Tag Archives: fabric painting

The Fabric Lab Is Open

Summer used to be a time to await the Good Humor ice cream truck and scrape Japanese beetles off rose bushes into milk bottles. (Yes, I’m that old.) Now it’s a time to use fabric coloring products that are messy and need good ventilation, which means an open garage.

So far this summer I’ve used up last summer’s old dyes (stored in the beer refrigerator,) made spray paint with Inktense color blocks, and used place mats as stencils. Some things went right and others went wrong. You just don’t know until you do the work.

The dyeing results were unexpected, as I confused my jars of alum and soda ash, and soaked my fabrics in alum. So, the results were rather pastel though I was using red. In fact, the only vivid colors were on silk and my hands. I should note I was overdyeing fabric.

Videos of different ways to use Derwent Inktense blocks inspired me to experiment. First, I used this video to make spray paint with shavings of the blocks shaken up with water. Using a plastic place mat as my stencil, I sprayed with two colors onto Pellon 830.

Then, I used the spray paint covered place mat to stamp onto another piece of the non-woven fabric. The runniness in some areas was caused by my attempt to see if matte gel medium would darken the colors. It didn’t, but it did make the color run.

Through related Inktense links I found a video for inking stamps with the blocks. Actually, you wet a side of a block with water and rub it over the stamp. As you can see, some colors worked better than others on fabric scraps. The bit on the left is another Inktense spray experiment.

Finally, I tried out what Target called a charger as a stencil. It seems to be made of plastic coated cord that’s woven into a circle.

I used a Marabu fabric spray paint in brown and leftover Ranger spray inks. As you can see, I found the sprays were a bit clogged and I didn’t get a consistent spray on the Pellon non-woven fabric.

I also sprayed onto silk scraps and some kind of semi-sheer curtain fabric. Here the fabrics made the colors bleed, while the nonwoven fabric just sucked them up. And that’s why you experiment before the actual project.

My last fabric lab project will be monoprinting, I hope. I have the supplies, but need to find the right combination of weather and time.

I’ve linked this post to Off-the-Wall Fridays.



Filed under dyeing, Fabric Printing, Project Ideas

Play With Surface Design

Well, it was actually play with paint, but surface design sounds fancier. One of my goals for 2017 was to build on fabric I had printed with thickened dyes at a workshop last fall. For no reason I can explain, the dyes faded a lot on some of my fabric when I washed it, especially ones made with a soy wax resist.

soy-wax-1I had three that looked a lot like this; the vibrant greens had mostly washed out.

A recent paint play date gave me a chance to improve them. Participants brought a wild assortment of objects to print with. Some were ad hoc such as springs, cat toys, chop sticks, bubble wrap, and rubber door stoppers; while others were purpose made, such as stencils and fancy foam brushes. I availed myself of many of these tools, plus empty toilet paper tubes, truly the Swiss army knife of printing.

silk-screen-with-paintThe results are definitely more colorful than what I started with. I may add more to them at the next painting session.


Filed under Fabric Printing, In Process, Techniques

Readymade Resists

Quite by accident I found out that white on white printed quilting cotton acts as a resist when painted or dyed. I dyed some fabric pieces that I thought were plain white but weren’t, and I was delighted with the results.

My first cheater resist featured tiny flowers, which aren’t quite my cuppa, but they do stand out.

overdyed-purpleThen, a friend found white fabric woven with polka dots that showed up wonderfully when dye was applied. Here I used periwinkle dye.

overdyed-periwinkleBy this time I began to seek out white on white fabrics I could color. At a store in the middle of Ohio corn fields I found white fabric printed with cracked ice patterns. I used Pebeo Setacolor to paint a strip of it. The white fabric behind the aqua is the original fabric.

overpainted-setacolorThe popularity of white printed on white fabric waxes and wanes, so you might not find plentiful possibilities right now.  Here’s what eQuilter offers at present. However, I suspect if you investigate your stash you may find you already own some examples.


Filed under dyeing, Fabric Printing, Techniques

Signs of Spring

I haven’t seen freshly cut branches of pussy willow for years, but to me they mean spring is just around the corner. When I was young my aunt would always fill large vases with the branches and I loved to stroke the soft catkins.

When we decided to use the word March for an art quilt group challenge, I immediately thought of those catkins. Then I remembered a small table cloth with matching napkins I had saved from my parents’ house. They were embroidered with pussy willows.

When I unearthed them I recalled why I never used them. The fabric is an unpleasant synthetic. I have no idea what it is, but the set was a wedding gift to my parents circa the late 1940s. I think the embroidery thread is rayon, but the golden yellow cloth doesn’t feel like rayon, and I don’t want to try a burn test on it while the house is closed up.

I’m sure vintage linens collectors will be horrified, but I cut out the embroidered motifs, fused them to gray fabric and stitched them down.  Since that looked bare, I added branches and the outline of a bird’s nest.  Then, the branches needed adornment so I painted catkins and embroidered the brown bits at the stem with perle cotton. I topped off my efforts with yellow dots on the catkins to represent pollen.

Now it’s a new pillow, backed with some Martha Negley fabric I love but could never figure out how to use.

Pussy Willow Pillow

Pussywillow Pillow Back


Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects

A Surprise Bonus

I had Setacolor green and cobalt blue paint left over from my sky painting, so I decided to paint silk organza with it rather than toss the paint. I mixed a turquoise shade, layered mop up cloths and failed experiments under the organza to sop up excess paint, and splashed the paint on.

To my surprise, the cloths meant to sop up the extra paint turned out well. The silk organza also turned out fine, but the payoff was those throw away cloths.

painted fabricHere’s a pile of them, topped with the painted organza.

painted drip clothsThree of the cloths from different layers.

painted on painted damaskA failure with iridescent paint made much more usable with turquoise.

Some of the cloths weren’t great so they have returned to the ugly duckling pile in hopes they’ll become swans in the future.


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Filed under Techniques

Painting the Sky

After many postponements, a friend and I finally got together to paint fabric using Mickey Lawler’s techniques. Following Mickey’s book and DVD on Skydyes, we covered damp white cotton fabric with Setacolor fabric paint. Here’s our paint mixing table and our sponges and brushes.

Setacolor paint mixingOne lesson I learned was that colors really lighten up as the fabric dries. You’d think I would know this from dyeing, but I’m a slow learner.

Painted landscape wetPainted landscape dryThe sky is actually more nuanced than the photo shows, but I had expected a less pastel result.

Here’s another example, this time using Mickey’s scrunching technique. The fabric on the left is my mop up cloth.

Scrunched fabric and mop cloth wetScrunched fabric dryOne easy technique I enjoyed was sponging paint on with light taps. I made a winter sky that didn’t seem to lighten as much as the pieces above.

Winter sky landscape wetWet

Winter sky landscape dryDry

We did learn we could use a bit more practice, as what seemed effortless on the DVD wasn’t so easy. What a surprise!


Filed under Fabric Printing, Techniques

Discharged and Decorated

Inspired by the demo I attended on arashi shibori discharge, I dug out a bleach pen and a jar of Jacquard discharge paste I had bought some years ago.  I didn’t have any chemical to use as a bleach stop, so I relied on soap and water to rinse the bleach pen from my samples.  The discharge paste is used differently as it is activated by steam ironing.  Instructions say to wash the fabric to remove the product after ironing.

My fabric guinea pigs were a black cotton twill, hand dyed scraps, and cotton velveteen. My first experiment was discharge paste applied with a foam brush on the velveteen.

Discharged_velveteenDischargedvelveteen_sparkle_paintDischargedvelveteen_Inktense_pencilsThe first photo is of the whole piece of velveteen, with the middle section showing the discharge effect.  The second photo shows the Jacquard irridescent purple paint I tried out for the first time, while the third is a closeup of Inktense pencil treatment.  I’m really in love with cotton velveteen as it washes beautifully and stands up to abuse.

The photo below shows my attempt to stamp with the discharge paste.  Since you don’t see the results of the paste until you iron the fabric, it’s hard to gauge whether you’re applying enough paste for the effect you want. One surprise was the gold color that the twill turned when the black was discharged.

Stamped_discharge_pasteI made the spirals below with a bleach pen.  The top strip shows what happens when you use too much.  I dunked these in a bucket of water after about 15 minutes and then machine washed them.

Bleach_pen_dischargeFinally, I diluted the discharge paste with water and tried the stamp again.  I also swiped the scrap on the left with some of the leftover diluted paste.

Discharge_pasteConclusion – both the bleach pen and the discharge paste are thick, and the latter seems to be easier to use when it’s diluted a bit.  A downside to the discharge paste is the ammonia smell that is released when you iron the dry fabric. And it’s REALLY  important that you work in a well ventilated area with either product. My venue was a screen porch.  I found the bleach pen didn’t work at all on some all cotton fabric, which was too bad as it was really ugly fabric.  It’s important to prewash your fabric to remove any sizing that will block discharge.

If I use stamps again in this process I plan to experiment first with how the stamp prints before I apply my discharge agent. This experiment gave me a sense of how much product to apply and yet another way to mess around with fabric.


Filed under dyeing, In Process, Techniques