Hey, friends! I am going to share with you a fabric painting technique that I learned from watching my Mammaw. She had a treasure trove of fabric paints of all colors and kinds. I remember how she'd spread out her supplies on one end of their dining room table and go to town creating all kinds of things. Sometimes she would embellish an iron-on transfer, sometimes she would make ornaments or wall-hangings out of stiffened felt that had designs or sayings on them, and other times she would free-hand it. This is one of her free-hand techniques. Here's what you'll need:
- A pre-washed and ironed surface that you would like to embellish- could be a canvas tote, apron, t-shirt, sweatshirt, anything of that nature
- Cardboard or newspaper to stretch out your surface and prevent the paint from bleeding through
- A surface to use as your "palette" since you will need globs of your paint
- A shape or object to outline, or an idea of one to free-hand. I used a chipboard heart and a paper mache letter from Hobby Lobby. (This can actually be optional if you want to just make shapes with your tape. I'll explain below.)
- A writing utensil that will show up lightly on your surface but won't bleed on fabric- mechanical pencil, ballpoint pen, or a marking pen.
- Painters tape or even washi tape that is thin enough to tape off your shape
- Several different colors of fabric paint- for all of these projects I used Martha Stewart multi-surface acrylic craft paint. It comes in different finishes- Satin, (which I used) glossy, glitter, and pearl. For a unified look, I recommend using different colors that are all the same finish. But really, you can experiment.
- A small angular shader paintbrush. Like this one.
- Access to a sink to rinse your brush between colors.
- Your favorite Pandora station**
**optional, but who wants to get crafty without music?? Not me.
So, after you have assembled your supplies, put the cardboard or newspaper or whatever you will be using inside of your tote or project. Perhaps it's only got one layer? Then I would suggest clipping the edges with binder clamps or something to keep your surface taut. The idea is to give yourself as flat of a surface to paint on as possible. Trust me, it will make things easier. Perhaps consider a t-shirt form?
Next, you will position your shape and trace around it with your utensil. Don't rush, if the fabric bunches you will get a wonky shape! Decide if you want your paint to be swooshing into the shape or out of it, because that will determine the next step.
Now you get to grab your washi tape or painter's tape and tape a sharp line all around the shape you just outlined. If you are swooshing your paint IN you will want the inside edge of the tape to be snug against the outline. If you are swooshing OUT you will want the outside edge of the tape to be snug against the outline. Not following? It'll make sense once you see the painting part, I promise. When you are taping a curvy shape like a heart or an "S" it can be very tricky to get a rounded shape using straight tape. Just tear off little bitty pieces and patiently overlap them, working your way around the curves and keeping the straight edge where you need it.
On your "palette" go ahead and make a glob of each color. You can see a little diamond above there made out of washi tape where I was doing a bit of a test run. This isn't a bad idea to do if you're unsure of yourself.
For this tote bag, I skipped the tracing the shape part and just taped out a diamond pattern. The tape creates a negative space that won't have any paint on it, so keep that in mind.
My technique uses one color at a time. The first couple of colors you pick will get covered up a bit by the last colors you use, so if you want a piece that's dark overall, use your light colors first and your dark colors last. I wanted my brightest colors to be featured on my traced shape projects so I did dark first and bright last. On the diamond tote, I did bright first.
Okay, so here's the part where you (finally) get to paint. Using the wrong end of your paintbrush, dip it in your first color and place a dollop of paint about the size of a pencil eraser (or smaller) on the edge of the tape where you will be swooshing from. Continue to dot your paint around your tape leaving about an inch and a half of space between each one. When you are finished, wipe off the end of your brush and use the angled edge to swoosh your paint onto your fabric. Don't worry if some spots have more paint than others, it's okay if they're different. Just drag your paintbrush through the paint and across the fabric until there's not any paint left.
Rinse your paintbrush, pick your next color, and repeat.
Once you have each of your colors incorporated, set your project somewhere to dry for about an hour. As tempting as it may be, don't pull your tape yet! Acrylic paints dry pretty fast, but I just wanted to give it ample time to dry since it was layered.
AND NOW, THE MOMENT I ASSUME YOU'VE BEEN WAITING FOR SINCE YOU READ THIS FAR!!!!
Pretty sweet, right? This project requires a bit of good faith that it will turn out all right. During the process it looks so sloppy and the colors of the tape sometimes clash with what you're picturing, but don't get discouraged, cause it's gonna look cool in the end. The tape creates nice crisp lines. Your shapes should turn out fabulous too!
I think Mammaw would love it. I really hope you'll give it a try!