We experimented with three systems that many people have at their disposal -- a computer, some desktop-publishing software, and an ink-jet printer -- to come up with some inspiring paper projects, such as these butterfly table linens.
Butterfly Table Linens
These cream-colored linen tablecloths and napkins are embellished with iron-on transfer paper on which we printed clip-art butterflies. In the search for images to use in your own projects, a multifunction printer allows you to scan just about any design. But keep in mind that even though you may be duplicating an image for personal use, if it is copyrighted, you may be breaking the law unless you have permission to copy it. Good sources for usable material include clip-art books, CDs, and websites, as well as old publications, greeting cards, or postcards.
Scan or download the images, or slip the CD into its drive and import them -- they are usually numbered, making this a technological paint-by-numbers project. Using a desktop-publishing program, size and arrange them. Then print them on 8 1/2-by-11 iron-on transfer paper that is sold at crafts-supply stores specifically for use in ink-jet printers.
Iron-on transfers often leave a shiny film on cloth. You can avoid a glossy halo around the images you have chosen by cutting them out as close to their edges as possible; leave no white space around the perimeter. To iron on the designs, follow the instructions that accompany the transfer paper.
Once printed, the table linens are cold-water washable; be sure not to iron the pictures when you press the linens.
To get the maximum use from transfer paper, we placed as many pictures as possible onto each sheet. Cut out the images with scissors. The hot iron melts the plastic transfer material onto the surface. Then the paper backing is removed, leaving the plastic fused with the cloth.
This project is from At Home with Technology, a special issue from Martha Stewart Living, sponsored by Hewlett-Packard.