Here is a blog post on how to make fabric printing paste. I am using synthetic and natural dyes in this post. Yes, I do understand the fabric design world is moving into natural dyes. As it’s better for the planet. I have later also decided to move to natural dyes but I do feel that synthetic dyes will have a place. The colours that synthetic dyes produce are much more vibrant than natural dyes. I have recently decided to make progress on my fabric printing skills this time doing more printing on fabric. My previous attempts were on printing using a screen. in which also employs thickening up a fabric dye into a paste so that it is thick enough to print thru the screen,
Any type of dye can be made into a paste. Whether it’s natural or synthetic dyes. As I said before in order to print the dye employ or use needs to be thickened so that the pattern will register on the fabric once it’s printed.
There are a few types of thickeners that one can use from synthetic to natural thickeners. As I am more of a home craft and do it yourself at home person, therefore, I tend to use the ones that are available to buy online or art and craft shops.
Using acrylic paints and textile printing medium
The synthetic fabric printing paste is made by art or craft manufactures. I have used Daler Rowney textile medium that is added onto their system 3 acrylic paints. Once the screen printing is undertaken and it’s dry all you need to do is to set it with an iron and you are done. However, the downside of using this is that the paste doesn’t come cheap about £9.95/ pot for 8 oz. (about 250 MLS) You have to mix equal 1:1 amounts of ratio.
Also, it’s a printed paste, not dye which means that rather the colour sitting in the whole fibres of the fabric it only sits on top. In the long run, if it’s not set properly it can come off. Many craft books I found recommend using this type of paste. The good news is that it’s incredibly safe and ready to use, unlike fabric dyes. There are other manufacturers like Speedball that has got a similar system like Daler and rowney so have a look around. Some come with ready-made screen printing ink.
How to make fabric printing paste
Another method of making a longer-lasting fabric printing paste is using thickener like Manutex F which one can buy online from good fabric craft suppliers. There is also Manutex RS which is for a less define option. These pastes are mix into natural dyes or synthetic dyes like procion mx. The strength of the colour varies from the type of fibre (material) that is used to print (cotton or silk). I find that strong colours are much easier to achieve with silk fabric.
Manutex doesn’t come cheap but a little goes a long way. It is very safe as it is used in food as well. It is sodium alginate made from kelp seaweed. There is also guar gum powder which one can buy on eBay. As it’s a natural printing paste it is much more stable in my opinion to use with natural dyes. A much thicker dye concentration will need to use for natural dyes when using them as fabric printing paste.
Indalca PA3R is another thickener to use as a thickener for dispersing dyes. There are a few safety measures when it comes to using indalca so not that safe when you have children and pets around.
There are also other options like Selectasine which opens up a new world of options of making your own puff printing paste and so on. I have not used them before so I can’t much about them.
I buy most of the fabric printing supplies from George weil. Their service is excellent although their products can be pricey compared to elsewhere.