Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Printing on fabric

I usually use commercially printed fabrics that I manipulate for my quilts, but I have been interested in doing more printing of fabrics of my own design. I used to do linoleum block prints on paper, so that is a medium I have been interested in trying on fabrics. I carved a little block that was just straight lines and tried stamping with it, to add texture and dimension to an apple image. Then I mounted the apple on a background made up of two fabrics that I screen printed awhile back.

The border print is a commercial print. I think the fabrics all work together. I think this idea has potential.

Here's how I carve a block. I use a flexible printing plate material like this. I usually mount a piece of the plate material on a block of wood before I begin carving. I draw my design on the material with a black Sharpie marker, then using linoleum carving and wood carving tools, I carefully carve away the background. (The material can actually be cut to shape and then mounted on the block, but it is difficult to cut it into precise shapes and the partially carved away background gives the block stability.)

My little flourish was a doodle. I think I may have been inspired by "the swirly thing"—snort! (see previous post)

When the carving seems complete I try printing the block. I use fabric paint for printing. I squeeze out a little paint onto a small plexiglass sheet and roll it out thin with a soft rubber brayer. Then I roll the brayer carefully over the carved block, so the high parts of the carving pick up the paint. Then I can stamp it onto a piece of fabric with a bit of padding under it. (I'm using a piece of felt for padding)

There are invariably areas that were not carved deeply enough and pick up the paint. They show up clearly, so you can go back and carve them down.

Prints made after the block has been corrected. I think this might be usable in a variety of ways. I like the prints on top of commercial prints as well as on plain fabrics.

These stamps/blocks are a little harder to carve than the soft carving material, but they will hold a crisper line and are more durable, especially for designs with thin lines and lots of small parts.


  1. I like your swirly lines. I remember working with lino cuts and have wanted to give it a go with fabric too. It has been years since I carved one and this newer material looks like a dream! Thank you for such a detailed show of what you have done with it!

  2. neat. really like the swirly thing.

  3. Ah, the swirls gotcha. I love the quilt especially the fabric you created with the stamp.

  4. snort! ya think! These look suspiciously familiar to the blog previous! I like the look myself and am glad you have decided to bring it back.

  5. Nice tutorial; thanks!