Monday 5 September 2011

Citrasolv Fabric Transfers or Who Thinks This Stuff Up?

When my brother was taking an anthropology course in university and I was writing typing his essay, he described a tribe native to California who had a diet revolving around acorns.  They took the inedible nuts and  did some labour intensive and time consuming process of burying them in the sand and building a fire on top to roast them. After about fifty more steps, they could make them into flour (or some such thing) and cook with them. 

I was thinking, "Who the heck sat around thinking that up?  Was he/she an oddball food inventor in the tribe?  Wouldn't it be easier to think up a boat and get protein from the vast Pacific Ocean?  Or, why not move to some place that had walnuts?".  I can feel the anthropology majors cringe as they read this!  Anyway, someone figured it out.  

My introduction to transferring images from paper to fabric strikes me the same way.  Someone figured out you could use a natural cleaning product, Citrasolv, and a toner based, laser printer to get an image to transfer from paper to fabric and it would be washable!  I think that person was very odd!  I love that odd person!  

After seeing the tutorial on Ticking & Toile, my sister and I downloaded this image of seahorses from The Graphics Fairy to use on the chaise lounge cushion.

Wild with excitement from that success we were full of ideas!  

Here's the process ~

I chose an image, sent it to my desktop, flipped the image to invert the text and printed it on my laser printer.  If you don't have laser, office supply places will do a copy for you.  This will not work on an inkjet printer.

We used a table protector pad to provide a surface with a little give.  Since this was a pre-made pillowcase,   it was necessary to insert something between the two layers to avoid bleed through.  An old file folder worked perfectly.  

The image was taped, ink side down on the pillowcase.  You don't want it to move or your transfer will be smudged.

The Citrasolv was applied with a paintbrush.  You want to be sure you get good coverage but don't overly soak it.

Let it sit for three to four minutes.  No peeking!

Start rubbing with a spoon.  This takes a fair bit of pressure and the edge of the spoon's bowl seemed to work best.  Be careful not to tear the paper.  This step took about four minutes.  You will know the image is transferred when the black fades to grey.

Carefully, peel back a corner of the paper and check the transfer.  If it is dark enough to suit you, peel back the paper and discard.

Let the fabric dry for a few minutes.  Iron the transferred image to set it.  Do not use the steam setting on your iron.

~Ta Da~

Images are most clear on a tightly woven fabric like cotton or muslin.  The vintage linen napkin below was a slightly looser weave and the image is a little greyer.  I love it, anyway and think I'll do a whole set with antique chair designs.  What an easy way to do monograms!

I'm off to do a table runner, placemats, hand towels, tea towels and anything else I can dream up!!!

PS - To answer the question of how long you iron - 2 or 3 passes (no steam) will set the image.
     - To answer the question of how well it washes - I've washed pillow cases three times and they are fine.
     - To answer the question of what is Citrosolv - It's a natural cleaner found at health food stores or online


  1. That was an awesome tutorial Maureen! You make it look sooo easy! I can't wait to try it out! Thanks!

  2. It is easy! That's my first tutorial, so I'd love to know if the instructions are clear enough for you to follow.

  3. Now I need to find out what Citrasolv is. :-) This looks very fun for my art applications.

  4. Hi Maureen, I haven't been able to find Citrasolv in Canada. Where did you buy it?

  5. Wow, we have citrus cleaners but not the citrisolve although I'm guessing its the same thing, I only have a inkjet printer but I could get Julian to print at work on a laser printer. This looks like so much fun!

  6. Its surprising the oil doesn't stain..brilliant !

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  9. Hi Maureen,

    I love the projects you've done!! Unfortunately I have followed the above instructions to a T and I can't even get a smudge of ink to transfer onto my fabric. Your thoughts? What type of printer (model) do you have?


  10. Or is there a certain type of paper you use to print the image on?

  11. Next question - color laser???