10 Practical Linocut Printmaking Tips for Fabric
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 8 min read


  1. Choose the right linoleum
  2. Select the best fabric
  3. Prepare your workspace
  4. Design your print
  5. Cut your design
  6. Choose the right ink
  7. Apply ink to the block
  8. Print on fabric
  9. Clean up after printing
  10. Store your printed fabric

If you've ever wanted to add a personal touch to your fabric items, linocut printmaking is a fantastic way to do so. Whether you're looking to give your old t-shirts a makeover or want to customize your curtains, this art form can transform ordinary fabric into a masterpiece. But how do you get better at linocut printmaking on fabric? Well, we've got you covered. Let's dive into our top 10 practical tips that will help you master this craft.

Choose the right linoleum

The first step in getting better at linocut printmaking on fabric starts with the linoleum itself. Opting for the right type can make all the difference, as it can impact both the cutting process and the final print quality. Here are some pointers:

  • Battleship gray linoleum: This type is a popular choice among printmakers. It's pretty easy to cut and holds fine detail well. It's a good option for beginners who are still getting the hang of things.
  • Golden linoleum: If you're up for a bit of a challenge, golden linoleum is a denser material that can withstand a lot of wear and tear. It's a bit tougher to cut, but the resulting print is incredibly sharp, making it perfect for more intricate designs.
  • Soft cut linoleum: This is a newer type of linoleum that's softer and easier to carve than traditional types. It's perfect if you're looking for a material that's easy on the hands but still delivers high-quality prints.

Remember, the type of linoleum you choose largely depends on your personal preference and the complexity of your design. Don't be afraid to experiment with different types until you find the one that suits you best. Trust us, figuring out your go-to linoleum is a huge step towards getting better at linocut printmaking on fabric.

Select the best fabric

Choosing the right fabric for linocut printmaking is just as important as selecting your linoleum. Not all fabrics are created equal, and using the wrong type can lead to disappointing results. So, what should you look for in fabric when you're getting better at linocut printmaking?

  • Cotton or linen: Natural fibers like cotton and linen are great for linocut printing. They're absorbent, meaning they'll take in the ink well, and they're also durable, so they can withstand the pressure of printing without tearing.
  • Smooth, flat weave: The smoother and tighter the weave of your fabric, the clearer your print will be. Fabrics with a loose weave or a rough texture can cause your design to look fuzzy or unclear.
  • Pre-washed: It's a good idea to pre-wash your fabric before printing. This will remove any sizing or finishes that could prevent the ink from adhering properly.

Choosing the right fabric might seem like a small detail, but it can make a big difference in the final outcome of your project. So, don't underestimate the power of a good piece of fabric when it comes to getting better at linocut printmaking on fabric.

Prepare your workspace

Before diving headfirst into the process of linocut printmaking, take a moment to set up your workspace properly. Believe it or not, a well-organized workspace can make the difference between a successful print and a frustrating mess. Here's how you can prepare your workspace for getting better at linocut printmaking on fabric:

  • Clear an area: You'll need plenty of space to work comfortably. Clear off a table or desk, making sure there's enough room for your fabric, linoleum block, and printing tools.
  • Protect your surface: Linocut printing can get messy, especially when ink is involved. Cover your work surface with a protective sheet or old newspaper to prevent any unwanted stains.
  • Gather your tools: Ensure all your tools are within reach. This includes your linoleum block, carving tools, ink, brayer, and fabric. Having everything close at hand will make the process smoother.

Remember, a clean and organized workspace isn't just about making your process easier—it can also help keep you safe. Carving tools are sharp, and a cluttered workspace can lead to accidents. So, don't skimp on this step if you're serious about getting better at linocut printmaking on fabric.

Design your print

Now that your workspace is all set, let's move on to the fun part — designing your print. This is where your creativity truly shines. While you might be eager to see your design on fabric, proper planning can save you from a good deal of frustration later on. Here's how you can approach the design process:

  • Sketch out your ideas: You don't have to be an award-winning artist to create a compelling design. Just grab a pencil and paper and start sketching out your ideas. This gives you a clear vision of what you're aiming for.
  • Consider the size and shape of your fabric: The size and shape of your fabric can greatly influence your design. Make sure your design fits nicely and complements the dimensions of your fabric.
  • Remember the mirror image rule: Your design will print as a mirror image on the fabric. So, when creating your design, keep in mind that what you carve is what you get—but in reverse.

Keep in mind, getting better at linocut printmaking on fabric isn't about creating the most intricate design. Sometimes, simple designs can produce the most striking prints. So, don't be afraid to start small and work your way up as you become more comfortable with the process.

Cut your design

Once you've designed your print, it's time for the real action — cutting your design. This is where you transform your sketch into a real, tangible block that you can use for printing. Here's how to go about it:

  • Transfer your design: First things first, transfer your sketch onto the linoleum block. You can do this using a pencil or a pen to trace the design. Remember to reverse your design so it prints correctly on the fabric.
  • Start cutting: Grab your linocut tools and start carving along the lines of your design. If you're new to this, remember to take it slow. Rushing through the cutting process can lead to mistakes, and once you've cut the linoleum, there's no going back.
  • Stay safe: Safety should be your top priority when cutting your design. Always cut away from yourself and keep your fingers clear of the cutting path to avoid any accidents.

And there you have it — your design is now ready for printing. With each cut you make, you're getting better at linocut printmaking on fabric. It's a learning process, and each mistake is a stepping stone that brings you one step closer to mastering this art.

Choose the right ink

Alright, you've got your design cut and ready, but without the right ink, your print may not come out as expected. Here's what you need to keep in mind when choosing the ink for your linocut printmaking on fabric:

  • Quality matters: Not all inks are created equal. Some are too thick, some too thin, and others may not adhere well to fabric. Choose a high-quality ink that's specifically designed for fabric printing. Brands like Speedball and Jacquard come highly recommended.
  • Think about color: The color of your ink can make or break your design. Select a color that stands out on your chosen fabric and complements your design. Darker inks usually show up better on lighter fabrics, while lighter inks work well on darker materials.
  • Consider washability: If you're printing on fabric, chances are, it'll need to be washed at some point. So, pick an ink that's washable and won't fade after a few washes. It might cost a bit more, but it's worth it in the long run.

Choosing the right ink is a key step in getting better at linocut printmaking on fabric. The right ink can bring your design to life and make your printed fabric look professional and vibrant.

Apply ink to the block

Now that you've got the right ink, it's time to apply it to your linocut block. This step is a bit like spreading butter on toast, but with a few twists:

  • Use a roller: A brayer, or roller, is your best friend when applying ink to your linocut block. It helps spread the ink evenly across the surface, ensuring a smooth print. Don't have a roller? A flat paintbrush can work too, but a roller is really the way to go.
  • Less is more: It's tempting to slather on a ton of ink, but too much can smudge your design. Start with a small amount and add more if necessary. You're aiming for a thin, even layer across your design.
  • Test it out: Before you print on your fabric, do a test print on a scrap piece of paper. This lets you see if you've applied enough ink and if it's spread evenly. If the print looks good, you're ready to go!

Applying ink to the block is a delicate balance—a little too much or too little can throw off your print. But with practice, you'll get the hang of it and be one step closer to getting better at linocut printmaking on fabric.

Alright, you've made it to the exciting part—printing on fabric! This is where your hard work and preparation pay off. Here's what you need to know:

  • Position is key: Make sure your fabric is flat and wrinkle-free. Position your inked block on the fabric exactly where you want the design to appear. Remember, once it's down, there's no moving it!
  • Pressure matters: Apply even pressure to the back of your linocut block. You can use a clean roller, a barren, or even the back of a spoon. The goal is to press the inked design onto the fabric without shifting the block.
  • Peel off carefully: After you've applied pressure, gently peel the block off the fabric. Go slow to avoid smudging the design. Now, take a moment to admire your handiwork!

And there you have it—you're now printing on fabric like a pro! With each print, you're getting better at linocut printmaking on fabric. Keep practicing, experimenting, and most importantly, having fun!

Clean up after printing

You've printed your fabulous design and are admiring your handiwork. But hold on, we're not done yet. Cleaning up after printing is a key step in getting better at linocut printmaking on fabric. Let's break it down:

  • Wash Up: Start by washing your linocut block and tools with warm soapy water. This removes any leftover ink and prevents it from drying and hardening on your tools. Don't forget to dry them thoroughly to prevent rusting.
  • Scrape Excess Ink: Do you see that extra ink on your glass palette? Scrape it off with your palette knife and return it to the ink container. Remember, waste not, want not!
  • Store Tools Properly: Store your tools in a cool, dry place. This keeps them in good condition and ready for your next project.

Keeping your workspace clean and organized not only makes your next printing session easier but also helps prolong the life of your tools and supplies. Plus, it's a great way to practice responsibility and care in your craft. So, keep it clean!

Store your printed fabric

Storing your printed fabric correctly is the final step to seal the deal in getting better at linocut printmaking on fabric. Here's how you can do it:

  • Let it Dry: Before storing, ensure that your printed fabric is completely dry. This might take a few days, so be patient. Storing wet prints could lead to smudging or damage to your print.
  • Roll, Don't Fold: When storing, roll your fabric instead of folding it. This prevents creases and keeps your design looking fresh. Use a clean cardboard tube for this purpose.
  • Store in a Cool, Dry Place: Find a cool, dry place to store your printed fabric. This prevents fading and maintains the vibrancy of your print. Also, try to avoid direct sunlight which can bleach your design over time.

Storing your linocut prints correctly not only preserves your hard work but also helps in maintaining the look and feel of your fabric. So, take the time to store your prints properly and enjoy the fruits of your labor for a long time to come!

If you enjoyed our "10 Practical Linocut Printmaking Tips for Fabric" blog and want to take your skills to the next level, consider attending the 'Digitising Handmade Illustrations' workshop by Jola Pictures. This workshop will teach you how to transform your handcrafted linocut prints into digital illustrations, allowing you to reach new creative heights and expand the possibilities of your art.