Last week I had a go at a craft I don’t think I’ve done since I was at primary school. Nope, I wasn’t making a fortune teller or a paper mache bowl, I actually did some potato printing, and now I love it!
I’ve wanted to have a go at printing on fabric for ages, creating my own designs and artwork to make into something really unique. However, screen printing or lino printing, while looking beautiful, seems a bit expensive and specialist for a beginner. That’s why I thought potato printing might be a fun way to start.
For one, it’s cheap! All I used were a few potatoes, some basic fabric paint and some old cotton canvas I already had in my stash. It’s also really easy - even easier than I thought it would be. Without any specialist tools, it’s quick and simple to get started straight away, and I love the results I ended up with.
That’s why I wanted to share a quick tutorial with you all, in case you wanted to try it yourself. I also think this could be a great craft to try with kids, as long as you can give them a hand with the cutting out part.
How to create your own fabric designs with potato prints
What you need:
Some simple cotton fabric, I used a canvas material, as I wanted it to be fairly thick
Some fabric paint. Mine was from Hobbycraft
A paint brush
A few potatoes
A cutting board
A small knife
Scrap paper and a pencil
Come up with a design that is simple enough to cut out with a knife and small enough to fit on a potato. I used a mix of leaves, circles, crosses and triangles, but you can basically do whatever you like. Draw this design on a bit of scrap paper and cut it out.
Get your potato and cut it in half (carefully and on a cutting mat!) and blot the moisture away. About 2cm down from the flat part of the half, cut into the potato a few centimetres deep, all the way around.
You don’t want to cut all the way through - imagine you’re cutting a nectarine in half, but can’t cut all the way through because of the stone in the middle.
Place your paper design on top of the flat part of the potato half. and carefully cut around it, chopping away the parts you don’t need and leaving the design raised up. You’ll find that making the initial cut in step 2 will help here.
Take your paper template away and now you’re ready to print.
Cover your workspace with newspaper or a plastic bag and get your fabric ready and ironed.
Squeeze some fabric paint out and paint it onto the raised design of the potato stamp with your paint brush. You want a fairly thick covering to get a clear image. Then stamp it firmly onto the fabric.
Admire your handiwork - doesn’t that look great? Now you just need to leave the design to dry for an hour or so, before making it into something special.
Washing and Ironing
The paint I bought is apparently meant to be waterproof. I haven’t tested it yet, but I’ve used the finished fabric to make into things I don’t really plan on washing. If you’re planning to print on fabric for cushions or garments, I’d recommend testing how it will wash on some scrap first.
I found that this paint irons well, but I still put a pressing cloth over the top of it before ironing it the first time, to make sure I didn’t get any nasty marks on the iron.
What I Made
From the start, I knew I wanted to use the printed fabric to make some project bags. For anyone who’s wondering, project bags are often used by crafters to keep all the materials they need for their current project handy in one place. If you’re anything like me and usually have about 5 on the go at once, you need more than a few project bags.
Personally, I like a good old drawstring project bag, so made a couple of different sizes, as well as a tote bag, for various different types of project, combining the printed fabric with some other solid fabric scraps I had on hand. (I’ll eventually get around to making a tutorial to show how I sew them up) My favourite is the little noughts and crosses sock bag, with purple/grey top and a drawstring - it’s the perfect size for a one-skein project.
I can definitely say I’m converted when it comes to fabric printing. I’d love to do a class one day on fabric printing with lino or screen printing, until then I’m pretty happy with a good old potato!
Let me know if you have any questions, and make sure you show me your designs if you try the tutorial out yourself!