Art quilting can be an expensive hobby. A good-quality sewing machine, specialty threads, and stacks and stacks of fat quarters, are just the beginning. It always seems like there's some new gadget, tool, or surface-design supply I absolutely must have.
But I come from thrifty New England stock, with a strong ethic of making do wherever we can. So while I do like to use high-quality tools and materials in my art quilting, I also love to be reminded that sometimes you can make your own art supplies with stuff you probably have around the house.
Fabric stamping is one of the ways you can make your own unique textiles for very little money, especially if you make your own stamps. In the October/November 2012 issue of Quilting Arts Magazine, Marcia Derse shows many ways to dye fabric using water-based resist dyeing techniques.
I was particularly attracted to her tips on how to make your own stamps and how to make a padded surface for printing. Marcia uses the stamps to apply the resist in patterns on the fabric before over-dyeing.
A padded surface, Marcia explains, allows for the tools to push the designs into the fibers of the fabric. She makes her padded surface with leftover plywood and studio scraps.
How to make a padded printing surface
1. Cover a piece of plywood that is slightly larger than the fabric you will print with 2-4 layers of batting. (For example, if you mostly print fat quarters, a 30"-square board will work well.)
2. Cover the batting with sturdy fabric like cotton duck and staple the fabric to the back of the board.
You can use this padded surface for Thermofax® screen printing and monoprinting, as well as for fabric stamping.
How to make your own stamps for fabric printing
1. Cut shapes from foam core and glue them to a block of wood. Then attach a smaller block of wood to the back to make a handle.
2. Another easy homemade stamp can be made by taping bubble wrap to a block of wood.
To print with your stamp, place the fabric on your padded work surface and apply the resist. After the fabric has been printed, dry it flat on a layer of newspapers (if you hang the fabric to dry, the resist could run). Allow the resist to dry overnight or until it is not tacky.
Fabric stamping with your own stamps and over-dyeing fabric is an easy, low-cost way of creating unique textiles. You could use these homemade stamps with fabric paint, discharge dyes, permanent inks, and so on.
Here's another great way to save money on art quilting and surface design: take advantage of our extended Cyber Monday sale, with deep discounts on books and videos, including "Quilting Arts TV" Series 1000, in which Marcia demonstrates her over-dyeing process. The sale ends today, November 27, 2012, at 11:59 p.m. CT, so don't wait!
P.S. Do you make your own stamps for surface design? Share your favorite tip in the space below.