Coloring With Crayons, Transfer Crayons, And Watercolor Pencils
Remember when we were children how much we enjoyed a new box of crayons and a new coloring book. We can have just as much fun now with a box of crayons and 100% cotton fabric. When we are finished coloring we can use our fabric artwork in a quilt. This is also a great quilt for children to participate in.
For coloring on fabric with crayons, you will need:
-- 100 % cotton fabric -- white or cream
-- Fine line permanent marking pen suitable for fabric
-- Freezer paper
-- Paper towels
-- Crayola crayons -- most instructions for crayons to fabric recommend the Crayola brand of crayons. They are readily available and inexpensive. Buy the largest box you can find so you have lots of color choices. Most crayons that are a dollar for a large box do not have enough pigment in them to leave enough color on the fabric after heat treating. For this purpose buy the brand name crayons.
Choose white or cream 100% cotton fabric. You may use any color fabric you wish but color from the crayons will show up better on a lighter colored background fabric. Be sure to pre-wash your fabric to remove all chemicals and sizing. Do not use fabric softener. Washing your fabric is important. If you don't wash your fabric until after coloring and heat setting the pigments in the crayons will wash out with the sizing.
Cut fabric into squares or rectangles an inch larger than the finished size of your block. Iron the shiny side of freezer paper to the wrong side of fabric. Using a light box and a fine permanent pen suitable for marking fabric, trace outline of the picture you wish to color.
Children's coloring books will make excellent sources of pictures. Coloring pages are also available online. You may draw your own outline or have your children draw their own. Simply color your fabric pictures with the crayons as usual. Because the fabric is backed with freezer paper it won't creep or move and is fairly simple to color.
The darker you color the fabric the darker your finished picture will be. You may wish to do a trial picture simply to see how the crayon colors on the fabric and also heat set so you will see how dark you need to color. As the fabric is heat set the lighter colored areas will appear lighter and the darker colored areas will appear darker. If you wish a pastel effect you will want to color lightly.
To heat set your fabric
Set your iron to a "cotton" setting. Cover your ironing surface with protective paper such as a brown paper grocery bag or similar paper. Leave freezer paper on your fabric picture. Place a clean paper towel on the ironing board. Place your fabric pictures face down on the paper towel. Press allowing the heat to melt the wax in the crayon. The color will remain in the fabric and the wax will come out into the paper towel. Place a fresh paper towel on the ironing board and place your fabric picture face down on the paper towel. Press again. Repeat -- replacing paper toweling until wax no longer continues to be absorbed into the paper towel. Remove freezer paper and press again.
If you see that your picture doesn't have enough color, you may color it again with more crayons. If you wish to color more your freezer paper may be reapplied to the back. Remember every time you add crayon you will need to heat set that portion again.
You may color and heat set as many times as you like until the depth of color on your fabric pictures is as dark as you wish. Trim fabric squares to 1/2" larger than finished block size.
Fabric transfer crayons
Fabric transfer crayons are available in the fabric store or craft department of a superstore. They come in a package of eight colors. Transfer crayons are colored onto copy or typing paper and then are ironed unto fabric. The fabric recommended for this procedure is usually a polyester cotton blend as the pigments in these crayons will adhere better to the blended fabric. You will need to read and follow the instructions that came with your specific brand of crayons. Different brands of fabric transfer crayons have slightly different instructions.
For crayon transfers you will need:
-- Fabric transfer crayons
-- Copy paper
-- Polyester Cotton blend fabric in white or cream
Because this is a transfer system the image on the fabric will be in reverse of the original colored picture. Words will need to be printed backwards on the paper to be transferred to the fabric in the correct direction. This could be easily done using a light box. Print your words on a piece of scrap paper and turn it over. Place it on the light box and trace the reversed words to your fabric crayon drawing. When the drawing is ironed onto the fabric it will be in the correct orientation.
The disadvantages of this method are you need to transfer the drawing and it will be reversed and the sets of fabric transfer crayons have a limited number of colors. The advantage, especially with children, is that the original drawing is on paper so if they wish to make more than one drawing and choose the best, they are not wasting fabric.
Watercolor pencils are available at office supply stores, craft super stores, and art supply stores. They look like ordinary colored pencils but the pigment inside the wood casing will react to water and blend similar to watercolor paints.
Sets usually include 12, 24, or 36 colors with some brands having a set of 72. The price of a set will run pproximately a dollar a pencil. They may be less expensive at a discount store. It might be best to start with a small set and buy a larger set if you like working with this art medium.
To do watercolor pencil quilt squares you will need:
-- 100 % cotton fabric -- white or cream
-- Watercolor pencils -- not just regular colored pencils.
-- Freezer paper
-- Paper towels
Choose white or cream 100% cotton fabric. You may use any color fabric you wish but color from the watercolor pencils will show up better on lighter colored fabric.
Be sure to pre-wash your fabric to remove all chemicals and sizing. Do not use fabric softener. Washing your fabric is important. If you don't wash your fabric until after coloring and heat setting the pigments in the watercolor pencils will wash out with the sizing.
Cut fabric into squares or rectangles an inch larger than finished size. Iron freezer paper to the wrong side of fabric to stabilize the fabric for ease of drawing with watercolor pencils.
Drawing on dry fabric
Use watercolor pencils for a wash art technique that will fill the drawing with areas of transparent color. Draw with the point of the pencil or the side. Then brush clean water over the drawing creating a watercolor wash effect.
Drawing on damp fabric
Lightly spray the fabric with plain water using a plant mister type spray bottle. Draw on the damp fabric for color that spreads and blends easily. Again you may draw with the point or the side of the pencil tip.
Dip a pencil into water and draw to create dots or strokes of color. A larger area of texture can be obtained with the side of the dipped pencil.
Add details with dry or dampened pencils to dry or dampened fabric. Each quilter will want to experiment on a sample to see which style of artwork suits your particular need.
As always when you are finished with your watercolor pencil artwork you will need to heat set your fabric. Use hot iron set on "cotton". After heat setting, trim your fabric square to 1/2" larger than desired finished block size.
You don't have to just do coloring book pages or children's drawings. You might want to experiment with using crayons or watercolor pencils to highlight flower petals or leaf veins in your appliqué. Crayons, transfer crayons, or watercolor pencils are a fun and inexpensive to add color and artwork to your quilt squares. There is a world of creativity waiting for you with this wonderful art medium.
If anyone has more information or even conflicting information, I hope you'll add it to this post. We want to know more. Who has used this technique?
Gayle, thanks for the excellent tutorials. I want to try the crayola version with my DGD this summer. Appreciate it.
Thanks for all the info! :)
Wow....thanks! I've always read that the watercolor pencils have to be finished off with more than just an iron; I think somewhere I saw that they needed to be gone over with some kind of gel medium to really be permanent? Can anybody comment? Have you used these in a quilt that was washed a few times, and did they stay bright?
My quilter friend who is also an art teacher told me that gel medium will make it permanent.
I have a quilt my Grandmother made 60 years ago that my Mother and her sisters colored the fruit in the fruit basket with crayons. Mom says to set the crayon she ironed it with white vinegar.
Thanks so much for sharing this info. I can't wait to try it.
Thanks for the directions. Will try it with the nursery/k children this fall. :D