Category Archives: Fabric Printing

Fun With the Sun

Cyanotypes, which are actually photographs, are yet another way to create designs on fabric. A cyanotype “is a photographic printing process that produces a cyan-blue print. Engineers used the process well into the 20th century as a simple and low-cost process to produce copies of drawings, referred to as blueprints. The process uses two chemicals: ferric ammonium citrate and potassium ferricyanide.”

You can coat fabric with those chemicals yourself or you can buy fabric already coated. After that, the process is the same. You choose materials you want to photograph and lay them on the treated fabric.

Then, you cover them with glass or some other clear object to hold the materials in place and expose the fabric to the sun for 10 to 15 minutes.

After you bring the fabric inside you remove the materials and rinse the fabric in water. Then you admire your results.

I had bought a packet of assorted color pretreated cyanotype fabric squares with a gift certificate from Dharma Trading, and was waiting for sunshine and warm weather. When those events aligned I set up my work area on the roof of my screen porch.  Why the roof? Because I can access it through a door from my bedroom. I suppose the people we bought our house from had visions of night star gazing, but it’s three stories up from the driveway and the railing isn’t very high. Also, wasps love to build nests on the railing. So I was happy to find a use for that roof.

I was pleased with my results, and have found many breathtaking examples of this technique online. How about this delicate piece by Linda Sterner?

I have no idea what I’ll make with my crocheted pieces, but I still have eight more treated fabric squares to play with.

 

 

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It’s All About The Surface

Over the years I’ve accumulated a pile of fabrics I’ve created with paints, stencils, dyes, and other surface design techniques. Since I didn’t feel up to deep thought projects but wanted to make something after my surgery, I sorted that pile and cut up much of it into 5 inch squares. Then, I arranged the squares that seemed to go together into more or less traditional designs.

The resulting tops are totally about texture and color. I meant no discernible message. Each is about 41 inches square and has a border (gasp.)

“All Decked Out” is a trip around the world design made with fabric I designed or dyed, with one exception. The center is a paintstik rubbing of a glass salad plate, accented with embroidery. The surrounding squares are either Marcia Derse fabric (the darker fabric) or sun printed with a crocheted doily. The blue and white squares are from a silk screening class, while the multicolored squares suffered through four processes – dyeing, fabric collage, cheesecloth overlay, and stenciling. The dark and light rose squares are hand dyed, while the blue and white border fabric is from a photo of my deck I manipulated and printed through Spoonflower.

“Sur La Table” is made mostly from tablecloths I painted and dyed.  (Finally a use for high school French.) The yellow is damask that’s been printed with leaves, while the orange is a drop cloth I enhanced. The green strips are from a gradation and the outer border is linen I dyed. The diagonal strips are bias tape I made and some cording. The squares on the end of the green units are made from fabric I painted and stenciled. The thin green strip inside the border is Grunge fabric, the only fabric I didn’t mess around with.

I thought I’d do quick and dirty quilting on these, but already that isn’t going to plan. A group I belong to had lots of complicated ideas for quilting “All Decked Out.” Of course the ideas are much better than what I had envisioned, but also more work.

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Bound To Finish

Recuperation is great for mindless sewing tasks such as sewing on quilt bindings. I actually got two largish quilts done since my surgery – Damask and Denim and Trip Around Columbus. It helped that the bindings were already made, so I just had to machine, then hand stitch them.

I quilted most of Damask and Denim (44 by 55 inches) with a golden yellow cotton thread, though I used a pale blue in the diamond interiors. The binding is a soft gray small print.

Trip Around Columbus was made from an Art Gallery pattern, and features many fabrics I made in a painted dye workshop. I had it quilted by a longarm quilter as the size (55 inches square) was just too large for me to deal with, especially after Damask and Denim. It’s bound with what I think is home dec fabric that was given to me. I also used some of it as part of the backing.

You can see how it crinkled up after washing and drying. I used a bamboo batting.

I have heaved a sigh of relief that these large projects are done, though they are no longer my excuses for postponing a piece that will require a lot of thinking and planning. It’s to be a map quilt of the Ohio and Erie Canal near my house. I’ve found archival photos that I hope to print on fabric. Right now I’m worrying over how best to do that, and have ordered supplies for different approaches – transfer printing and direct printing on fabric. I’m even considering a new printer, though I spent yesterday agonizing over reviews of various options. Some reviewers have had horrible experiences, which I’d prefer to avoid. If you have any recommendations, let me know.

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Filed under Completed Projects, Fabric Printing

Playing With Spoonflower

One of the reasons I took all those photos in 2017 was to build up a stock of images I could manipulate and print out on fabric. I got an early start in December when I succumbed to a special offer from Spoonflower and tried out their fill-a-yard offering.

Last summer I got carried away and took lots of German expressionist shots of our newly painted deck.

I downloaded them to my Spoonflower account and started playing with different arrangements. You can arrange your image to print several ways: just by itself, in rows, in what’s called half brick staggered rows, and in mirror image. You can also change the colors in your photo (both the number of colors and hues) and do some editing of your photo via PicMonkey. So, prepare to waste spend lots of time jiggering with your images before you even decide on a layout.

For my order I decided to use the fill-a-yard option to print half yards of four photos, two per yard. I chose cotton sateen because I love its silky hand. Yes, it costs more ($27/yard) than basic cotton or Kona but it’s wider (56 inches) and hey, I’m worth it.  You do get a bit of a discount if you’re the fabric designer.

I had Spoonflower print two of the deck photos, plus a shot of icicles on my neighbor’s downspout and a sun print I had made. My slightly manipulated photos are below. I changed them even more in Spoonflower.

For all of them I chose the mirror image layout as I love the kaleidoscope effects that can give. Did I mention you should set aside large amounts of time to play with all the possibilities?

It took 12 days from Spoonflower’s acknowledgement of my order to shipping, then a few more days for my order to arrive. You can speed up an order a bit by paying more for shipping, but don’t expect to get your finished fabric a day or so after ordering it.

How did my fabric look? (Please ignore the wrinkles)

 

 

I’ve washed and ironed my fabrics per Spoonflower’s recommendation. The color catcher I put in the wash showed almost no bleeding, despite the dark colors.

There are other fabric printing options available in addition to Spoonflower. Check out this article by the Pixeladies for their review of three services.

 

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Light As A Feather?

One of my art quilt groups is fond of challenges. The latest was to make something to do with the word feather. My immediate thought was, no birds. After a string of free association – feathering oar strokes, the feather embroidery stitch, Featherweight, feather in one’s cap, etc. – I settled on feathering my nest. I guess that’s sort of birdlike, though I separated the feathers from the bird. I guess it ended up on the table for Thanksgiving.

Once I chose my theme I decided to make my feathers from a feather. First, I used Ranger ink spray to color sheets of that Pellon 830 I’m fond of. Then, I rolled fabric printing ink and paint on an actual feather, and made several impressions with it. The printed sheets were fused to Wonder Under.

Next came nest creation. I colored a sheet of dampened Pellon 830, this time with Derwent Inktense blocks. After I fused the sheet to Wonder Under, I sliced it up to make a nest.

As you can see, I had already layered and quilted my background (after much fabric choice trial and error.) The last, and most fun, step was to play around with feather placement.

Because the 830 doesn’t ravel, I did no more quilting. I finished the edges with a fused down binding, a la Frieda Anderson.

The other morning my husband told me he liked my “falling leaves.” After I told him they were feathers he replied, “They look like leaves to me.” After all that work printing with the feather!

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The Good and the Bad, With A Side of Ugly

I said I’d show the fabric I dyed at my Sue Benner workshop, but let me warn you my results aren’t swoon worthy. Painting with dye can be tricky. The reds will gallop ahead and take over any space they can. The turquoises will be shy and often show up very late. Spray bottles will be temperamental and drop blobs where you want a haze. Thickening the dye helps, but it can be difficult for a neophyte to gauge how thin or thick a line a squeeze bottle will draw. My point is often you won’t know what you’ll get until you wash and dry the fabric.

I’ll begin with fabrics that began as black painted or monoprinted on fabric. A second pass added color.

In the above I splodged on black from a squeeze bottle and dragged a comb through it. After it sat for a few hours I put a vinyl bathmat under the fabric and rollered on several colors of dye.

In this one I applied the black to the tile board with a paint brush, dragged a notched tool through it, and then used a wipe away tool to remove the black. I laid my fabric on top of the board and rollered over the cloth to take a print. Once the cloth was dry I painted thickened yellow and turquoise dye onto a sheet of vinyl and pressed the vinyl paint side down onto my fabric.

For this one I painted thickened black on my board with a brush, made the curved Xes with the wipe out tool, pressed the cloth over it, and let it sit overnight without washing. The next day I used a stencil to add the green and yellow thin dyes.

Again, I used thickened black dye patterned with a kitchen scrubber and a comb on my tile board. I took the print, let it sit about 2 hours, and then added red and blue violet thin dyes. You can see how the red spread out.

Next, I took up brown thickened dye.

First I applied pale apricot thin dye using a stencil (a vinyl place mat). Next I placed a foam stamp under the fabric and rollered thickened brown dye over it. Then, a fellow student introduced me to felt tip type markers that you fill with your own ink or thin dye. I used that to make the boxes.

I combined a stencil, a sponge and a spatula to make the background. Then I used squeeze bottles to apply the red and turquoise. I had hoped the turquoise would spread out more but that wasn’t to be. I think if I had sprayed chemical water (don’t ask) over the fabric before the turquoise went on it would have spread.

For this one I painted two layers over splotchy turquoise and gold. The first layer of thickened turquoise was applied with a brush on vinyl, which was pressed onto the cloth. I used a squeeze bottle for the second layer of metallic gold paint.

Several other fabrics were less successful in that there’s still a lot of white showing. Like I said, I found it tricky to assess the amount of dye to use. The good news is that I can over dye them easily. If any of my fabrics come out well, I’ll show them off to you. Otherwise, they’ll get cut up and used in supporting roles.

Here’s some tool nerd information for those of you who might be interested. The Kemper wipe out tool is about the size of a pencil with silicone rubber shaping edges at both ends. It came with my class kit. The felt tip markers are designed for ink but work with thin dyes. https://www.imaginecrafts.com/learn-fantastix

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Intense Work for Intense Color

Last week I spent five days in Sue Benner’s Expressive Dye-painting and Printing with Procion MX Dyes class at the Quilt Surface Design Symposium (QSDS) in Columbus, Ohio. It’s a good thing the scenery of that thriving mid Ohio city wasn’t a distraction as my days in the studio began at 7:30 a.m. and often ended at 8 p.m., with breaks for meals.

Here’s what I saw on the way to the studio each morning. The studio, on the campus of the Columbus College of Art and Design, is a converted car dealership.

No, Sue didn’t set such hours for us, but I wanted to do as much as possible, and there’s a heap of washerwoman work involved in dyeing that eats up time. Once dyed, the fabric needs to batch (sit at least 12 hours at 70 plus degrees,) be rinsed (agitated in buckets of cold water until the water is mostly free of dye,) and then washed in hot water (we had a washing machine, thank goodness) and dried and ironed.

There are many approaches to dyeing fabric, all of them developed for different purposes. Dyeing solid color yardage needs a different technique than making patterns on cloth. The class I took stressed abstract painting and printing on silk and cotton with thin and thickened dyes. The dye concentrate tablecloth quickly became colorful.

We applied dyes directly to our fabrics with brushes, squeeze bottles, sprayers, and the like. We also monoprinted our fabrics using vinyl sheets and masonite boards known as tile boards.

Here’s my work table when it was tidied up. The big white square is the tile board.

And I haven’t yet mentioned rubbing, stenciling, stamping and the like. We all fell in love with textured vinyl bathtub mats for making rubbings. The pebbled pattern was especially popular. I used it under the fabric on the right below.

I did at least two layers of dyeing on each piece of my fabric. I learned I could let a piece batch an hour (as in the photo below) and then add more dye to it without the need to wash the fabric in between. This was a real time saver as I didn’t need to do a soda ash soak in between layers of dye. That’s right, you need to reapply soda ash between washings.

While we learned by doing, Sue worked on her class demo pieces and showed us how they came out.

Sue also did the brown/chartreuse piece you can see behind her. At the end of the class she cut that up and gave each of us a piece.

The last day we used paint on our fabrics and had some fun with various contests.

Sue even cut up and distributed the fabric underneath the dye concentrates.

I’ll show closeups of my output soon, but here’s a photo of some of it hanging up on my design wall. You can see my dye color documentation sheet on the table. Each of us was to create a color. Mine was pale apricot, which is on the right in the top row.

The work of many of my classmates was outstanding, as was the sharing that blossomed among the students. As often happens, I relied on the kindness of people who were far more experienced than I, as well as those who over packed.

I did participate in some activities not related to dyeing, such as the impromptu photo shoot of my lunch in the cafeteria. The figures are dear possessions of a QSDS staffer who staged them for her photos. BTW, I really like brussel sprouts.

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Filed under dyeing, Fabric Printing, Techniques