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make make

 Stamp printing fabric is great messy fun and you only need a few supplies to start making beautiful designs. Check out my previous post, Carving Stamps for Fabric Printing.

 There are so many things that can be printed:

  • Add a design to a store bought t shirt
  • Add a single motif or an all over pattern to a garment that you already own to give it new life
  • Add designs to bags
  • Create cushion covers
  • Print personalised pillowcases
  • Print fabric scraps for patchwork and blankets  

Before you start

Fabrics are often treated with chemicals that may prevent the ink from being absorbed, so new fabrics and garments need a good wash before you start and may also need an iron to get them ready for printing.

With Permaset inks there are the regular colours, for printing on light coloured fabrics and “super cover” inks which print well on dark fabrics. They can be mixed together, so for example adding a pink to a super cover white will give you a pale pink that will show up well on a dark coloured background. Check the label on your inks to see if it is designed to print on dark or light fabric, and what you need to do to heat set it.

What you need:

  • Stamps

  • Fabric

  • Fabric printing inks

  • Foam rollers

  • Spoons

  • I use old fruit trays for my rolling for my inks, rectangular take away container lids work well too

  • Drop sheet

  • Apron or old shirt to wear

Its also a good idea to have your carving tools with you.

A nice flat surface to work on is a must, and so is a drop sheet to protect the table top. I usually print outside, but if you’re printing inside you might want to put a drop cloth on the floor too.

 Start with a small spoon of printing ink in a tray, and roll your foam roller over till you have good coverage, then hold the stamp you want to print with in one hand and go over it with the roller. 

 Press the stamp down firmly onto the fabric, then admire your first print! Check to see if you’re happy with how the print turned out, if you need to, use your carving tool to carve out any bits that you don’t like. I didn't want the flower stamp above to print too cleanly, I wanted it to be more textured, so I left some of the extra bits around the edge and in some of the petals. The raised bits of ink you can see don't matter - when the fabric is dry and has been ironed they'll disappear.  

 It’s great idea to play for a while with your stamps and inks before starting to print a project. Use fabric scraps to try out new designs. I had two set projects I wanted to print this session and a pile of scrap size pieces to get ideas for new projects.

It's good to have a few rollers and trays so you can do a few colours at the same time - I need to get a few more for next time! Also try mixing colours, if you can only afford to get two or so, mixing them expands your range of colours. I mixed a regular pink with a super cover white to get a lighter pink to show up well on red fabric.

Lay out your fabric to dry in a non-windy spot or hang them on the washing line.

Once they’re nice and dry, heat set them according to the instructions for the ink that you’ve used. I have a small second hand electric press that I was lucky enough to have been given and its perfect for heat setting my projects. Whether you’re using a press or a hand iron, use some light coloured, heat resistant fabric like cotton calico underneath and on top of what you’re heat setting to stop ink getting where you don’t want it to go.

 The projects that I had planned for that day turned out great. I love the flower and bird in the picture above and I'm going to use it for the front of a dress.  

I always have great fun when I get my stamps out, I just adore playing with colour and pattern and I got a lot of ideas for future projects