Sun Printed Fabric




Introduction: Sun Printed Fabric

Enthusiastic hiker, quilter and creator with a passion for making the most of every situation and...

It's fun and easy to use the sun to make prints from leaves or other objects, using cotton fabric and transparent fabric paints. You can use the resulting fabric to make napkins, bags, clothing, or use it in a quilt or wall hanging.

Step 1: Gather Your Materials Including Leaves and Flowers

I like to gather plant material just before doing the painting, so that it is flexible and not dried out. I used leaves from wild roses, and daisies. You can use paper cut outs instead of plant material too.

You will also need cotton (white or beige) fabric such as muslin, or silk, a brush, and transparent fabric paints (brands include Pebeo Setacolor and Kraftcolor SunDyes). I did my painting on a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil to keep things neat, but you can use any surface to paint on.

Step 2: Apply Water and Paint to Fabric

Brush a thin layer of water on the fabric to wet it, then brush undiluted paint on top. Cover the entire surface with paint.

You can get great effects by using 2 or more colors. In this instructable, I just used one color, Pebeo Setacolor fuschia.

Step 3: Add Leaves and Flowers

While the fabric is still wet, lay down the leaves, flowers, or other media, pressing lightly onto the fabric. Put your fabric in a sunny spot to dry away from the wind. (If necessary, you can dry the fabric indoors under fluorescent lights, but this works best outside on a sunny day).

Step 4: Once Fabric Is Dry, Remove Leaves and Flowers

Lift up a corner to make sure the fabric is dry and the image is clear. As the sun dries out the fabric, the dye/water mixture will migrate towards the dry area, leaving a "negative" impression where the leaf was.

Step 5: Heat Set by Ironing

Iron the fabric for 30 seconds on the setting appropriate for the fabric you have used (e.g. cotton). This sets the dye and makes it washable in cold water. Now your fabric is ready to enjoy!

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    6 Discussions

    This easy method for creating attractive custom-designed fabric inspires me to try it for myself on the next sunny day.

    1 reply

    It's easy to make these sun prints, but I agree that you really do need a sunny, not too windy day. I have tried it on partially cloudy days which ended up being cloudy, and the images were not as sharp.
    May you have sunny days!

    Very nice and simple and good instructions. I will be sure to try this, if it ever quits raining here. Like very much. One question: what kind of paint did you use? Voted!

    1 reply

    Thanks. i'm glad you liked it! I used the Pebeo transparent fabric paint shown in the photos. Hope you have fun with this!

    The paint you used-does it have photo sensitive additive, or is it just the drying/migration principle? I'm wondering what it is about this paint vs. other paint that makes it work.

    1 reply

    I think that any transparent (not opaque) fabric paint would probably work These paints don't have a photo sensitive additive. Other water based paints (e.g. watercolors) might work but would not be color fast. I have only tried it with the paints mentioned in the instructable. I would be interested in hearing how it works if you try other paints. Thanks.