For all the hell my computer puts me through, I will say I try to give it back just as much. From hard shutdowns (sometimes there is but one choice), blown monitors, cracks, hacks and patches to get my old favorite programs to keep working with my newer systems. I even went through a time when I tried to cheaply refill the printer ink cartridges myself (you know the bottles of pigment with the big syringes and diagrams on where to stab! ..after the magenta hands fiasco, I haven’t a problem paying the outrageous $70 for the factory filled ones. (Motice I still feel the need to say “outrageous” though :)
Back in the day I had a top-loading printer and I could literally send everything through it without a glitch, paper bags, thick cotton rag, plastic sheets, you’d be surprised at what I tried to stuff in it. I could adjust the pull wheel for almost any thickness of material, it was a tough old beast, but after years of love & abuse it finally died (still sadly missed). I replaced it with a front loader that frustrates me beyond belief, with paper jams, errors and red flashing lights, it never occurred to me that with this style of front loading, whatever I put in would need to contort at such a sharp angle, in such a little U-turn space, it would unavoidably always be getting stuck! I actually have to pop off the back and hand feed in my thick craft stock and forget about weird shaped papers or alternative materials gliding smoothly through this whiny baby. I thought my creative printing days were over, or at least tamed down until I could justify a spanking new, everything I ever wanted super printer.
In walks printable fabric, you either already know of this magic (with a nod & a smile) or you are ..WHAT the WHAT!?! .. PRINTABLE FABRIC!?! Best of all my average home computer users (with standard “it came with it” hardware) they make some just for inkjet printers. It’s available in several different types of fabric, it’s paper backed for smooth feeding through your machine and it comes in pre-cut paper sized sheets or on larger rolls. In the past (my old printer past) I had ironed fabric onto freezer paper and sent it through the printer, the only problem was the inkjet colors weren’t permanent and would wash out, unless I bought a special liquid setting agent (bubble jet set) and pretreated my fabric with it. But this new stuff is ready to go straight out of the package, print your design, let the ink dry, peel off the paper back, rinse in water and lay out to dry or iron if you’re too antsy to let it air dry, poof it’s ready to be used! There are lots of different brands sold online and in fabric & craft stores (search or ask for “inkjet printable fabric” sheets/rolls), I have only used the cotton and the silk that come on a roll, but I am thoroughly impressed and shitty printer satisfied for the time being, YAY!
Look, I made a Alice in Wonderland Silk Cameo!
The Jist: I wanted it to be slightly luminescent, so I used hobotai silk printer fabric, which is very thin & shiny ..think coat lining and you’ll know what silk I am talking about. I printed the graphic to the scale I wanted and cut it out leaving a ½” of plain unprinted silk around the image, next I cut an oval slightly smaller than the printed image size, out of thick acid free cardboard (this became the back), I then I added a layer of thin cotton batting on top of the cardboard for a little puffy plush and stretched the printed fabric over the back pad and glued it down, making sure it was really taut and had no wrinkles or puckers on the front.
Finishing: I crocheted a freeform oval bezel, basically like a little oval dish to set the whole cameo in and it does a perfect job hiding all the gathers and glue on the back. To attach the puffy alice pad to crochet bezel I made little tiny tacking stitches in red so they would disappear in the crochet. I added a few beads just for fun. You could probably even get away with glueing this too :)
I made a cotton chalklegs rosette for my knit bag, I just covered the biggest button blank I could find.
I have also printed out linen “amanda tags” for myself that I stitch on to all the things I make. Mine are pretty minimalist but you could go all out! (Ravelry info on my shell bag here)
Oh the possibilities, you could print out a picture of your pet and make a pet pillow, or dig through the family album and find an old romantic black and white photo and use it as a ring bearer pillow at the next wedding or to make life like photo dolls, put your very own logo and images on patches & appliqués, not to mention all the custom printed fabrics you could make for quilting and crafting!
When I’m too lazy to draw, my favorite resource for copyright/royalty free graphics is the Dover Pictorial Archives, an incredible collection of imagery from the late 1800’s – mid 1900’s. They offer books and CD’s filled with high-resolution Victorian greeting cards, photographs and valentines, old advertising posters and breathtaking ornamental cuts and engravings, they even have botanical and insect etchings. You will be happily overwhelmed in a completely satisfying and affordable way. You can also find wonderful vintage images free online at the Graphics Fairy too!