* printed fabric vs iron on

Posted on August 30th, 2009 by maitreya. Filed under Experiments, Toys (cat and kid).

For anyone else thinking of making print-out dolls like the ones in Parasol craft or my last post, I thought I’d post a little comparison of Bubble-jet-set vs iron on. I made two dolls using the exact same pattern and fabrics, but the left one was printed directly on bubble-jet-set-treated fabric, and the one on the right was ironed on to the fabric.  For both, the backing fabric was a patterned cotton (the instructions come with a printable backing pattern that matches the dresses, but I didn’t have enough iron ons or treated fabric to use it).


Bubble Jet set iron-on
finish matte shiny
feel soft plasticy
ease of sewing easy slightly tricky (especially by hand)
color washed out saturated
stuffing more uniformly plump seems lumpier
seam allowances be more generous stronger and narrower, but stiffer
technical difficulties printer might jam easy to iron on unevenly

I think the slight advantage goes to the iron ons for this project. I kind of like the plastic finish; they seem like vinyl toys or something. The color saturation is also really obviously superior for the iron-on.

I think it’s a toss up which one will stand up better to real life child use. The iron on will eventually crack, no doubt, but I don’t know if the bubble-jet-set will fade or bleed over time.

I would be willing to bet that digitally printed fabric wins hands down, though, (for doll patterns you designed yourself, anyway).  True Up has a great comparison of the quality of the different services available

10 Responses to “printed fabric vs iron on”

  1. futuregirl Says:

    Good work, Doll Maker, Phd! :)

  2. Sarah - craftyFOLK Says:

    really helpful, thank you!

  3. Get the low-down on printable fabric vs. iron on transfer · Sewing @ CraftGossip Says:

    […] Bubble Jet set and iron-on transfers are two common ways of printing your own fabric at home.  But which one is best?  It turns out that it depends on your project.  Maitreya from craftlog.org gives a side-by-side comparison of the strengths and weaknesses of each method.  Check it out! […]

  4. Anne Weaver Says:

    Great information!! I posted a link to your article on Craft Gossip Sewing:



  5. yasmine Says:

    ohhhh! this is helpful!

    yeah. bubble jet set has always been iffy for me.

    the iron ons come out a bit more waxy and saturated–if you like that look.

    spoonflower and karmakraft are good options if you want to print out multiples, and retain the fabric softness. but cost-wise, iron ons are alright.

    thanks for your review! can i share on my blog?


  6. maitreya Says:

    Thanks! Feel free to share whatever you like! craftlog is all creative commons all the time. :)

  7. Kuky Says:

    There’s an inkjet transfer paper on Dharma Trading that is supposed to feel soft not plasticy. I’ve never tried it though.

  8. yasmine Says:

    kuky: i actually tried the dharma trading one. while it is nice and stretchy, the saturation isn’t as great. that and the expiration on usage is shorter that the ones on office supply shelves (usually avery). BUT the dharma ones are great for tshirts and other soft materials and it’s not shiny.

  9. LeeAnn Says:

    I have always wondered the difference between these two materials/methods! Thanks!


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