Home tutorial How to print children’s drawings on to fabric

How to print children’s drawings on to fabric

by Clare Mansell
How to print children’s drawings on to fabric

Earlier this year I shared a quilt I had made using children’s artwork printed directly on to cotton (no transfer) I’ve had a few questions about the construction of the quilt and how the printing process works, so I thought I’d tell you a bit more about the project in this post.

childrens art printed on to cotton poplin

The original idea for this quilt is not mine, but actually goes back to this blog post I read whilst living in Canada nearly six years ago. The first stage of creating the quilt involved getting the  class teacher to oversee the creation of nineteen pieces of artwork. I wanted the finished blocks to be 5 inches square so after factoring in the seam allowance I would need, I asked her to get the drawings on squares that were 5.5 x 5.5 inches – This was an error!

I hadn’t thought that the kids would colour to the edge and draw beautiful borders, I should have added the seam allowances afterwards. Fortunately this was not a problem, after I scanned the pictures in to my computer I used Photoshop to resize them to 5 inches which was a quick and easy process. (If you don’t have Photoshop other free photo editing software will do the same job)


The next task involved placing the resized drawings on to an A4 template in Photoshop (though you could also use Microsoft Word). I stacked them vertically with two to a page. Then I did a test print on a piece of normal paper to ensure I had enough of a gap between each one for my quarter inch seam allowance. To do this I got a ruler out and measured round the edge of the artwork on my sample print to check there was enough space.

Once I’d adjusted the margins I was ready to print straight on to the Blumenthal Craft’s printable cotton poplin. Unlike printable transfers, using this process you print directly on to cotton which has a waxed backing sheet which keeps it rigid. The result is proper printed cotton and it doesn’t crack or flake after washing like a transfer.


I used a roll and a pack of sheets as the roll is more economical but not quite long enough for this job. With the roll I cut nine 11 inch long ‘pages’ from the 100 inch roll and printed two drawings on each. This made the sheets the equivalent size of US/Canadian A4 paper which is slightly smaller than European A4.

After printing you need to let the ink completely dry on the sheets for about half an hour. Then you remove the backing and wash the sheets under running cold water. I found there was very little run off of colour so the washing process was quite quick.

Cotton poplin creases easily so you have to resist the temptation to wring the sheets out too much. I draped mine over a radiator and put an old towel underneath it to catch any coloured drips. When the sheets were dry it was time to start the quilt.


I trimmed all the blocks down exactly as you would with a normal sheet of cotton and then sewed on 2.5 inch borders made with Kona solids. The sashing between the blocks was made from 3.5 inch strips of Kona Snow and the off cuts of the Kona solids formed the border around the edge of the quilt.


I’m delighted with the result and will definitely be using the Cotton Poplin again. The official washing instructions tell you to hand wash or dry clean, but I have checked with the blogger who made the original quilt seven years ago and she says she has machine washed and tumble dried her quilt and that the blocks have only faded “a bit” so I don’t think the occasional cool machine wash and line dry will be fatal.


Any questions about the printing process or the quilt construction please leave them in the comments…

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Fiona sadler April 27, 2016 - 1:56 pm

I’m just in the process of creating a quilt for a pre school class. I had them draw directly onto fabric using fabric pens. I ironed freezer paper onto the back of each piece of fabric for stability and just needed to iron each piece to set the ink.
The children loved ‘making a quilt’.
Your Love your creation, it really is beautiful.

Fionnuala May 9, 2016 - 9:16 am

I have high hopes for making quilts but just don’t have the patience any more. The last one I made was in 2007 as a wedding present. I’d love to get back to it.
I really like the idea of printing drawings onto cotton. Waht a great was to save them forever.


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