I was trained as a textile designer. I used to wile away my hours making hand printed fabric using silkscreens in the art department. I miss making fabric! I once had a dream of becoming a textile designer. Not that there isn’t still time 😉
This DIY is perfect for the beginner. It uses recycled materials, and you only need to buy a few supplies. The process is not difficult, but it does take some time. Then again… anything handmade is a labor of love.
At the end of this post, I will share with you how I find my inspiration for all things creative.
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Supplies for DIY Hand Printed Fabric:
~ An old sheet
~ Measuring tape
~ Flower stencil (download here)
~ X-acto knife and/or good scissors
~ Rubber cement
~ An old towel
~ Small flat brush
~ New sponge
Step-by-step Instructions for making DIY Hand Printed Fabric:
Cutting the Fabric
1. You can make one, big piece of printed fabric, or you can cut up your sheet and make napkins, as I did here. Begin by measuring out your squares. I made mine 22”, but you can choose to go bigger or smaller depending on your sheet or fabric. (If you have store bought fabric, don’t forget to wash it first to get rid of the sizing).
2. Make a small cut every 22”. Tear the sheet at each cut. Woven fabric was meant to be torn, it will always tear in a straight line. Saves time and definitely will be straighter than cutting!
Making the Stencil
3. Print out the stencil. Turn it over. I use the “transfer method” to transfer the flower pattern onto the foam. Using a dullish pencil, press down hard and color in the flower line. Turn the paper stencil over and lay it on top of the foam, pencil line down. Now use the pencil again and draw over flower outline. The pencil from the back should come off just enough so that you can see the outline.
4. Cut the flower out with scissors or an X-acto. It’s handy to have the X-acto for the inside of the flower, but not necessary.
5. Take your cardboard and cut four equal square pieces (or circle if you want to get fancy), just slightly bigger than your foam stencil. Glue them together. Then, using the rubber cement, glue the stencil on top. The best way to use the rubber cement so that the stencil never comes off is like this: put glue on both the cardboard and the stencil. Let them both dry. Then put them together.
Stamping the Fabric
6. Find a table where you can work. Lay down a towel, then cover it with newspaper or newsprint. (Your table needs to be slightly padded for printing on fabric.) Secure with tape under the table. Now lay down your napkin square. I used tape on the corners, stretching it just a teensy bit so that it was slightly taught.
7. I tried several techniques for stamping, but found that the paintbrush method worked best and gave me the most consistent color.
8. After you’ve mixed your paint and made a color that you like, start by painting it on the foam stencil. Don’t put on too much, just enough to keep it wet but not thick. Next, quickly use your damp sponge to blot the paint. This makes the paint a consistent texture. Using a scrap of fabric for the first run, turn the stencil over and press down firmly with your hand. Make sure to push all around where you think the edges of the flower would be. When you are done pressing, slowly peel off the stencil.
9. Always start at a corner of the fabric. Work your way across, carefully placing the flowers at about an inch to two inches apart. Remember to go off the sides if you are making napkins so that it looks like a professional, repeat pattern.
Sewing the Edges (if you are making napkins)
10. After stamping and drying, make a simple hem around the edges.
11. Don’t forget to read the directions on the paint jars for how to set the paint!! When you have finished hemming and setting the paint, give them a wash. And now you are done!
Before I go, a word about inspiration…
The colors for this printed fabric project were inspired by a painting my dad made, a cake my sister-in-law made, and the flowers on my table.
I often get asked how I come up with ideas. It’s sort of hard to explain, but yet so simple. Ask any writer, artist, chef, architect, landscaper what inspires them and there is a common thread in their answers. We are all inspired by our surroundings. The nature outside my window is always changing, with autumn sometimes being so vibrant it takes my breath away. In wintertime the trees are covered with a blanket of snow, and the gray quiet soothes and reboots my soul. Hanging on my walls are my dad’s paintings. From him I inherited my love of color. Fresh flowers, my children’s art, my daughter’s quilt, art supplies, a good book…all of these things make up my life and ignite my imagination in endless ways. I guess as artists, our minds work differently.
(First published on Small for Big in 2013)
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