A TECHNIQUE DRIVEN Blog dedicated to mastery of surface design techniques. First we dye, overdye, paint, stitch, resist, tie, fold, silk screen, stamp, thermofax, batik, bejewel, stretch, shrink, sprinkle, Smooch, fuse, slice, dice, AND then we set it on fire using a variety of heat tools.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Paper,Paint Dye and Iron

Today I will focus on the dyes and colouring materials that you need to get started.

I live in the UK so some of the materials are different or have different names from those in other countries but all are obtainable on the Internet.

Disperse dyes are readily available but I suggest you Google to see what is available in your own country.

Transfer paints are ready mixed. They are applied to paper and ironed onto the fabric.
Again they can be found online.
They usually come in very small amounts, which can be a disadvantage if you are doing a lot of work.
Personally I mix up disperse dyes and use them on the paper instead of the paints.

Transfer crayons

I used the ones by Colourcraft as they have 10 colours. Crayola also make a set. Again both are available online.

Mixing dyes
 As with all dyes you will need to wear a mask for mixing the powdered ones.

You need hot water to mix the dyes and some suppliers suggest straining the dyes but I find that if you mix them with a paintbrush you can remove the lumps and get a smooth result.
Once in liquid form you can paint onto the paper but you can also thicken the dye.
I have used Manutex F for this but I have also used Indalca. Pro chemical sell a thickener that can be used with their dyes.
Transfer paints are usually a bit thicker so can be used straight from the bottle for getting texture.

Papers. I use any cheap paper that I have lying about but pads sold for children’s use are good and I use the back of any photocopies or printouts that I no longer need.

Heat source. If you own or have access to a heat press this is an ideal situation. However, you can get great results with an iron. I do not use my steam iron but have invested in a flat-bottomed iron that I keep in my studio. If you only have a steam iron do not worry but turn off the steam.

There are a huge variety of man-made fabrics on the market. Over the years I have collected various pieces so have experimented with what ever was to hand.
 Now for the results.
 First I painted several pieces of paper with various colours and textures. I prefer to only use a single colour on the paper but build up the colour as I transfer it to the fabric. I do also mix the dyes for some projects. Bear in mind that the colours look nothing like the colour that will appear on your fabric so I suggest that if you are new to this you do some test squares.

I mixed the dyes at 10% but would consider mixing the Aqua a little stronger.
I prefer Turquoise but I had run out. I thought the Aqua would be the same colour but isn’t as strong.

The large squares are from left to right
Row 1 Scarlet and Fuschia
Row 2 Aqua and Vivid blue

 The small squares on the left are the colours of the crayons. From top left dark Green, Blue, Red,
Green, Yellow, Brown, Purple, Cerise, Orange, Black.
When using the crayons be sure to brush off all the specs of colour before ironing. Also iron on a clean surface and not on the area where you have been using the crayons. Specs of wax have a habit of spreading!!!

First I sponged some red transfer paint onto paper. I then placed the paper with the painted side down onto the fabric and covered with a piece of baking parchment. I set the iron to a silk setting and ironed slowly all over the fabric. I checked to see if the colour was transferring and was able to increase the heat to a cotton setting. 

On the left is the white fabric and on the right is the same fabric after ironing on the colour.

It is a good idea to test the amount of heat your fabric will take. Set the iron to a low setting to start with and gradually increase the temperature.

In the second sample I painted the paper with vivid blue disperse dye.
When the paint was dry I tore the paper into strips.
I ironed the first strip onto the fabric. This was a taffeta.

I removed the first piece of paper and then gradually added more strips at various angles until I had almost covered the fabric.

And finally the last few strips of paper are ironed on.

The sample below shows how I’ve used colour onto fabric using lace and threads as resist.The fabric on the left was plain white with an embroidered border. The blue at the top is a piece of fabric that I had frayed. Below that is two layers of lace back to back.

I removed the lace and threads that left me with one piece of lace-patterned fabric and two pieces of blue coloured lace.

I hope you will join me on Monday when I shall be back with more samples using disperse dye and manmade fabrics.


  1. I really like what you are doing here. funny to see how processes meet each other worldwide.
    At this moment I am also experimenting with polyester fibres and the way you can colour and manipulate them.
    Certainly join you on Monday, to follow the process, thanks for sharing...

  2. Great looking work! How does the hand of the fabric change using the transit paints and crayons?

  3. Love the idea of overlapping torn images!
    I've done designs in transfer paint by cutting shapes and gluing them down with the paint side up on another piece of paper. That way I can press multiple images with identical designs. Much tidier than stenciling or screen printing. I also look for colored polyesters and once found a gorgeous gold. I should have bought the entire bolt!!!

  4. CraftALife
    If you paint the paper using transfer paints and then iron onto fabric the hand of the fabric is not compromised at all.

  5. Great post and explanation. I have transfer dyes but have yet to use them.


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