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Stretcher Frames for Painting Fabric

Silk fabric stretched on frameThe best way to paint fabric or apply Batik wax, is to suspend the fabric on a stretcher frame.

The fine weave of the silk fabric makes it ideal for painting, and silk paints or dyes give vibrant results leaving the silk with a soft handle. Silk paints can also be used on cotton fabric, although the results are not as bright as on the light transmitting silk. There is a large choice of silk paints, which can be fixed with an iron, and dyes available to buy from the Silk Painting section, plus silk fabrics and the tools you will need to get started.

Thicker fabric paints such as Deka Permanent and Jacquard Lumiere tend to sit on the surface of the fabric. These are ideal for painting pictures and wall hangings.

Securing your Fabric

Pins for attaching fabric to a frame The fabric needs to be stretched taut ready for painting. Both the castellated and slider wooden frames give a sturdy support for the fabric and the silk pins are so fine that they do not leave a permanent mark on the fabric. The stenter pin has an elastic band which loops around the frame while the 3 fine prongs grab the fabric and pull it taut, it is a good option if you wish to paint the fabric up to its edge, such as on a silk scarf. The silver 3 prong silk pins, pin the fabric directly onto the wooden frame.

Using a Frame

The castellated wooden frame (left) can be used for silk painting, batik work and embroidery. An alternative to the castellated frame is the slider frame, pictured right. The slider frame has a bolt at each corner that when loosened allow the sides to slide for adjustment.

Types of frame used for fabric painting

Slotting the pieces together makes a sturdy frame which can easily be taken apart and adjusted if necessary.

Make the frame by slotting the four sides together.

Castellated Silk Stretcher Frames

We have used cotton fabric for this demonstration. Start by pinning the fabric to the frame from the centre of the longest side first. Pull the fabric tightly across the frame and place the second pin in the frame.

Now pin the fabric in the same way on the shorter sides.

Preparing fabric to be painted

Working from the centre pin on the long side, pull the fabric across and place a pin about 10cm from the centre pin. Do the same on the opposite side.

Repeat this process, pinning the corner last.

Pinning fabric to a Castellated frame

The fabric has been pinned firmly in place. This provides a taut, smooth surface on which to apply paint or wax for Batik.

Fabric pinned onto a Castellated wooden frame

If you are stuck for ideas and designs, why not view our page on tracing designs and using gutta outliner?

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