Inspired by Preen – textile printing experiments

posted in: Fabric printing | 13

I have written about a lovely Preen collection that has inspired me. At first I just loved the colours of the Spring/Summer collection 2012 – the strong pinks, with grey, white, green, blue and turquoise. I went to the shop in Notting Hill, and was allowed to try everything on and really examine the clothes (thank you Miriam). I discovered that the textiles used were created using pixellated photographs of peonies, which were then digitally printed on silk.

Preen S/S 2012
Preen S/S 2012

Obviously not something a home dressmaker could reproduce at home. But I have taken the idea of pastel shaded cubes on white as my inspiration, and have worked on this concept at home and at the Mary Ward centre, where I go to evening classes once a week.

Here is my first attempt at home. I used some washable gutta to create rough squares on a piece of silk, then mixed some silk paints in suitable colours and filled it in.

Testing the colours on silk
Testing the colours on silk

As this worked quite well, I made up a 1960s shell top, from one of the patterns I used previously (for the 2014 SWAP).

Shell top, Vogue 7379
Shell top, Vogue 7379

I sewed the five sections together, leaving it open at the shoulders and CB so that it was more or less flat. This meant that when I painted the squares on it would continue across the seams – providing perfect matching! In fact what happened was that the colours seeped across on the underside creating some less desirable effects. I have yet to rescue this item!

Painting the shell top
Painting the shell top

I have tried a few other techniques too. Here is what happened when I experimented with screen printing.

5 colour screen printed cotton
5 colour screen printed cotton

I also experimented with the heat press at the Mary Ward centre. I painted several sheets of paper with heat transfer inks. These did not look very promising in the tube, and pretty dull on the paper. After letting the ink dry I used the guillotine to cut them into two-inch squares, before assembling them on a piece of very light translucent polyester and putting it into the heat press (which works like a large, very hot, dry iron). Here the fabric is displayed on white backing fabric as I would need to mount it on an opaque background when making up a skirt.

Heat transfer (single thickness)
Heat transfer (single thickness)

It was impossible to get all the little squares lined up due to the very high heat of the press and the relatively flimsy nature of the paper. Nevertheless I was very pleased with the result. As the fabric is transparent I tried folding it over to see what happened.

Double thickness heat transfer print
Double thickness heat transfer print.

This has definite possibilities. Has anyone got any other ideas of techniques or approaches to creating this unique designer look?

13 Responses

  1. I quite like your first attempt, Kate. Can you post what the finished top looks like?

    • Thank you Galina! It’s in a queue at the moment. And the weather calls for jackets and wooly skirts rather than flimsy blouses.

    • Just about to Galina. Your comment spurred me on to complete it. I am actually quite pleased with this version.

  2. Patricia

    You can order digitally printed fabric of your own design at I’m not associated with this website, nor tried it, but I have seen it mentioned on other blogs. Though I do like your last attempt.

    • Thanks for the suggestion. I am tempted to try Spoonflower although with the postage and tax it would be rather expensive. I hear By Hand London are planning to launch this service in the UK, which would be most welcome.

  3. Kate, I second the recommendation of Shipping charges are not too expensive (I think they charged me just US$ 9.- for the shipping of 6 yards of their Cotton Sateen Alice in Wonderland print).
    Printing quality as well as fabric quality are excellent.

  4. Ah – I hadn’t realised that Alice was your own design; even more impressive Manuela! I will give it a try once I have my “inspired by Preen” textile sorted.

  5. No Kate, the fabric design can be bought on Spoonflower, some fabric designers make their creations available for sale there.

  6. OK! Thanks for the clarification M.

  7. I love this collection! I look forward to seeing what you come up with. I was also going to suggest Spoonflower, but have not tried it!

  8. […] has been getting on my nerves was conceived back in May, when I first started this blog; my “Inspired by Preen” silk shell […]

  9. Stamping and/or stenciling.

  10. Brenda Marks

    Thank you for sharing your experiments. I’ll keep reading the blog to see how the story ends! : )

    Derwent watercolor pencils are permanent on fabric if you get the fabric wet. I don’t know if this would work with the washable gutta, but it could be an option. In order to keep the paint from seeping, many people use a frame to hold the fabric away from a surface (which helps to minimize seeping from one spot to another). I’m thinking of getting a PVC quilting frame, but I need a definite project before investing in one.

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