Saturday, 9 March 2013

Fabric Transfer Paint Tutorial

1. Apply Berol Fabric Transfer Paint (or an alternative brand) onto thin paper such as newsprint or cheap printer paper. Start off by experimenting with the paint application itself. You can apply the transfer paint with a sponge for large block areas of colour or use a paintbrush for areas of detail. You could even use a calligraphy dip pen for fine lines.

2. After you have let the paint dry on the paper, you will need to investigate how the colours transfer on to different fabrics. Man-made fabrics with a sheen take the colour best, although you can use natural, light weight fabrics too. Cut up the colours into small shapes and place paint side down on to a piece of fabric.
3. Sandwich the fabric and paper shapes between a piece of greaseproof paper, place inside the heat press (which needs to be switched on 10 minutes before use) and close the lid. If you do not have access to a heat press, you can dry iron over the top of the greaseproof paper. In order to dry iron, you will need to remove the water from the iron and switch the steam setting off. Take care not to move the paper whilst ironing otherwise you will end up with a ghost print next to your image.
4. The longer you leave the greaseproof paper sandwich under the heat, the more vibrant the colours will be. You will need to take care not to burn delicate fabrics by leaving them under the heat for too long. Natural fabrics will need longer under the heat and the colours will be less vibrant. It is advisable to experiment with temperature settings to achieve desirable results. It should be noted that the heating process also seals the paint on to the surface of the fabric. Let the paper and fabric cool down before inspecting your work!
5. Once you are happy with the colour tests you are ready to create a fabric transfer design. In this project, students took buildings as their inspiration. Students painted a range of colours (some were mixed together to create a wider colour palette) onto paper before carefully cutting and collaging them on to a thin paper background. Note that students used glue sticks sparingly when collaging, as the glue itself reacts with the heat and can leave blotchy effects on the fabric. 

Students in this particular project were producing fabric swatches for a design brief but other applications for this technique could range from tote bags to t-shirt designs. The fabric transfer paint technique is really good fun and produces great results. The main advantage of it is that you can quickly transfer imagery onto fabric in a low tech way using easily accessible equipment that can be found around the home.

I have been exploring this technique further with Kiran Lee on her 'Table Top Textiles' course at Hot Bed Press ready to use with Key Stage 3 students. Watch this space!


  1. This was a good suggestion that you put up here...dude…..hope that it benefits all the ones who land up here. 

    Hong Kong Tutor

  2. I'm impressed. Another great use for my berol paints.

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