I’ve been hankering to try block printing fabric for years. If I’d known how simple it would be (at least at it’s most basic), I wouldn’t have waited this long.
Second was the beautiful Amber dress from Objects Without Meaning. The linen fabric, the neutral palette, the simple organic print, the bombshell summery silhouette – everything about that dress appeals to me.
So using Melissa’s instructions, some lovely wood stamps I bought from TATAindianwoodstamps on etsy, the Lily dress pattern (enter LILYMONTH at checkout for 15% off though 7/31/15), and a dark blue linen, here’s what I came up with.
If you read Melissa’s article, you’ll have just about all the information you need to try this out yourself. The only major difference is the stamps.
I bought a few stamps to experiment with. Two were small motifs, and the other two were borders, which I used along the neckline band and pocket flaps.
Here are a few more stamps from the same Etsy shop that I love:
As the Seamwork article suggests, I found an opaque white water-based ink. I think white on a dark ground is a bit tricky (so of course that’s what I started with). The motifs aren’t totally opaque, but I dig the hand-blocked and imperfect look of it.
To print, I used a foam roller brush to apply an even coat of ink onto the stamp. I dumped some ink onto a plastic surface and rolled the brush to apply the ink.
Then I tried out a few test prints on scraps of linen.
5 Lessons Learned
I picked up a few lessons from this project that I’ll pass along if you want to try it.
- Use a plain, tight-woven fabric. The linen I chose has a tight twill weave, like a light denim almost. In the future, I’d look for a plain weave. The diagonal ribs of the twill are visible through the print, and I think a totally smooth, plain woven linen might have looked a little better. The weave is fine, so it’s not a big deal, but it could be on another fabric.
- Create a lot of test prints. Test printing was vital because the first few passes of ink are never quite as saturated as later ones. Also, doing a bunch of tests helped me get in the groove of inking, stamping, re-inking. It also showed me how much ink was too much, and what was too little.
- Keep extra fabric. If you screw up, you’ll be happy to have a little extra around to recut.
- Plan your seams. I didn’t want all the princess seams breaking up the print, so I chose to sew the bodice front, skirt front, bodice back, and skirt back panels together before printing. It’s a little riskier to sew before you print, but I liked the continuity of the design this way.
- Wear an apron! This project is MESSY. Thankfully, the water-based ink is super easy to clean up, but I was wearing black (like a genius) and would have felt a lot better with some protection.
Have you ever tried block printing? I’d love to hear what you’d make!