Tag Archive | hand printed fabric

Hand printed fabric swap – the other side

I posted about the fabric I sent to Louise, a couple of days ago. I’m very happy to post now the fabric I received from her.



Louise took her inspiration from some genuine fifties fabric, and only flipping HAND-DREW all those flowers! They’re beautifully even and I swear you’d never think they were done by hand if you didn’t know they were.

Thank you again, Louise, for a beautiful piece of fabric, and for the additional extra treats!


The truly hand printed daisy lawn fabric

The story so far… You may recall a little while back I took part in Marilla Walker’s Hand Printed Fabric Swap. I was paired with Louise of Elsie May and Bertha. I had decided to go with my idea of a daisy lawn print.

Now read on…

I started by making the stamps. I drew my ideas onto craft foam (man, that stuff stinks!) and cut out the shapes. I used tiny embroidery scissors, because I wanted to be able to get a good curve and sharp angles, to differentiate the petals. I stuck the stamps onto blocks of wood offcuts, generously provided by the Gentleman Friend. We did end up having something of a “creative dialogue” as to whether my daisies are technically daisies or not, given that in real life daisy petals are long and pointed, whereas mine are wide and rounded. I won this argument by virtue of the fact that I’m not doing *actual* daisies, they’re more stylised/conceptual daisies, and in any case, it’s my project and I can call them daisies if I want to, so nyer!

Lots of different floral stamps

Lots of different floral stamps

Once I had the stamps made, I had to do some test runs. I used about 25cm of my fabric length to try various print blocks and colours, and see how much paint I’d need, and so on. Well, you saw the try-outs, I’d picked a green that was too dark. My bad, I hadn’t really thought that through when I’d clicked the “buy” button, live and learn. But I didn’t want to waste more money and time (I was working to a deadline!)  trying to buy more fabric, so I figured I just *had* to make it work.

One of the try-outs, which I tried after taking the disaster photo, was a smaller flower shape, in the white. The smaller shape printed reasonably well in the white, so I tried adding a little yellow centre to it, to see if the white behind it would make it pop. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting it to “pop”, I would have been happy with a slightly damp “pfft”, but it turned out OK, and I decided that would be the one. I abandoned my lovely ladybird idea and decided it was just the lawn.

In view of the fact that I have very little working space in my flat and the fact that I had two colours to work with, I had to do my printing over several sessions, spanning the whole of the August bank holiday weekend. The first thing was to print the white flowers. I decided I wanted the flowers to be approximately 10cm apart, and eyeballed it. The lawn is therefore not entirely geometrically even! I had worked out that it was easiest to apply the paint to the stamp rather than trying to dip the stamp in paint- the paint is too thick and the stamp is not thick enough for that to be useful. I started using a paintbrush to cover the stamp, but it soon became clear it was easier to use my finger, I could get a much more even coverage. I did one set of white flower stamps which was about 70cms of my metre, in one sitting on Friday evening, left it out to dry and did the second set on the Saturday. I did a smidge more than the requisite one metre, because I was on a roll.

The white petals

The white petals a-drying

On the Monday, I did the yellow centres. I just finger-painted them on (this project has been very much like being in primary school!). So this fabric really is “hand-printed”. Again, I had to do it in two goes, and I gave it plenty of drying time between them, because the yellow paint wasn’t “soaking” into the fabric like the white one, it was resting on top of the layer of white paint.

The petals with the yellow centres

The petals with the yellow centres

Gratuitous close-up of the daisies

Gratuitous close-up of the daisies

Once the yellow paint was dry, I ironed the heck out of it, to set the paint.

Then I washed it again, to check that it was all ok. Because if it wasn’t, I had a load more printing to do, and not much time to do it. That was a real heart-in-mouth moment! But hooray, all was well- it survived the washing machine and the hot tumble dryer, without ill effect, so I could safely send it out in time for the 2nd September deadline. Though, as it turned out, Louise and I agreed a time extension, so it’s only now that it’s ok to post about this fabric. Gosh, it does seem like a long time since I did it!

Given that this was my first ever attempt, my hand printed fabric turned out way better than I expected. Although, that isn’t saying much – I had very low expectations! It wasn’t perfect, far from it. But I like what I created and I hope Louise can find some creative use for it.

It’s been an interesting project, because it was all so new to me. Now I’ve got more of an idea of what I’m doing, I’d like to do more fabric-printing. I’ve got lots of designs (“designs”, she says! They’re just ideas and doodles) I want to print, and more importantly, use. The ladybird will happen one way or another. And the Gentleman Friend has put the idea of cherries into my head. Then there’s a load of seashore prints I’d like to try (maybe in a nautical navy). So it’s a big thank you to Marilla, for making this happen!


P.S. If this has inspired you to think about hand printing fabric yourself, word on the street is that Marilla may be hosting another swap in the not too distant future.

P.P.S. There will shortly be a What I Received post, but this one has been sitting in my Drafts folder for quite some time- and at last I can post it!

Printing starts in earnest

Conscious of the 2nd September posting deadline, I’ve started officially on the hand printed fabric for the Swap.

Following on from my last post, I’ve simplified the design and made everything smaller than I’d originally thought. I got into a good swing, and could judge how much paint I needed on the stamp pretty well.

No pics till it's all finished and safely in the hands of its intended owner

No pics till it’s all finished and safely in the hands of its intended owner

I’ve done about 70cm of the requisite metre, for the first layer. I need to let that dry before I can do the rest of the base layer, and then add the next colour.

I am enjoying this process enormously, and last night I was doodling more designs in my notebook, to try in the future.

Hand printed fabric rethink

Hmm… I’ve just been trying things out on the green fabric. It’s very dark, and the red and yellow paint just aren’t showing up. The white paint is OK, actually, but I’m having to accept that this cotton and this paint just isn’t going to work for what I wanted to do.

Trial runs - the flash makes everything look clearer

Trial runs – the flash makes everything look clearer than it actually is.

I’ll wait & see how the paint dries, to see if that makes a difference, but I’m thinking it probably won’t.

So that means EITHER I do what I wanted to do but with different fabric, or I do something different from my original plan.

A bit of spontaneous late night printing

Oh my goodness, this hand printing lark is going to be harder than I thought!

I’ve just been inspired to try a quick bit of stamping, nice & easy- a dot border print, using a cork. I thought that was a bit clever of me- if the border doesn’t work, at least there’s still plenty of fabric left to play with!

Imperfect polka dots

Imperfect polka dots

The stamping bit is fine, but the practicalities around it all are currently challenging. Like, not having a nice big firm surface to work on. Like needing to have something underneath because the paint soaks through the fabric. Like trying to avoid oops elements where the paint goes where I don’t really want it to go. I’ve cunningly photographed a section that was relatively clean, but there’s some bits of spattering on the parts you aren’t seeing, from where I’ve manhandled the fabric without due care & attention.

I’m also thinking that the white & red is rather stark. I’d still use it though!

I’m leaving it to dry overnight. I couldn’t do any more because I didn’t have enough workspace. I don’t think I’ve done enough to make anything wearable out of it yet, so I will probably finish that border properly tomorrow, and see how I can adapt my working to get more done at a time, especially when I’m working on the actual swap fabric.

I need a lot more practice!

Thursday afternoon update – I’ve finished the dots off and they’re waiting to dry. Hopefully, when I get back from this afternoon’s work, it’ll be dry enough that I can give it all a good hot iron to set it.

Hand Printed Fabric – a bit more info

You know how sometimes you get an idea and you know, you just *know*, with an overwhelming truth, that it’s the right thing. Well, I got that about the hand printed fabric.

I had been feeling rather overwhelmed with possible ideas for the Hand Printed Fabric Swap, especially as Marilla has done such a great job of providing inspiration. They’re all such good ideas, but none of them was particularly standing out as being what I wanted, so as usual I had to take the ideas out of my head and put them down on paper (or at least, electrons), where I could pin them down and control them. I started trawling the net for images for an inspiration board.

To cut a long story short, this image from Devra (Puu’s Door of Time) was the starting point for the thought that turned into The Idea.

Image ganked shamelessly (well slightly shamefully, I don’t want Devra to think I’m too blasé about these things) from Puu’s Door of Time

It may not seem like so much of a big starting point, but there was something about it that was drawing me. Possibly it was the blocky shape of the print (and I was thinking “I can make a block print”), possibly it was the floralness of the print (and I’d been thinking all along about making that print a floral, because, duh, Floral!) But in the end it was the little bees that are flitting between the blocks of floral that did it for me. All at once it came to me with that Oh! Oh!!! Ohhh!!!!!!! feel. One of my dance friends, Candi, had a green costume that she called her Daisy Lawn costume. It had started life as a plainish green glittery costume, but she blinged it up with a ton of silk daisies and a few ladybird beads. It was the thought of ladybirds that clinched it.  I suddenly knew was going to be my printed fabric.

The daisy lawn costume

The daisy lawn costume – I’m really sorry to Candi, I wish I could have found a more glam performance photo, but this Trying On pic was the only one I could find of the Daisy Lawn. I’ve blurred her face, to try and preserve her Diva status.

So that’s the thing that has become my prime inspiration for this project. It’s not going to look anything like that, but this is the Starting Off Point. I just hope now that it will become something that swap partner Louise can enjoy and use.

And now onto some of the details…


The spec is that it has to be a natural fibre and it has to be at least 1 metre long by 140cm wide in order to make it a useful piece of material. Right from the start, I was thinking I might make more than the specified amount, so I could keep some for myself, so I want to make sure I use fabric that I would like myself:

  • Linen? I’m seeing a lot of Irish linen available online, and it’s making me think of teatowels! But linen is in the running.
  • Cotton lawn, poplin or drill. Will possibly be my favoured option
  • Wool? Just no. I’m not sure that it would take printing well.
  • Silk? I’m not sure my budget is up to it. I’ll have a hunt around on Ebay, see if there’s any possibility. Working with silk would be a whole different thing from working with cotton or linen, and I’m not sure I’m willing to spend that sort of money on a massive experiment.
  • While I first thought of using some white cotton jersey from the Stash, I decided a knit might not be the most stable thing for printing on, and might not be so useful to my swap partner as a woven fabric. But I might use it as a playing & practice fabric.
  • I had already been eyeing a load of white linen & cottons, up but when the Big Idea popped into my head, I realised that actually a colour would be a good base for what I’ve got in mind, so that’s widened my field (oh no! More choice!).

Challenges & How I can get around them

  • I’m limited in that I don’t have a table to work on, and my floor is carpeted, so not exactly the best working surface. I think I’m going to be acquiring a largeish cutting board, so that I have a decent working surface at least. It will be useful for other things too.
  • I’ve got NO supplies whatsoever. Luckily we’ve got a *really* good art & craft shop nearby, George Weil, and I think I shall be paying them a visit at the weekend to get some fabric paint/ink in.
  • I’d quite like to have a play, before I try the real thing, so I need to have a think about making another print other than the Big Idea!


  • This is going to require block printing
  • I’d like to keep it simple – something really easy, like potato printing.
  • I could make a pattern out of craft foam or something like that, but I don’t have little blocks of wood lying around to mount them on. However, it’s perfectly possible that the Gentleman Friend will have.
  • There may be a small amount of fabric pen work for detail.


Hand printed fabric and the Inspiration Fairy

The Hand Printed Fabric Swap

The Hand Printed Fabric Swap

The Inspiration Fairy has sprinkled me with her twinkly magic dust, and the concept for my hand printed fabric has lodged itself firmly in my head. I’m not sure how I’m going to make it happen yet. I’ve got the picture in my head, and I need to work out what techniques and supplies I need to bring in to achieve the vision. But I now know that I need to start with a coloured fabric, not a white one, so that’s a step in the right direction.

I need to do a bit of shopping for supplies. Thankfully we have an excellent art & craft store nearby, George Weil, and I will be patronising them at the weekend, for the needful things. I’m hoping that there won’t be too many needful things, but that’s something I can ponder now that I’ve got the Big Idea.