I’ve been doing some printing on fabric off and on lately, using EQ Printables Premium Cotton Satin Inkjet Fabric Sheets. I picked up a 6 sheet package at Quilt Market in Houston in 2008 so that I could try it out. The results with the EQ Printables are okay, but I haven’t been ecstatically happy with them, so when I was ordering from SoftExpressions.com recently, I decided to order a package of Jacquard Cotton Ink Jet Printing Sheets to see if it was any better.
I actually wasn’t planning on doing any sort of really scientific side-by-side comparison when I ordered the Jacquard, but after I printed an image on the EQ Printables and was pretty unhappy with the way the ink ran and spread during the rinsing phase, I decided to print the same image on the Jacquard to test it out. And okay, it’s still not a terribly thorough analysis since it’s not like I’m going to burn through three or four more sheets to test different kinds of images on each of these brands, but I think the results are worth sharing anyway.
- The fabric grain is straight on the sheets, so if you’re transferring an image with straight edges, you won’t have problems.
- Backing paper is similar to freezer paper; thick enough to be stable, but not so thick that it hangs up in the printer.
- Color is a nice bright white.
- Fabric quality and thread count seem appropriate and perform well.
- Color bleeding is very minimal.
- Recommended drying time of 24 hours between printing and rinsing is way too long to wait to move ahead with a project.
- I like the thread count. It’s a really high 238 thread count on the Cotton Satin variety of the EQ Printables and the fabric is really smooth.
- Drying time between printing and rinsing is a mere 15 minutes, so you can get on with your project quickly.
- Horribly off grain. If you print something—like a photo—that you expect to have straight and square edges when finished, it won’t because the fabric is and stuck to the backing plastic off-grain, so when the fabric is removed and washed, the image will be visibly crooked when the grain straightens itself out. This might not matter for some images of course, but it’s still annoying.
- Backing paper is plastic. It’s nice and stable, but really, plastic? Why? That’s not very green or earth friendly is it?
- Color is rather yellowed looking, not a very bright white.
- Reds, pinks, and purples bleed excessively when rinsed.
- Cost, cost, cost. Expensive, comparatively speaking.
Both of the printable fabrics traveled through the printer easily and produced clear, crisp images. I’m working with fonts and very thin lines for this project, not photos, but I think this is actually a great test of these two products. The bottom line for me on this is that the red ink ran noticeably on the EQ Printables, leaving the fabric pink in the areas around the red numbers. The red ink bled only slightly on the Jacquard (I think a bit of bleeding is unavoidable with certain colors of ink), but after drying it isn’t noticeable at all.
You can see this in this side-by-side shot of both printed products, with the EQ Printables on the left and the Jacquard on the right. Both of the products have been printed with the same amount of ink, dried for the same amount of time, rinsed the same, pressed dry with an iron and backed with fusible web.
For my money, Jacquard Cotton Ink Jet Printing Sheets win hands down, considering bleeding issues and the fact that the cost is less than half (!) what the EQ Printables are per sheet. I’d even put up with the fabric being off grain just to have the ink stay where it’s supposed to, but thankfully I don’t have to because the Jacquard fabric doesn’t have the grain problem. The thread count is a non-issue, as the obviously lower thread count on the Jacquard brand doesn’t seem to affect the print quality even on the very thin (1 pixel) lines around the numbers. I like the fact that the Jacquard fabric is delivered on paper backing as opposed to plastic. Cheaper, less bleeding of ink and friendlier to the environment? Now THAT’s what I’m talking about! 🙂
What brands of ink jet printable fabric sheets have you tried? Why do you like or dislike them?