Thursday, January 21, 2021

Behind the Design: Painting with Markers


In a few months, our divas will be ready to show off their spring summer fashions. And from the looks from our last report, it seems that floral prints will be really big. The secret to creating any one of these cool warm weather looks, is employing prints that perfectly adapt to 1/6th scale garments. Awhile ago, I did a tutorial showing how to recreate designer prints using photo editing software and an inkjet printer. But what happens if you don't have access to a printer, or cannot find a commercially made floral print of your doll's dreams in a store? Here's the perfect solution: Create exactly what you need using textile markers! 

Textile markers look just like the regular variety except, they are filled with permanent, color-fast dyes specifically formulated for fabrics with smooth surfaces. Available in wide, chisel tip, fine and ultra fine nubs, they are sold separately as well as in variety packs both online or at your local crafts/art supply store. While they don't replace commercially produced fabric prints, they are quite useful for those times when you want a very specific print, "ethnic" stripes, or a unique hand drawn OOAK print for a special garment. 

For this project, you need fabric markers, perhaps watercolor brushes, pencil, container of water, and embroidery hoop (optional). I've included the embroidery hoop for those who might be drawing an intricate motif. The hoop comes in a variety of sizes and is good for holding the fabric taunt while you draw detailed motifs.

To begin, we must first create a "motif." This is a basic design which will be repeated all over the fabric. You really don't need to be able to draw. Since the doll is so small, you only need to create the "essence" of a design. For my floral print, look how I've only used circles, X's, little scallops (for leaves) and a few squiggly line. It doesn't take much!
While creating the motif, remember, again, scale is everything. Cut a small scrap of paper and scribble your print. Place it against the doll to check the scale. Next, choose a basic fabric with a smooth finish: cotton, silk, satin... In one piece, cut enough to make the entire garment. (But don't lay or cut your pattern pieces unless you want the motifs to fall in specific places.)


Now make a grid for the repeat of your motif. Most prints are staggered in a diamond shape. The boxes I've drawn here represent the placement of each motif. They can be closer together or further apart depending on the overall look of the finished print.

Before you start, do a series of small tests to see how the marker reacts to the fabric. Shake the marker before you start. And if it seems a bit dry, dip the nib in water first. 
Pictured above, I began with the motif on paper using the same fine tip marker I'm using on a variety of fabrics to show you the differences. On the upper left hand corner is the original motif on paper, and from there, I've shown how it looks on a medium weight cotton, a fine, tightly woven polyester, a shiny satin, a twill weave silk and finally, a sheer chiffon. Note how in some cases, my marker sometimes bleeds into the fabric's fibers.


Once you have chosen your fabric, motif and plotted the pattern repeat, you might want to trace the design onto the cloth. Usually you don't need much fabric for most garments, so I tape the fabric onto a window, slide the motif underneath and trace onto the fabric. Even if you don't want to trace all of the motifs, you need to at least make enough of a guide so that each motif will remain in scale and relatively similar.
The print I made for the dress at the top of this post, reminded me of this drawing of violets, a logo of a famous bygone New York department store. What you note is that even though the drawing looks detailed, it really is only a series of dashes, dots and strokes. My interpretation is not a copy of this logo. But it does simply convey the essence of the original. Because the original fabric has a 3-D component, I have tacked on a petal created with polyester organza. 
I show you this to give an idea as to how to go about interpreting an existing print. 

Note how at the base of my flowers, there is a splash of transparent watercolor. This is achieved by either scribbling the color onto the surface then using a wet brush to blend or wetting the surface first then drawing over with the marker and letting the color bleed. You can work in layers. Make a wash, let dry then draw over with a crisp line. The beauty of this medium is that you can always come back and add to what is already there. Moreover, you create add a 3-D effect by adding petals, beads or embroidery.

Another useful way to use this medium is to create what is called "Ethnic Stripes." These are what appears to be hand drawn stripes which gives the print a folkloric look. Essentially, you still need a guide so that the stripes don't get too out of sync. But again, what is nice, is that you can create your own color palette and design create your own pattern of thick and thin stripes.
Again, I begin with a smooth surface fabric. In this case I am using a medium weight cotton and a chisel tip textile marker. But first, you need to lightly draw vertical lines in with a pencil and ruler. Once you have finished, place the market at the top of each line and drag it down to the bottom. Don't worry if it is not perfectly straight. These are, after all "ethnic" stripes. 
The end result, complete with imperfections can make for a really interesting garment!

There are other things you can do with these markers. For example, they can be used in conjunction with rubber stamps! Most craft stores sell stamp blocks in all different sizes and shapes. Just be aware that the final result will be somewhat irregular.


Use a broad tip marker to thoroughly ink over the surface of the rubber stamp. Work quickly and press it into the fabric, rocking it from side to side. Again, plot your repeat pattern and apply accordingly. But if the edges are a tad bit too blurred, you can always use a fine tip or ultra fine tip market to fill in as I have done on the lower right box.


If you can use these markers with rubber stamps, you can surely use them with stencils!
You can find stencils (like roses, stars and letters) online that can be used for your final design. 
1. Make your selection, then trace off onto freezer paper.
2. Using a broad tip marker, fill in the cut out spaces.
3. When you are finished, it will look like this.
4. Carefully, peel away the paper.
5. Here's the result. But notice, there are a few fine details missing.
6. You can take a fine point marker and fill in the missing details.

Note: Unless you are using recycled fabric, it is advised that you wash the fabric prior to applying the marker designs. This is because many fabrics have some sort of sizing product which may alter the results. Also, most brands of markers claim you do not need to iron the finished design to set the color. They advise waiting 24 hours after painting before using in the garment. Out of an abundance of caution I iron the fabric anyway and, if the marker bleeds through the fabric to the backside, I tend to line the garment or dress the doll with an undergarment. NEVER use regular markers (or Sharpies). The chemicals are different and they will most likely stain the doll.


Follow us on Twitter: @FashDollStylist
Like us on Facebook: @FashDollStylist
We're also on Pinterest: @FashDollStylist
And of course, we are on Instagram: @fashiondollstylist












24 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thank you Miss Missy. Happy to know you enjoyed this post.

      Delete
  2. Thanks so much for these tutorials April. The results are beautiful. The hand painted pieces are lovely, the flowers with the blurry (bleeding) basis are gorgeous! The stamp and stencil ideas have a very modern look. I like the imperfections of the letters on the tank top, it has such a young and fresh effect! Great work, I will absolutely use these tips! Hugs

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Linda. There hasn't been much interesting in clothes, so the next best thing is textiles! The fabric markers are SUCH a good idea, I don't know why I didn't discover them earlier. For me, it's a real game changer to be able to craft my own fabrics! Glad you enjoyed this post.

      Delete
  3. Wow these look fantastic! I am always so amazed by your creativity- wow

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your kind words, Galacticatt. I once worked for a fashion program in a design school in France. Our students did not always have the fabrics they imagined for their creations. So eventually, we brought in a textile design instructor. From her the students learned to play, to experiment, to create the fabric to fit the fashion!

      Delete
  4. Great tutorial, thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and experience. These fabrics look amazing, really pretty.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much Jools. When I saw the markers I wondered why I hadn't thought of doing this before!

      Delete
  5. Your amazing fabrics look sooo professional and beautiful :O Thank you for tutorial! Great idea! Hugs!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Aya. Glad you enjoyed this post. Big hugs. April

      Delete
  6. What an excellent tutorial...you answered all my questions and more. And, the dress is magnificent. Finding scale fabrics is really a pain...especially with so many independent stores gone here. Totally going to try this with all the methods. Hugs, Sandi

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much Sandi. I know what you mean about the lack of fabric stores. Right now I'm no where near one, so this was a great solution. After I saw your comment, it's given me the idea of doing an annex to this post with samples of DIY prints like animal prints or plaids.

      Delete
  7. Great tutorial! The dresses look great. Thank you, April.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Dlubaniny. Happy you enjoyed this post. Big hugs

      Delete
  8. Great tutorial! So many ideas, thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you...and this is just the start. Once you get the markers in your hands..... there's no stopping what you can do. Enjoy!

      Delete
  9. Thanks for this tutorial! I have a limited choice of Chinese markers which I bought to dye doll hair. I considered drawing on fabric, but of course I didn't think of stencils and I don't have fine tips either. But I like the watercolour idea a lot, I'm thinking gradients and adding colour to existing black and white patterns.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yes, there are numerous things you can do with the markers...from shading to creating your own nuanced colors. The rubber stamp tip is really brilliant because, if you know anything about the stamp method, the ink has to be thin and smooth enough so you don't end up with a blob (which has happened to me). After I finished this post, I had even discovered stamps I had made a while ago by carving a design into a wine cork! This is really, a lot of fun!

      Delete
  10. Wow, I love the fabrics you have created. I wish I had your artistic ability. I may have to give this a try. I might have to ask my eldest who is an artist to help me create a motif though!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Phyllis. You really don't have to have any artistic ability to do this. Even if you scribble...it becomes a design which when cut into a dress or another garment, is really pretty exciting to see. You can also trace something off your computer screen too! Just have fun with it!

      Delete
  11. Wow April, i am so 🤩 thank you for this new post. J’ai déjà une idée de ce que je vais faire en suivant tes conseils. Le problème, c’est qu’à cause du confinement, plusieurs magasins sont fermés ici, car ils sont considérés comme non essentiels. Je n’ai plus accès à les magasins pour faire mes projets de couture. J’ai hâte que ces magasins ouvrent à nouveau, puis je vais suivre tes conseils pour mon projet.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Merci pour tes gentils mots, Shasarignis. Je suis toujours coince chez mon pere aux EU! Malheureusement, il n'y a pas magasins textiles tout pres. Donc, je recoupere les morceau de tissue en coupant les vieux vetements ou literie dechere! LOL!!! Les markers sont bons pour creer vos propres imprimes ou personalise les tissus deja fait. Bisous.

      Delete
  12. I znowu mnie zaskoczyłaś, april_n_paris :)))
    Twoje propozycje są naprawdę wspaniałe! Pomysły rewelacyjne! Powstały przepiękne stroje! Nie można porównać je z niczym, bo każdy jest oryginalny i niepowtarzalny! A przecież o to chodzi każdej kobiecie! Aby mieć ubranie, które nie będzie miała żadna inna dziewczyna!
    Super tutorial! Bardzo, bardzo dziękuję i pozdrawiam serdecznie ♥

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Olla wrote: And you surprised me again, april_n_paris :)))
      Your suggestions are really great! Amazing ideas! Beautiful costumes were created! You can't compare them with anything, because each one is original and unique! And that's what every woman is about! To have clothes that no other girl will wear!
      Super tutorial! Thank you very much and best regards ♥

      Thank you so much for your very kind words, Olla. This has been quite a fun journey for me. And sometimes I am surprised at how much there still is to learn! This was a really fun project that has opened up so many possibilities. Thank you for stopping by. Big hugs.

      Delete

We love hearing from you. Your comment will be published shortly.