Monday February 19th 2018
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Graphic Transfer Methods Reviewed

I am so excited today to feature Katherine of Ugly Duckling Transformations, a blogger who always catches my interest.  The post she is sharing with us addresses a VERY popular question floating around among crafters now a days as graphic fabric patterns are VERY in.  I can’t go on Pinterest or Pottery Barn without finding 10 graphic pattern items I want right now and Katherine of Ugly Duckling Transformations is going to share her quest for completing the perfect graphic transfer at home!   After reading her post, make sure to stop by and visit her here to read more of her wonderful posts!  Here she is:

Hi Home Savvy A to Z readers!

My name is Kathryn, and I’m very excited to be guest posting for Erin at Home Savvy A to Z today! I started my little blog Ugly Duckling Transformations a little over four months ago and Home Savvy A to Z was one of the first blogs that I quickly became a fan of and started following religiously. Thanks so much for having me!

Many of my readers know from previous posts, that I’ve been searching, unsuccessfully, for Citra Solv for the past several months for a few projects that involve graphic transfers to fabric. It’s nowhere to be found in the Vancouver area! BUT… my sister (Jenn you rock!) found some in a little grocery store on Vancouver Island and brought it over to me for Christmas! Yeah!!!

Now, while I was searching in vain for CS, I read about another method to transfer graphics to fabric called the Freezer Paper Transfer Method. So… this week I decided to put both of these methods to the test, mainly because I’ve wondered myself about which method is more effective, gets a better result, and is easiest (and less time consuming) for fabric transfers… so I thought this information might be useful to you too!

So, here we go! This is a very scientific experiment involving many variables… but lets not get into that… here’s what happened:

I took a cotton IKEA tea towel and first tested the Citra Solv with my graphic of choice from the Graphics Fairy. The first print I chose was her mason jar print in black. When you are using Citra Solv, you need to use a toner based image, so you need either a laser printer or photocopier. I took the image and placed it face down on the tea towel (make sure if your image has text you print a mirror copy of it). Then, I took a piece of paper towel and wet it with the Citra Solv and spread it over the back of my paper. I then took a spoon and started to burnish the back of the image (be careful to hold your paper down so it doesn’t move as you’re doing this).  When I lifted it up, I was very disappointed – the image was VERY faint! I thought I had pressed with enough pressure!

So back to the drawing board. I took a second copy of the mason jar and repeated the process, this time pressing harder. As you can see from the photo, the second one is darker, but still much lighter than I would like.

I hadn’t given up yet. This time I chose a teapot and teacup print. I used all my strength… in fact you may be able to see if you squint a lot where I broke through a bit of the paper as I was burnishing these!! My hand really began to ache by the time I finished these – hopefully this will give you an idea of how hard you actually need to press. The results were much better! The image was sufficiently dark and very clear! Phew!!!!

Okay, so now we know that Citra Solv does work effectively for a light cotton material if you burnish your little heart out. But what about thicker materials like burlap? I have some burlap throw cushion covers that have been screaming for some french mercantile graphics!! So I decided to use a test piece of burlap to try this out. The result was, well, nothing – zip, zilch, zero… it did not transfer at all. The material was just too coarse. Very disappointing!! I wish I had a picture to prove it, but I was so crushed that I forgot.

Enter the Freezer Paper Transfer Method! Now, I won’t get into all the nitty gritty details of this method, but if you want more info there’s a great tutorial on it here. Basically, you attach a piece of freezer paper to a piece of your printer paper using a spray adhesive, and run it through your inkjet printer (printing the image on the waxy side). Then you wet your material slightly (I used a damp sponge) and put the paper on top and burnish it.

For this method I first tried out the teapot image. It worked really well and the best thing… you hardly have to use any pressure at all!

Note, if you look very closely you might be able to see that the freezer paper teapot transfer is a little less crisp and clear than the CS one. But not by too much (it’s also a slightly different teapot).

Next, I remembered reading somewhere that if you spray your material with hairspray before you wet it, this will help prevent the image from blurring. So I tried it. The result was darker, but also much blurrier! The image looked like it ran quite a bit.

I decided to try an image this time (the tea cup) without any hairspray or water. The result was much lighter, and there was less blurring – but this may be due to the fact that the image is so faint.

Now… I should probably mention that I waited 24hrs after transferring each image and then washed the towel in a warm water wash. They all faded slightly, but the one that faded the most was the last one – where I didn’t use any water/hairspray. So, I’m guessing the water is necessary to facilitate the absorption of the ink into the material.

I also tested the freezer paper method on burlap and guess what? It worked beautifully! I can’t reveal the picture yet (but I’m super excited about how it turned out)… you can see the result in my next post in a couple days!

Are you exhausted yet? I know I am! Hang in there, we are almost done!

So what does all of this mean? Which method is better? Here are my list of pro’s and con’s for each method:

Citra Solv


  • You can see the image through the paper as you are burnishing it (the Citra Solv makes the paper translucent), so it’s easy to see where you need to apply pressure to transfer the image.
  • Smells purdy.
  • Images appear very clear with a lot of detail showing
  • most effective for lightweight materials such as cotton or linen.


  • You have to use a LOT of pressure when burnishing the image onto fabric… can get tiring, especially if you have a large image.
  • Cannot burnish images successfully to courser materials with a lot of texture, like burlap.
  • Citra Solv is not always easy to find!!

Freezer Paper Method


  • You do not have to apply  much pressure when burnishing an image.
  • You can reuse the transfer paper many times for multiple images.
  • You can burnish onto thicker fabrics, like burlap.
  • You only need an image copy from an inkjet printer, not a laser printer or photocopier.
  • You can burnish images onto wood and then seal with poly acrylic.
  • The images are permanent (on fabric) if you wait at least 24 hrs before washing, and on wood if you seal with something like a wax or poly acrylic.


  • You have to wait at least 24 hrs before washing your transfer.
  • If you are not careful, image can look blurry.

I really hope that this tutorial has been useful for some of you… if you have any more questions about either of these methods, don’t hesitate to ask me or drop by Ugly Duckling for a visit! Thanks again Erin for having me as a guest today!!



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