September 5, 2011

Freezer Paper Transfer [Tutorial]

This is a follow up post to my new framed bulletin board. I made a custom  bulletin board to hide this giant eye sore/ fridge that was visible in my kitchen and living room.

I used freezer paper as a transfer method, it was a little more involved than I expected, so I thought it deserved a full post, to make sure I can get all the steps down right and as to not make the last post a novel!


  • Spray Adhesive
  • Freezer Paper
  • Printer- Ink Jet
  • Printer Paper
  • Elmer's Glue
  • Hairspray 
  • Spoon
So let's walk through the process of {first} making the graphic and {second} getting it onto the fabric.

For the images, I turned to The Graphic Fairy and started putting images together on Microsoft Word. I knew the elements I really wanted and it was just a matter of putting them in the right order-
I really wanted: a wreath, crown, at least two fonts, some numbers i.e. dates. 
Feel free to grab this if you want to u
Here's what I came up with.

Once you've got things the way you want them, make sure you reverse the image! For this transfer method you need the mirror image of your graphic to be printed up.
At the last minute I thought I goofed up my graphic when I realized I wrote "Grains" in English, not French! But several online French dictionaries swear the word is the same in both languages.
It had better be, because it's too late now!

I wasn't sure how to resize the image in Word, I wanted it to end up almost 2 x 3 feet.
So I copied it into an Excel doc.
With Excel it's a piece of cake to set your exact measurements. Just double click on your graphic and a box pops up for you to choose your exact measurements.You should also adjust your border measurements. This will have you use fewer transfer sheets and then make getting the images lined up easier. Too bad I forgot to do this myself!
I'd decided to use freezer paper for a transfer method. It was a perfect tool for this project because I was going to need several sheets for printing. It also works because my end product doesn't need to be washable. You can find freezer paper at Walmart for 2 bucks and it comes in a huge roll, something like 175 ft.

Freezer paper transfers can be used with ink jet printers. You can do transfers of all sizes {as long as your printer is full of ink}. Although I haven't tried all of these, they can be used to transfer on a wide variety of surfaces: wood, painted surfaces, porous and non porous fabrics. If the surface is smooth you will get a very clear transfer versus a porous surface { like fabric with a heavy weave} you will have results that look distressed. They're basically awesome!

In order to print on freezer paper, it's a good idea to cut it into sheets a day before and then lay them under a book to flatten them out. {For those of you who want less work and don't mind spending a little more money, you can actually buy freezer paper in 8x10 sheets. For me, cutting them was not a big deal.} You should cut the freezer paper  little larger than the size of your printer paper.

After the papers are flattened out, it's time to attach them to a sheets of printer paper. I used spray adhesive to attach the papery side of the freezer paper to the printer paper. When I work with spray adhesive I set up a little zone coerced in cardboard. If you ever go to Ikea they give out sheets of cardboard over by the loading zone. I believe they're supposed to protect your roof when you bring home your goodies. I always grab a few and some of their butcher paper they provide for you to wrap your breakables.

On my kitchen counter I set up a cardboard barrier, then lay out my printer paper. I spray on the glue, then lay down a layer of paper.
I put my glued pages on the butcher paper, then smooth one sheet of freezer paper on each one. Why all the hassle? Well, if you get any glue on the back of your printer paper, it won't go through the printer. The preparation will save you a lot of grief later. Trust me!

When the freezer paper s attached to the printer paper you can trim the edges. You want  the freezer paper to overlap the printer paper a little on each edge. My printer will only take up to a 8 x 10 sheet of paper, so I could only have a little overlap. If I had a choice I would've done about 1/4 inch overlap.

When you have all the pages you need, you're ready to print. You want to print on the SHINY, plastic coated side!

You need to print them one at a time.
Let's take a look at how I learned that. Major bummer, right? My printer made it to page 9 before it grabbed 4 sheets at once and started printing across all of them. Not awesome.
I was able to wash off the ink and reuse a few of the sheets, but not if I didn't have a good overlap on that side. You can use a tiny bit of water on a paper towel and wipe off the ink, but don't get any water near the edges of your paper, it will seep under the edges of the freezer paper and ruin the paper side.

When each sheet comes off the printer you need to grab it and lay it out. The ink is very wet and will easily smear. Again, I learn the hard way. Guess that's why my tutorials and always so in depth, I seem to make every mistake possible! The ink will not dry, so keep all the pages in order and don't try to stack them or touch them.

When they're all printed up you're ready to transfer them.

I started the project just like you'd tile a room, I began from the center. First measure to make sure you're even. I always make a spacer. In this case, a piece of paper I can lie next to the image I going to transfer. That way I can easily see I'm lined up and can focus on the actual transfer.

In order to transfer the image you need to lightly wet the area. Since I was transferring to cloth I used a spray bottle to wet it.  I did a test spot on some scrap burlap and used the screwed up crown print off. I am so glad I tested it out first because the ink bled pretty badly. You can see some of my first results below on the right.
So I used an old trick for writing on t-shirts, I sprayed the fabric with aerosol hair spray. I did a few trials and three light coats, allowing for drying time, seemed to do the trick. You can see my results above on the left.
So I sprayed the hair spray over my entire fabric {again- 3 light coats}.
Then used my spray bottle to dampen the fabric, in square sections. You want to work one page at a time, that way you know exactly how wet the area will be.

Mist the area, 2-3 sprays, then lay the page down.
Hold the page firmly and use a large spoon the burnish {rub} the area. You can peak to see if you've rubbed enough. But make sure you're not moving the sheet around.
{I had a couple spots where I can tell the paper must have shifted. Mostly on my first transfer.}
 In the picture down above I tried to show you all the different degrees of ink transfer, so you know exactly when you've done it right. You're looking for the paper to look light grey, with all the fresh black ink rubbed off onto your surface.

When most the ink is rubbed off you take a warm iron and apply it to the back of the paper for 10-20 seconds. At first I thought this made the transfer darker. But then later I moved the freezer paper before I remembered to iron on top of it { twice } I cannot say I saw a difference in those areas. So it's up to you whether you want to do it or not. It's possible you're supposed to do it because it sets in the ink or something, but who knows?

That's all there is to it. Just line up the pages, making sure the edges match up and everything is straight. It takes 24 hours to cure, so don't mess up all your hard work!

That's all I can think of {like that wasn't enough!} I know it sounded like a lot, but that's only because I'd rather give you all the information so that you can do it right the first time and save yourselves some hassle.

If you wanna see how the rest of the  framed bulletin board project came together, just click here! Good luck with your projects!
Looking for places to link up your projects? Check out my Party Page!
I'm also linked up here.