Surface Design

Surface design techniques can be used to create unique, original fabrics for your art quilts. Common techniques include fabric dyeing, painting, and printing, as well as digital image transfer. There are many different approaches within each of these categories: screen printing, immersion dyeing, stamping, and more. For inspiration and ideas, visit the Quilting Arts Surface Design Forum.

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Fabric Dyeing Techniques: Itajime Shibori

There’s something special about hand-dyed fabric that makes it hard to resist. With so many techniques to try, the possibilities for dyed fabric are truly endless. I particularly like the aspect of experimentation involved when dyeing fabric. For me, dyeing is a great way to try new techniques and dyes without expectation. Some fabrics are…

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Texture in Art Quilts: How to Make Custom Rubbing Plates

One of my favorite aspects of art quilts is the artists’ use of texture. I love the way you can layer technique over technique to create a dynamic design that begs for closer inspection. And there are so many ways to create texture! Stamping, stenciling, stitching… I confess, as an indecisive person it can be…

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8 Steps to Successful Cyanotype Prints on Fabric

Did you know cyanotype has been around since the middle of the 19th century? This vivid blue printing technique was a popular way to reproduce photographs and documents quickly and inexpensively. In fact, cyanotype prints were often used to print maps and plans, that’s where we get the term blueprint. Nowadays you can buy pretreated…

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How to Use an Embroidery Hoop to Screen Print

Screen printing with embroidery hoops is an easy and cost-effective way to try this surface design mainstay. All you need to get started is an embroidery hoop, about a fat quarter of Speedball screen printing fabric (110 mesh) or a sheer polyester fabric, a paint brush, Mod Podge®, a foam brush, and screen printing ink.






An art quilt by Susan Purney Mark that shows 
layering of surface designed fusible
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Embellish Fusibles with Color and Texture

Fusibles aren’t just for appliqué! Stop hiding your fusible interfacing and web between your fabrics. Let your fusibles take center stage by learning to create complex and unique fabric embellishments for your fiber art with tips and tricks from Susan Purney Mark. My contact with fusibles has been admittedly limited–like many quilters, I use it…

Example of sun printing by Lisa Chin

Sun Printing Indoors with Lisa Chin

Did you know you can create a sun print inside on an overcast day? Neither did I! It turns out the heat of the sun–not necessarily light it emits–is responsible for creating the print on fabric. While it’s most fun for surface designers of all ages to watch the bright sunlight change their fabric, you can easily bring this process indoors during the cold and cloudy months as long as you have a warm place and some time on your hands.






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Free templates: Create the Look for Old World Tiles by Desiree Habicht

In the October/November 2015 issue, Desiree Habicht wrote about her fabric painting technique for created a beautiful “old world” looking quilt inspired by her travels in Italy. Click below for full-size templates to create your own version of her quilt, “Italian Countryside Tiles,” plus additional painting tips from Desiree. Habicht_Landscape_Templates_QA77 Other topics you may enjoy:No…

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Itajime Shibori Dyeing: How it Works

Itajime shibori dyeing is making a comeback, and for good reason. The ancient Japanese technique of sandwiching a piece of folded fabric between two hard objects (such as the traditional option of wood or the current choice of Plexiglas) and then soaking it in a dye bath, results in strongly patterned fabric with high graphic…

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Create the Look of Old World Tiles with Fabric Painting

A couple of years ago we remodeled our kitchen, including a herringbone patterned tile backsplash that inspired me to make patchwork pillows in the same design. I thought of that recently when editing the October/November 2015 issue of Quilting Arts. In it, Desiree Habicht describes a fabric painting technique using acrylic ink, painted fusible, and…

painting on fabric

Create the Look of Old World Tiles with Fabric Painting

A couple of years ago we remodeled our kitchen, including a herringbone patterned tile backsplash.  That backsplash inspired me to make patchwork pillows in the same design. I thought of that recently when editing the October/November 2015 issue of Quilting Arts. In it, Desiree Habicht describes a fabric painting technique using acrylic ink, painted fusible,…