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How to print with plants onto fabric

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You don't need complicated tools or special skills to print the fabric. It's really easy!

All you need is just paint, a small sponge and an object you want to print. You can experiment with all plants you can find and the results will be amazing every time. Each plant has its unique structure, shape and size. This tutorial shows how to print with leaves but feel free to use twigs, berries or flowers. Possibilities are endless and the results always beautiful. 
The beauty of plant-stamped fabric lies in the wonderful imperfection of the print. You can add a hand-made touch to your house and print some cushions, teatowels, table runners or bags. Don't worry about your skills, let the nature do the job and surprise you with the abundance of shapes and textures. 

Our pouches are stamped using this method. We print with plants that were used to dye our fabric before. This process not only reduces waste, but also guarantees that each product is unique and special. This tutorial will walk you through the steps of printing leaves onto fabric. 

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Collect plants

You can pick any plant you like. Look for interesting shapes around you. It's easier to use flat plants, like leaves but printing with berries or twigs will work too. Try to choose plants, that are sturdy and not too thin. They will be touched and moved a lot in the process, so make sure they're not too fragile. Collect multiple pieces in different sizes in case your plant falls apart while printing but also to make the print more diversified.

 

Choose the layout

Make sure your plants are clean and prepare your work surface.
If you're only printing a small fabric you most probably don't need a newspaper to put over your table. If you decided to print a bigger cloth, make sure to protect your table top. Prepare enough space to unfold your fabric and leave a small area to lay and paint the leaves.
Play with different patterns, try geometrical or more random layouts. When you're done, take a photo of the pattern you chose to make it easier to remake.

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Paint the leaves

Use a textile paint to print your fabric. There are different paints available on the market. I was using a water-based paint that doesn't need to be diluted before applying. If your paint is very thick, though, make sure to add some water and mix it in a small container.
Use a small sponge stamp to apply the paint onto your plants. This kind of sponge can be found in any store offering art supplies for kids. The pattern will look better if you print with the underside of the leaves. The underside has visible veins which will make your print more detailed. 
If you don't have a sponge pad like the one in the photo, you can simply use an old newspaper to protect your work surface.

 

Print leaves onto fabric

Carefully lay your leaf on the fabric. You might want to practice on a scrap of cloth before printing your final design. It is important to test movements of your hand to get a feeling for the pressure you need to print different kinds of plants. 
Cover the leaf with a piece of thick paper and gently but surely press it. If you press to less, the pattern will be very faint. Too much pressure, on the other hand, can make the pattern look flat and not textured. Make sure the pressure you apply lies somewhere in between.
When you're done, carefully peel up the leaf, without moving it to the sides. You can reuse the same leaf as many times as you want. If the layer of dry paint on your plant is getting too thick, it might be a good idea to simply rinse it with warm water and lay to dry.

Remember that hand printing is not supposed to look perfect and small flaws actually make the print more interesting. Embrace these imperfections and enjoy the process.

 

Iron your print

When you finished printing, let your fabric dry. Follow the instructions on your paint container. It is usually necessary to iron your print in order to make it waterproof. Few minutes of ironing should set the paint. 
If you're working with multiple colours, iron your fabric after each layer.

 

Play with it

Your hand printed fabric is ready to use!
If you want to see more process photos and hand made ideas, make sure to follow me on Instagram @aniagrzeszek. If you finished this tutorial, please share your results, I would love to see it! Use the #kalikohome hashtag for photos of your fabric. I'm curious to see all the beautiful projects you come up with.

Warmest,
Ania xx

 
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