Equipment for lino and wood block printing onto fabric

This blog article is about everything you need to get started with lino or wood block printing onto fabric. Hopefully we can clear up some of the confusion about the equipment available. Sometimes, you don’t need to buy everything as there are alternatives you will have at home that can work equally well. In general block printing is an affordable and accessible skill to learn.

Block printing onto fabric

Wooden blocks - These are available from The Indian Block Print Co. or have a look on Etsy where you can buy direct from Indian makers.

Fabric paint - available from The Indian Block Print Co. in pre-made colours.

Brayer (roller) (only needed for very large blocks) - We use Essdee fabric rollers for bigger blocks or sponges for smaller blocks.

Sponges - Any small sponge will do but some those on a stick can be handy.

Printing mat - You need something with a dense foam material and there are specific mats to buy online from The Indian Block Print Co. However, an old yoga mat (at least 4mm thick) usually works just as well.

Paint/ ink tray - If you don’t have one, you can use an old tile or piece of glass.

Colour wheel - this will really help you mix paints and work out which combinations of colours work well.

Fabric blanks - The choice of fabric is up to you but you’ll need to check if your paint is suitable for natural or synthetic fabrics. Generally, choose something that is a light colour, flat, with a close weave and not coated with anything. Some paint colours will not show up on dark fabrics. You’ll need to wash and iron the fabric before you start printing.

Alternatively, The Indian Block Print Co. provide blanks such as tea towels, bags, cushions and scarves that don't need washing.

Practice fabric - a cheap cotton or calico, or an old bedsheet.

Ruler or tape measure

Rags or kitchen roll

Iron - many textile paints require ironing after printing.

wood block printingblock printing

Lino printing onto fabric

As above but instead of wooden blocks you'll need:

Lino and mounted lino - Mounted lino has a fibreboard block attached which can help press down during printing. However, you’ll need to mark on top of the block side where the edges of the motif are, because you can’t see it when you turnover the lino side down to print.

Alternatively, you can use unmounted/regular lino and cut around the edges of the motif for a more precise placement. The application of pressure may not be as even as with the block.

Lino tools - For most lino block carving, a basic tool set is all you need. This one is what we use.

Pencil or graphite paper – you can hand draw your design straight onto the block with a pencil, or trace an image with graphite paper underneath which will transfer the image to the block. You can get this from most stationery shops.

Lino block printing