How to Apply Fabric Paint With Linocuts

Written by colleen de koning
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How to Apply Fabric Paint With Linocuts
Choose a textile ink that is several shades darker than your fabric for best results. (textile colour example image by Dmitriy Lesnyak from

Decorating fabric with the use of linocuts is a creative way to add a designer element to curtains, bed coverings and clothing. Linocuts are designs that have been carved into linoleum sheets. They generally feature simple graphic designs that work well for borders or for dramatic placement on pillows or T-shirts. Linocut materials are available at most hobby and craft stores or you can purchase them with designs pre-cut through the Internet. Using the proper technique when you apply fabric paints to your project will result in a design that is machine washable if you use washable fabrics, and resists fading.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Cotton or linen fabric
  • Iron
  • Newspaper
  • Linocut
  • Foam roller
  • Textile printing inks
  • Flat dish or tray
  • Rubber brayer
  • Clean muslin

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  1. 1

    Iron the fabric or item to be printed. Any wrinkles or folds will show after the printing process.

  2. 2

    Pour a thin layer of paint in the shallow tray.

  3. 3

    Wet the foam roller and squeeze as much moisture out of it as possible, until it is slightly damp.

  4. 4

    Load the paint onto the roller by running the roller through the paint from one side of the tray to the other. Your roller should be filled with paint but not dripping.

  5. 5

    Place the linocut face side up on the newspaper. Run the loaded foam roller over the cut surface lightly several times to coat the surface with paint.

  6. 6

    Lay your fabric out flat, right side up, on newspaper. Carefully turn the coated linocut over by holding it by the edges. Determine where you want your design placed and slowly lower the linocut onto the fabric. Press the linocut firmly onto the fabric and roll the back of the linocut with the brayer to transfer the textile paint onto the fabric.

  7. 7

    Lift the linocut by a corner and gently peel the fabric off of the linocut. Place the fabric in an undisturbed area to dry. When it is dry, cover the design with a clean sheet of muslin and iron it for approximately three minutes to set the textile paint.

Tips and warnings

  • Choose textile paints that contrast with your fabric, preferably a darker shade. Using light paints on dark fabrics does not result in crisp graphics.
  • If you are making several prints at the same time, there is no need to clean the linocut between prints.
  • After printing, clean your linocut well with a fine brush and soapy water, taking care to remove any paint build-up in the cut areas.
  • If the paint runs into the cut areas, you have either applied it too thickly or have chosen a paint that is too thin. Clean your linocut, choose a thicker paint, and try again. Using runny paint will lead to a smudgy print.

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