Learn how to lino print onto fabric
What you’ll need:
Essdee Fabric Block Printing Ink (I have used black for this project)
MasterCut (or other carving materials such as traditional lino or softcut can be used)
Material to print on (you can use whatever material you wish to get creative with, but I would recommend 100% cotton)
Cardboard, newspaper, or something padded to put underneath your material (I have used the printing blanket included in the kit which helps to give a nice even print)
For this tutorial I have used the Essdee Fabric Lino Printing Kit which has all the equipment needed to print onto fabric. There is no tracing paper in the kit, but baking paper is a great substitute which I regularly use.
BEFORE YOU START IT IS IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER THAT FABRIC PRINTING INK CAN STAIN, SO START OFF BY PROTECTING ANY WORK SURFACES AND MATERIAL YOU DO NOT WANT TO PRINT ON!
STEP 1 – Plan and draw your design
I like to start by planning my design as this allows me to look at my chosen fabric and decide where I would like my prints to go. This is great so you can visualise your finished printed fabric and decide on the size of your print.
I then design my print by drawing on to tracing paper with a pencil. If you are new to lino printing or printing onto fabric I would recommend starting with a simple design like the geometric print I have created. You can then flip your tracing paper (pencil side down) on to the MasterCut and rub the pencil lines to transfer your design. (This can be done with a metal spoon or using your fingernail).
TIP- Your design will be in a mirror image on your chosen material to carve, so be careful with any lettering.
STEP 2 – Carving your design
You are now ready to carve your design. It is useful to have a cutting mat or cardboard around for this stage, to help stop the MasterCut from slipping and to protect any work surfaces.
To start the carve I use the number 1 and number 4 cutters which come in the kit. There are different lino cutters available from Essdee and you may find as you practice you prefer different cutters depending on your design and project.
Please remember before you start carving that lino cutters are sharp. You should always carve away from your body and keep your fingers out of the way of the cutters.
I started with the number 1 cutter which is great to produce the profile of the geometric shape, and the finer details of the pattern.
I then used the number 4 cutter to remove the background from my design. The technique I used for this was to follow the profile of my shape and then push the cutter all the way through the MasterCut, which leaves a “u” shape. Continue to do this all around the outside of your design overlapping the cuts as you go. Your geometric print should then pop away from the MasterCut. Do not worry about the wavy edge as most of this will not show up when you print
If you prefer you can cut away the background with scissors or a craft knife.
STEP 3 – Prepare your fabric
Now I always take the time to prepare the fabric I am printing on, in this case a tote bag. I like to iron the fabric first to get rid of any creases and ensure I have a flat surface to work on. I like to use chalk to mark out where I would like my prints to go, but you can use pencil or tape if you prefer.
STEP 4 – Inking Up
When you have finished preparing your fabric you are ready to roll out the ink. I would recommend wearing an apron and protecting any surfaces where you are working.
Using a spoon take a small amount of ink from the tub and put this in the ink tray. Then start to roll out the ink with the roller (brayer). You need to get a thin layer of ink on the roller and this can be achieved by rolling out the ink in short strokes in the tray. You will hear a tacky sound when the ink is ready.
STEP 5 – Transfering the Ink
You can now transfer the ink on to your MasterCut block. Carefully roller the ink over your design being careful not to go into the cut areas. I like to do this a couple of times to ensure full coverage of the block.
STEP 6 – Test Print
Before printing on to the final fabric I like to do a test print on some old fabric or paper. This step is to make sure that you are happy with the final design and to make any adjustments as needed. Holding the edges of your block with the ink side facing down carefully place this on the fabric, being careful not to move the block. Using your hand apply pressure to the back of your stamp, making sure that you go over the whole of the MasterCut.
STEP 7 – Printing your Design
It is now time to print your final design. I like to take a slightly padded surface (the printing blanket that comes in the kit is great) to make sure I get a nice even print.
Tip- If you are printing a multi- layer fabric make sure to put something like cardboard or old fabric between the layers so no ink will soak through.
Re-ink your MasterCut block as previously and have fun printing, remembering to follow your design if you have planned it out.
STEP 8 – Dry and Heat Set
The printed fabric will need time to dry. I like to leave it for a good couple of hours, but this time will depend on the conditions where you are printing. When you are happy that it is fully dry you need to heat set the ink. I do this by using an iron (make sure it is not on the steam setting) and iron the reverse of my fabric for 4 minutes.
I hope you have found this useful, remember to have fun and enjoy your designs!
Help – I need some tools!
I hope that you have enjoyed learning how to print a geometric pattern onto a tote bag. The tools that I used in this blog can be purchased separately, although you may want to consider buying our Fabric Lino Printing Kit.
For details of your nearest retailer, check out our ‘Where to Buy’ page.
Got 5 minutes? Have a read of one of our other blogs for more inspiration!
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