinished Objects Prayer
Proof that all our needlework projects come from a higher source.

Men of Quilting
Is there a special guy in your life who helps run your quilting Web site, who drives you to fabric stores, who humors you with "Honey, but that quilt looks lovely!" when you're too embarrassed to pull it out of the closet? Honor your special guy here in our special feature Quilt Guy of the Month!

Help for Handicapped Stitchers
Looking for information on how to use a sewing machine with a blow stick or help for quilting if your eyesight is failing? Here's some help.

Cats from Outer Space FAQ
Is your cat from outer space or has she simply been abducted by aliens? Find out here.

How to Print Photos and Other Art on Fabric for Memory Quilts and Other Projects

This is Copyright 2002 Judy Heim. You may link to this Web page, but please, please don't distribute this material in e-mail messages or post it on your Web site or in your quilting guild newsletter without my permission. I don't make a lot of money as a writer, I'm only a scribbler because I'm seriously handicapped and can't make my living in any other fashion. I eek out a living as best as I can. I don't mind sharing what I write with other people, and in fact enjoy it very much. But when I find things that I've written on other people's Web sites without my name and used without my permission, it's hurtful and it's frustrating. In the past year I've found entire chapters of books that I've written posted on other people's Web sites without my name or my permission. I've also found essays that I've written circulating anonymously on mailing lists and in newsgroups. Please respect what other people write. I'm happy to share, but I ask only that my work be respected. If you'd like to republish this material, I ask only that you drop me a note requesting permission.

I frequently hear from quilters who e-mail me that they've printed a bunch of family photos on cotton quilt squares and--help!--they want to know how to make the photos permanent, in other words, how to set the ink so that it won't bleed off the fabric in the wash.

I hate to break the bad news gals but once you print photos on fabric, there's no way to make it permanent. You need to specially treat the fabric before you print photos on it. Or else you need to buy special fabric sheets that you can print in your inkjet.

Quilters Love Bubble Jet Set

Bubble Jet Set is a dye fixitive that works with most inkjet and bubble jet printers. You soak your fabric in Bubble Jet Set, which comes in a big bottle. You let it sit for five minutes, then you iron the fabric onto freezer paper. You then proceed to cut the freezer paper-backed fabric into letter-sized sheets. These you feed through your inkjet printer just like you would ordinary paper or T-shirt transfers. You would use the "fabric" or "T-shirt transfer" setting, or whatever printer setting will print with the most ink. After you print the fabric, you let it sit for about 30 minutes to dry. (Some versions of Bubble Jet require that the fabric dry for 24 hours.) You then probably want to wash the fabric in the wash machine. There are complete directions on the bottle.

You can use Bubble Jet Set with 100 percent cotton or silk. There is a controversy raging among quilters as to whether you should pre-wash fabric before you soak it in Bubble Jet Set. Some say that you should, some say you shouldn't. Experimentation will show you the right road with your particular fabric and printer. (I vote "pre-wash" simply because I don't like the thought of sewing something that will shrink.)

Memory quilt printed with photos
The photo or other art that you print on fabric will not end up looking as dark as it does on the computer screen. How much lighter it will print on the fabric will depend upon many things, including the fabric, your printer, and how much ink that your printer puts on the fabric when it prints. The heavier the fabric that you use the better. (Some quilters actually prefer particular brands of muslin to print photos on. To read their recommendations, and all the discussion pertaining to this topic, simply type "bubble jet set" into any searcher like Google at There's even a mailing list discussion group devoted to the product.)

C. Jenkins Neckties & Chemicals (don't you love that name?) also sells a product they call Stiff & Fix which will stiffen the fabric significantly at the same time that it fixes the ink so that you can make things like memory book pages out of fabric. Both products sell for about $10 a bottle.

C. Jenkins Neckties & Chemicals
39 S. Schlueter Avenue
Dellwood, Missouri 63135

How to Back Your Fabric with Freezer Paper to Feed It through Your Printer

"Good heavens!" I can almost hear my mother gasp. She believes in treating all household appliances, computers included, as if they are doddering invalids. (For instance, vegetables may only go through the garbage disposal if they are pureed.) But feeding freezer paper-backed fabric through your printer should not inspire cries of fear. Stitchers have been doing it for years. Decades probably.

Will these fabric sheets harm the printer? Of course not. In fact, some printers offer a "fabric sheet" setting. You'll find it in your printer's software (which often pops up when you print something).

When I plan to print fabric in my inkjet I start by thinking big. I unroll a roll of high-quality plastic-coated freezer paper like Reynolds (cheap stuff might not adhere well to the fabric, nor will it feed through the printer properly).

I also unroll a lot of fabric--the best fabric to print on is 100 percent cotten with a high thread count (200). Some quilters prefer particular brands of muslin for this. You can find them on the Internet and they will be glad to share their opinions with you.


I iron as much freezer paper onto as much fabric as I can stand. Then, when I'm done, I iron it again, both front and back.

Now, using a ruler as a guide, mark and cut sheets a little longer than legal-sized from the paper-backed fabric. You might experience trouble getting the fabric to feed through the printer, initially. Or, your printer may print the image nearer to the top of the sheet than you had planned. It's always good to have a few extra inches of fabric on which to print.

Cut lots of paper-backed fabric sheets. Mistakes happen. It's always good to have extra sheets on hand.

Quilters Also Love Those Fabric Sheets That You Can Print in Your Inkjet Printer

Several companies manufacture specially treated fabric that you can print in your inkjet printer just like you would a sheet of paper. The fabric is backed with film or paper that you peel off. Some of these products come with a package of dye fixitiv that you soak the fabric in after you print it.

You can find these fabric sheets in quilting catalogs such as Keepsake Quilting.

These products are great. They’re easy to use and, depending upon the product and your brand of printer, they let you print photos on fabric in a way that’s easy and sometimes remarkably permanent. But there are some things that you need to keep in mind before you buy them:

The fabric is sometimes stiff, tightly woven, and often treated in such a way that it can be difficult (or impossible) to embroider on. Not always, but sometimes it is.

You need to follow the directions carefully. For example, the fabric sheets manufactured by Canon will bleed if you get a drop of water on them after you print them--and before you plunge them into the dye fixitive bath. You need to be careful not to drip anything on the fabric prior to setting the ink.

Images printed on these fabric sheets often end up looking paler than they appear on your computer screen. You need to boost the brightness and contrast of your art before printing it on fabric. Still, you may be unable to attain on the fabric the same level of color saturation you see on your computer screen.

You should test the permancy of the image that you’ve printed on the fabric before you stitch it into a project. Do a test print and wash it in the wash machine with Orvus quilt soap or other gentle soap.

Be Careful! There are a few rogue fabric sheet products on the market that do not create fabric prints that will be permanent in the wash. Be sure to read the label's claims of how permanent your prints will be, and be sure to test the fabric sheets you print by dunking them in water or running them through the wash before you sew them into a quilt.

Here Are the Fabric Sheets that I've Tried and Which I Recommend

June Tailor Colorfast Printer Fabric Sheets
P.O Box 208
2861 Highway 175
Richfield, WI 53076

Be sure to order the "Colorfast and Washable" version (as opposed to the dryclean-only sheets which are, well, dryclean only). The sheets are available in white and creme muslin. You get 3 letter-sized sheets in a pack for about $13. One more note. After I printed some of these sheets in a Lexmark, then washed them, they ended up with blue streaks. I strongly suggest washing the sheets after you print them, to make sure that the color has set into the fabric correctly.

Canon Fabric Sheets
You can also find them at PC Connection (

These sheets are great, but they can be hard to find. Rumors keep circulating that Canon is going to discontinue them, but they keep selling them. They're wonderful, definitely my favorite way to print on fabric. The fabric is specially treated for printing in specific models of Canon inkjet printers, but they'll work with other printers, though there are no guarantees to the permanency of the images printed on them. The sheets come in legal-sized sheets for about $34 for 10.

Once you print on the fabric you peel off the film backing and plunge the fabric into a dye fixitive bath that appears to consist at least partially of soda ash, although Canon won't reveal what exact chemicals are used in their product.

Be Careful! Don't Confuse Computer Printer Fabric Sheets With Photocopier Sheets

Tip! Put a new ink cartridge in your printer before you print on fabric because as cartridges run out of ink they often run out of a particular color first. Your painstakingly printed fabric may end up tinged with a peculiar color such as blue when another ink color starts to run dry.

Tip! When you size your photo or other art in your graphics software, leave a little extra room around the image so that your printer won't be printing on--and fraying the edge of the fabric.

What About Using Those "T-Shirt Transfer Papers" Sold in Craft Stores?

You've probably spotted them at stores like JoAnn's and you may have even tried them out with the kids. T-shirt transfer paper is specially coated paper that you print in your inkjet printer. Once printed, you iron the art or photo to a T-shirt or other article of clothing. T-shirt transfer papers are a fast way to get a photo onto a piece of fabric, and they're fun and easy to use. They also pretty cheap at about $1 a sheet.

You can use them to make memory quilts, so long as you don't plan to poke a needle through the printed image, since the image will be thick, plasticized, and even a bit gooey to try to sew through. Other drawbacks include:

Some crafters report that their household irons are not hot enough to transfer these T-shirt transfers to fabric. They resort to using heat presses at T-shirt printing shops to do the job. A practical alternative is to head to a garage sale or church consignment shop and get one of those massive chrome irons from the ‘50s. They’ll give you enough heat (and pressure) to get a good transfer. As you can tell, I love those big old irons.

The final fabric images are sensitive to heat. They’ll flake in the dryer. You need to keep them far from hot irons. If you plan to embroidery in the vacinity of the transferred image (embroidery often thriving on ironing) T-shirt transfer sheets may be impractical.

I don’t think the final transfers look as good as the T-shirt transfers you get in craft stores like the Daisy Kingdom ones.

Be Careful! Be Skeptical of Recipes You Read on the Internet for Making Computer Printer Ink Permanent Recipes for making permanent fabric printed in inkjet and laser printers abound on the Web. . Some of these recipes work, some don't. A common method you read about on the Web is to spray inkjet-printed fabric with Krylon Fixitif (like you would a pastel drawing). But that only works if you print the fabric in a laser printer (read on). When Gloria Hansen and I wrote “The Quilter’s Computer Companion” years ago, we spent about a thousand dollars testing these recipes and pestering ink labs and printer makers to ask them how to make their ink permanent. We formulated our own recipe, and we thought it was pretty good, but Bubble Jet Set, recommended earlier in this chapter is much better.

How to Make Laser Printer Ink Permanent (Sort of)

You can give some permanency to freezer-paper backed fabric sheets that you’ve printed in a laser printer by spraying them with Krylon Workable Fixitif #1306. Once you print the fabric, don’t peel the freezer paper off. Instead spray the image with a heavy coat of Krylon--being careful not to spray so much that the image on the fabric will bleed. Spray outdoors so you don’t breath that noxious stuff. Once the fabric sheet dries, spray it with another two or three coats. Let the fabric dry thoroughly between coats.

This fixitive, which artists use to spray a plastic-like coating over pastel and charcoal drawings, smells awful. And your fabric will smell awful. That's one of the drawbacks of this trick. Another drawback is that since you're essentially spraying your fabric with a plastic-like coating, the image will be more fragile than it would be if it were actually ink-stamped onto the fabric. And that image will degrade or disappear if you smack a hot iron on it or run it through the dryer. So think twice before using laser printed/fixitive-sprayed fabric in your quilts or other sewing projects.

Why the Picture That You Print on Your Fabric May Not Look Like the One on Your Computer Screen

Your printer and your computer screen see the world through different eyes. What may look like a cool blue on your computer monitor may print as acid green. You can print tests and tweak colors in your graphics software, and the whole thing may try your patience. Rest assured that the chasm between screen colors and printer colors often tests the temperment of graphic artists as well.

Photo by Joni Prittie

Quilty Line Break

Cats Who Quilt is a trademark of Fruitful Plains. Text on this Web site Copyright 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 Judy Heim. May not be reproduced in any form--in either e-mail messages or on Web sites without written permission. All illustrations are copyright 2000, 2001, and 2002 Irina Borisova. They may not be reproduced without permission. Photos and quilts are copyrighted by their respective artists, and may not be reproduced without their permission.