This is a little project that I enjoy doing – just for fun. I am a huge fan of Quilting Arts Magazine, and after reading an article a couple of years ago about silk painting, I thought I might give it a try. My lovely ladies in my blog banner are all sewn using free-motion techniques on painted silk.By using a resist of some sort, I can keep paint from bleeding into other areas of the fabric. Silk is notoriously receptive to wicking paint, water – sometimes that’s just what I want. However, if I want a recognizable pattern, I need to set boundaries for the paint. One traditional resist is wax. By drawing melted wax on fabric, then painting over it, the wax will resist the paint. The wax is then removed and the areas covered by the resist reveal the original color of the fabric.
Now, I need more “gear” like I need a hole in the head – and although wax isn’t a huge investment, come on. So, when I read another article in Quilting Arts about using school glue – the blue gel type – as a resist, I knew this was something I could handle.
For the base fabric, I have used 100% cotton muslin or silk. Cotton is lovely, but there is nothing like the luminosity of silk. The basic steps are all the same -
100% cotton or silk (I like to use the midweight 12mm silk)
Blue gel school glue
Fabric paint – thinned to a watery consistency, or special fabric paint just for silk (I’ve used Dyna-Flo or Setasilk)
Optional: Plexiglas square – I got mine from the wonderful guys at the local hardware store for a couple of bucks. Instead, you can use plastic trash bags to keep your workspace clean.
First, iron the cotton or silk that you wish to paint to the shiny side of the freezer paper so it adheres to the fabric. This will keep the fabric from curling when you apply the glue resist.
Apply the glue directly to the fabric. Here I used a scribbly line design. The trick is to move fast enough with a thin bead of glue so it doesn’t puddle. Allow the glue to thoroughly dry. After the glue is completely dry, peel off the freezer paper.
Next, set up your workspace to paint. This is my plexiglas square. I do all my fabric painting on it. You could probably use a plastic trash bag to start with – just tape it to your work surface so the work surface stays clean and stable. Cover it with the spare “drop” cloth. I reuse an old piece of muslin over and over – then recycle it into the backs of some of my greeting cards. It will absorb some of the paint the seeps through your top fabric.
Using your thinned fabric paints (or the silk paints which are already very thin) fill in your designs. Go slowly so you can see how the fabric wicks the paint. If you spray a bit of water on the fabric, you’ll notice that the paint wicks differently. Also, you’ll discover that painted fabric doesn’t so readily wick new paint. This is the fun part!
On this piece, I’m making what will be a black and white design. The areas with the glue with be white on the black ground. I’ve found that the colors do tend to be significantly lighter than when applied.
Allow the painted fabric to dry thoroughly.
Using parchment paper to protect your iron, heat set the paint. The glue is still on the fabric. It is very important to do this. Oftentimes I will let the fabric cool after ironing and “cure” (my word, not the manufacturer’s) overnight.
Put the painted fabric in hot tap water, as hot as you can. Allow the fabric to soak and the glue to dissolve. You can feel if there is residual glue on the fabric because it is slippery and gummy. I rub the fabric to get as much off as I can, then I run the fabric through the washer set on hot (yes, even silk!) with an old towel. Feel the fabric for any residual gummy glue and remove by running hot tap water over it again. Do not put in the dryer. Hang to dry, or many times I iron straight out of the washer.
The color on the silk samples does wash out a bit – I’ve come to like the sort of faded beach-y look. The fabric paint definitely changes the feel or “hand” of the fabric. It feels a bit more substantial than the plain silk. That’s OK for what I need. Cotton is not nearly as cranky – and it’s so much fun to have my own designs! I use this for headbands and greeting cards. I’ve painted full length scarves too – so cool!