I love, love my computer and printer for my crafts, not just for designing and printing out patterns but for printing on to lots of other stuff too including fabric.
My printer is a cheap Epson S21 inkjet that has lasted me for years and is happy with compatible inks so I can save money there. Here are some tips that I gleaned when putting fabric through it:
I love to include poetry in some of my fabric projects but I don’t really enjoy embroidery, it’s too slow, and my writing is not that pretty so I won’t use fabric pens. Looking at all the fonts I have on my computer I wanted to use some of them.
There are lots of websites that give instructions on how to print on fabric. Apparently pigment ink (expensive) is washable, top loaders are better as fabric doesn’t get stuck and mess up your printer etc. etc……I would recommend that you have a look first as I wouldn’t want to be responsible for your printer.
The way I do it with my top loader inkjet printer is:
Cotton fabric (I use plain off white bed sheets)
Carpet tape, it is nice and wide (or strong double sided tape)
A4 Printer card (I use 60gms)
Cut the fabric about 1″ smaller than an A4 sheet of paper. (I make a template from old cardboard so I can just draw around it onto the fabric, alot quicker than trying to measure each piece)
Give the fabric a good iron so that there aren’t any creases
Place carpet tape or double sided tape onto the back of the fabric, cut away any excess tape as this will stick to the rollers in your printer. Cover the whole of the fabric piece with the tape and not just round the edges, the fabric will stretch between the tape as it goes through the printer if it is not all stuck down.
Peel off the tape backing and carefully stick the fabric to printer card (60gsm), there should not be any creases or any loose ends of fabric as these may get caught in the printer rollers.
Get your pattern or picture organised on your computer and print a practice piece to make sure that it will print onto the area of your fabric.
Use the printer as you would if you were printing a normal page, don’t chnage any printing settings i.e to glossy paper etc.
When you are happy with the placement place your fabric covered card into your printer and print!!!!
Unfortunately by using the cheaper inkjet ink the fabric is not washable, but most of my projects are pincushions, wallhangings or things that wouldn’t normally be washed anyway. I have tried heat sealing the ink with a hot iron and microwave, or rinsing it in vinegar etc but the ink still seems to fade or wash out completely. But for what I want it for, this method is ideal and easy and a lot cheaper than buying the fabric sheets made for the printer.
You can buy products to help make the ink waterproof just put in your search Printing on Fabric.
I also make my own patterned fabric for small projects like appliqué or patchwork (again, that are not going to be washed), there are lots of scrapbook backing papers free on the net, print them onto plain fabric, some of them are very pretty. Sites that sell household wall paper also have swatches of the papers, copy and paste them onto your programme (I use Word for everything, so simple) resize it to fit a page and print, perhaps you could find the wallpaper that matches your room and make some decorations i.e bunting. Or use one of your photographs to include in a fabric project. There are thousands of ideas out there for using this, I could go on forever, but I think there is enough to think about on this subject already!