Sun Painting - Design Your Very Own Sun Dress Fabric !

Before I begin, let me introduce you to my little Christmas bear family.  They will be my models for this post since I don't have any little daughters at home! 

The middle bear will model most of the dresses because she is very special - Diane made her for me many, many years ago.

I started making a very simple and easy sun dress for Diane when she was about 18 months old.  But I could have started sooner!  The bears are wearing infant size which can be made from a fat quarter!

While I was putting this post together, I decided to surprise Diane and make her a dress - something I haven't done in many years.!  It is made of Egyptian cotton and will be cool and breezy during the hot summer days we are soon to have around here. I had to be the model because - well it is a surprise! 

Surprise Diane! HA!

Now to the point of this post!

How to make the dress - that happens in the next tutorial In this post I want to show you how much fun you can have designing your own fabrics for your sun dresses.  Or even better, letting your kids design their own fabrics!

Although I am sharing the pattern and how-to for the simple sun dress tomorrow, the fabrics you make can be used for almost anything - from skirts to pillows to quilts.

We are going to start with the adorable bug print designed by Alison Oliver and available at Spoonflower.  Alison's blog - Pure Sugar - is brand new so drop by to say hello and welcome.  All these cute little bugs are on her header! And she has featured a little dress her friend made using her little bug fabric right here!

How could you not fall in love with this fabric!   I went to Spoonflower to search for a fabric and instantly fell head over heels for this one!

Gotta love those bugs!

Spoonflower offer's Alison's fabric for sale right here!  And while you are there, take some time to browse through the amazing fabrics available. (I am told that not all fabrics shown are for sale, you will need to click on the cart to find out those that are!)

The other really cool thing about Spoonflower is that you can actually design your very own fabricDiane designed this one a couple years ago.

If you are good with computers, you can create designs or even have your kids draw their own designs.  Transfer the designs into the proper programs and upload to Spoonflower!  More info on that here and on Diane's post.

You will need to join Spoonflower to upload your own designs or to purchase fabrics, but not to browse.  Go visit!  I think you will love it! And what a great way to create a one of a kind fabric for your daughter's back to school dresses! Or those new sofa pillows you have been wanting.

Psssst!  I have a Spoonflower giveaway planned for August!  Don't miss it!

Now we are going to move on to something that is a whole lot of fun!  And a lot less technical! OMG! I could make yards and yards and yards of this fabric!

My friend Chris (Prism Trail!) told me about a product called Setacolor.  A little web search and I landed on this tutorial for printing fabrics using the sun!  I immediately ordered some - and so did Chris! See her butterfly print here!

The product is water-based and non-toxic so it is perfect for kids to use.  Just be sure you have lots of fabric on hand, because they will not want to quit as long as there is sun in the sky! And check out this link for lots of ideas for templates and for ways to use the fabric. Almost anything can be used as a template including pasta!  I am thinking the kids would love using their little flat plastic animals or alphabet letters. 

And if you are inspired to make fabrics for quilts and pillows or shower curtains this is a really great book to have on hand!

The tutorial is very thorough; but since I know you all will no doubt be  playing with sun painting, I am sharing a few things I learned when using natural and not so natural items!

My first attempt!  I just used what ever I had growing in the yard.  Notice that I placed the flowers upside down - same with ferns and sprays of leaves.  ( A few flowers are missing because I very nearly forgot to take this shot!)

Flowers that are bulbous like Bleeding Hearts don't work so well.

They leave more of a shadow than a clearly defined image.

Don't remove the material until the fabric is completely dry if you want a clearly defined pattern. My fabric, which is a medium weight cotton, dried in about 30 minutes.

The breeze helped out and removed a few petals and leaves before the fabric was dry and so they left a less defined imprint.  Actually I don't mind as I like the three dimensional effect.  Just so you know!

Overlaps?  They work great!

And I love how my daisy flowers turned out!  By placing them upside down, I was able to create a three dimensional image - and a bonus - pollen stains!

Sun was still out so I had to keep playing as long as I had fabric!  I made some little hearts out of heavy weight paper which as soon as it got wet proceeded to curl!  In a panic, I borrowed some of those little washers in my sweetie's "man drawer cabinet" to hold them down! 

A huge breeze came along and blew the whole thing into the bushes before it dried completely but I still like the results! 

Rule number 1.  Don't do this on a breezy day! And if you must - don't leave it unattended!

Rule number 2.  Use something for your designs that is more substantial than paper.  My clever sister, Leslie, suggested making the designs out of those styrofoam meat trays!  Chris tried it and said it worked great! Keep an eye on her blog as she will be sharing more of her Setacolor adventures soon.

Here is another fun idea for the kids! 

Check out this tutorial on Hillbilly Jillies for Dying Fabrics Naturally! Then gather a bunch of old sheets or muslin and let the kids decide what they want to use to dye their own fabrics!  It is a great learning experience - letting them dye fabrics using natural materials - the way it was (and still often is) done since the beginning of time.

Sarah has some great ideas for what to use in the tutorial, but I happened to have a bag of very old frozen raspbarries in the freezer, so I used them to dye my muslin.

I let my fabric soak 24 hours even though it probably would have been fine overnight.  When I was ready to remove it from the dye bath, the fabric was as red as the juice!.  However, even though I took the extra precaution of adding vinegar to the raspberry dye bath, once rinsed in water, my fabric was much lighter in color. Sarah says we should expect this.

She also says that the fabric will further lighten as it dries - and it does!  But I love pink!  And I am ready to try this again with blackberries and blueberries and....

I think kids would love wearing clothing made from fabric they dyed themselves.

Sarah at Geek+Nerd just turned me onto this tutorial on Smile and Wave and when I saw Sarah in her braided headband, I thought how cute the braids would be as ties for the sun dress - especially one made of simple material like the naturally dyed fabrics.  And, your kids could braid headbands to match!  I used old fabric strips from quilting projects, but I am thinking ribbon could be braided as well.

And of course there is always the option of taking your kids shopping and letting them pick out their own fabrics!

I adore the fairy fabrics by Michael Miller.  Actually - I adore a bunch of their fabrics! But I am especially crazy about the fairy designs. Here is a very useful guideline to stores close to your neighborhood.

I am using this fabric for a little sun dress for a secret someone - but it is a secret! At least until tomorrow!


Just when I started making

Just when I started making progress on my "crafts to do list" I stumbled on this...Thanks--can't wait to try some sun prints:)

Gingerbread Snowflakes is a

Gingerbread Snowflakes is a double feature in my roundup this week! Had to feature this idea too - can you tell I'm totally smitten with it?

My paints are on order. My nieces have been invited to the painting/summer dress making party. We can't wait!


WOW! I love, Love, LOVE this!

WOW! I love, Love, LOVE this! Bookmarking, will be sharing, and can't wait to gather the materials so we can try this too! Thank you so much for all of the detailed instructions, links and inspiration!

Wow, that fabric is GORGEOUS!

Wow, that fabric is GORGEOUS! It looks so Hawaiian. What a fabulous activity and so rewarding! I'll be linking, thanks for the great project!

Pam, another fabulous post.

Pam, another fabulous post. You are such a wealth of information, links, and great ideas. It had never occurred to me to do sunprints on fabric, but yours are gorgeous. So glad you do all this experimenting. Great dress for Diane, and how cute is her bear too!

Dang, I'm super late to the

Dang, I'm super late to the party here because of Summit of Awesome, but I'm so excited for my beautiful sundress! Just the thing for those hot days we (supposedly) have coming in July/August. Thank you, Mom!

Late? Yes!  But I knew you

Late? Yes!  But I knew you were really busy with the Summit of Awesome. 

I'll give it to you when we go see what Terra is up to at the Recycled Arts Festival in Vancouver next weekend!

At the rate we are going around here weather wise, I am beginning to wonder if you will be even able to wear it without a sweater this summer!

Pam - I love that sun printed

Pam - I love that sun printed fabric. I've got to order some so the kids and I can make a few prints this summer. I see shorts, a skirt, and maybe a little piece framed for each of them... Thanks!

I thought of you while I was

I thought of you while I was waiting for the fabric to dry, Liz.  I had an idea sun painting would appeal to you!

Oh my gosh! My kids would

Oh my gosh! My kids would totally love this. During summer we always do the sun printing on paper. But on fabric that we then can make something with? You know the way straight to my kids hearts! They will be loving you for this for sure! What great ideas. I have heard of spoonflower before and think my sister should do it. I'm not so great at visualizing things, but I can appreciate when someone can do it well. Although making some fabric out of things my kids draw....that sounds awesome! To keep their artwork forever, what a great idea! Love all your ideas!
Thanks for inspiring, as always!

"making fabric out of things

"making fabric out of things my kids draw... to keep their artwork forever."  I wish this technology had been around when my children were growing up.  I started a couple projects trying to incorporate Diane's drawings, but it was just more labor intensive than I had time to complete. 

But using Spoonflower to create fabrics inspired by kids art - what a great tool!  Small wall quilts would ge great as headboards or simply wall art. Quilts for beds.  Tee shirts and dresses. Table cloths. 

Great post, Pam! I had NO

Great post, Pam! I had NO IDEA that you could do sun-painting on fabric, though I remember the paper version of this craft very fondly from when I was a kid. Thanks for the links!

You are welcome, Kim!  You

You are welcome, Kim!  You and Stephen have worked so hard to create the option for anyone to  design their very own fabrics - and on top of that, for those of us who are not designers, to choose a design from among so many designed by very creative people!

Thank you!

Sun printing on fabric!?!?!

Sun printing on fabric!?!?! Love it - LOVE it! Thanks for sharing. I love seeing all the beautiful foliage transformed into fabric designs. :)

Rachel, with all that Texas

Rachel, with all that Texas sunshine you have no excuse for not playing with sun painting!  Your kiddos would have a ball.  You would have a ball!

Actually it is even more fun than sun painting on paper because you get to play with the fabric paint first!  And that in itself is a lot of fun!

some very pretty fabrics you

some very pretty fabrics you have made. Wonderful idea!

I am so happy to hear from

I am so happy to hear from you, Margit! Thank you!  As clever as you are at designing your lovely boxes, I am thinking you would get a kick out of sun painting and I just know you would be able to create some amazing patterns for  your very own Spoonflower fabrics.

I understand from something that went flying by as I was researching sun painting that there are other paint options for this purpose.  If I am successful in finding out what they are, I will send the information.  Perhaps one of them will be available in Denmark.

A fabric made from sun kissed images of plants gathered in your beautiful little forest canyon!  Good idea - yes?

If you would like to travel to a tiny Danish island and visit Margit's lovely forest canyon,

OMG!!!!!!!!!!! There is just

OMG!!!!!!!!!!! There is just no end to your creativity...and thank god for that!!!!!!! What a fabulous post!!!!!!!!!!
Love the bears.
Love the fabrirc.
Love the ideas.
LOVE everything!!!

Thank you, Teri!  I just knew

Thank you, Teri!  I just knew you would like this one!  I captured you with the daisies - right?

I am thinking that the sun painting or natural dyes would be fun projects to share when you are with your granddaughters.  And, since among your many, many artistic talents, you are a fabulous quilter, I am thinking you could then use the fabrics to create some very cute lap quilts!

Your SISTER has a blog too?

Your SISTER has a blog too? Is there no end to the talent in this family? On my way to add another blog of awesomeness to my list!

Oh no Sarah, my sister is not

Oh no Sarah, my sister is not a blogger - at least not yet!  But she is very creative and talented.  Her gifts are so beautifully wrapped that I unwrap them carefully enough that I can put them back together and save them as a piece of art!  Her real talent lies in the realm of creating amazing finishes on furniture.  And you should see HER house at Christmas - OMG!

Pam, you fabulous woman,

Pam, you fabulous woman, artist, and model! Thank you for the shout out!

This was so much fun, and what made it even more so was sharing it with you. We were both playing with sun dying on the same day in the same time zone hundreds of miles apart. Synchronicity? Indeed.

I learned so much with my first try, and half of it was in just seeing your results! It's not only true that I removed my stencil before the fabric was dry, but I also diluted my paint more than you did. I was concerned I wouldn't dilute it enough, but I know I had it at about 4 to 1 instead of 3 to 1 (water to paint). So, tomorrow when I do some more experimenting, I will be adjusting all of that. My fabric is for bookmarks and journal covers, but your sun dresses are just the cutest things ever, and very timely! Diane's going to love hers.

Spoonflower is very groovy. I think that bug print would make a great... picnic throw!!


It was Synchronicity indeed -

It was Synchronicity indeed - playing on the same day as it turned out!  I had to hold off playing until we had a rare day of sunshine around here and you had to wait because you are a social butterfly with endless social obligations! :-)  And miles apart or not - we were as close as our computers which hummed back and forth that day with encouragement and pictures.

Thank you again for introducing me to sun painting!  I can't wait to see where you go with yours next.  I know it will be wonderful!