When using commercial fabrics off the bolt, you need to prewash the fabric so that any sizing or finishes on the fabric surface are removed before adding your printed design. With hand dyed fabric there is no need to prewash since the fabric has already gone through a washing when you dyed it.
Once your fabric is washed and dry, decide how much yardage you want to print with your Thermofax screen design. In my example I am going to print one yard of the hand dyed fabric that is shown on the right, in the photo above.
Next I will sub cut my one yard piece of fabric to accommodate the size of my printed design. But before I cut into my fabric, I need to measure the height of my design. I place the screen image that I prepared in Part 1 of this series so that the bottom or flat side of the screen is face up. With a ruler, measure the image from top to bottom. My image measures 7 3/4". To this measurement I add one inch so that I have some wiggle room on each side of the design. So my measurement comes to 8 3/4" and this is how wide I will cut pieces from my one yard piece of fabric.
You can cut your fabric or tear your fabric. I like to tear it along the lengthwise grain, so I measure 8 3/4" from the selvage edge and make a small cut and then tear. In the photo below, you can see my one yard piece of fabric sub cut into 8 3/4" widths. My selvages are on the right and left side in the photo. I ended up with a small strip around 4" and I will just store that until I find a project to use it in. You can also use this strip to test printing ink colors.
Typically when I screen print with my large silk screens, I am preparing more fabric than a one yard piece. I usually work in lengths of 7.5 yards and sub cuts of 18" to 21".
Next I baste my fabrics together on the short ends so that I have a continuous feed of fabric as I'm printing.
I like to roll my fabric onto a cardboard tube and to do that I tape one end of the fabric to the tube with painter's tape. I have the fabric spread out in front of the tube on my ironing surface and I iron and roll the fabric all at this time.
I iron as much fabric as I can reach, then roll that amount onto the tube, and repeat until all the fabric is rolled up.
I don't worry if the fabric rolls a bit unevenly onto the tube, as I have found this really doesn't affect anything. If you don't have a cardboard tube, you can pool your fabric into a box or laundry basket and feed it out of that when printing. Ideally the cardboard tube should be a few inches wider than the width of your fabric.
You may be wondering why I sub cut the yard of fabric instead of just printing on it as one whole piece. I have tried repeat printing on fabric yardage that was not sub cut and I found the process to be much more complex and time consuming (mostly during the actual printing time). I find that the method I use today (sub cutting the fabric) is much more enjoyable and I don't usually need fabric pieces that are larger than this for the sewing projects I typically do. Also, sometimes I am screen printing with large silk screens so my fabric is usually around 18" to 21" wide by 7.5 yards long. So I am able to get some larger fabric pieces if I need them. I find that repeat printing with Thermofax screens offers me more design options on a smaller scale.
Our fabric is now ready to print on. Up next in this series I will talk about setting up to print.