Before you start with Infusible Ink, you need to know the Infusible Ink Basics. Infusible Ink is the same thing as sublimation. This means that the ink on the sheet or from the markers fuse with the fabric. Unlike HTV that sits on top of the fabric, infusible ink blends with the fabric and becomes part of the fabric. That means it doesn’t peel or come off, like HTV can. This also means that it won’t come off if you make a mistake. So practice on scraps or inexpensive materials first. I found $2 tote bags at Michaels and men’s handkerchiefs that came in a 10 pack in the clearance aisle at Walmart, to practice on. I bought a yard of polyester fabric from JoAnne’s to practice on too. Hopefully what I learned will help you flatten the learning curve.
Ways to “Draw” the Image
The first way to do infusible ink is markers. Cricut makes two types. Regular infusible ink markers and freehand markers. Infusible ink basics say don’t draw with the regular markers, but you know me, I had to try it. When I talk about markers tomorrow I will share my efforts with you. The freehand markers work better for freehand drawing but the regular markers work too. The regular infusible ink markers fit in the pen holder on your cricut, however. And since I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler, this is good.
The Cricut site says you need “Laser Paper”. I just used paper out of my printer and that worked fine. Do not use cardstock. I will say more in the Dos and Don’ts section. When using your Cricut to draw, you can use any image, just change it to draw. This does mean that filling in doesn’t work well unless the image is specially designed for that, though. And using copy paper limits the design to 8.5 X 11. I am looking for bigger paper and when I find some that works I will let you know. My tutorials and Infusible Ink Marker projects are here.
The sheets that you can buy are basically ink designs printed on thick sheets then put on a transfer sheet. It cuts well using the Infusible Ink Transfer sheet setting on your Cricut.. The sheets are cut just like vinyl but are weeded very differently. You cannot use your picks when weeding! This is very important. You weed with your fingernails. Using picks will push the ink around your design and under parts so use fingers. Actually all you have to tear off is the ink. The first project I tried was very complex (not something I reccommend for a first project.) and the ink and paper seperated but as long as you remove the ink, the project works. More on that when I write the post on using sheets. My tutorial for using sheets is here.
And yes you can use both together. See that project and tutorial here
Blanks and other Base Materials
For infusible ink to work on fabric, there must be polyester. The colors are muted and don’t work well on 100% cotton. There are other “man made” fabrics, like nylon and spandex, that infusible ink works on. I am just going to include them all in the “polyester” label. The more polyester the better. Cricut materials are 95% polyester and that works best, but the lower levels work too. I have gone as low as 30%polyster and it works fine. But the higher the level, the more vivid the colors. Look at labels and you can find base materials cheaper than Cricut brands. If you aren’t sure how well it will work, take a small scrap of ink from you weeding and put it on the inside seam. If it works, great! And it is hidden where no one will see it. If it doesn’t work, you know that before you start.
I have not tried the non-Cricut blanks for coasters and cups. The Cricut coasters I have tried work great. That said, there are many, many places that sell sublimation blanks that my research has shown work well. I hope to get some other brands soon (I want a coffee mug) and try them soon.
Special Equipment You Need
Beside the sheets or markers, you will need a heat source of some sort. It needs to heat to 385 degrees F. Now, I have a very good iron that will reach 385 degrees. But it is small and very expensive (It was my mom’s who sews a lot.) This works but, you can’t move the iron around, so this limits the size it will do. I do recommend an EasyPress or some type of mechanical heat press. I bit the bullet and ordered a 12 X 9 EasyPress because Santa (Cordelia) bought me the infusible ink materials for Christmas. By the way, I got it from Cricut at 10% off and free shipping because I have Access and it was on sale for 20% off too. It was around $175 dollars in the end. Look for sales on my Products I use Page.
Infusible Ink Basics – Dos and Don’ts
- Mirror the image – If there is text in the project you do need to mirror the project when cutting or drawing the image, both the markers and the sheets. (Yes one of my examples I forgot)
- Heat twice – I found that the time sometimes is not enough to completely transfer the image with lower polyester content. I heated twice without moving the EasyPress to make sure. I will talk more about this when I talk about sheets.
- Pre-warm your blank – It helps the ink transfer and also melts it a little and helps it stay in place.
- Use a mat instead of an ironing board – my first few projects weren’t even colored. I discovered that the middle of my ironing board wasn’t getting as much pressure. I switched to a table and an ironing pad and it did much better
- Use your drawings with markers as soon after you draw them as you can. The ink eventually does soak it and it doesn’t transfer as well then.
- Never Move your iron -this blurs the image
- Don’t use cardstock for markers – The ink soaks in too much. Copy paper has a thin barrier to prevent the ink from soaking in.
- Never reuse you drawings or sheets. – the ink is transferred with the first press and there is nothing left to transfer.
- Never use picks to weed sheets – This will push the ink under your image and blur or change the image.
I have several tutorials on doing Infusible Ink projects and for buying a heat press (the bottom of the Using Both Sheets and Pens tutorial). You can find all of them in the drop down menu under Type and Infusible Ink or click here.