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One of my missions for this stage of my life is to give back; to offer inspiration and some encouragement to anyone looking for it. I’m hoping you can be proud & make your own wearable art, whatever it may be…

The Supplies:

This piece of fabric is a tight weave polyester that doesn’t wrinkle much. I planned that the piece was extra wide to be able to be enough for the entire bottom of front and back pieces (cut later) of a blouse

  • Polyester Fabric (or your choice)
  • Covered/protected surface (tape fabric to keep in place)
  • Dye-Na-Flow paints (I used the primary colours)
  • Variety of watercolour brushes
  • Erasable Pens to draw design
  • Reference photo collection

The erasable pens work well to draw out the design freehand, since it disappears when the heat of the iron touches it later on. Then you do not need to worry about how perfect or clean your drawn lines are, they will be gone! I chose daisies since they are quite easy to draw and simple in colour.

I wanted this wearable art to look like a watercolour painting, since I spent a few decades working as an illustrator in that media. The Dye-Na-Flow on the polyester performs much like watercolour paint on paper. I love how it bleeds, blotchy-like, I embrace that, and it looks very hand-painted. If you want perfection then buy fabric…

The background areas are darker, greens with some yellows and purple mixed to make some variations. Tip; don’t keep greens too similar, adding blue will transition nicely to the sky. I have found that the polyester does not bleed as much as the linen I’ve tested as well.

When working in watercolour style, the dark colours can be layered and built up, so do not paint too dark at first. Only when using opaque paint can you paint light again after dark but not with this transparent media. Areas of colour can be left to dry or working ‘wet-in-wet’ lets the colours bleed together. It is so satisfying to see the colours blend …

Areas of Value:

When you look at a photograph, think about how many tones you actually see? If you can break it into a few tones/shades then it can be simplified and painted; somewhat like what you see when you look at a ‘paint-by-number’. ‘But really, feel free to be unique!

The reason I like the white daisies for this wearable art is that they are white with shadows. The way light creates purple-ish shadows is a favourite painting trick of mine. Using black as a way to darken colours will make them very dull and ‘sad’. I much prefer to use blue and a bit of red to make colours appear less in light.

After looking at the negative spaces I add some more shadows where needed…

Take a break:

When painting, I like to relax, not worry about every detail; the green background can be obscure and blurry, not every blade of grass needs to be perfect. It’s a great idea to take a break, stand back and look from a distance. It gives a fresh look to see things that may be not noticeable when you spend too much time ‘looking’.

After I was happy that I was done, I ironed the fabric well all over. Work area by area and use a pressing cloth if you are worried about scorching.

The heat setting makes this dye/paint permanent but I like that it does not really adds any stiffness; it still has that nice drape that polyester has. The colours seem to adhere better to this fabric and has less ‘rub factor’. As you know; your jeans seem to get more ‘worn’ because the cotton fibres see to wear, especially at fold-lines and in a dryer.

Sewing time:

When I have a favourite garment, I take a pattern from it and use variations of it for simple blouses and tops. Cutting the fronts and back from the painted piece, and the top edge fades… There is no repeat to the pattern but the bottom edge is hemmed to not show the raw painting edge.

Simple & flowing. The sleeve is short and only white and therefore forgiving to cut.

The sides pretty well match even though there are seams and a hemmed side-slit.

What do yo think?! Ya, it’s me – can’t wait to wear this somewhere special! It’s light, loose and airy.

‘But for now, I’ll be happy to pair my wearable art with some jeans as I hobble around on my new knee… Come on knee; please stop aching as ‘we’ have so much to do!

I'm an artist & I make things... all kinds of things.

This Post Has 26 Comments

  1. Beautiful blouse.. Models not bad either! lol
    This was a really interesting post and I am most impressed. I cannot draw but this would also work for abstract dedign……

    1. Oh, for sure! But sometimes it’s more difficult to imagine something that isn’t visible. I think I tend to take much inspiration from what nature offers me so it comes easily to me… ‘Whatever excites you!

  2. Adorable. The blouse and the model! Keep it up with the knee and make it your own! We all want you to feel great so you can continue being an inspiration on living a life of creativity and beauty.

  3. Très beau et très tentant. Et si je décorais une ancienne chemise masculine en coton ? C’est pour l’avoir finie plus vite. Les marguerittes me plaisent beaucoup.

    1. “Very beautiful and very tempting. What if I decorated an old men’s cotton shirt? It’s to finish it faster. I really like daisies.

      Sure! you could lay out that tape to keep flat. Just make sure it’s really clean. I like to ‘scour’ with a soak in very hot water and washing soda; less chance of repelling of the paint/dye. Have fun! I do that often when I find a dull shirt/blouse, not much to lose!

  4. This is truly a work of art! You are so talented. I know that, if I tried it, it would look like the “ paintings” my 4 year old granddaughter makes….lol

    1. That might be… but who doesn’t like that charm?! That’s a great idea to let them paint! ‘How proud they would be when grandma wears it?!

  5. Barb, you continue to amaze me! I am a quilter. I bought the paints that you mentioned. They work great for making a quilt block or two! At times I also sew blouses for myself….I will try this!!!! Thank you!!!!! Janice, from northern Minnesota, near the Canadian border.

    1. Thanks! Sometimes I just need to get an idea ‘out of my system’ and then I’m satisfied and onto to the next… ‘There’s something about the shadows across daisy petals! ❤️

  6. I think I’ve been following you for several months now. Everything you make is fabulous!! I love the daisies shirt. Can’t do polyester but would try on cotton if the dyes can do cotton. I’m guessing it would spread/wick more.
    You, being the outdoor crafter, might be able to answer a question I can’t seem to find an answer. I want to paint prayer type flags for my sister. Can you recommend dye or paint that is UV protective that I can rubber stamp on?
    Thank you for yourgenerous/wonderful tutorials.

    1. Yes, it works on cotton as well! The issue with cotton is the wear/rub factor I find. As I see it; cotton tends to wear especially at folds. I may not be understanding your flag idea. An outdoor UV resistant fabric (polypropylene, polyester) would be a good choice. Most of my acrylic paints keep their colours well outdoors but my objects have not been in full sun. There is a paint; ‘Patio Paint’ made for outdoors but I have not tried it with a rubber stamp. Hope that helps.

  7. I paint on silk–scarves and wall hangings. I’m starting to create shirts and your post has given me inspiration to jump in! Thank you for the continuing inspiration–your work is beautiful!

  8. Such an incredible work of art! I know you must love wearing it, but I wouldn’t be able to cut such beautiful fabric – that I had painted!! If I made this fabric piece I would frame it. (But you being an artist can just make another piece to frame!)

    1. Yes, framing it would be wonderful too! ‘But I am short on wall space from all the oil paintings I have done. I do try to be conscious of the environment and make thing that are useful! I always think the next one can be even better…

  9. Beautiful daisies on the blouse you painted!! It looks really nice on you, too. Hope you are doing well with your new knee! I just had lumbar surgery and waiting to heal so I can get a new left hip!! Love your mask patterns ,too.
    I am looking to make up a new one of yours, the one with the Nose Gusset! I thought there might be some sewing hints , but I see there are none. The patterns are nice and should be fairly easy to make up.
    I do love your creative ideas on other crafts, I would like to attempt some of them a little later. Have a wonderful day!

  10. What a beautiful and fun project. I found your site just as I was gathering ideas for painting a valance that came with our house. The valance is in my art room and is just crying out for paint. Thank you for the tutorial.

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