Surface Design Tips: How to Make a Padded Surface for Fabric Stamping

23 Apr 2013

Whenever a new batch of commercial fabric samples arrives in our offices, everyone gathers around to ooh, aah, and dream about how they would use this or that pattern to make a quilt, bag, accessory, or baby item. I'm always first in line to see what's new, hungrily eyeing every stack of new fat quarters as if I've never seen one before. And like I didn't have a bunch already sitting in my studio waiting for some attention.

hand dyed fabrics by marcia derse
Hand-dyed fabric by Marcia Derse.
But I'm an equal-opportunity fabric monger: I drool just as much over hand surface-designed fabrics. I gobble up every new technique and have even tried some fabric stamping, ice dyeing, resist dyeing, and fabric painting. I love it.

So I can honestly say I stood open-mouthed at the beautiful stamped and hand-dyed fabrics created by Marcia Derse when they came in for photographing last summer for the October/November 2012 issue of Quilting Arts Magazine. 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 her article, Marcia showed many ways to dye fabric using water-based resist dyeing techniques.

Like Quilting Arts Editor Vivika Hansen DeNegre, I was particularly attracted to Marcia's 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.

marcia derse with hand dyed fabrics
Marcia Derse and her hand-dyed fabrics.
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.

Note: You can use this padded surface for Thermofax® screen printing and monoprinting, as well as for fabric stamping.

To print with a 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.

Marcia has many tips and techniques for fabric painting, printing and dyeing in her Quilting Arts October/November 2012 article and in her guest spot on Quilting Arts TV Episode 1007 (Paint and Dye). Anyone who loves fabric (and really, who doesn't?) and surface design will appreciate and learn from her tutorials.

P.S. Do you prefer commercial fabrics or hand-dyes? A combination? Leave your comment below.

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Deb S. wrote
on 23 Apr 2013 8:08 AM

In a surface design workshop, I learned to make a printing pad using carpet padding instead of batting. So if you know anyone installing carpet, it's a good way to recycle some padding scraps. Marcia D's fabrics are indeed luscious! Inspires me to haul out my paints and printing pad.

Mary Fran2 wrote
on 25 Apr 2013 6:38 AM

You can also go directly to a carpet store and buy (sometimes that have scraps) the padding. I have some very nice wool batting that makes a great surface and doesn't break down.

Marcia is a great inspiration her colors are remarkable and designs whimsical! Treat yourself to some of her work , you will not regret it!

FarmQuilter wrote
on 28 Apr 2013 12:30 AM

I love hand-dyes so my quilts can be totally unique!