100 Day Stitch Book: Watercolor on Fabric

There are a lot of tutorials about painting watercolor on fabric available online so I will resist giving yet another long one here. However, I’ve recently been experimenting with watercolor on fabric in preparation for the “100 day stitch project” hosted by Ann Wood. I have had a lot of fun with it so I wanted to share some results and observations based on my explorations about painting on fabric.

First off, painting on dry fabric is difficult and problematic and it doesn’t look like much like watercolor. I feel like one could easily just use an acrylic fabric paint with a similar but more lasting effect. When painting on wet fabric the effects of the brushstrokes resemble more traditional watercolor but is definitely harder to control. The wet-in-wet blooms mix and bleed into one another in a charming way.

If you dampen fabric and crumple it up you can dab paint into the top layer to create an effect that resembles using ice dye. This was a lot of fun and created some painterly areas that looked a little like floral explosions.

Make sure you put down something underneath your fabric as the color will bleed. I was painting on wood as you can see below and the bleeding would then contaminate the next piece of fabric. I started putting tin foil down after this and then could easily wipe it with a piece of paper towel before starting another piece.

Crumpled wet fabric can be transformed into a mock ice dye by dribbling paint on the top most layer and then unfolding. The rich colors will fade when dried.

Once your fabric dries the color will be lighter, just like with watercolor on paper. I almost think that this effect is heightened on fabric because the colors I used dried way lighter than they would have on paper.

When wet (above), these colors are bold and deep. Once dry (below) they fade and become paler. Using deeply saturated colors will yield darker results.

Nothing I’ve created is permanent, meaning I can’t wash it. I can do various things to change this such as using a fabric medium to coat the fabric. I am personally not interested in permanence at the moment as the pieces of fabric will be used for my upcoming stitch book that will not be washed.

For more inspiration and additional tips check out the following (non-affiliated) links:

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