Tuesday, 19 June 2012

How to Make Your Own Sewing Labels For Just a Few Pence Each!

As promised here is my tutorial for how to make your own sew-in sewing labels cheaply at home.  There is an initial cost but the price per label is just a few pence each (I have added a cost break-down at the end of this tutorial)...

A bit of background info first.

As some of you may know I occasionally make my own items to sell in Folksy and at the Made it Market.  One of the reasons I love selling fabric is, of course, because I love making things with it, and I have so many scraps I have to do something constructive with them!  I've been looking into getting some of my own labels to make my handmade things look a bit more professional.  There are some great shops on Etsy that will print your design for you.  They can work out quite pricey however, especially as most of the makers are in the US and shipping tax etc bumps up the price per unit (the ones I was looking at working out at about 25p each).  So then I came across a great tutorial for getting your own labels printed using Spoonflower  Again, although cheaper than the first option, it is still a little pricey when you add postage/shipping tax plus it's limiting.  What if they arrive and it hasn't worked?  What if you want different sizes, colours, types for different projects?  So then I stumbled across a product online - printable fabric!  I never even knew you could print fabric using a regular printer!  I still thought I could do it cheaper though and looking into it further I found a product called Bubble Jet Set.  This is a chemical that preps any fabric making it suitable to take and keep the ink on the fabric, making it permanent and washable!  Aha!  After several very exciting experiments I've made my very own labels and here's how I did it.  My tutorial comes in two parts: Creating a label for printing and Printing a label.  I'm sure many of you will know how to design a label in photoshop but I wanted to show the whole process.

Part One: Creating a Sheet of Labels for printing...

You will need: 

A version of Photoshop/ a graphics package.  I use Photoshop Elements 6 (a cheap and basic one)


I can only describe how I do this and only using the programmes I have available, there may well be better, cleverer, quicker ways of doing this!

First I open up Photoshop Elements using the 'Edit' option.  In the top left corner I click File>new>blank file.

In the box I call it Sewing labels and give my dimensions (I am making labels 5cm x 2cm but you can choose any size you like).  I choose 300 dpi and a white background.

I then design my label.  I use a simple downloaded font with a heart, pick my colours for the font and it's done!

I then save it as a PSD.  This is important as it saves the image in layers so if it's not right or you want to change colours etc you can go back and edit.  One I have saved it as a PSD I click File>Duplicate.  I now have another copy I can save as a jpeg for my project.  Before I do this I want to give it an outline so I click Layer>flatten image.  This flattens all the layers together meaning you can no longer edit it.  I double click the box on the right to unlock the image then click Edit>stroke.  A stroke is basically an outline.  I chose a thin, centred line the same colour as my writing.

 I then save this image as a jpeg and close Photoshop.

Now it's time to make the sheet.  For this I use Power Point.

In Power point I click File>new and choose Blank Presentation from the right hand menu.  Then I click File>Page Set Up and choose A4 paper from the drop down menu.  I clear the screen and click Insert>Picture and choose the saved jpeg file I just made.  It will now pop up on the screen.  I click on it then right click copy and then right click paste.  I now have two images.

I line them up next to each other like in the picture above.  I click somewhere near the top left of the images and hold the button down, dragging the icon to the bottom right of the images.  This should create a box around the two images.  Let go of the button then right click and choose Grouping>Group.  This will permanently join the images together.  Right click copy, right click paste and you now have four labels.  Line them up at the top of your page, insert one more image of your label and you have a rown of five.  Now repeat the process of grouping your images together and you have a permanent line of five.  Right click copy then right click paste and you have another row of five.  Do this five more times and you have seven rows.  Line then up until you have a nice tidy page of 45 x labels.

Save this page, it is your finished label printing sheet!

Part Two Printing on Fabric Using a Home Printer.

You will need: 

A home printer

1 x bottle of Bubble Jet Set (explained below)

Freezer paper or A4 sized stickers

A tray (roughly A4 size)

Rubber gloves

Some plain white cotton fabric

First of all an introduction to Bubble Jet Set.  Yes it's expensive and not widely stocked in the UK, with p&p it cost me £21.80 but a little goes a LONG way.  It says there is enough to prep 40-50 sheets of A4 fabric.  I found an A4 sized tray, used it very sparingly and estimate I'll get at least 60 sheets out of it.  I must say that this chemical isn't essential.  You can print without it but your printing may or may not be permanent.  It really depends on your printer.  Your printer can be laser or ink jet.  With experiments I found that my laser printer gave a faded, fuzzy image that washed clean away without Bubble Jet.  My ink jet printer gave beautiful clear results but without the Bubble Jet they washed to a faded yellowy-brown and almost disappeared.  After I prepped the fabric with Bubble Jet Set and washed the fabric it washed perfectly and hasn't faded in the slightest, brilliant!

So, to prep the fabric you need to cut it into A4 pieces.  I used plain white Kona Cotton and cut ten sheets.  Only cut as many as you'll print that day.  Find a tray as close to A4 size as possible to avoid wasting the liquid.  Pour some of the liquid in the bottom and put in your first sheet of fabric.  Make sure it soaks up the liquid then add the next sheet on top.  Wait for it to soak up the liquid as well (or prod it impatiently with your rubber gloves on as I did!) then add another and so on until all the fabric has sucked up the liquid.  It doesn't need to be sitting in a pool of it, use it sparingly.

Leave for five minutes then hang out on the line to dry.  Once it's dry, iron it nice and flat and it's ready to print on.  Now you need to fool your printer into thinking it's printing regular paper.  You can either use freezer paper (buy in fabric/craft shops - it irons onto fabric sticking to it without leaving residue and peels off after use) cut to size and iron it onto the fabric, as recommended, or you could use an A4 size sticker, which I happened to have to hand.  So, add either the freezer paper or the sticker to your fabric and place in the tray as you would paper.  Open up your saved Powerpoint labels and now you can print.  I chose a high quality print option.  Have a play around with your printer and choose a setting you think will work (my printer is an Epson Stylus Photo PX810FW).  I didn't change the paper setting so my printer treated it like normal A4 paper.  Click print and voila - hopefully, fingers crossed, your labels will come out like this...

I should say, it's a case of trial and error.  Occasionally I get ink splodges on the fabric but I find if I make sure there are no air bubbles that helps.  Now all you have to do is cut them up and store them in a cute sweetie jar - OK, not essential but I do love these jars!

Of course these labels will fray and so aren't suitable for all uses.  You could make them a little wider and fold the edges by turning them like bias tape but I use them as sew-in labels, stitching the edges with a zig-zag stitch (setting width: 3 length: 1) like this...

And finally, for those who gulped at the price of Bubble Jet Set here's a cost break down for you (assuming my rusty maths is correct)...

1 x metre of Kona white solid costs £8
1 x metre of Kona white solid will give you 12 x A4 sheets of fabric.
12 x A4 sheets of fabric gives you 540 labels.
Therefore fabric cost = 0.014/label

1 x bottle Bubble Jet Set plus shipping cost me: £21.80
1 x bottle Bubble Jet Set will give you 50 x A4 sheets of fabric (I'm sure I can get more)
50 x sheets of fabric gives you 2250 labels
Therefore preparation cost = 0.009/label

Freezer paper £4.59 for a pack of 50 A4 sheets (it is much cheaper on a roll)
0.09p per sheet
45 labels per sheet.
Therefore freezer paper cost = 0.002 per label

Total cost (not inc.printing ink and room for errors in printing) = 0.025 per label (2.5p)

*Revised after missing a decimal point - oops - do let me know if you spot an error!*


Give it a go and have fun experimenting!

Sarah x


  1. Ooh, this looks great! Does it make the fabric stiff at all?

  2. Thanks Zoe :)
    Dottie.Dollie - no, not stiff at all, it feels just like regular fabric.

  3. Just an fyi, you can make your own "bubble jet" http://www.theidearoom.net/2010/03/guest-post-infarrantly-creative.html

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