I’ve just finished participating in Mary Lou Weidman’s Hootchy Fish swap. All 36 participants used the same background fabric, shooting for bright Kool-aid colors in a 14” wide block. One of the style suggestions I liked was to use a strata technique – strips of various fabrics sewn together to create a new fabric.
Each person could design their fish or fishes to be any height. Each of 12 blocks could be the same or different. I started with graph paper, a sketch and a plan to make all of the fish the same way in order to optimize time. I used a variety of markers to colorize my sketch and that’s when my plan changed direction.
With limited time for swaps and projects in general, I love to use projects like this to take off in a direction that is new to me. So why not paint my own fabric instead of sewing the strata? And wouldn’t that be faster anyway?
I’m a firm believer in making samples when dealing with colors and techniques – which covers just about everything. I knew that straight paint would be thick and I wasn’t sure I had enough paint to cover the yardage I estimated. I wanted to thin it but not have it bleed and run all over so I mixed it with Pro-Thick SH. I sampled my colors and paint style ona fabric swatch. Perfect!
I started by flicking a mix of Pro-Thick SH with Setacolor paints – once with a water blue color and once with a cool magenta color – on prepared for dyeing (PFD) cotton fabric. Next I painted slim wavy thick and thin areas.
The following pictures show the progression as I painted the waves of each color.
After completing the painting, I heat set it with an iron, washed it, and decided it wasn’t bright enough. By now I had less paint and realized that my sample methods should have included testing and recording the ratio of Pro-Thick SH to paint. So… I sampled that.
I painted the same fabric again using a ratio of 1 part paint to 2.5 parts Pro-Thick SH mix. I also heat set it again and rewashed. Here you can see the difference between round 1 and round 2.
I also used 3 orange/reds to paint the lips/beaks fabric.
I am pretty happy with the fabric and my fish. I think even stronger color might match the commercial fabrics in the awesome fish blocks I received. And no, it wasn’t faster than sewing strata but it was very fun to experiment and construct the fish! The button eyes can be sewn on in the location of choice and the design of the block allows for them to face either direction.