A Little Creative Space

Fabric Stamping Basics  
* For a printable version of this page, click HERE.

How do you stamp successfully on fabric?
There is more than one way to do it! When you want to use a detailed stamp with lines, use an inkpad designed for fabric. I always reach for a VersaCraft pad, which was originally called Fabrico' and manufactured by Tsukineko. A fabric inkpad is the best way to work with detailed images because the ink is not too thick for most stamps and you can get crisp, clear images, even on fabric. Besides VersaCraft inks, I find the ColorBox CRAFTER'S inks are another good choice for stamping on fabric. Fabric inks always need to be heat set to be permanent before you can wash your stamped items. Make sure you test your stamping on a scrap piece of fabric a few times before going to the "real" fabric you are stamping. Testing on scrap fabric will give you the experience and confidence you need to be successful with fabric stamping. Below is the back of a dress I stamped with fabric inks and then colored in with fabric markers to wear at Rubber Stamp Conventions.

When stamping, do not press your stamp into the ink pad!
Instead, tap your stamp lightly and repeatedly on the ink pad to pick up the ink. If your stamp is large, flip it over so the rubber side is facing up and then bring the ink pad to the stamp. Tap all over the stamp until the rubber of the stamp is completely covered with ink. Look at your stamp to make sure! When you can see that the stamp is sufficiently covered with ink, press the stamp very firmly onto your test fabric. You will also want to make sure your ink pad has enough ink to get a good impression. I always purchase re-inkers with my ink pads so I can have a well-inked pad and can get great stamped impressions whenever I stamp. After you have tested your stamping a few times on scrap fabric and you have the hang of it, get out your "real" fabric. If the fabric is wrinkled, it is best to iron it first for a smooth stamping surface. Also, your fabric should be washed prior to stamping without any fabric softener. Flat, tightly woven fabrics will yield the best results when fabric stamping. A light colored pillowcase or flat cotton fabric is probably the best way to start out when trying fabric stamping for the first time. I have found 100% cotton or silk- meaning natural fabrics, hold fabric ink and paint better than a cotton-poly blend. It is also a good idea to place a plain sheet of paper or a smooth piece of cardboard underneath your fabric before you stamp to protect the table or the other side of the fabric. Practice a lot on your test fabric and remember to re-ink your stamp by tapping it on the ink pad every time you stamp for great results.

You can also stamp on fabric using fabric paints....

Fabric paint can be used with any stamp, but paint is especially suited for more bold surface rubber stamps like those produced by: ZimPrints, Hot Potatoes, DeNami Designs, Stamp Zia, A Stamp in the Hand and many other rubber stamp companies. Use a foam brush or a cosmetic sponge to apply fabric paint to a bold rubber stamp. Shake the jar of paint, dip the foam brush or sponge into the paint and then spread it over the top of your rubber stamp. You will need to re-paint/re-coat your rubber stamp each time you print. Paint can be used for line images that are not so bold in their design instead of ink, but you will need to be careful of how much paint you brush onto your stamp. Start lightly and test! I really cannot say this enough; practice first! Get out that test fabric and use it each time you try something new. Stamping on fabric with paint, and especially with bold images, produces a very vibrant look that really lasts. Below is a dress I made myself, then stamped with Stamp Zia stamps and fabric paint.

There are many different fabric paints available!
My favorite brand of paint is the
Jacquard line of fabric paints. Their Lumiere, Neopaque, and Textile paints are wonderful to work with. Each type has a different quality that works well in various situations. Test your stamping with whatever fabric paints are available to see what you like the best. Some paints are thinner than others and will require coating your stamp a second time in order to work well. Fabric paints can also be used for coloring or painting your fabric. Visit Sherrill Kahn's project page on her website for more great ideas on this subject!

How do I Heat Set my fabric stamping?  
Heat setting is very important! You must Heat Set both fabric inks and fabric paints when your stamped images are completely dry in order for the ink to be permanent. Do not be impatient - let everything dry completely! A hot, dry iron is required to heat set and you'll need to iron each stamped area for about TWO minutes. A long process but worth it. Using a press cloth or a piece of parchment paper is a good idea. For best results, iron BOTH sides of the stamped fabric and let your stamping 'set' for a week or two by not washing it at all during that time. Following this procedure is important to help prevent any fading of the ink or paint that you have stamped. I still own and wear these shirts I stamped in 1994, see below! These stamped items have gone through 100 machine washes and still look great. Have Fun!

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 For a printable version of this page, click HERE.   

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