DIY : Print Your Own Fabric 

5 mins read

Guest post by Karina from Maple Ash and Oak


Here is a simple and inexpensive way to create your very own fabric pieces. No need for large screens, squeegees, and emulsion. Beautiful prints can be created with simple methods and materials. Most of the supplies are household items and the rest can be found at your local art or craft store.

What you will need:

2-3 yards 1/4″ Foam
Fabric (for your prints and a cover cloth)
Textile Inks (can be found at your local art store)
Scotch Tape
T-pins or Sewing Pins
Plastic Folders or Tray
Exact o Knife
Contact Paper (transparent)
Rubber Bands
Stamps (optional)

Start by preparing your print space. I have a portable print table, but you can create your own with a little ingenuity. Cut off about a 9″ strip of foam (save this for later). Take the larger piece and place it on your table, a fold out card table works best. Cut the foam in the shape of the table. Take your large cover cloth (make sure it doesnt have a textured weave) and place it over your foam and table. Secure each corner to the leg of the table by tying or taping, just make sure its tight (iron your cloth to make sure there are no wrinkles or folds).

Now you can take your fabric and pin it to your print table. In my samples I use a organic cotton muslin and a cotton/linen blend. Start by pinning the centers of each side and work your way to the corners. I space my pins about 5″. Then tape each edge, covering your pins as well. I also used tape to divide my printing space into three quadrants.

Now comes the fun part… creating your designs! Get out your contact paper and start sketching. Bold shapes work great and are pretty easy to draw and cut out. Cut off a large piece of contact paper, about 12″x12″ works well, and cut out your design using an exact o knife. Think of the contact paper as the stencil for your design. Save the shapes you cut out, you can use those as well!
I’ve been obsessing over triangles lately so here is one of my stencils:

After the paper is peeled from the contact paper place it on your fabric:

Now take out the extra piece of foam you set aside. Cut it into 4 – 5 square pieces. Fold the corners of the foam together and secure with a rubber band as shown below. These are your printing poofs.

Take out your textile pigments and mix as desired. I use little Tupperware containers and spatulas to mix my special colors. Pour out a little dab onto your plastic tray. Use your dauber, poofy as I call it, and dab until you have a consistent coating

Place your contact paper (sticky side down) where desired on your fabric and start dabbing the ink.

I use the contact paper triangles I cut out from my design on the right to form a new pattern on my fabric on the left. Move your stencil around your fabric to create super awesome patterns.

Try different things like stamps, daubing through lace, and layering different stencils. Allow each print to dry in between layers.

I hand cut a rubber stamp and used it to create this repeating pattern

In progress:

Play around with the thickness and texture created with your dauber.

Unpin fabric from your table and iron to heat set your pieces.

I love working with fabric, the possibilities are endless. Use your fabric to truly personalize your home with hand crafted pillows, tea towels, napkins, ect.

Or simply hang your new piece of artwork and enjoy.

Jan Halvarson

Jan founded Poppytalk in 2005 while a student at Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design (now ECU) to catalogue inspiration from typography to interior design. Since then she’s collaborated with Target (creating a limited edition glamping collection), a wallpaper collection with Milton & King, as well has written as a contributor at Wired, Martha Stewart and Huffington Post.