Three Fast and Easy Surface Design Techniques

I’m at International Quilt Market and Festival in Houston this week, soaking up all the fabric, quilting, and surface design ideas I can and meeting up with old and new fiber art friends. The only downside is that it’s a little like walking into the world’s best bakery when you’re on a diet: so much inspiration and no time to actually make fiber art!

shibori art quilt by jeannie palmer moore
Strawberry art quilt using the
can-and-string method of shibori dyeing.
By Jeannie Palmer Moore.

Rest assured I am taking notes and will be sharing my observations and inspiration with you here and on social media. And, I cannot wait to get back to my home studio and dive into the textiles I bought and some of the surface design techniques and products I’ve seen.

Especially with the holidays coming, though, I know my studio time will be scant-and I bet it’s like that for many of you reading this. So I thought I’d remind you of three relatively quick and easy surface design techniques you can play with any time you have a couple of studio hours available.

Gelatin Monoprinting with Paint. It’s easy to make a gelatin plate for monoprinting, and even easier (and faster) to set up your printing table if you already have a Gelli® plate that you can use whenever you feel the urge to print on fabric.

Then you just ink up your plate with paint and a brayer, apply designs or handmade masks, and print on your fabric. Fabric painting with this method can be done in a small space with easy clean-up-though you will need to provide a separate, protected table or counter for the printed fabric.

Crayon Resist. Using ordinary wax crayons, fabric paint, and rubbing plates or stamps, you can add color and pattern to a piece of fabric faster than you can say “surface design.” Just draw on the fabric with the crayons, paint over the design, let dry, and then place the fabric between paper towels and press with a hot iron until the wax is absorbed.

Shibori from a Can. Shibori dyeing yields beautiful patterns and colors, but the process can take up a lot of time and space. A simple, easy, and space-saving way to achieve the shibori effect is to wrap the fabric around a can, scrunch it around the cylinder, wind and tie string around it, then apply fabric paint. Once the fabric is dry, you can re-wrap it an paint on another color.

You’ll find tutorials for these techniques from Liz Berg, Rose Legge, and Jeannie Palmer Moore, respectively, plus six more fabric painting techniques in our new eBook Surface Design Sampler. The ebook offers techniques for a range of surface design skills, but most are doable for the beginning to intermediate fiber artist.

If you’ve been resisting surface design because you didn’t think you had the time, there’s no need to wait. Dive into the delicious techniques in Surface Design Sampler. You’ll use them over and over again.

P.S. What’s your favorite fast surface design technique? Share with everyone below.

Other topics you may enjoy:


Easy Quilting, Fabric Painting & Dyeing, Quilting Daily Blog, Quilting Techniques