Christa’s Soap Box – Learning a New Skill

I think it’s great to learn new skills, especially when it comes to quilting. After all, how do you know whether you will like something or not unless you give it a try? I recently had the chance to try painting on fabric, and even though I ultimately decided it wasn’t my “style,” it was still fun to learn a new technique!

20140401_cory_paintingChrista and Cory painting away!

My friend Cory came over recently and showed me how to use Setacolor paints to add a little life to this wallhanging I made a couple of years back (before I found modern quilting).

hearts_feathers_wholeclothHearts and Feathers Wholecloth. Free pattern courtesy of Leah Day.

It’s a gorgeous free-motion quilting design from Leah Day. As you can see in the “before” picture above, you can hardly see the quilting. This is where my “matching threads” philosophy perhaps went a little too far.

The mottled batik fabric I used was so busy that you can’t really see the stitching. I thought about going over the quilting again with a contrasting metallic thread to make it stand out, but Cory suggested paint instead. So I figured, what they heck, I’ll give it a try. πŸ™‚

hearts_paintingFabric Painting in Progress

It took a few coats to get a nice even application of color and it about drove me crazy trying to keep the painting inside the stitching lines, but overall, I’m pleased with how it turned out. The only thing I don’t like about fabric painting is how it makes the surface rough and scratchy rather than soft and supple (leading to my preference for modern utility quilts).

hearts_feathers_finishedAnd not to be outdone, here’s a shot of a gorgeous piece that Cory’s currently working on:

20140331_cory_paintingHave you ever tried painting on fabric? If so, what are your thoughts about it?


34 thoughts on “Christa’s Soap Box – Learning a New Skill

  1. Linda H. says:

    I’m with you on the painting thing. It’s a bit too artsy for me, and I don’t like the texture it gives fabric. Your piece looks good though! The painting emphasizes some lovely quilting that didn’t show up before. Nice work!

  2. Kat says:

    Your painted blocks are fabulous! I do fabric painting with acrylics mixed with fabric medium, and also with SoSoft fabric paint, which I highly recommend. Make sure you get the gold metallic for those special accents. It works wonderfully on Christmas fabrics! Fabric painting is fun and exploring it is worth the journey!

  3. Denise Bongiovanni says:

    Wow, what a difference! I haven’t tried painting on a quilted item, but I agree, other fabric does become stiff when painted, I have added a fabric medium to acrylic paint to use on fabric, it does make them more flexible and soft. It really does alter the surface of your fabric. Your quilt is beautiful.


  4. Barbara says:

    If you ever feel like painting on fabric again try SoSoft paints. I have purchased them at Michaels in the past and I am sure that Hobby Lobby might have them too. I was in a decorative painting group for many years and we made quilts (I did the assembling and quilting) each year with hand painted squares using this product. The result is a super soft finish that can be washed! One year we each painted old barns, another year we had a flower theme and one year we did a Washington State landmarks theme. We would raffle the quilt off in the fall at our craft function and the profits would go to the club to help with our charity of providing hand painted photo boxes to our local Shriner Hospital for the children to put stuff in to take home.

  5. Patty P says:

    WOW.. that piece it truly different with the paint. Cn the material be at least handwashed and flat dryed? We have a wood pellet stove for the winter chill here in upstate NY and things can get dusty being closed up for the winter.

  6. Susan G says:

    Great change in the piece where the quilting did not show at all. I use fabric paints (like setacolor or prochem), a lot, but treat them more like (non-toxic/no mask needed to mix) dyes. I thin them with water in a dishpan, wet (usually) white fabric, squeeze most of the water out, then dip/soak in the paint bath. Squeeze most of the water out and lay flat to dry – indoors under bright lights or in the sun – the texture obtained as the paint dries is always different but great. After drying, iron thoroughly to set the paint, then wash and dry in the machine. Hand is almost exactly the same as the untreated cloth. I mostly use these fabrics instead of purchased solids for background.

  7. Annette Ackley says:

    It is amazing how your design was brought back to life by painting it. I guess if it is a preference, that you like to paint on fabric, it would be alright. We have a guild member who paints on fabric. She does every once in a while paint on fabric. For myself, I don’t think I would. But then, you never know. Depends on what project I think I could paint on. Thank you for sharing your experience with us.

  8. Susan says:

    Yes, I have indeed. I’ve never done any thick like yours here. I have used plain old acrylic craft paints and a fabric medium to create shadows, shading, and faux effects. Works pretty well without making it all crunchy. πŸ™‚

  9. Kristy Daum says:

    I remember when I was at Quilt Market some years ago, I met a vendor who makes fabric paints similar to what you used in this post, and they were trying to market them to the “modern” audience. When I was explaining that modern quilts tend to be utilitarian (like you said above) and the painting likely wouldn’t hold up, I don’t know that they got it. I definitely think fabric paints have their place, and your example is just one of the many. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Kelly says:

    If you would like a softer look, Inktense pencils with clear aloe vera gel (can get at most drug stores during the summertime) – Use light fabric, quilt and then use the inktense. These are really, really beautiful!

  11. Lori Smanski says:

    wow i love your little quilt. and since it hangs on the wall it is not a problem that it is stiffer. but it sure makes your quilting stand out. Cory’s little piece is gorgeous. what fun it is to try new things. thanks for sharing with us.

  12. LJ says:

    Never tried painting fabric. I will say that your wall hanging looks tons better with the paint. In the past, I would almost imagine that others would ask why you had a piece of fabric hanging on the wall! lol Now it looks like a quilt.

  13. treadlemusic says:

    I have done several of the “Hearts & Feathers” from Leah but your painted version is really gorgeous!!!! I’ve not ventured into the painting on fabric but would like to try the fabric coloring pencils that have almost a water-color effect. I need to “find” the time!!!!!

  14. Pam Arbour says:

    It is good to try different things. I had decided not to try it for all the reasons that you mentioned. It’s just not for me right now. Thanks for trying it for me! LOL

  15. Sandra Louise says:

    I love how it brought out the quilting design. It’s perfect for a wall hanging, but I’m with you – I wouldn’t want it on a snuggle quilt.

  16. Sue Moore says:

    I tried years ago & loved it but would give it another try as the paints have changed so much. I think I’d need to go to a class now as techniques have changed too. It’s good to try something else as you don’t know if it might just complement the craft you are currently enjoying .

  17. Ann Pugh says:

    I think you did a grand job!…turned a wall flower into the bell of the ball. Painting comes in handy so many ways…sometimes to camouflage a problem, sometimes to accent something. It is a useful tool for your tool box. If you don’t like the intensity of the paint, there are permanent colored pencils that are much more subtle. A few years back, someone wrote a book about doing your quilting and then coloring within in the threads…much easier than trying to outline something you have already colored. Cory is a wonderful , sharing friend…a fabulous resource for so many things.

  18. Audrey says:

    What a transformation. Definitely worth the time and effort to add the paint. I have never tried painting on fabric but I do like to try new techniques. Shadow trapunto is what I will be trying next. I have everything ready so I just need to take some time to get started.

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