I love to dye cloth, but it can be seriously messy. So I’ve been exploring different ways to paint cloth. My search for ideas led me to an old (published in 2004) book, “Off-The-Shelf Fabric Painting: 30 Simple Recipes for Gourmet Results” by Sue Beevers. I was drawn to two concepts apparent in the title – cheap and easy.
Beevers gives an easy to understand introduction to different types of fabric paint and color theory. She covers the best fabric to use (a fairly dense white rather than natural or off-white cotton) and suggests equipment that you probably already have or can buy at a dollar store.
I found I already had everything recommended except brushes. Besides cheap foam brushes, Beevers uses three: a #3 outliner, a 1 inch mop brush, and a 1/2 inch flat watercolor brush. I spent a lot of time trying to decipher all the different brushes at the local craft store and finally found a mop brush. (Exactly what do you use a filbert brush for, anyway?) It’s amazing to see the price range though I was clueless as to which quality would be sufficient for fabric painting. The mantra usually says to buy the best possible tools you can afford, but I didn’t know if I cared to apply that to a choice between a $3 and a $30 brush.
Beevers covers free form techniques that require virtually no prior experience with fabric painting; background textures like sun printing; print techniques like stamping and stenciling; and resists like folding, sewing and gutta.
I hope to try some of these techniques at a fabric retreat in June. Here are some likely candidates.
As you can see, for each technique there’s a supply list and a tip to make the technique work better. Yes, I realize it’s only sensible to use fresh leaves that aren’t dried up, but I can see me cutting leaves the day before and then wondering why the print isn’t successful.
Some techniques are also used in dyeing, especially the resists. All are useful for what I’ll call background fabric that will be cut up or printed, drawn on, painted more.
Beevers’ book doesn’t break new ground, but it presents many painting techniques in one place. Rather than try to remember which issue of Quilting Arts had the article about making thin lines I can just go to this book.