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I’m loving the simple, graphic look of block printed fabrics lately. There are plentiful machine-made versions to be had cheaply these days but the true beauty of these printed pieces lies in their handmade imperfections. Conveniently, you can make some yourself for even cheaper than you can buy a made-in-china knockoff. All you need is an eraser. I hoard school supplies so I have several going unused somewhere in the pencil-shaving covered abyss of my desk drawer, but you can also buy them for well under a buck. This is also a good use for any bits and pieces of actual lino blocks you might have lying around if you’ve done block printing projects before.

I’ve wanted to block print on fabric before but I had to experiment a bit with paints. Most inks made specifically for block printing are for paper only. You can find some oil based ones, but that gets messy, and often the process of heat setting the fabric is more trouble than it’s worth to me. Fabric-permanent silk screening inks are more readily available, but they aren’t tacky enough for these purposes. Luckily, regular acrylic paint works pretty perfectly: it won’t wash out and is typically cheap and easy to come by. You can’t get the precision that you could achieve on paper, but keep your designs simple and you shouldn’t have any trouble.

For this pillow case I simply used the long, rectangular side of an eraser, dipped it in some paint that I had spread on the back of a glossy magazine, and pressed it onto the fabric in an alternating angled pattern. Don’t worry about it being perfect! The variations in pressure give it a great texture. Play with different sequences and repetitions to get a ton of patterns out of just one simple shape.

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