Fabric Photo Transfer Journals

Fabric transfer journalsI love a good transfer project. To me it almost feels like transfer techniques are part craft project and part science project. It’s fun to watch your materials transform into something else, like transferring an ink jet printed photo onto fabric (in this case, a fabric journal). 

A few years ago I made this wood transfer of one of my wedding photos. You can see from my video home tour that I still have this project proudly displayed in our bedroom. I think it’s gonna be a keeper for a while. This project is a bit more disposable in that I transferred an image onto a fabric journal. So although you could use this technique to create a canvas display or other display item you plan to keep forever, if you transfer to a journal, you’re probably gonna use it. 

Fabric transfer journals This was a really fun project to work on with our friends from Canon USA. I used my PIXMA MG7720 to print the super colorful photos I chose to transfer. By the way, have you guys seen the new gold printer they just come out with??? I am in LOVE with the color. It’s making we want to update my office area to match. Where’s the emoji with gold eyes? You know, heart eye’s trendy sister? That’s how I’m feeling about my office space. Hmm…

-fabric journal (store bought or you could cover your own journal in fabric)
-Liquitex heavy gel medium
-paint brush
-water bottle
-copy paper
-washi tape (optional)
Canon PIXMA MG7720 Photo Printer

Transfers are a project that I think are just easier to show via a video tutorial, so that’s what we did. So watch that, but I’ll go over the steps below as well.

First, print your image on copy paper. I think it looks better if your image can cover the entire journal surface, maybe even hang off the edges a little. So print to the size you need. Your image will transfer opposite of how you print it, like a mirror image. So if you are printing something with text especially, be sure to flip the image before printing.

Next, cover the entire image with the heavy gloss medium and adhere it to your fabric. Allow to fully dry (at least 2-3 hours). Then lightly spray with water. Be sure your spray bottle is set to spray in a mist rather than a stream. Most bottles allow for both, so just make sure yours is on mist. Then you rub off the paper to reveal your transfer. Watch the video to see this! Much easier to see than to explain.

Once you get all or most of the paper off, give it one more mist with water to make the colors more vibrant, and then seal with the heavy gloss medium. If you want, you can add some washi tape to an edge. I planned to do this with both my journals, but then I ended up liking one better without. 

How to transfer a photo to fabric That’s it! Pretty easy, right? If you’ve never made a transfer like this before, I recommend having one piece of fabric or journal that you consider your “practice” one, so you can get the hang of rubbing the paper off. You can rub off the image entirely if you use too much force, so it’s good to practice a little before you start. But, of course, this project is meant to look a little rustic/weathered, so it’s OK if you do end up rubbing off a little too much in the process.

I used photos from past trips (Seattle and Costa Rica) because I like the look of the landscapes. But you could use any photo you like if you decide to make your own. You could easily turn this into a fun gift for someone too. Is everyone already thinking about homemade gifts for the holidays yet, or just me? Are you mad I even brought up the holidays already? OK, OK, let’s all just chill and make a fabric transfer. 🙂 xo. Emma 

Credits // Author: Emma Chapman. Photography: Emma Chapman and Janae Hardy. Video: Janae Hardy, Music: Jeremy Larson. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions

  • I know you said you got those journals at Michaels but I have looked and looked for plain white fabric covered journals and no luck…any other ideas? I don’t really want to try to cover one with fabric….


  • Hello girls! I already tried your DIY to transfer on canvas and I want to do it again. Do you know if it works even if it’s not a laser copy? (doesn’t have one at home)

  • Thank you for this super tutorial! Wow, I want to make these! I work with fabrics and photos so this is just perfect! x Teje

  • Dumb question – is the heavy gloss medium the same as the Liquitex heavy gel medium? Thanks!

  • This is super cute, it looks like a yearbook. I am not sure I will try this one but I definitely like it.

  • does this process leave the fabric stiff and hard to the touch? I am wondering if this transfer method would work for making pillows or if they wouldn’t be soft and flexible enough afterwards…

  • What a great idea! I once tried to make a DIY journal by simply covering it with fabric, but it was a lot less fancy! I love the idea of having a photo of my choice on the cover, and I love the rustic feel. It would really make a great Christmas present, as almost everybody I know uses journals. Thanks 🙂


  • This is such a lovely idea-I feel like I need to go and get the supplies asap, I have just made a lifestyle/cooking/baking blog and it would mean a lot if you could check it out, http://snapgracklepop.blogspot.co.uk Thanks!

  • I love this D.I.Y! This is such a cute idea to give to people as gifts. 🙂

  • They look great! It’s definitely a nice way to jazz up a plain old note book.

    Monica – Mocha and Moccasins

  • What an AWESOME DIY!! So perfect since I’m heading back to school in a few weeks. These are definitely on my To Do list!!

    xx Shirley

  • Yeah! Jeremy just made us some new tunes for our ABM videos and I LOVE this one. 🙂


  • This looks amazing and a great fit for back to school season too!


  • This looks amazing and a great fit for back to school season too!


  • What a great DIY! I cannot wait to try this with my photos from my trip to Santorini.


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