6 May 2014

Block print a plain bag

Block print a plain bag

Printing on fabric is so much fun and you get to show off your work everywhere you go with this simple tote bag project. This project is designed to show you how to make a simple foam printing block and how to print a seamless repeat print, I have provided an artwork for you to use but you can of course use your own images to create a design. Please read through the instructions before you start so you are familiar with what you have to do and practice your print on a piece of scrap fabric before you start on your final project.

Top Tips 
  • You can use normal acrylic paints to print on fabric, mix with fabric medium 50/50 and they will be permanent and soft on the fabric once set with an iron.Acrylic blocks are available form craft shops in lots of sizes or you can find some companies will cut them to size for you, ebay is a good starting point. You can use wooden blocks or even old plate mats as long as its firm and flat- its just easier to see through acrylic to line up your prints
  • Make sure you clean your block every few prints with a cloth or babywipes, this will stop the build of paint and make cleaner prints. 
  • You need a nice flat surface clear of clutter, remember to put down newspaper or table covering to protect it. 

You will need…..
Acrylic block size 6”x6”square at least 3mm thick
Foam sheet (sticky back preferable) size A5 or A4
Craft knife
Fabric paint
Sponge roller & sponges
Plain tote bag
Scrap fabric for practice
Masking tape

I’ve provided……
The artwork, as a pdf template. Download here and print out before you start.

Step by step….. 
       1.     Stick your foam sheet to the surface of the acrylic block, take care not to press to hard onto foam as it marks easily.
2.     Print out the design and draw onto tracing paper using a soft pencil. 
 3.     Transfer the design onto your foam by placing the tracing paper upside down and lightly rubbing over the lines with your fingers.
4.     Using a sharp craft knife cut out the design and carefully peel away the excess foam. To get the detail on the wings and leaves use a sharp pencil and press firmly into the foam drawing the lines, these will appear as white lines in the final print. 

 5.     Mix your paint to the colours you are going to use and prepare your printing surface and place a piece of newspaper inside your bag to stop the paint coming through to the other side.

 6.     Use your masking tape to create a border around the edge of the bag and to stick bag down so it doenst move during printing, use extra tape at the top of the bag to protect the handles. 

 7.     When you are ready to print use a sponge roller or sponge to apply a thin, even coat of paint to your block, use a cloth to remove any excess paint on the edges of the block. Place the block face down onto the fabric, start in the centre overlapping the bottom edge a little. Press firmly on the back of the block. Carefully peel the block of the fabric to reveal the print, load the block with more paint and repeat the printing process lining up print by looking through the acrylic block. 

 8.     For an interesting design feature, for just one of the prints change the colour of the bird. Clean off all the original colour from the bird first with a cloth then load up the paint in the same way but with 2 different sponges.
 9.     Once you have covered the whole surface of the bag use a paint brush to touch up any areas that need it and allow to dry. Carfully remover the masking tape to reveal a nicely framed print with clean edges, iron on a high setting to set the paint and you bag is finished! Now show it off !

·      Egdes of print bleeding out – too much paint
·      Image faint – not enough paint
·      Mess marks all over fabric- edges or block need cleaning
·      Image over lap – you have not lined up the prints correctly, go with it, it could create a whole new design!
·      It looks a mess – embrace imperfections that’s the nature of hand printing and just have fun!
The main thing is to have fun, play and learn as you go!
Happy printing

some links to credit me if your are going to share

EXTRAS- here are a few links to where I buy stuff from
www.handprinted.co.uk - great for everything handprinted!
Ebay is a great place to look for acrylic sheets- here is a good company
Ebay again great for bags but if you want to buy more than one - Clever baggers are great


  1. I love your print and the little birdies. Great little tutorial - perfect weekend project :)
    Claire xx

  2. I really like your post and printing method otherwise people consumed too much Toner Cartridge for Printers to print this type of prints or even many of them have no capability of printing such prints through printers.

  3. wow! what a lovely block printing designs. I really like your blog posts... specially those on
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  4. awesome feeling very nice to see attractive simplicity.

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  8. This blog is interesting and encourages me to know more about it. Thank you for sharing this blogs. Koel Shop Received the ancient technique of hand block-printing in Pakistan.

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