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Beginner Guide to
Fabric Crafts

FAKOORY &CO. FIELD GUIDE 

Hi there! Welcome to Fakoory’s Field Guide to Fabric Crafts.

If you picked this up, you must be interested in how to turn a plain fabric base into something colorful and unique. Just getting started? Lucky for you, we’ve got lots of tips!

Quick Find

Words to Know

Base — any finished garment or accessory (such as a purse) intended to be customized with paint, dye, vinyl iron-ons, iron-on transfers or other embellishments

Dye bath — liquid used for dyeing fabric

Ombre — also known as dip dye, an effect where the shades of color gradient go from light to dark. Achieved by hand dipping fabric in dye for gradual color blending.

Overdyeing — the process for dyeing colored and printed fabrics

Resist — a technique where a material (rubber bands, tape, doily) is added to protect the surface and create designs or patterns

Shibori — a Japanese manual resist dyeing technique that creates patterns on fabric by folding, twisting or bunching cloth and then binding it

Textile — any cloth or good produced by weaving, knitting or felting

Tools & Supplies

  • Bucket or plastic tub
  • Cardboard
  • Clothes iron
  • Clothespins for hanging projects to dry
  • Glass liquid measuring cup
  • Paper towels
  • Plastic storage bags
  • Rags
  • Rubber bands, zip ties, masking tape or string for creating resist effects and tie dye patterns
  • Rubber gloves
  • Spray bottles
  • Stainless steel tongs
  • Tweezers for placing small embellishments

Fabric Prep, Care & Cleaning

Before you begin a craft textile project, pre-
wash items without fabric softener to remove any chemicals or oils on the surface of new items. This also accounts for shrinkage before embellishing your project. Additionally, if you’re working with a colored base, prewashing allows for the fabric dyes to run before using it on you project.

Iron fabrics on the highest setting possible, according to care instructions, to create a smooth work surface. Turn off steam setting.

Post-dyeing, follow up with a fabric dye fixative to increase the amount of color retention. For best results, use immediately after dyeing but before rinsing and laundering. Fixative can be sprayed directly onto fabric.

Wash dyed fabrics in cold water at least three times before washing with other clothes, as the dye color may bleed. If the dyed fabrics have different colors, they should be washed separately to avoid muddying or dulling the colors. Dry instructions may vary, but hang drying is recommended to keep the fabrics looking crisp and new.

Dyeing Techniques 

Fabric dye can be used to color various types of materials, including cotton, linen, wool, silk, rayon, ramie, nylon, polyester, acrylic, acetate, wood, wicker, rope, hemp, buttons, beads, feathers, paper, pinecones, plastics, etc. Check the label to specify the dye that works best on your particular materials.

The label should also specify how much dye to use for your project. For example, 1 bottle/ box dyes 4 medium T-shirts or 1 big bath towel (approximately 1 lb. dry fabric). In general, use three gallons of water for every pound of fabric.

IMMERSION TECHNIQUE

  1. Check the fiber content of the fabric item being dyed to determine the appropriate dye product and process, i.e. stovetop, sink or bucket method.
  2. Weigh or estimate the weight of the fabric item to be dyed to determine how much dye is needed. Double the dye quantity to get a bold color.
  3. Prepare the proper amount of dye and
    water for the dye bath according to product instructions. Water temperature should be 140 degrees Fahrenheit for sink or bucket dyeing and 210 degrees Fahrenheit for stovetop dyeing.
  4. Test the dye bath color using a paper towel. Add more dye or water until desired color is achieved.
  5. Wet the fabric item (fabric should be evenly damp throughout) and submerge in the dye bath.
  6. Stir slowly and continuously for the first
    10 minutes to ensure an even dye with no splotches. Keep in dye bath until desired color is achieved. Note: Fabric looks darker when wet and will dry lighter.
  7. Squeeze out excess dye.
  8. Rinse in cool water until water runs clear. For the stovetop method, start rinse in warm water and gradually decrease temperature.
  9. Launder according to fabric care instructions.
 

IMMERSION METHOD USING A WASHING MACHINE

1.   Check the fiber content of the fabric item being dyed to determine the appropriate dye product and process.

2.   Weigh or estimate the weight of the fabric item to be dyed to determine how much dye is needed. Double the dye quantity to get a bold color.

3.   Wet fabric (fabric should be evenly damp throughout) and place item in the washing machine.

4.   Set to hottest possible water temperature and wash cycle for at least 30 minutes.

5.   Mix dye with 4 cups of very hot water. Stir well.

6.   Start washer cycle.

7.   Remove detergent cup from detergent tray.

8.   Pour the dye solution into the dispenser. Flush the dispenser thoroughly with 4 more cups of hot tap water.

9.   Run a full wash cycle with only dye solution and fabric item.

10.                 After cycle ends, rewash the now-dyed item in warm water with mild detergent to remove excess dye solution.

11.                 Wipe around the inside of the lid and pour a little bleach through the internal dispenser, if there is one. Set water to highest water level and hottest water temperature setting. Add detergent, 2 cups of chlorine bleach and run a full wash cycle with a few old towels.

TIE DYEING

Tie dyeing adds color to a blank canvas, such as a white shirt, socks, tote bag, shoes or pillow. Tie dyeing works best on 100% natural fiber fabrics like cotton, rayon or silk. Synthetic fabrics like polyester may not absorb the dye. There are many different tie dye techniques.

SQUIRT BOTTLE TECHNIQUE

  1. Prewash fabric item. Take damp fabric directly from the washer.
  2. Fold, twist and bind your fabric according to desired tie dye technique. Note that rubber bands, zip ties, string and tape act as a resist and create white spaces. All produce slightly different effects.
  3. Pour powder dye into mixing bottles, add water and shake until all of the dye is mixed.
  4. Squeeze dye onto different sections of fabric. Place fabric on baking rack to keep dye from pooling underneath. Rotate or flip the fabric item as you apply the dye to make sure all areas are covered.
  5. Place tie dyed fabric in a plastic zipper storage bag to keep damp while the dye sets.
  6. Let it set for at least 6 to 8 hours for brightest colors.
  7. Rinse in cool water until the water runs clear.
  8. Cut rubber bands and other resistant tools with scissors.
  9. Launder according to fabric care instructions.
 

IMMERSION TECHNIQUE

  1. Prewash fabric item. Take damp fabric directly from the washer.
  2. Fold, twist and bind your fabric according to desired tie dye technique. Note that rubber bands, zip ties, string and tape act as a resist and create white spaces. All produce slightly different effects.
  3. Fill container(s) with three gallons of hot water, about 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Add dye to water.
  5. Wet fabric.
  6. Immerse wrapped fabric for up to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. The longer the fabric soaks, the darker the color.
  7. If using multiple colors, start with the lightest color and repeat the process until all colors are used.
  8. Squeeze out excess dye. Do not remove rubber bands.
  9. Rinse in cool water until water runs clear.
  10. Cut rubber bands and other resistant tools with scissors.
  11. Launder according to fabric care instructions.

OTHER TECHNIQUES 

  • Ice dye — an alternative to traditional water dyeing. Sprinkle dye powder on crushed ice on top of fabric, then let ice melt.
  • Splatter technique — pressing fabric spray paint pump halfway creates a haphazard, splattered effect; can also use a bubble wand with different colored dyes
  • Spray mist technique — pressing fabric spray paint pump fully produces a spray mist effect
  • Watercolor dye– a tie dyeing technique using paintbrushes dipped into color dye and brushed onto fabric.

Fabric Paints & Markers 

Fabric paint is highly pigmented and specially formulated to work on both light and dark fabrics. The paint dries with a solid opaque finish but remains soft to the touch and won’t crack or crumble. It is flexible, mixable and can be watered down to create watercolor effects. Brush, sponge, stamp or stencil fabric paints for ultra-personal creativity.

When finished, let fabric paint dry for 24 hours. Then set the paint by ironing the area, covered with a pressing cloth, at the highest recommended heat setting. Move the iron over the painted area using circular movements for at least 30 seconds. Wait
72 hours before washing the painted item. Turn the garment inside out and wash in cold water. When necessary, iron finished item inside out.

LIQUID FABRIC PAINTS

Liquid fabric paint comes in tubes or jars, similar to other craft paints. Liquid fabric paint can be applied from the tube to create precise lines or with a paintbrush to cover larger areas, create shading effects and mix colors.

  • Test first on scrap fabric or paper towel.
  • Insert shirtboard or cardboard between layers of fabric to prevent bleed through between fabric layers.
  • Lightly wet the fabric with clean water before painting to encourage colors to flow into each other.
  • Pin in place using safety or sewing pins to prevent the fabric item from shifting.
  • Draw a design on the fabric by tracing a stencil design directly on the fabric item, transferring a design using a marking tool or freeforming
    a design. Stenciling works best on a lightly padded surface.
  • Paint over the traced image, being sure to cover the outline.

DIMENSIONAL FABRIC PAINTS

Dimensional fabric paint creates a raised surface for a 3-D effect. This paint is formulated to last so designs won’t crack or peel after washing.

  • Test first on scrap fabric or paper towel.
  • Insert shirtboard or cardboard between layers of fabric to prevent bleed through between fabric layers.
  • Pin in place using safety or sewing pins to prevent the fabric item from shifting.
  • Hold the dimensional paint bottle like a pencil.
  • For raised linework, hold the bottle at an angle to the fabric, allowing more paint to escape.
  • For flat linework, hold bottle straight up and down, allowing less paint to escape.

SPRAY PAINT

Fabric spray paint is easy to use—just shake, aim and spray, spritz or splatter. This permanent fabric paint dries quickly for a vibrant, soft to the touch color. Fabric spray paints are nontoxic and eco-friendly since no aerosol propellants are emitted into the air when using.

  • Test first on scrap fabric or paper towel.
  • Insert shirtboard or cardboard between layers of fabric to prevent bleed through between fabric layers.
  • Pin in place using safety or sewing pins to prevent the fabric item from shifting.
  • Hold can 6 to 8 inches from fabric and spray with smooth, even strokes.
  • Apply one light coat at a time, waiting 5 minutes between coats. Add additional coats for desired coverage and intensity.
  • Rotate front piece of nozzle to adjust spray pattern.
  • Before using a stencil, apply a temporary spray adhesive and press firmly onto fabric to prevent color from permeating underneath the stencil openings.
  • Clean nozzle in warm water before storing.
  • If spray pump malfunctions, detach pump from bottle and use tweezers to remove any dried paint that might be clogging nozzle.

FABRIC MARKERS

Fabric markers have intense, vivid color. Whether drawing, doodling or coloring, you can count on these easy-to-use, nontoxic fabric markers for true, permanent color that lasts.

  • Test first on scrap fabric or paper towel.
  • Insert shirtboard or cardboard between layers of fabric to prevent bleed through between fabric layers.
  • Pin in place using safety or sewing pins to prevent the fabric item from shifting.
  • Shake marker well and start drawing.

Embellishments 

Patches & Appliques

Patches and appliques are a way to proudly show off hard-earned badges, make a store-bought jean jacket look one-of-a-kind or cover holes in well- worn fabrics.

Most patches and appliqués already have an iron- on adhesive. They can also be machine sewed or adhered with fabric glue. Use a Teflon pressing cloth with fusible adhesives to secure fabric appliqués to a base. Hand stitching around the edges can also provide extra security for ironed or glued on patches, especially after extensive washes or wears.

Do not apply patches and appliqués on fabrics that cannot be ironed, such as silk, rayon, nylon, vinyl or leather.

Ironing on Patches

  1. Remove the plastic adhesive backing, if applicable.
  2. Thoroughly iron area where patch will be placed according to fabric care instructions.
  3. Place patch in desired location on garment with embroidery facing up. Using press cloth or light towel, press iron firmly over patch for 30 seconds using a slow circular motion.
  4. Turn garment inside out and iron the back of the patch for another 30 seconds.
  5. Let cool for one minute. If edge of patch can be lifted, repeat step 4.

Note: A patch to repair a tear or blend in with fabric may need to be applied on the reverse side of the clothing. Refer to package instructions.

Rhinestones & Studs

Rhinestones and studs add sparkle to any fabric item. Bedazzle shirts, bags or hats using self- adhesive, iron-on or glue-on crystals and studs.

Loose embellishments adhere to fabric using specially designed gem glue. Manually apply the glue to the fabric then place the embellishment using narrow point tweezers.

Iron-on rhinestones and studs come in premade transfer designs or loose so you can create your own designs. Either way, the adhering process is the same.

  1. Determine design placement.
  2. Thoroughly iron area where design will be placed.
  3. If using loose crystals or studs, use narrow tweezers to position.
  4. If using transfer design, peel off backing sheet. Move any embellishments that may have shifted back into place using tweezers. Place design face up on fabric.
  5. Place a piece of parchment or wax paper over the transfer design.
  6. Apply iron over crystals or studs for at least
    30 seconds. Do not move the iron. Repeat as necessary to apply heat to all crystals or studs.
  7. Turn the garment inside out and iron for at least 30 seconds.
  8. Once the garment has cooled, turn garment right side out.
  9. If using transfer design, gently peel off the plastic sheet. If any stick to plastic, replace the paper and repeat the process.

Vinyl Appliques

A Cricut® machine is a great tool to have if you plan on crafting textiles in quantity. Use premade designs or create your own using the technology’s software, then use the machine to cut designs out of the vinyl quickly and precisely. The Cricut EasyPressTM makes adhering the vinyl to your craft base quick and easy, too.

Fasteners 

Some projects, like purses and bags, will require some type of fastener. That can include magnetic snaps, turn locks and purse frames to close a purse. It can also include strap attachments such as swivel clasps, buckles, slider buckles, circle and square rings, grommets and D-rings.

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