Anyone who sews knows that it is a labor of love! Just like signing a painting, you can tag your sewing projects and mark your hard work as your own. So I’m going to show you how to make your own custom printed fabric tags with items you probably already have in your house!
I just LOVE having custom printed fabric tags! They are a great way of saying “I did this and I’m proud of it!” when I make gifts for people, and they give my projects a finished, professional look, which is great for the items I sell in my shop. Plus, they’re so simple to make!
There are a bunch of different ways to print on fabric and make the ink “permanent” but I tested a couple of them and found that the method in this tutorial from Dolls And Daydreams worked the best!
DIY Printed Fabric Tags
You only need a few things to make your own fabric tags!
- 100% cotton muslin fabric
- a computer and inkjet printer
- freezer paper
- white vinegar
- baking tray or dish
- iron and ironing board
The first thing you need to do is print on your fabric! If you remember last Christmas I shared a tutorial for making printed fabric gift tags, which I made by taping a piece of fabric to a piece of card stock and feeding it in through my printer. That method works really great for heavier fabric, but for the thin cotton muslin I used for these tags, I decided to use the freezer paper method instead. Luckily, it’s just as simple!
Start by cutting out a piece of freezer paper about the size of a standard sheet of paper. You’ll notice that freezer paper has a shiny side and a matte side; place the shiny side down onto the back of your fabric (muslin doesn’t really have a front and a back, so don’t worry too much about that!) Then iron the paper down onto your fabric for a few seconds. You don’t need to iron it for very long for it to stick, and if you get any air bubbles, just iron that spot again!
Make sure your iron doesn’t touch the shiny side of the paper or it will melt all over!
Once the paper is stuck to the fabric everywhere, trim it down to exactly 8.5″ x 11″, and make sure to trim any loose threads or they could smudge your tags when printing. Now you have a sheet of fabric on one side and paper on the other.
Now it’s time to design your label! I decided to just use my logo, but you can make your tags say anything you want! Put your logo on them, say “Made with love by…”, put washing instructions on them…whatever you want!
Make sure you space your designs out a bit from each other so that you have enough extra fabric to fold it into tags later. You want to leave about 1x the width of your design in blank space on the left and right, and about 3x the height of your design above and below. (You can always print out a test sheet on some scrap paper, and cut the logos apart to make sure you’ll have enough extra blank fabric to fold it into a label once it’s printed.)
Once your spacing is set up correctly, feed the freezer paper/fabric into your printer so that it will print onto the fabric side, not the paper side. Then print out your tags!
Once your tags are printed, let the ink dry for a few minutes, then gently peel the freezer paper off the back of the fabric.
Printer ink isn’t permanent on fabric, so to help set the ink into the fabric you’re going to give it a little vinegar bath. Place your sheet of fabric in a flat baking dish and pour in some white vinegar, just enough to barely cover the fabric.
Leave the fabric in the vinegar bath for about five minutes, then pull it out and rinse it under cold water to get rid of the vinegar smell.
Now lay the fabric flat and let it dry. Or if you’re impatient like me, grab a hair dryer and go nuts! Once your fabric is totally dry, cut your tags apart and fold each one into a tag.
I found the easiest way to do this was to use a scrap piece of card stock paper, cut to exactly the width of my finished tag. I laid one single tag, centered, over the cardboard.
I folded both sides under, around to the back of the card stock, and ironed the folds.
Then I pulled the card stock out and folded my tag in half, with the crease just above the top of the printed design. I put my card stock back into the fold to make sure my fold was perfectly straight.
Then I ironed that final fold, pulled out the card stock, and my label was finished!
Now just stick that tag into a seam in your project and sew it right in! Don’t worry about frays or uneven cuts on the bottom; that’s the part that will be inside your seam in your finished piece!
I folded my fabric tags three times like this because I found that cotton muslin is pretty see-through and I wanted my tags to be a bit more solid. Also, this way I have a double-sided tag! The pictures above are of tags with just my logo on them, but I made two other batches of tags that have my logo on one side and washing instructions on the other side!!! I find a lot of people worry about washing handmade items, so I like to think a tag with washing instructions will help alleviate those fears!
I used these tags with washing instructions on the gifts I made for my cousin’s baby shower. Specific washing instructions can help people figure out the best way to care for your gifts. The tag in the middle is for most cotton projects, and the tag on the right is for projects with delicate fabrics in them like minky or velvet. And the one-sided tag is for anything that really shouldn’t be washed at all, like my hot pad purse organizer.
And if you’re worried about the ink washing out when you wash your finished work, don’t be! I have washed my projects tons of times and the tags still look like new! I even did a little test to see what it would take to get the ink to come off. Turns out it takes a heck of a lot of soap and about ten minutes of vigorous scrubbing with a toothbrush! And even then, the ink is only about halfway gone; you can definitely still read the tag!
You can also use this method to make no-sew tags! Just follow all the same instructions, but when you get to the end, iron each individual tag onto fusible fabric interfacing like Heat’n Bond instead of folding them up. Then you can iron your tags directly onto your project and skip the sewing part! This way you can still tag your no-sew fabric projects too!
You can stick a pin through your folded labels to keep them together until you’re ready to use them!
Do you tag your work when you sew, or sign your drawings, or watermark your photos? I like the tags because it lets people know I made it by hand, and also, if I’m ever rich and famous, maybe my little projects will be worth that much more because they were “signed” by me!!!
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these awesome parties!
Bonnie @ the pin junkie says
Great idea! I pinned!
[email protected] says
Love it! So cool-it looks so professional!!
Brilliant idea and great tutorial! Pinning now for use later. Thanks.
[email protected] The Better Half says
so cool! what a great idea!!!
[email protected] says
YES! This is awesome. I had no idea could make my own labels this easily. My tags will be way cuter than the ones that cost an arm and a leg in the store and say “Made by Grandma.” Thank you, pinning!
I’ve seen this done before and have been meaning to try making my own labels. Thanks so much for this post….it has moved this project up on my “to do” list! 😀
Lisa Haley says
Great idea. I’ve been using the store bought printable fabric, but I’m all for do-it-yourself projects. Will definitely give this a go for my items.
Sarah Yoder says
This is a great tip. When I first started reading I was worried about using an inkjet printer! LOL..should have trusted you. The vinegar trick is genius!
Jessi @ Practically Functional says
Yeah I was worried about inkjet too at first cuz I know that ink smudges…but the vinegar seems to work great!
Jackie G. says
I tried this method and as soon as I put the printed cloth in the vinegar solution, the print immediately bled and almost completely faded away. My tags were unusable. Got any ideas on why, before I try this again? Thanks.
Jessi Wohlwend says
Oh no! What kind of printer did you use?
Jessi that is an awesome tip! Thanks so much for sharing, I want to make some tags myself… I had no idea that the vinegar would set the ink… I wonder if you could spray it on from a spray bottle? Great, great ideas…. Love your blog!
Jessi @ Practically Functional says
I haven’t tried a spray bottle yet, but you could test it out! From the research I did, soaking the fabric in vinegar is what helps, so as long as you totally drench the fabric with the spray bottle it will probably work too!
Theresa Noble says
Do you have to use cotton material? I printed.mine on a sheet. The color came out, except for the black and white, when I put the vinegar on it. Thank you!
Jessi Wohlwend says
The ink sticks best to cotton, but you can certainly try other materials!
keri @ shaken together says
You are one smart cookie and I really need to get some freezer paper and start experimenting!