Experimenting in fabric printing

With a 3 year old son, you would think that I would be full of ideas for things I’ve always wanted to do, ideas or jobs that i’d been putting off. Yet when my first feed came around and I got to choose what I did, I drew a complete blank to start with. 

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I’ve always enjoyed sewing and textile crafts. My projects have always started with a pattern which promptly gets thrown out the window and I find my own way through ( which doesn’t always work) But i’ve always used shop bought fabrics (shopping for beautiful fabrics is often the best part) which makes your creations instantly less unique. So I finally decided that I would use my feed to print my own fabric and then make something from that.

Not having a garage full of screen printing tools I decided to try out some more basic printing methods– cue Pinterest and a bag of spuds.

After drawing up some ideas of shapes of various levels of detail I transferred some of them over to Potato stamps, foam and lino cut stamps.

Now my stamps were cut i needed to decide what I was going to print on. I chose 4 different fabrics, one a normal light weight calico, a bleached calico, a poly-cotton and a linen. As this was my first attempt I went for white/off white colours so that I could use the stamps to introduce the colour.

I found some old fabric paints in the depths of a draw which I decided to use, as they were primary colours I was able to mix them to make my own colour pallet.

fabricsTo start with I tried each variation of stamp on each fabric to see what would work best. The lino stamps worked better on the bleach calico and the poly-cotton. Whilst the potato stamps worked well on all the fabrics.

The first piece of fabric I printed was the pineapple on the calico. This went on nicely but in hindsight the foam needed to be deeper as the paint caught on the edges of the card leaving marks around the main stamp.

Next I moved on to the cactus on the poly-cotton. This one was time consuming having to paint on two different colours each time I used the stamp.

Whilst the lino stamps let me add more detail than with the potato stamps they didn’t hold the paint as well which meant that they are a lot less intense colour wise on the fabric.

Before I knew it I had used all my fabric, paint and arm strength. The fabric was left to dry for a couple of hours before being ironed to fix the paint. The finished pieces of fabric came out well, I was pleased with the result that such basic tools could create. The hand stamping is a rhythmic and slightly therapeutic way of printing, but for any bigger lengths of fabric it would take a while.

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Once the paint was fixed I started about using two pieces of the fabric to make some cushions, I used a relatively simple pattern to show of the fabric and not detract from it.

The pineapple fabric was used to make a book bag with a nice bright lining. I also made a fabric storage box out of one of the smaller pieces

Looking back at the day, what I enjoyed the most was the uninterrupted time to be creative. To start and finish something was hugely satisfying. I documented the day through an Instagram story which got some great feedback. I don’t get much time to be creative these days, it was nice to remind myself that I can do these things. I think potato stamp christmas cards are next for me…

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The Studio, Unit 28, Kernick Industrial Estate, Penryn,
Cornwall, TR10 9EP

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