My Fabric Painting & Printapalooza Weekend

I confess, if I didn’t love Quilting Arts so much, I’d throw in the towel and spend all of my time painting and dyeing fabric.  You see, some day when I finally grow up, I want to be Jane Dunnewold (or Kerr Grabowski).  I save any kind of surface design work for the summer when I can work outside on my driveway, which I can’t quite do over the winter months. See what I mean?

But at long last, the temps are in the 80s, the sun is finally out, and my portable table that I keep loaded with fabric painting and dyeing supplies in my garage, is ready to be lugged out onto the pavement.

fabric dyeing supplies

I adore fabric dyeing most especially, but when you’re out of practice for a few months, it can be a little overwhelming to jump into right away. After all, there is so much prep work and things to remember like soda soak solutions, Synthropol, urea, and if you like to deconstruct screen print, add dye thickening agents, screens, squeegees, etc., to the mix.

So I often launch surface design season with a little fabric sun printing activity–a one-step, easy process to get color on fabric to achieve faux batik effects. And with such an easy process, I try and exercise my color mixing skills, which get rusty over the winter months. Last week I placed an online order at Pro Chemical & Dye, ordering PFD fabric and five colors of Setacolor paints: red, yellow, blue, black, and white. (If you have these five basic colors, you can produce any color imaginable.)

If you’ve never sun printed fabric before, you need:

Setacolor paints by Pebeo (regular fabric paints wont work)

Foam brushes

Small plastic containers


Fabric (preferably PFD)

Spray bottle filled with water

Print board

Stuff to print with (leaves, stencils, household items, etc.)


1. Pin your fabric to your print board so it’s taut.

2. Spray the fabric with your mister. (This is so that the paint will move a little when you apply it.)

3. Pour about two tablespoons of each of the colors into your plastic containers, and splash each with water. (I usually have a 1:1 ratio, but I’m not very exact about it.)

4. Paint your fabric with the various colors using the foam brushes.

5. Place objects on top and allow fabric to dry before removing them.

This time I tried sun printing using my stencils from the Crafter’s Workshop. I love ’em…

stencils for surface design

A  few fabrics created using these stencils for sun printing:

sun printed textile dyeing

I then got a little more adventurous and gathered items around my house to see what everyday gadgets I could try. Here are some of the things I chose…

There’s “Vintage Spool” fabric:

sun printed textile dyeing with spools

“Show Me the Money!” fabric:

sun printed surface design

 “Come on Baby, Light My Fire!” fabric:

dyeing fabric with light resist

“Don’t Get Clipped!” fabric:

printing fabric

“Airing Your Dirty Laundry” fabric:

printing fabric

“Fabric for Fido” fabric:

printing fabric

Which Louie felt he needed to guard closely while the fabric was drying…

fabric dyeing

All in all, a fun and productive weekend!

fabric dyeing results

This is just the beginning stages for the fabrics, as I’ll add some Thermofax-screened images and perhaps some foiling:

screen printing fly


If you are heading to Long Beach for the International Quilt Festival and Make It University!(TM) in July, I’m teaching an all-day Printapalooza class. Weather permitting, we’ll do some sun printing outside as well as Thermofax screening, stamping, and stenciling. It will be a fun time!


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