How to Block Print Fabric

I showed y’all My New Backyard and promised some tutorials. One thing I did was to block print some fabric with a chevron pattern. I couldn’t find a fabric I liked to cover the cushion with, I wanted a linen with a sort of handmade feel to it. So I block printed my own.

Then I sewed it into a cushion cover (using the exact same method as I did in my tutorial on sewing a crib sheet, with the measurements adjusted to the measurements of the seat cushion).

I’m really happy with the way it turned out. Let me show you How to Block Print Fabric after the jump…
How to Block Print Fabric

First you’ll need a few supplies. You need to create a block with your design on it. I’ve seen people use cardboard, but it’s easier in my opinion to actually do it the OG way and make a linoleum block. You can buy a linoleum block at amazon for around $5 (depending on the size) or any art supply store in a variety of sizes. You’ll also need a cutting tool, some tips, an ink roller and a tray for your ink. You can buy a complete starter kit with everything you need for $17 here: Speedball Block Printing Starter Kit. That includes the lino handle (cutting tool), a variety of different tips for it, some ink (only for paper though), and a foam tray and roller to apply the ink to your block.

And you’ll need some fabric. I used linen in bleach white from Fabricworm.

So first things first, determine your design. You can draw it right on the block like I did (remember it will be reversed when you print) or you can draw it on paper, use a pencil to shade in the back of the paper, then put the shaded side down on your block and trace the design to transfer it. If you transfer it, use a sharpie to go over your design on the block so it doesn’t smudge. Then use your cutting tool to cut out the white space from your design, like so:

Then you’ll need some ink. I used oil-based block printing ink which is for fabrics (and paper). It’ll leave a texture, and it takes about two weeks to fully dry/cure, but it works. You could use fabric paint, but it won’t go on as smooth. You can also experiment with screen printing ink and a variety of other stuff, googling will give you so many options your head will spin.

Squeeze a small amount of ink into your tray. Wear gloves, it gets everywhere and is hard to get off your hands:

Use your roller to evenly distribute it. Even distribution is key.

Use the roller to roll the ink onto your block:

Go back and forth a few times to distribute it as evenly as possible:

I did a practice stamp on a piece of paper:

That’s just what i wanted! You can get it more even, but I liked this look:

I also wanted to check to make sure my print would line up so I could make any necessary adjustments, but it was lining up just fine:

So lay your fabric on a flat surface. I started on my wood deck with a towel, but saw that the spaces in the wood slats were showing up, so I put a piece of cardboard under the fabric instead, that worked much better. Stamp away, reapplying ink to the block after each stamp.


Until you’re all stamped up. This would also be great if you just wanted to do a pretty design, like a flower or some such, that didn’t need to line up and didn’t require as many stamps.

Hang to dry. It takes about three-four days before you can touch it without getting ink on your hands. Then another week or ten days to be sure that it is fully cured. After that you can wash it and everything. This is what is flapping in the wind behind the title at the very beginning of my video love letter.

Go ahead and make your creation with it. I love the way this turned out.

So, think you might try block printing your own fabric?




i had a question, by printing with an oil based ink is it at all bad for you or toxic, could i use it to make a tea towl?

Rosalie Hornblower

I want to make placemats on Belgian linen.. Possible with water based textile tube paint?’
I have a block and tools to try to make a stab at it!’


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