Friday, March 25, 2016

Creating and Embellishing Block Printed Textiles

Moving beyond my basic demonstration using cotton fabric and textile paint included in my last post, I’m showing additional possibilities for producing surface design textiles using wooden printing blocks, as well as how to embellish them.

Silk is a beautiful fabric to block print on. Liz Kettle of Textile Evolution (pictured printing above) was featured in the 2014 issue of Quilting Arts Holiday with a silk scarf printing tutorial. View her gorgeous results below.

Another textile to block print onto is Lutradur. Lutradur is a a spun-bond synthetic material...somewhat like a cross between paper and fabric. Below, I printed snowflakes onto Lutradur to use as a dimensional element for a quilt and used a heat tool to cut them out (learn more).

Instead of using textile paint, I have also had great results using Memento Luxe Mixed Media Ink Pads by Tsukineko. Memento Luxe is a fade-resistant ink that can be used on any porous surface: paper, fabric, wood, leather and more. It’s permanent on fabric when heat set, and the color remains even after repeated washings.

Plus, because these Memento Luxe inks are thick and stay wet for a time, I was able to experiment with adding embossing powders for texture (another example below using Metallic Embossing Powder in gold).

Visit the Artistic Artifacts blog for a past posting/tutorial with more on using Memento Luxe and embossing powders with wooden printing blocks.

Also by Liz Kettle, the mermaid featured on the cover of this amazing fabric collage journal pictured belowl was block printed onto white leather using Memento Luxe ink. (The block is WB219 Mermaid with Star; it’s currently out of stock but email me and I will put you on the wait list for the next shipment, hand-carved from India!)

The below sample illustrates a fun embellishing option. I used the WB110 Leaves and Stems block, (full of cool funky details), and then began filling in the pattern using several options more traditionally suited to paper arts.

From the top, I used, Derwent Inktense Watersoluble Ink Pencils, Stamper’s Big Brush Pens (by Faber-Castell; these pens contain permanent India Ink) and Gelly Roll Moonlight Pens. I can definitely see further embellishing and fussy cutting pieces of this fabric to use in an art quilt. (Note, I ironed this fabric to heat set the products.)

Also from the paper arts world, we have experimented with using Gelatos on our wooden printing blocks. My colleague Sharon McDonagh is well-known for her love of Gelatos around here, and was the first to give this a try. As she wrote, “Rather than risk it with Judy’s extensive stash, I first tried this with my own block, a mermaid....I realized that with the Gelatos’s stick form and thick consistency, I could color areas of the block selectively. Painting selectively is hard to do when using textile or acrylic paint on your block, as by the time you get to one area, the paint is drying up elsewhere.” She originally experimented on paper (below the print is the wooden printing block used to create it).

We have since printed on a variety of fabrics. Below, a mermaid block print by Beth Richardson using Gelatos on Roc-lon® Roc-rol™ Multi-Purpose Cloth™. Visit the Artistic Artifacts blog for Exploring the Possibilities of Gelatos: Part 2, which gives you a lot more information about using Gelatos with wooden printing blocks.

So as seen here, you can block print onto a variety of surfaces, and use a variety of paints and colorants. Embellishing your printed textile just continues your fun!

I love stitching, so when thinking about adding to a block print, the go-to choice for me is to hand stitch the motif. Using Modern Hand Stitching by Ruth Chandler for my inspiration, one of the birds (printed with a WB213 Primitive Peacock block) in my fabric above was stitched with Tentakulum Handpainted Fibers directly following the design. In the detail photo below, you can see that I couched Tentakulum Gimpe as an outline and then filled in with various stitches using Tentakulum’s cotton 6 strand floss (Mouline) Embroidery Floss.

Visit the Artistic Artifacts blog for more on block printing and hand stitching, including how I prepare my block printed fabric for stitching. For those of you out there who love to free motion quilt, how about using your sewing machine to add stitching?

Another beautiful way to embellish your block prints is with beading. (I printed this using the WB332 Spoked Geometric Circle block.) Use the motif to guide your beading, as you can see in the close-up photo above, or bead your own complementary design!

By the way, in my opinion the best beading reference book out there is First-Time Beading on Fabric by Liz Kettle. Don’t let that title fool you: this book is an ideal resource for everyone interested in beading on fabric.

We’d love to see how you use your wooden printing blocks and embellish your printed fabric! We welcome your postings with photos either on the Artistic Artifcacts Facebook page or on The Printed Fabric Bee Facebook page.

My final post next week will show you some of my finished quilts that feature block prints!

Leave Your Comment to Enter Our Random Prize Drawing!

My prize package will go to one lucky U.S.-based winner randomly drawn from those who have commented on my March block printing postings (whether here on the The Printed Fabric Bee blog, or on my Artistic Artifacts blog. I have gathered a gorgeous circle design wooden printing block, a foam printing mat (this work surface is essential to get the best printing results), and a jar of PROfab Opaque Textile Paint in the color True Blue as my prize.

But if you are local to the Virginia/DC/Maryland area (or are willing to travel) and your name is selected, you can instead choose to attend my Woodblock Printed Art Quilt class on June 11 for free!


  1. Awesome! Your post makes me want to run out and start stamping fabric! Mumbird3atgmaildotcom

  2. Love the effect of embroidering over the stampings! Thanks for the great photos, Judy. (I have a U.S. mailing address.)

  3. I have tried to heat set Intense Pencils and Blocks and they have rubbed right off on the iron. Covering them made no difference. anyone have any tips?

  4. Great post! I really want to incorporate stamping into my dyed scarves, but haven't been brave enough to try it... maybe now I will!

  5. Lots of wonderful inspiration in this post. I think I need to have a better padded surface underneath my work for clearer results

  6. Beautiful! Just bought a few blocks at your store today and am looking forward to playing with them!

  7. Beautiful! Just bought a few blocks at your store today and am looking forward to playing with them!

  8. Stamping on beautiful fabric then beading and embroidering is oh so exciting. I can't wait to try it.

  9. The embroidery and beading make the motif pop. It draws the eye and makes the project come alive. This isn't your grandmother's well-bred and refined textile work, it is feral and visceral.

  10. So beautiful! Looking forward to my next visit to your store!

  11. Such fun ideas and beautiful and interesting blocks! A body could go crazy with choices for embellishing her prints. I wish I lived close enough to take the class, but will hope to win the block package instead.

  12. Brenda, you are our randomly drawn winner! Please email your mailing address to us at

  13. This was a really great read, appreciation for taking the time to put it together! Touched on some very good...
    Block Printing on Cloth | Block Printing Blocks


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