I have boxes made from MDF which are covered with some fabric. I'd like to print stickers/labels and stick/glue them onto those boxes (and thus onto the fabric). I have an inkjet printer capable of printing on photo paper.

The boxes are to be used by children, thus the stickers/labels need to withstand a lot of stress and wear, also including saliva.

What kind of paper should I use, and how can I glue this to the fabric?
Is there some paper readily available which already has glue suitable for this purpose on it? Or which can be ironed to the boxes? (Or would this damage the box?)
Is vinylic foil a possibility?

I cannot remove the fabric from the MDF to work with it - this would destroy the boxes.

  • 2
    Test home printed labels for water (and saliva) damage, most inktjet ink for home use is not waterproof.
    – Willeke
    Sep 16, 2017 at 17:19

3 Answers 3


You could use self adhesive clear pockets and print the labels to place inside. Available in a range of sizes from A6 to A3 depending on your needs. They are made from durable PVC, you just peel off the protective paper and apply. Self adhesive CD pockets may also work although not as durable as the pvc.

  • As a former classroom teacher, this is a really great idea. An added benefit is you can switch labels if and when you need to put something else in the boxes. This kind of flexibility and durability is great for working with kids and can save you quite a bit of money in the long run. If the self-stick envelopes don't adhere well to the fabric you can easily use a little fabric or super glue since it's the envelopes you want to utilize overtime, not necessarily the labels.
    – user1798
    Sep 18, 2017 at 19:50

There is iron-on transfer paper that will work in an inkjet printer, but I took a quick look at the instructions and it actually takes quite a lot of ironing to attach it, and I would be concerned about potential heat damage to the underlying box.

A better solution might be to use some sort of transfer process to print on your fabric, and then use a fusible web to attach it to the fabric on your box.

I found this article with instructions for printing on fabric, which states that the biggest challenge is to get the fabric stiff enough to go through the printer. All of the solutions call for adhering something to the fabric to stiffen it. The last solution...use a fusible web!

The idea is that you adhere the web to a piece of fabric large enough to feed through your printer. Once you have printed on the fabric, you cut out the section you want to place on you box, and follow the instructions that come with the fusible web for adhering to your box fabric. If you choose a fairly lightweight fabric for printing, the appropriate fusible web will not require much time under an iron to adhere, lessening the likelihood of damaging your box.

However, I agree with @willeke, you need to make sure the print itself is waterproof.


There are a number options for printing onto fabric. The two easiest ones are to buy either printable fabric sheets or printable transfer sheets. The former is great for labels or fabric you want to sew or quilt onto something, while the other is mostly for transferring an image to already made items, e.g. T-shirts.

You can buy both at many hobby, craft or sewing supply stores or order from Amazon.

You can also print directly onto fabric using a number of methods, including using freezer paper, starched and stretched fabric, etc. There are many tutorials all over the web on how to do this.

Once you have your design printed or transferred, let it dry completely, remove it from the paper backing and iron it a few times to improve colour fastness, then use a non-toxic fabric glue to stick it to the box. You will need to more or less saturate the edges of the labels in the fabric glue, or they will eventually loosen and fray under the effects of little teeth and saliva.

You can also use fabric tape (the thermoweb type used to stick badges to uniforms, "hem" dust cloths and other things you don't feel like sewing) instead of glue, but then you will need to use an iron on the box to make sure it sticks.

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