How to: Calligraphy on Fabric

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Using calligraphy on fabric allows you to add a very personal touch to decorating and gift giving. Add a verse from a favourite carol to a holiday table runner, a poem to a silk scarf, the family motto to a throw pillow. For the best results, choose fabrics that are finely woven, with a smooth finish.

Stretch the fabric tightly over a clean work surface to keep it smooth while you work. Below are five choices for adding the calligraphy.

Write directly on the fabric. Choose a calligraphy marker designed for fabric or a permanent marker with a calligraphy tip. There are also fabric-paint markers manufactured with calligraphy tips. A standard calligraphy tip is broad, with a fine edge. Practice writing with the marker on paper before writing on the fabric.

Stamp the calligraphy on the fabric. Craft shops that specialise in scrapbooking offer a wide range of rubber stamps, including those with calligraphic flourishes and messages. Be sure to select an ink pad that is manufactured for permanent use on fabric.

Print a calligraphy design from the computer onto fabric-transfer paper. Create the calligraphic message and design you desire in a word-processing program and print it onto fabric transfer paper, available at craft shops. Iron the design from the paper onto the fabric.

Paint the fabric with a calligraphic brush and fabric paint. This method requires a sure hand and some practice. Use a foam paintbrush with a fine edge. Hold the paintbrush at an angle, as you would a calligraphy pen. Dip the brush in paint and move with the same strokes you would employ in writing. Remember that foam brushes absorb a lot of paint: use a light touch to avoid squeezing excess paint onto your design.

Decorate the fabric using a calligraphy stencil. Hold the stencil on the fabric and daub over it with fabric paint. Stencilling does not require the skill of painting, but it is time consuming, since you must allow each application of paint dry before laying the stencil down again.