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How to Print on Fabric at Home: Top Methods Explained

by Winnie Li Posted on November 16, 2023

There is a creative genius in everyone — and one way of finding your creative expressions is by printing your fabric at home.

Home fabric printing is becoming increasingly popular by the day. One contributing factor to this popularity is the affordability of modern printing technology. Aside from that, there's a plethora of printable fabrics. Nowadays, anyone with the right tools can print on fabric at home. 

Printing your fabrics at home helps in personalizing your favorite belongings. It's a sure way of imprinting your unique style and personality on your things. Aside from the personalization that comes with printing your fabrics at home, home fabric printing saves you money!

Custom-printed fabrics are somewhat expensive. However, everything you need to print your fabric at home is affordable — and opting for home fabric printing helps you redirect the extra cash into something else.

Speaking of extra cash, home fabric printing could be a means to earn some cash. Yes, fabric printing could be that side hustle or business you've been looking for. In this guide, you will discover the different methods of fabric printing.

Hint: No advanced technical skill is needed! All you need are some affordable tools and the xTool Screen Printer.

xtool screen printer for fabric printing

The different methods of fabric printing are:

  • Screen Printing on Fabric
  • Digital Heat Transfer
  • Block Printing on Fabric
  • Digital Printing on Fabric

In This Article

  • Screen Printing on Fabric
  • Digital Heat Transfer Fabric Printing
  • Block Printing on Fabric
  • Digital Printing on Fabric
  • FAQs of Printing Fabric at Home
  • Conclusion

Screen Printing on Fabric

If you're like most people, the traditional screen printing process is what comes to mind. The traditional screen printing process takes time. It's quite lengthy — and it takes a couple of days to print your own fabric at home.

Materials and Tools Needed for Screen Printing on Fabric

Traditional screen printing requires a wide range of tools like:

  • A printer
  • A frame and screen
  • A squeegee
  • An emulsion
  • A scoop coater
  • An exposure unit
  • Inks.

You will also need a controlled space for washing and drying. It's quite cumbersome, and not the best fit for DIYers who may be working with limited space and tools.

However, screen printing has evolved over the years — and you don't need to go through the cumbersome, complex traditional screen printing process.

DIYers (or small business owners) who are looking for how to perform a sleek, quick screen printing should opt for the modern method.

Modern screen printing methods require just two tools — the xTool Screen Printer and a laser engraver, such as xTool D1 Pro. And all these tools can be gotten for under 1,000 dollars. Whether you're a DIYer or a small business owner, you can start printing your fabric without breaking the bank.

The laser engraving process has made screen printing easy. You can dive right into the screen printing process and get your desired product in a few hours. The xTool Screen Printer is six times faster than the regular traditional process — and the entire process can be completed within three hours!

process comparison between traditional screen printer and xtool screen printer

Precision and versatility are the two words that define the xTool Screen Printer. Unlike traditional methods that struggle to maintain the patterns of the original design version, xtool doesn't have any of these issues. The original design will be replicated during the screen printing.

laser engraved stencil with xTool screen printer
screen printed t shirts

Furthermore, the axial adjustments of the xTool can accommodate multiple stencil changes, and that makes it easy for the tool to handle multi-color printing.

How to Screen Print on Fabric?

For the traditional screen printing process, you will need to prepare your design. The design preparation is typically done with graphic design software. After that, you will have to convert it to a format that's suitable for the film creation.

Film creation involves the creation of a positive (or negative) image of your design. To do that, the film is exposed to light, and areas on the screen where ink should not pass through are blocked off. Other steps during the traditional screen printing process are:

Step 1: Screen Stretching

It involves stretching a mesh screen in a frame. This helps in the absorption of ink by the mesh screen. The mesh screen is typically made of polyester or silk.

Step 2: Emulsion Coating

Using an emulsion scoop coater, the screen is coated with a photosensitive emulsion. The design stencil is created from the emulsion. If done properly, you will have an even layer of photosensitive emulsion spread across the mesh.

emulsion coating

©ILiketoMakeStuff – YouTube

Step 3: Film Printing

Your preferred design should be printed onto a transparent film. Using a transparent tape, attach the transparent film to your emulsion-coated screen.

film printing

Step 4: Screen Exposure

The emulsion-coated screen is exposed to an ultraviolet light source. Emulsion not covered by the design is hardened by the light. Screen exposure is the magic ingredient that helps in developing the stencil.

screen exposure

Step 5: Screen Washing

The unhardened emulsion is washed off with water (or a developer solution). This leaves a stencil on your screen — and it also serves as the route the ink passes to create the print.

wash off unhardened emulsion

Step 6: Screen Drying

After washing, the screen is thoroughly dried to ascertain that the screen is set for ink application. A thoroughly dried screen is one of the key factors that guarantee a clean print.

Step 7: Printing

Your fabric should be placed on a printing table, and your printing screen should be carefully positioned above it. Using a squeegee (or a scoop coater), apply some ink on top of your screen. The printing screen is carefully lowered so it makes contact with the fabric. The ink is forced onto the fabric through the open regions of your stencil. The pushing (or pulling) movement of the scoop coater (or squeegee) is what exerts the force needed for the printing process.

spread ink with the squeegee

Pros and Cons of Traditional Screen Printing


  • It's versatile and can be used for printing on a broad range of fabrics
  • The end product is durable and resistant to washing and wearing
  • Bold, high-quality prints are produced
  • Good fit for bulk printing production.


Setting up the traditional screen printing process can be time-consuming. You will need more time when working on multiple colors or complex designs. The xTool Screen Printer eliminates all these issues. You're ready to go in a few seconds. Whether you would be working with simple or complex designs, the setup is pretty much the same — and you can get everything up and running in a few seconds.

Traditional screen printing is labor-intensive. You will need to exert a considerable amount of energy every step of the way. But that's not applicable with the xTool Screen Printer. The only energy exerted is the energy needed to push the machine's buttons and make some minor adjustments. All the labor-intensive processes like screen cleaning, washing, pulling, and pushing are not part of the xTool screen printing process.

Traditional screen printing is lacking when it comes to intricate designs, or printing designs with very small details. However, the xTool Screen Printer is the best fit for these design types. The xTool uses a laser beam that records a precision of 0.01mm — and that can help preserve even the minutest detail of your designs. Your end product will likely be the replica of your design.

xTool screen printed projects

Printed items made with xTool screen printer

Finally, traditional screen printing is not eco-friendly as it uses solvents and chemicals. All these negatively impact the environment.

Digital Heat Transfer Fabric Printing

Digital heat transfer involves the use of inkjet technology to print designs onto a fabric. A heat transfer film (or paper) is used during the process. Also known as digital textile printing, the digital heat transfer method is widely used across the globe.

The popularity of the digital heat transfer method could be attributed to its efficiency and versatility. The end products are typically high-quality prints. The Digital Heat Transfer method is also a good fit for designs with vibrant colors and intricate details.

Materials and Tools Needed for Digital Heat Transfer Fabric Printing

The major materials and tools needed for the Digital Heat Transfer method are:

  • Transfer paper
  • Inkjet printer
  • Heat press

Steps for Digital Heat Transfer Fabric Printing

Here are the processes involved in Digital Heat Transfer Printing.

process of digital heat transfer fabric printing

Step 1: Design Creation and Preparation

A graphic design software is used for the creation and preparation of the design. At this stage, you will have to adjust the design's color settings, resolution, and size. All of these help in ascertaining optimal products.

Step 2: Printing

Use the inkjet printer to print your design onto a transfer paper (or film). Your preferred transfer paper should be dependent on the type of fabric you're printing on. It's also dependent on what you desire as your end product.

Step 3: Heat Transfer

At this stage, you will have to position your printed transfer film (or paper) on the fabric. Using the heat iron (or heat press), apply heat to it. During the application of heat, the adhesive on the transfer film (or paper) is activated by the heat. And that causes the ink to permanently bond with your fabric fibers.

Step 4: Cooling or Peeling

After the digital heat transfer process is complete, you will have to carefully peel the transfer film (or paper) away from the fabric. This leaves your design deeply imprinted onto the fabric. There are cases where you need to cool the transfer papers before peeling.

Pros and Cons of the Digital Heat Transfer Printing


  • It's versatile and can be used to print on a wide range of fabrics
  • Can be used for creating personalized designs
  • Ideal for producing vibrant colored prints and prints with intricate details
  • Easy process and no advanced technical skills needed
  • Inks used during the process are usually eco-friendly.


  • The longevity of prints is dependent on the fabric type and type of heat transfer film (or paper)
  • Not a good fit for very dark fabrics. These materials are not resistant to heat.

Block Printing on Fabric

Block printing on fabric is a traditional printing method where a carved stamp (or block) is used to transfer dye (or ink) onto a fabric. The method is somewhat durable and versatile, and it's one of the techniques that have been used for centuries.

Unlike other methods where specialized equipment (or tools) are needed, block printing on fabric doesn't involve the use of special tools. All that's needed is a block, a dye (or transfer ink), and your fabric.

Block printing on fabrics can be used to add your unique touch and style to your fabric. It could also be used in personalizing a wide variety of fabrics.

Digital Printing on Fabric

Digital printing on fabric uses inkjet technology to print designs directly onto your fabric. Specialized inks are typically used in the process. Also known as digital textile printing, digital printing on fabric is used in producing premium prints. The method is efficient and versatile, and it's a good fit for vibrant color prints and prints with intricate details.

FAQs of Printing Fabric at Home

How to Print Pictures onto Fabric at Home?

There are multiple methods of printing pictures onto fabric at home. You could consider methods like:

  • Screen Printing on Fabric
  • Digital Heat Transfer
  • Block Printing on Fabric

Can You Print Directly on Fabric?

Yes, you can print directly on fabric. The various ways of doing that are:

  • Screen Printing on Fabric
  • Digital Printing on Fabric
  • Block Printing on Fabric

Block printing on fabric is an older model when compared to the other models. But it's one of the ways of printing directly on fabric.

What Is the Most Durable Way to Print on Fabric?

Screen Printing on Fabric is arguably the most durable way to print on fabric. Aside from screen printing, digital printing on fabric is also a durable way to print on fabric.

How Do You Transfer Designs from Paper to Fabric?

You can transfer designs from paper to fabric using:

  • Fabric Paint
  • Heat Transfer Paper
  • Ironing the design on the fabric

Other methods are:

  • Carbon Paper
  • Tracing Paper


Printing on fabric at home is not rocket science. All you need is the right tools, your designs, and a fabric. Your choice of tools will depend on the fabric printing method you will be using. To print fabric in less time, you should opt for the xTool Screen Printer.

The xTool Screen Printer is affordable, and it helps you get your fabric print in just a couple of hours. Unlike other methods where you will have to exert lots of physical strength during the screen printing process, the xTool Screen Printer is somewhat easy to handle and maintain.

Furthermore, you're sure of a lossless printing quality, and an end product that's as fine as the original design.

Modern fabric printing is easy and less expensive — and you can get started with the xTool machine.

Now you know the top fabric printing methods, how will you print your next fabric at home?

For more questions. Please join our Facebook group to get inspired!

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