Block printing on fabric – a simple step by step guide

Molly Mahon shares her simple step by step guide to block printing on fabric

Block printing on fabric
(Image credit: Molly Mahon, Alun Callender)

Are you interested in block printing on fabric? Loved for its folksy charm and vibrant colors, hand-block-printed fabric is a beautiful way to bring life to your home as summer approaches and it’s easy to do yourself. 

Traditionally done using carved wooden blocks, this lino block method is quick and easy to do at the kitchen table and offers scope for limitless designs, so let your imagination run free. 

Once printed, the fabric can be sown up into anything from pretty napkins for alfresco dining or a characterful sink skirt and the lino print can be then kept for use in future creative interior design projects.

Block printed fabric sink skirt

(Image credit: Molly Mahon)

Block printing on fabric – a step by step guide

Block printing on fabric is easy and fun and makes a great creative activity for all the family. Fabric designer and block printing enthusiast Molly Mahon fell in love with the process when visiting India. As well as her own fabric and wallpaper collections she now runs workshops and tutorials on how to block print at home and has shared a simple step by step guide to follow. 

When it comes to designs, it's best to keep it simple to start with – 'the simplest designs can look fantastic when repeated or flipped in different directions to make geometric patterns,' explains Molly Mahon.

You will need:

Fabric paint

A piece of fabric

A lino block 

A sharp craft knife 

Tracing paper

Lino block

(Image credit: Molly Mahon)

1. Cover your table with padding and an old sheet to create a soft surface to print on.

2. Pin or tape your fabric tightly to your table.

3. Sketch your design. It's best to start with something simple.

4. Draw your design out and then trace it onto your lino block.

5. Next carve out your design by cutting into the lino with your craft knife or using your lino cutting tool set.

6. Load your lino with your chosen paint, using your paint brush or stippler to paint it  on evenly. Once the lino is covered you are ready to print. 

7. Line up where you want to start printing and go for it! Press firmly onto your lino to transfer the paint to the fabric.  

Block printed fabric by Molly Mahon

(Image credit: Alun Callender)

8. Lift up your lino, holding the edge of your fabric so it doesn’t stick. Now you have your first print, you can use this as a guide for printing a whole piece of fabric with your repeat pattern.

9. Every time you make a print remember to re-load your lino with more paint, this is important to achieve a nice crisp print each time.

10. Repeat until you have a whole section of pattern and color!

11. Look at the white negative space that is created when it is repeated. These negative spaces can be really interesting when working with small patterns and can be filled with smaller shapes such as dots or stars.

For a full step by step guide to printing your own curtains, wallpaper, lampshades and cushions sign up to Molly’s block printing course at createacademy.com 

Pippa is Content Editor on Homes & Gardens online contributing to Period Living and Country Homes & Interiors print issues. A graduate of Art History and formerly Style Editor at Period Living, she is passionate about architecture, creating decorating content, interior styling and writing about craft and historic homes. She enjoys searching out beautiful images and the latest trends to share with the Homes & Gardens audience. A keen gardener, when she’s not writing you’ll find her growing flowers on her village allotment for styling projects.