I've been looking for custom fabric labels for the bags and other stuff that I make. They can be pretty expensive, especially if you want them printed with your own logo in non-standard colors (lime green & aqua). Making bags isn't my full-time job, so I can't justify spending a lot of money on custom labels. So, I decided to try using printable transfer fabric and twill tape to make my own labels. It was really easy and I am pleasantly surprised that they don't look too homemade. The paper costs $10 and the twill tape is $1.50. Depending on the size of your image, you can make around 120 labels using 6 packs of twill tape. Total cost: $19. Here are the steps I took to create the labels:
STEP 1: CREATE IMAGE FILE
I created my logo in the correct size using Macromedia Fireworks (you can use Photoshop, or any other graphics program). The twill tape was 3/4 in wide, so my logo need to be smaller than that. Mine was 1.75 inches long and 0.6 inches high. I set the resolution to 300 dpi (dots per inch) since it was being printed (70 dpi is standard for images being used on the web).
STEP 2: PRINT IMAGE ON TRANSFER PAPER
I copied the image into Microsoft Word and pasted it 44 times, leaving some space between each image. When you print the page, you have to select "mirror image" in your printing options. I printed the page on a regular piece of paper before using the printable transfer paper, just to make sure everything looked okay. Then, I printed it on the transfer paper as pictured below. You have to wait 30 minutes for the ink to dry before you continue to the next step.
STEP 3: CUT OUT IMAGE
Next, I cut out the images to transfer to the twill tape. It is best to leave a little bit of white space on the sides of the image, so you have room to peel off the backing paper (in a later step).
STEP 4: IRON TRANSFER TO TWILL TAPE
Cut the twill tape at least a half inch longer than the image on each side. Turn the image face-down and press with a HOT, DRY iron for about 15-20 seconds.
STEP 5: PEEL OFF BACKING
According to the directions for the transfer paper, if you want a matte look to the image, then peel off the backing while the image is still hot. If you want a glossy finish, then wait for it to cool down. I wanted a matte finish, so I immediately peeled off the backing. This didn't always work - sometimes it was too hot, and the image was still stuck to the backing. So, I eventually found that if I blew on it for 3 seconds before I peeled the backing, then the label would be perfect. I screwed up about 4 labels before they started looking good, so don't be nervous...just keep trying different things until it works (maybe turn down your iron setting and/or press it for longer than 20 seconds).
STEP 6: SEW ONTO FABRIC
Turn the edges under and stitch onto your fabric. If you use the iron to press the edges, be sure not to touch the image with the iron. I used polyester twill tape, which tends to unravel easily, so you may want to use Fray Check on the edges.
You could also create a looped label, instead of the flat one that I made. With the looped kind, you could transfer another image to the "back " of the label that has the washing instructions (great for washable tote bags or diaper bags).
Please let me know if you use these instructions to create your own labels. I'd love to see how they turn out! Or, if you have other budget-friendly alternatives for creating custom labels, I'd love to hear them.