Have you ever tried fabric painting designs on printed fabric? Most of us who have explored fabric painting did so using white cotton that had been prepared for dyeing. For a different look, some of us may have tried painting designs on colorful printed fabrics. To me white-on-white printed fabric is the best of both worlds.
There is something about white-on-white fabric that compels me to take a closer look. I’m drawn to the idea that the print is hidden in plain sight. Yes, you can usually see the white print on the white fabric, but the subtlety necessitates a closer look.
By adding fabric paint or dye, the print is revealed in all its glory! Oftentimes these prints are understated so they add a nice layer of texture to the design you are painting.
Joanne Sharpe utilizes both commercial and handmade white-on-white prints to create her lively art quilts. Here is how she uses dye, fabric paints, and water-soluble crayons to make her colorful textile art:
1. Piece a small quilt top using a variety of commercial white-on-white fabrics. Make sure all of the prints are pieced with the printed side of the fabric on top. The back of the fabric will not resist paints as well as the front.
2. Make a quilt sandwich with the white-on-white fabric facing up, batting in the middle, and a muslin backing.
3. Choose the type of paint to use. Dye paint flows very easily. If using fabric paint, add small amounts of water to make the color flow more like a dye. Be careful not to add too much water or it will change the pigment quality.
4. With a paintbrush, loosely doodle-paint your design as if you were making a watercolor painting.
5. As the artwork is painted, the white printed designs on the fabric pop off the surface and come to life. This actually becomes a secondary design in the quilt. Cover the surface with color and painted art. Allow the piece to dry overnight.
6. Use free-motion stitching around the painted imagery. This becomes the third visual layer in the piece.
The possibilities are endless using this technique! Experiment with water-soluble colored pencils or try creating a hand-painted resist. Watch as Joanne demonstrates this technique on Quilting Arts TV Series 1800. Order your copy of the DVD or download the Quilting Arts TV Series 1800 Bonus Collection featuring all of the episodes along with a compilation eBook containing all of the projects featured in the series.