Friday, August 6, 2010

How to Paint your own Gradated Fabrics......The Basics

In case you thought it was a difficult process and that I was kidding when I say it's simple to do, I thought I'd just take you through it step by step.
First of all, don't worry if you don't have the same sophisticated equipment I use......I am sure you have something that will work.
You will need to round up a container to actually mix the paint in ( here I used the "lid" from a store bought cake ) but any plastic container that gives you lots of room to splash will work, gather up some paper towels, an old raggedy towel to protect your work surface, some rubber gloves, a container of water, something to measure with (I used one of those little cups that come with cough medicine), a sheet of plastic ( I used a clear leaf bag cut open), stir sticks or Popsicle sticks to scoop out the paint from your measuring cup(don't want to waste a drop), coarse salt ( optional) and of course some white pre-washed cotton fabric.
Okay, so after you have eaten the cake and Popsicles you are ready to begin.
This time, I actually measured everything (I normally just eyeball it)
For this session my fabric pieces are essentially fat eights, each measuring 9 x 22 inches but of course once you get the hang of it, you can easily increase the amount of paint/water mixture to accommodate larger pieces of fabric.I measured 12.5 ml ( 1 Tablespoon) of pure paint and into the bowl it went followed by 7.5ml of water. Swirl it around to mix it all up and throw in your first piece of fabric. This will be your darkest most saturated piece. Sop up the paint mixture and squeeze out the excess ( back into the bowl of course) do this a few times to be sure you have good colour throughout your fabric. Again, be sure to really squeeze out the excess, you don't want to waste anything and you won't want to wait forever for your fabric to dry. Now take this piece and lay it out flat on your plastic sheet. ( I lay my plastic on a piece of Styrofoam so it is easy to pick up and move should I need to)
You are now ready to create the next shade, add another 7.5ml of water ( or just a wee bit less) to your paint mixture, swirl it around to mix well and toss in your next piece of fabric. Repeat as before, sopping up paint and squeezing out the excess.

Just keep repeating this same process with each consecutive piece of fabric, adding that extra water each time to continue to dilute the mixture. See how my last bit of paint looked......very weak but just right for my lightest shade.Once you have laid all of your pieces of painted fabric out to dry, you can decide if you want add some salt. Sprinkling a bit of coarse salt (pickling salt) onto your damp fabric will cause some interesting effects. The salt will "draw" the paint and move it about, a little goes a long way.......and you never really know what you will end up with or you can just leave it be as a "solid" and skip the salt altogether.
That's it, just clean up your little mess ( I rinse everything thoroughly with warm water in the laundry sink and re-use it time after time)
Okay, now you have to wait for the fabric to dry so you might as well go see if there is any of that cake left.
Once your fabrics are dry, you will need to "Heat Set" them to make them permanent. Simply press for a few minutes with a hot iron. ( if you used the salt, you may need to scrape/pick off the dried crystal that remain before heat setting")
Sometimes, ( okay, most times) I get a little carried away with the salt and will need to rinse my fabric after heat setting to get all of the salt completely out.
Here is the result of this paint session that created these gradated oranges.


Quilt or Dye said...

What is the hand on the painted fabric? What is the advantage over using dyes?

Karen S said...

Nice tutorial. Very clear. I usually wash my painted fabrics after heat setting and they have almost the same soft hand as when they're dyed.

This is easier than dyes because you don't have to get all the chemicals and buckets and measuring stuff - and there's no batching time -- just drying time. The main difference that I have found is that the hand is slightly stiffer and the colors may not be as vibrant. More paint = more color = more stiffness, in my experience.

Debbie said...

This sounds so easy. Thanks for sharing. What kind of paint do you use?

Quilt Rat said...

Yes I agree Karen, here is my answer to the question from "Quilt or Dye"

Great question.
In this case, I used SetaColor transparent paint and it really does not change the hand of the fabric. If anything it may make it feel a little like a batik at most.
The advantage over using dyes would be not having to worry about working with proper mixing, chemical, powders batching either. Saturate with colour, let dry and you are done.
Once the paint is properly heat set it is permanent. I so often find that commercial dyes are really quite unstable and I have to put in a lot of effort to stop the bleeding.

I have nothing against dyes.............just happen to have paints on hand.

Kim said...

My goodness it looks just like the expensive Bali's.
What is your favorite fabric to start with?

I can't wait to try I have to find a paint source.
Thanks so much Jill,
Happy Sewing and dying.

Unknown said...

OMG...I just found your blog, and I'm so excited to try this...seems so much easier than all that dying!!! Only question...where do you buy.."Cobalt Setacolor transparent fabric paint diluted a little with water." (found this from your post a couple of days ago)???? I see you're in we order from the states or is there a Canadian supplier? Thanks so much for the tutorial.

Vicky aka Stichr said...

me too! i love easy! i also want to try it on different fabric types and over-dyeing. i would use a heavy hand with the salt too.

Diane J. Evans said...

You couldn't have made this any easier, Jill -- I just printed out the instructions and I plan to play this weekend.

One more question (heard THAT one before, haven't you . . .): If you want to produce 8 gradations, do you start with more paint and add less water each time?

Diane (a.k.a.Grasshopper)

Debbie said...

Thank you, again , Jill for all the info. Great tutorial. I use the hi-tech equipment too from the $ store here for the sun painting. Now to try the gradations! The setacolor paints are easy to use and I found mine at Michael's craft store in the art section.

imquilternity said...

Great instructions and lovely fabrics! Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing - this looks like lots of fun.

Quilter Kathy said...

OH you make me want to pull out my paints and have a go! I have tried to make gradated fabrics but not with such a measured approach. I will try it this way and see what kind of results I get. Thanks!

nandas said...

coming a bit late to this... wow... how simple can it get? thanks

Katie said...

have all my procion mx dyes ready and I stumbled upon your site - at first I thought you were using regular acrylics like some ppl have suggested - and I just can't get that. . .then i see you're using actual fabric paints so this makes sense!! And, if I'm not mistaken here in the US our local Michaels, Joanns, and Acmoore all carry these paints, whereas they DO NOT carry the procion mx dyes anymore. BOO to that! = D

Copyright Jill Buckley