I did extensive research* to figure out how best to accomplish the watercolor effect on my dress. Basically, you want fabric with a tighter weave and it needs to be able to tolerate and absorb water (no dry clean only fabrics!). If you buy your fabric new, make sure to read the wash instructions on the end of the bolt. Mine was cold wash and line dry. I did the initial pre-paint wash in the washing machine but I'll hand wash the finished dress in the future. Better safe than sorry.
*10 minutes of Googling
|My fabric drying in the sun|
To test fabrics I snuck a water bottle into Joann's with me and used my finger to put a tiny drop on the corner of the silk I was eying. If the water beads on the surface of the fabric then your paint won't sink in either. The drop should absorb into the fabric.
Fabric (I read that cotton/poly blends work best but my cheap silk worked great and I tried 100% cotton this weekend and it was fine)
Spray bottle filled with water
Little bowls for holding paints
First, you want to mix your paints with water. The most paint you want is a 50/50 mixture. Any more paint than that and your finished product will feel stiff. Mine was like 30% paint and if I were to do it again I think I would dilute it even more for a better watercolor effect.
I just took the front piece for my dress and laid it on the grass in my backyard so I didn't have to do any real prep work. But if you're doing a shirt or something like that you'll want to cover some cardboard in wax paper or maybe foil and put it inside the shirt. Otherwise the paint will bleed through big time.
Take your water bottle and spritz your fabric real well. The water acts as a conduit for your paint and will make it kind of bleed and feather at the edges.
Start painting! I suggest testing on a scrap first to get a feel for how the color will spread.
I painted a bit then spritzed it with water then painted some more. Play around with it until you get the effect that you want. I just used those cheapy foam brushes from Joann's but I'm sure using different sized brushes would be cool too. I also really wanted to try putting the water/paint mixture in spray bottles but I only had one on hand and I needed it for the water.
For the orange on my dress I just mixed the paint, dipped my fingers in, then flicked it on to the fabric.
It kind of looks like I got splattered with spaghetti sauce. Maybe try a different color if you go that route.
Keep spritzing with water and adding color. When it looks good let it dry. I left mine in the sun and it was dry super fast. My paints don't say anything about heat setting but I did anyway. Put a cloth of some sort down on your ironing board (I used a flour sack tea towel) then put your fabric paint side down on the cloth. Iron on the hottest setting allowed for your fabric.
And done! If you try this please add a link in the comments so I can see!