Friday, 22 January 2010

Fabric Printing for Block Lotto & Paper Printing for 365 Cards - Tutorial

As per my last couple of posts, I've got a bit excited about the idea of doing Blog Lotto.  So, having confirmed with the blog owner Sophie that my self-dyed Whaley's Cotton Sateen, being medium-weight 100% cotton will be acceptable, I searched my entire stash for WOW (white on white) medium-weight 100% quilting cotton, and couldn't find any, at all.  It was raining, and I'm feeling poor and didn't really want to go out and buy any...

So I decided to print some up for myself, using some Opaque White Screen Ink that I bought from Committed to Cloth a good few years ago when I was doing one of their courses.  The beauty of this Screen Ink is it's for fabrics and once heat set can be washed, and as long as you don't layer it on too thickly, it doesn't alter the handle of the fabric too much - whereas Acrylic Paint (which you can also use) can peel off in use, and you can't wash it, so you can't use it for anything that needs washing after use. 

That said,  I've done a little tutorial below, as the principles are the same for Acrylic Paint or the Screen Ink and I thought people might want to know how to do it for themselves.

Step 1: Gather together the items you need:
a. your cloth or paper - that you want to print your image on
b. your printing medium - paint or ink - it needs to be quite thick and gloopy otherwise you end up with splodges when the ink runs off the stamp)
c. a suitable stamp - I've used an Indian wooden stamp of a flower that I acquired at a craft fair years ago - you could use a cork, or a stamp you've carved yourself out of a potato or even a pencil eraser.  I don't recommend using your favourite scrapbooking/ cardmaking stamp unless you are quick off the mark on cleaning it (as the ink/ acrylic paint dries really quickly) and have a gentle stamp cleaning sponge that won't ruin it if you need to give it a bit of a scrub.
d. a flat palette and an ink pad - I use the lid of a plastic takeaway box and a couple of pieces of white felt for this.  Depending on the colour of ink used, I sometimes keep the ink pad felt after it's dried and use it in my textile pieces or cards (it makes great flowers etc), but you'll probably just want to throw it away.  You need to use felt because it is a bit bouncy and will 'give up' the ink when you press the stamp onto it.
e.  Decent covering for your table (and some old clothes) - I use layers made up of a vinyl tablecloth (not shown) with a layer of plastic (which is actually the bag that part of my sofa came in) and then some newspaper topped off with cheap paper Banqueting tablecloth.  Any ink/paint spillages or overprinting will be soaked up by the newspaper and banqueting cloth which can then be thrown away and you won't need to clean your plastic layer nor your vinyl tablecloth.
f. Kitchen or paper towels - to keep your fingers relatively clean.

Don't use Barrier Cream etc as it stops the ink/paint sticking to the cloth/paper, but you could use gloves if you need to have clean hands for work the next day and are a bit worried about the ink/paint staining your skin.

Step 2:  Put a splodge of ink/paint on your felt pad on your palette and rub it into a thinnish layer on the felt.  Then put your stamp in it, and then 'blot' your stamp a bit against some of the felt that doesn't have the ink/paint on it.  If you're using acrylic paint, it's a good idea to make your felt very slightly damp (this means barely damp, you don't want to dilute the paint, just make the felt a bit thirsty so it takes up & gives the paint up more easily) first with water.  I didn't do this with the ink as I'm not sure it would be a good idea, and it made it harder to handle, so next time I'm going to dampen my felt pad and see what difference it makes.

Step 3: Print the stamp onto the cloth/ paper making sure you turn the stamp around randomly to get a nice coverage (unless you want your stamping all in the same direction).  Depending on what effect you want you can use more or less ink or use the stamp twice before reinking.  As with any background type stamping, stamp across the edges of the fabric fairly frequently so that the pattern goes to the very edges.   I wanted quite a random & rough effect so sometimes the print isn't complete or is too much or too little ink.  To make it more even, pad out the printing area with layers of newspaper to make it more 'bouncy' and have more give, then the printing will be easier to control, you can then also 'pin' out the cloth against the layers which will also mean you don't have to keep touching the cloth to keep it still when pulling the stamp off it.  Try and keep your fingers wiped with the kitchen towel so you don't leave fingerprints of ink where you don't want them (long nails help with this, or hold a cocktail stick or similar). 

Sorry for the poor quality of this one, I was in the kitchen with the light behind me....

Step 4: Print as much as you need/ want. 

I know I want to cut my fabric up into nine 9" blocks, so I did 3 lengths of 9"x27" approx plus a left over bit in case I needed it for something else later, and to use up the excess ink.  Then leave it to dry overnight somewhere the cat/ family/ you won't trample it by accident - make sure you've protected the surface you're drying the cloth/ paper on - I used more plastic and more banqueting roll underneath mine because the ink/paint seeps through and you don't want to end up with coloured floors or furniture!  Particularly because mine are balanced on the top of a large Victorian Wicker Basket that holds all the clean washing ready for ironing....

Step 5: Don't waste the leftover ink
I got some coloured sugar paper and printed all over it with the leftover ink until there was none left.  I'll use this paper for cards for one of the 365 Cards Challenges in due course.  I've also kept the felt I used as an ink pad, because I'll either add more colour later or just cut it up into flower shapes or similar for using on a card in due course (cheaper than Bazzill Chips flowers!)

Step 6: Make sure you wash your stamp and palette/ utensils IMMEDIATELY.  If you've got to stop for any reason or can't wash up straight away - then put them into soak in cold water until you get back, otherwise you could find yourself with a solid mess of wasted ink and ruined stamp (although if you've made it out of a potato that might not be an issue, unless you need exactly the same stamp again to carry on)

Step 7: If you're using acrylic paint, you're good to go once it's dried, but remember you can really only use it for decorative purposes, as acrylic paint will fall off with much use or if it's washed. 

If you're using screen ink or other fabric paint make sure you follow the instructions for setting it. 

I have to leave mine for 12 - 24hrs then cover it with baking parchment and iron it on a Cotton setting on the right side without steam, then on the wrong side.  Then I am going to stick it in the washing machine as this will improve the handling for when I turn it into 9 TicTacToe Blocks for the Blog Lotto January Blocks.


  1. Lois, that is SO COOL. Whoever the Block Lotto winners are this month–there will be at least 4 of them–I know they are going to treasure your blocks!

    FYI, I received your email and have responded. Send up a flare if you don't receive it.


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