Prototyping Tutorial - Patterns on Fabrics




This Instructable will teach you how to make a linocut. You can use this technique to print patterns on fabrics. It's a low range prototyping technique to improve the looks of your clothes.

Linocut is a printmaking technique. A design is cut into the linoleum surface with a V-shaped knife. The parts that are cut remain white in the print, and the uncut parts will be inked. The linoleum sheet is inked with a roller and then impressed on fabric. Now you have a pattern that can reproduce the same image over and over again.

The drawing on the linocut is always a reversal (mirror image) of the pattern. When you print it on your surface, the drawing become readable.

Enjoy the Instructable!

Step 1: Materials and Tools

You will need the following tools and materials to create your own T-shirt with a linocut print:

- A ruler
- A surface to roll out the ink
- A sheet of paper to draw your awesome pattern
- Silkscreen ink for printing on fabrics
- A pen
- A pencil
- A lino cutting tool with a set of blades
- A sheet of linoleum
- An ink roller (called a brayer)
- A T-shirt or some other fabric

Make sure you have a first aid kit nearby. Especially if it's your first linocut. You can easily cut your fingers with the sharp blades.

Step 2: Draw a Nice Design

Draw a nice design for your T-shirt on a piece of paper. Make sure the drawing isn't too detailed. A drawing with too much thin lines is more difficult to cut out the linoleum.

When you are satisfied with your design, you can start tracing it on a piece of tracing paper with a pencil. You don't have to draw the print in reversal. The tracing paper will help you to draw the design mirrored on the piece of linoleum.

Step 3: Trace the Drawing on the Linoleum Sheet

Place the sheet of tracing paper face down on the linoleum sheet. Press on the back of the tracing paper to transfer the graphite on the linoleum sheet. The best way to do this is by drawing with a grease pencil on the back of the paper. Make sure you press hard enough.

If everything goes well, the drawing is transferred properly onto the linoleum sheet.

Step 4: Start Carving the Blank Parts

Now you can start to carve out the drawing. The parts you cut away will not hold ink and will appear blank on your shirt. Be very patient when cutting, so you don't make any mistakes. Make sure you don't cut yourself with these sharp blades. The cutting tools can easily slip.

There are some safety hints and tips:

1. Always cut away from you.

2. Place your holding hand behind your cutting hand.

3. Always have a packet of band-aids within reach.

Step 5: Put Ink on the Brayer

Place a stroke of silkscreen ink on a surface or ink tray. I used a little sheet of aluminum. Start rolling the brayer up and down until the ink appears equally. It can take several minutes to spread the ink even across the aluminum plate.

Step 6: Put Ink on the Linoleum Sheet

Now you can roll the ink on the linoleum sheet. Make sure the entire surface is inked. It is recommended to put a scrap sheet of paper under the linocut. Otherwise you'll lose a lot of time cleaning your table.

Step 7: Print the Drawing on the Shirt

The first time you can test is with a piece of paper. Put the paper on top of the linocut to transfer the image. Roll the paper flat with a water bottle or a piece of PVC pipe. This will give you a properly transfer of ink onto the paper. Finally take the paper off the linoleum sheet. Now you can start over and duplicate the drawing.

When everything goes well you can start transferring the pattern onto your shirt.

Keep trying and experimenting with other patterns and designs. You will only get better at it.

Step 8: Start Experimenting

Practicing makes perfect! Experiment with other images, patterns, ...

If you make a pattern, you can add it multiple times onto your shirt. It will look awesome.



    • Trash to Treasure

      Trash to Treasure
    • Gardening Contest

      Gardening Contest
    • Tape Contest

      Tape Contest

    13 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    A simple helper for carving lino blocks or even wood blocks::: Take a board that is a little bigger than your lino sheet and on the ends (the narrower ends) use a piece of wood about 1/2" thick and about 1 1/2" wide to make "stops" on OPPOSITE sides of the board.

    In other words; one piece (when screwed or nailed on) will face UP and one will be on theOPPOSITE SIDE AND END ( back side) and face DOWN--when you place your board on a table or counter the underside piece of wood will STOP the board from sliding around from the pressure of your carving and the TOP piece will HOLD the lino block and prevent it from wandering around and give you something to steady the lino block on. An old cutting board is ideal for this or almost any plank will do. Just make sure your stopper pieces are fastened well and this will make life much easier AND help prevent the lino from moving when you are cutting and prevent YOU from jabbing yourself with the sharp cutter. I have the scars to prove that I didn't always know about these boards!

    You can also use craft paint mixed with FABRIC MEDIUM to make washable paint or ink for clothing---set it with an iron after it dries to make the best "bond" between fabric and paint. This also allows you to custom mix your colors and is MUCH cheaper than silk screen ink and is water washable to get off hands and surroundings.

    Some people use a fine foam brush to apply the paint if they don't have a brayer (roller) or want to get more than one color of paint on the block. You can use this method for printing on almost any surface!

    I always tell my students to try and make their designs about 50% black and 50% white. (50% cutout)


    4 years ago on Step 4

    I'm confused. You say "The parts you cut away will not hold ink and will appear blank on your shirt". Your tree example is the exact opposite. Can you please clarify?

    2 replies

    I used too much ink in the example with the tree. So the ink ran into the grooves (yet it still gives a nice effect). In my second example with the dinosaur i applied the ink much more gradual on the linocut. This prevented that the ink ran into the cuts.

    I hope everything is clear now. :-)

    Thanks! I probably should have looked at it a little more. I see what you mean now, and I agree, the tree does have a nice effect.

    Thanks for the great project.


    4 years ago

    glad I stumbled on this! Have done linoleum printing in the past. Just purchased some new supplies so I could start so Christmas cards. Now is want to try this fabric printing method. Thanx!


    I used silkscreen ink especially made for clothing, so this one will last. But I don't think other inks would last in the wash.

    At the beginning, you have to search a little bit for the right technique. But it goes quite smoothly with a little bit of practice.


    4 years ago

    Excellente idée
    De la sérigraphie abordable et à ma portée


    4 years ago

    Fun project. I've never done lino on fabric. It's usually pretty hard to get a good print on paper (much cheaper) so kudos to you for trying it on shirts.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the excellent tutorial! I just made my first linoleum stamps a couple of weeks ago, but didn't try it on fabric. Yours look awesome! I hope we see more from you on Instructables in the future!