Saturday, June 9, 2012

Fabric Paint and Rhinestones with my Silhouette Cameo

My Silhouette Cameo and I have had a wonderful week of bonding. There's just nothing like the rush of discovering a new crafty thing to obsess about! First up: fabric ink.

I've used fabric ink in the past, of course. I've done a few freezer paper stencils, which I painstakingly hand-cut. I loved how they turned out, but oh, how time consuming to cut the stencils by hand! I knew the Silhouette could do it for me much faster, so I finally decided to experiment a little.

First up were these shirts for my oldest boy. The background templates are from Silhouette; the Godzilla and basketball player are random silhouettes I found on the internet. I used the trace and cut feature in Silhouette Design Studio to cut them, which is really easy for simple designs like these. 

I first did the background stencils (the checkerboard and sunburst), cutting them out on freezer paper, ironing them onto the shirt fronts and then applying the fabric ink with a sponge brush. After the paint dried (4-5 hours), I peeled off the freezer paper and repeated the process for Godzilla and Mr. Basketball Player. I did run into some problems with this step: the freezer paper does not adhere nicely to the paint layer. The black paint bled through and left unsightly globs on the silver checkerboard and orange sunburst. This was not a total disaster, as I just touched up the areas that bled through with some more silver or orange paint. But it made me think that perhaps freezer paper is not the best thing for layered images such as these - next time I will try vinyl. The final step is to heat set the ink with an iron and a press cloth.

Pattern: Farbenmix Quiara
Fabric: Cotton lycra
Background images: Irregular Checkerboard and Sunburst from Silhouette Online Store

I also did these shirts for my littlest guy, who just turned four. He is such a little charmer that one! I asked him if he would like a smiley robot shirt, and his heart-warming response was, "NO! I do NOT want a smiley robot shirt. If you make me a smiley robot shirt, I'm going to be SO mad!"

Tough cookies, my friend. You are getting a smiley robot shirt whether you like it or not. Once he saw the end product, he was delighted. I guess he's still working on his creative vision.

Somehow, I managed to get a smudge of red ink on the side of the shirt. I was not about to re-do the whole thing (life is way too short for such perfectionism), so I just covered it up with some grosgrain ribbon. Decided I kind of liked the look, so added more grosgrain ribbon. Voila! Mistake covered up and "design elements" added. Just as before, I experienced some bleeding of the red paint underneath the freezer paper onto the first layer of paint, but again, I just touched it up without too much difficulty.

Pattern: Farbenmix Quiara
Fabric: Cotton rib knit
Images: Smiling Robot and Nesting Zig Zag Rings from Silhouette Online Store

I do own the Fabric Ink Starter Kit sold by Silhouette which uses vinyl for the stencil medium. I held off using the vinyl since a) it is WAY more expensive and harder to come by than freezer paper and  b) you can't just iron it on - you have to use transfer tape to get the stencil applied to your fabric. 

However, vinyl has one significant advantage over freezer paper: the Cameo cuts it MUCH more cleanly. I originally tried to cut Go Kart image below (which I found on the internet) using freezer paper but it just wouldn't cut cleanly. Too many little details for the thin freezer paper. Now, this could very well be that I need to change my blade (which I have not done since I first bought the machine months ago) or that my mat is a wreck (if you saw it, you'd vote for that possibility). Not having either a new blade nor mat handy, I decided to give the vinyl a whirl.

Unfortunately, the instructions that come with the fabric ink starter kit are ....sparse, and that is putting it generously. I had never cut this type of vinyl before, and from the picture in the instruction booklet, it looked like they were loading it in without a mat. Really? No mat? I'd never done such a thing. My first few attempts were a disaster: the vinyl got all crinkled up in the machine upon loading. I eventually found a blog post (sorry, I don't recall which) that explained that you have to uncheck the "Cutting Mat" box in the Cut Settings window of Silhouette Design Studio. Well, that may have been a nice piece of information to include in the instructions and the DVD! You also need to adjust your rollers for the size vinyl that comes with the starter kit. I had to look that up too.

Once I finally got the vinyl loaded properly, the Silhouette cut the image out like a dream. Yay! The next step was to apply the transfer tape and "burnish" the design. I am embarrassed to say I had no idea what that meant. The booklet does not explain, nor provide a picture of said "burnishing" but luckily I deduced from the video that it means to rub transfer tape onto vinyl with a credit card like object. 

I removed the vinyl liner and applied the stencil to the fabric and burnished once again. Then I tried to peel off the transfer tape. Well, this did not go all that smoothly. All those little lines of vinyl that provide the detail of this image wanted to stay stuck to the transfer tape, not the fabric. Making this more difficult was the fact that the transfer tape and the vinyl were basically the same color. Next time, I will get magenta colored vinyl so I can see what I'm doing!

Finally, the stencil was applied and I was ready to paint. I used the sea sponge that came with the kit for this one, as I wanted a more distressed look. I absolutely adore the end result of this shirt. So cool! My little guy is happy too.

 Pattern: Farbenmix Quiara
Fabric: Cotton lycra

In the spirit of being thorough, I should say that I have not washed any of these shirts yet, so can't comment on how well they go through the laundry. However, as noted above, I've used fabric ink on several occasions before, and haven't had any problems with fading or peeling or anything after multiple washes. I throw everything in the dryer too. No problem.

OK, enough fabric ink! On to rhinestones! 

I also got the rhinestone starter kit (can you tell I took advantage of Silhouette's Mother's Day sale?). My daughter was thrilled with this concept, as she loves all things blingy. The rhinestone process is much more straight forward than the vinyl fabric ink, so I had no difficulty whatsoever with the instructions contained in the kit. I did have some problems getting the rhinestones in the proper place  on the template - it is much trickier than the video would suggest to just "brush" them into place. Rhinestones do have a tendency to flip over. I finally got one of these handy tools, and the process became infinitely easier.

 Pattern: KleinVlieland
Fabric: Cotton knit
Rhinestone template: Rhinestone Flower from Silhouette Online Store

I also made this butterfly shirt, which has become my daughter's favorite! This shirt I HAVE washed and, several times now in fact, and the rhinestones have come through perfectly.

Pattern: Farbenmix Gitta
Fabric: Black bamboo jersey from Bamblue Fabrics
and butterfly cotton knit 
Rhinestone template: The butterfly image that comes with the kit

So anyway, I had a ton of fun making these, and see many more inky and rhinestone-ish crafty endeavors in my future. Fun fun fun!


  1. Wherever did you find that CUTE go cart guy? I LOVE the shirts...they are VERY cute, and I love how you get EXACTLY what you know your kids like, and what YOU approve of! Great job.

  2. You did a great job! Thank you for sharing! I just got my silhouette machine for Christmas, the fabric ink kit arrived today. I wish I had just purchased the different colored inks instead because I already have vinyl...that's ok, so excited! thanks again for sharing!

  3. Your idea make me do this now. I'm really impressed with your work. A huge thanks for sharing this.

    wholesale rhinestones

  4. Thank you for posting! I have had the rhinestone starter kit for some time (gift) and just thought it was going to be too much trouble and feared the washing process...ok now I'm going to order extra rhinestones (figure out my project quick) and order while they are on sale! Thanks!