Text fabric has been all the rage for the last couple years and is now so popular that it is a staple in many of the new fabric lines. Have you ever thought of making your own?
Many of you have seen and used the IKEA Britten Nummer text fabric which is a large scale bold script. I REALLY wanted some last year and it wasn’t available when I wanted it. So, I thought why don’t I make my own text fabric! I thought it would be fun to have my own words in my own handwriting on fabric. And, the more and more I thought about it, I got SO excited about this prospect. The possibilities are almost endless with what you can do with this. I know there are amazing options like Spoonflower that you can use to get your text printed but, that involves a few more steps to get to the end result. I thought, why don’t I just use markers on fabric?
My first quilt from my own text fabric was simple. I sometimes have a tendency to over think things. So, instead of trying to come up with the perfect words I just pulled lines from a favorite book of mine, “Like Water for Chocolate” by Laura Esquivel and made the LWFC Quilt. As soon as I finished it I realized that I might be violating copyright laws especially if I wanted to post pictures of it. It wasn’t my intention and, as an artist I’m usually very sensitive to this. But, I was just so anxious to get the idea out that I got ahead of myself. So, I’ll just show a distance shot of the quilt.
I’ll be honest that it’s not a great quilt but, it proved the viability of making my own text fabric by simply writing with markers directly onto the fabric. And, I learned a ton from this experience that has opened up so many possibilities. My second text quilt was my “That Night” Christmas Quilt that I shared with you yesterday. I’ve also played around with how it would look on print fabric as well as shown below.
Markers, Markers, Markers
So, you want to make your own text fabric but, are overwhelmed with the marker options? You can use both standard permanent markers as well as fabric markers for this purpose. There are an increasing number of fabric marker options on the market and honestly there are a few that I am dying to have a reason to try. Tee Juice Markers, Marvy Uchida Graffiti Markers, Stained by Sharpie to name a few. In the meantime, I’ll review what I have tried.
Just for you, I tested a bunch of markers to see how well they work and how they hold up in the wash. I wanted the fabric to be able to be washed the same way that I wash quilts. So I washed test runs in a regular washing machine with the sensitive “free and clear” version of a popular detergent and fabric softener. I also dried them in the dryer and the results were great. Notice only minimal fading after both washing and drying.
Marcy Uchida Farbic Brush Marker
I knew that I would want a marker with a bold stroke. Marvy Uchida has a number of fabric markers but, the Brush Marker has a thick bold tip that is brush-like so I thought it would create a nice effect on the fabric. And, it did. I did have to use two markers at a time because the ink seemed to run out as I was writing. So, I would write a while with one and then switch to the other. It wrote easily on the fabric that I chose and was dark and colorfast. It comes in 24 colors. List Price: $3.19 (Note: Marvy Uchida also has a Bold Marker and a standard size Fabric Marker as well.)
Marvy Uchida DecoFabric Markers
If you want to write on dark fabric or want a very saturated effect the DecoFarbic markers also by Marvy Uchida are definitely the way to go. They are 3mm so more of a standard size for a marker. What makes these stand out is these are more like paint markers and they produce brighter, richer and more saturated colors than any of the other markers that I’ve tried. They come in 28 colors including glitter, metallic, opaque, fluorescent, pearl, and glow in the dark! The manufacturer does suggest that you’ll get best results if you heat set this one but, it is fully washable after that. List Price: $3.69 but, you can often find them for around $2.50.
Yep, we all have Sharpies. And, many of us use them for quilt labels already so of course they can be used for making text fabric. I had many more Sharpies that I imagined when I gathered them all up. They come in so many sizes and colors and are great. You can’t go wrong with a Sharpie! List Price: Varies according to which one you get but, they range from $1.29 and up.
Daiso Brand Permanent Marker
I wanted to try a generic permanent marker and when I was walking through the Daiso store (This REALLY awesome Japanese chain $1.50 discount store that is starting to pop up around southern Cali) I saw these great big chunky markers and they were only $1.50 ea! Of course I had found my generic permanent markers to try. The package says they are 10mm which is about .4 in or almost a half inch! And, they have a “square” tip which is more rectangular and similar to but not quite a chisel. List Price: $1.50
Protecting Your Work Surface
I use freezer paper for a lot of things so of course it was the first thing I reached for when I wanted to write on fabric. Most markers will soak through the fabric when you are using them and freezer paper is great to put under your fabric to protect your writing surface. The freezer paper for me had a dual purpose though. Placing shiny side down, I drew lines on the freezer paper with a heavy marker so that they could be used as my guide lines when I wrote. I was writing on white fabric so this was perfect. When I’m writing on darker or heavier fabric I use my trusty Hera Markers to ‘draw’ lines. I also used my Hera to “draw” the heart in the Heart Love fabric above.
With my LWFC Quilt I wanted to make a quilt with just one panel of fabric and no seams. Unfortunately, wide width fabric isn’t very available especially in solids. So I settled for white Muslin. You can usually find it up to 120″ in width. It isn’t as heavy or as nice as say a Kona or a Cotton Couture but, it worked. And once it was quilted in and washed up you could hardly tell it was just a Muslin.
Of course, if you don’t want one continuous piece of fabric for a quilt front you could use any cotton fabric. You can use solids or prints. A fun monotone print fabric or a stripe could be great. The possibilities are endless. I would suggest that you not use fabric with texture which would make smooth writing more difficult.
Not much to say here but, have fun and write! Don’t be afraid that your handwriting isn’t pretty or perfect. Personally I think that the more organic and authentic it looks, the better.
What I’ve Learned
Having just completed three projects with this, I’m still exploring writing on fabric. I figured I’d pass on a few random things that I’ve learned so far.
Random item #1, if you want to make a whole quilt out of this then it looks a LOT better if you have justified “margins”, versus having big spaces at the end of your sentences like I did on the LWFC quilt. Since this is a lot more difficult to do while handwriting and it doesn’t look great to have hyphens then I made my text spill off the pages when I did this the second time. It creates a much more fluid look. As a matter of fact, I want to take the binding off the LWFC quilt and trim it down. Especially since I no longer like the binding. I guess I have to add it to the ever growing to do list.
Random item #2. When you’re writing on fabric, especially with non-fabric markers try to have fluid movements and not pause at the beginning and end of letters and words. Otherwise you will have concentrated dots of ink where you stop or pause. This is more pronounced with some markers than others.
Random item #3 is just because a fabric company sells a marker doesn’t mean that it’s a fabric marker. I wont say anything more about this aside from the fact that it’s a hard lesson to learn once the quilt is finished and QUILTED. So, I thought I’d pass it on to you. Don’t want any of you to feel as stupid as I did on that one.
There are so many options for what you can do with this. Please share if you do!