If you followed my blog Block Printing a Cushion – Part 1 you should now have a block or two to start printing with.  But don’t rush ahead too quickly, after many mistakes and experiements, let me share with you a few tips in part 2 on how to block print your own cushion.



Your block see Part 1

A ready-made cotton or linen cushion cover (try IKEA)

Thick cardboard, old blanket or chopped up yoga mat!

Masking tape and pins


Textile printing ink 

Mixing plate or old plate

Foam roller or foam dabber

Iron and ironing board

News print for planning your design

I use Permaset Textile ink.  You can mix your own colours and save them in little pots.  I got my ink from Handprinted

Foam rollers or dabbers are used to apply the ink.  

It’s well worth taking the time to plan out your design before you start!

  1. Prepare the fabric

Wash the fabric or ready-made cushion covers to remove any size in the fabric. Allow to dry and iron with a hot steam iron. 

Place a thick sheet of cardboard or old blanket cut to fit the interior of the cushion to prevent any folds from spoiling the printing. I use an old yoga mat cut to size to place inside the cushion. 

2.  Plan your design

Cut out some newsprint (paper) the same size as your cushion.  Now fold this in four to find the middle.  Use the paper to plan out your design.

Measure your block and motif and work out spacing of the design. Think about how you might repeat your pattern and practice printing  it on the paper before you start printing the cushion cover.  (I tend to use a simple block ink when planning on paper as the fabric ink is very slippery).

3.   Prepare to print 

Once you have decided on your design use masking tape or pins to mark out key positions on your cushion.  Time spent planning will be worth it!  

Make sure the zip is at the bottom of the design if you are working on a ready made cushion. 

Now select your printing ink.  I have experimented with various inks and if you are working on a light cover then Permaset textile inks (order online from Handprinted) work really well.  They can seem a little transparent but if you mix in a little white the colour becomes more opaque and the consistency seems to be more sticky (which is good).   

If you want to print on darker material then you will need to use a very opaque ink. A selection is available here.   

Now choose your foam roller or dabber.  I’ve included a image of the variety of rollers I use above. To some extent the one you use depends on the size of the block.  What you do need is a good coverage of ink over the entire block. Roll, dab but don’t over load the block too much or you’ll lose the edges of your design. 

I usually put a spoon full of ink on a saucer and then load the roller with ink.

4.   Begin Printing 

Roll you foam roller in the ink so that it is evenly covered and roll it over the foam surface of your printing block.

If it’s your first time have some spare fabric available to practice printing on.

Print the first row of motifs, pressing the block firmly on to the fabric and reapplying paint between each print.  For each print you need to re-load the block.  I usually start from the middle and work out.

Don’t worry if the block doesn’t always print uniformly; this effect adds to the handmade quality of the cushion.  As you are using transparent blocks you can if you are careful overprint the motif if areas are a little too thin.

Don’t hold back.  Experiment and maybe add more shapes or colours as you go.

5.  Finish printing

Allow the printed cushion to dry before turning-over to repeat the process on the other side.

Once your material is printed, allow it to dry and heat-set the paint with a medium iron.  You can place a sheet of newsprint onto of the cushion and press with your iron until it is hot.  Heat setting will mean you can safely wash your cushion.

Send me a picture of your results – I’d love to see how you get on.

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