Hope your week is going well. One of my readers, Gail Jones asked if I could talk more on the fact that some people do needle painting over a photo on photo fabric. Printing colour pictures onto fabric is something that I have attempted numerous times in the past without success – however nothing is impossible so lets take a look at the various ways this could be done:
You can take a photo to your local Photocopy shop and they will print it on fabric for you. The downside is that it leaves a plastic film on the fabric which is difficult if not almost impossible to stitch through!
Iron On Transfer Paper
You can print your picture then iron onto fabric. The result again is a bit stiff and will leave a residue on your fabric. However there are different transfer papers available – there is an interesting article by Kristen of Sophia’s decor blogspot on the use of transfer paper. So how do we achieve a print that transfers the dye only onto the fabric without any unwanted residue? There are a few ways:
Apparently you can iron freezer paper to the back of your fabric and feed it through your inkjet printer. There is a great article on how to do this here. I have tried this many many times – it works fine on small prints that will fit into your printer but anything larger than the standard paper size will not feed through. The fabric for my smallest miniature pieces measures approx. 28 x 28cm which is too large for a regular printer. I am also not sure if your piece could be laundered afterwards?
This is the most accurate way to print onto fabric, used by professionals and screen printers. This is a process that uses heat to transfer dye onto fabric or other materials. There is a good article here on the process. I have had many trips to the screen printer trying to print onto linen and cotton without success, at best we got a very faded, wishy washy print on the fabric. This is because you can only sublimate on Polyester fabrics. This is due to the temperatures needed to achieve a high quality print and depth of colour. However, the Chinese Su embroideries are often worked from a printed picture on silk fabric, so perhaps it works on silk?
I have been unable to find any information on the process of colour printing on silk but Mary Corbet gives some information on Su embroidery kits and shows an example of the print on silk fabric here. You can also purchase Chinese silk embroidery kits at Oriental Cultures. Di Van Niekirk has a beautiful selection of embroidery/silk ribbon kits with full colour screen printed panels on her website. Perhaps you could try and use these for needle painting?
Commercial Fabric Printing
There is also a company called Spoonflower who will print your photo onto fabric/design for you. Depending on the fabric they use the prints are good. I have had some prints done by them, but unfortunately you are limited to the fabric selection they have available and cannot provide your own linen or cotton.
I have seen examples of hand painting using watercolour/acrylic paint and tried it out in small pieces and it works well. There is a great article by Ingrid Lee on her website here. I must say this little exercise has led to so many interesting websites and blogs!
I have promised myself that I will stay clear of venturing any opinions, 🙂 however my personal preference is to use a nice clear, dark grey outline and refer to a colour print/photo for filling in the detail. It is the way I have always worked and I feel comfortable with it. This does not mean we are limited to stitching on white/off white fabrics only – I am in the process of experimenting with different coloured background fabrics and will report back soon. If you would like more information on the screen printing process I use for my embroidery kits you can see a previous blog post here. (An update to this story is that the Screen Printer went bankrupt a few years ago and I have since found another, more suitable printer).
I am sure there are lots of other ways to print colour pictures onto fabric, if anyone is able to contribute more information on the process we would love to hear from you. Meantime, wherever you are be it winter, spring, summer or autumn, have a wonderful week, keep smiling and many happy hours of stitching. Trish