Tips and Techniques – Embossing on Fabric

For those of you who have never tried the magic of embossing then you are missing out big time! Embossing provides a fabulous depth and texture to your paper LO’s, but I have taken it one step further and introduced embossing to fabric. These fabric pieces can be used in traditional LO’s or even decorate the front of your fave tee shirt!

Embossing means to create a raised or lowered image on the surface of your paper (or fabric).
DRY embossing means to PUSH a design into paper with a special tool – you lay the paper over a patterned plate and then rub all over the paper with the tool in order to gently push the paper into the pattern. When you have finished you have a raised pattern on one side of the paper and a lowered pattern on the other.

WET embossing means we are going to be using INK in order to make a design on the paper. This process is a bit more complex, but certainly not hard and the results are awesome!
We are going to be doing wet embossing today. You can do this embossing on either paper or fabric – today we are doing it on fabric.

You Need:
Pigment Ink (I used Versamagic Black but the colour doesn’t matter as long as it’s pigment ink. Your little cubes of Versacolour are pigment ink).
Heat Gun (I use a Ryobi from Bunnings but you can get smaller models).
Various stamps and acrylic stamp pad.
Embossing powder.
Spare piece of paper.
Piece of NATURAL fabric – like thick cotton, thick linen or calico. You need a fabric that is not going to be burned/shrink/warp with applying the heat gun to it.

NB: Even though Pigment ink does not dry very fast on paper, it does dry fast on fabric. You need to have everything set up before you start.

Step One:
Gather everything in one place. Have the heat gun plugged in and turned on ready to go. Have the pigment ink open. Have the fabric lying flat on the table (please don’t do this on a surface that is precious – accidents happen!). You need to have your embossing powder container open but with the lid resting on top. You need to have the spare piece of paper FOLDED in HALF (and then opened again so there is a crease down the middle) and sitting beside the fabric.

Step Two:
Apply ink to stamp as per normal and stamp on to the fabric in several places (three at most per time). Lay the stamp off to one side and then sprinkle each stamped image liberally with embossing powder. PUT THE EMBOSSING POWDER away to one side, away from the heat gun.

Let the powder have a chance to stick to the stamped image (about 10 seconds will do) and then carefully tip the excess embossing powder on to the middle of the folded spare piece of paper. Put the fabric back down and hold the folded paper up on it;s end, allowing the excess powder to tip back into the powder jar using the folded crack in the paper as a guide. That way it won’t fly everywhere, just go straight into the pot.

Step Three:

Cover all the stamped images with the powder and tip off the excess. The reason we only do three at a time is that the ink will dry and the powder won’t stick if we leave it too long.

Step Four:

Use your heat gun on it’s highest heat to gently run over the now powdered image. Don’t wave it around like a hairdryer, but it gently circles so that the heat doesn’t concentrate in one spot. That way it won’t burn the paper/ fabric. Keep the heat gun about one foot (30cms) away from the fabric surface to keep the heat even and not too hot.

You will start to see the embossing powder change colour and seem to melt, and then you will see it go like a bright liquid metal. In this case I have used gold embossing powder. On paper it would look like gold metal. On fabric it looks like a more antique brassy colour/effect.

This is what is looks like on paper (as an examplpe):

And this is what my image looks like when finished:

So get out there and have a go with this technique girls. It is PERFECT for creating fancy stamped cards or invitations (KK? Thought about this for yours?). You can get embossing powder in a huge range od colours, both matte and shiny, metallic or plain. They cost about $6 a small tub but they last FOREVER. A good heat gun should cost around $50 – $60 but maybe you could chip in with some friends and share the cost.

Take care with hot objects and have fun!

Sares xx

10 Responses

  1. hello my dad would like to know if you could give me some advise on fabrics made of mesh with embossed flowers or patterns
    dont know whether you have acces to strictly come dancing but they use refrences on that
    can i have advise please
    thanks leon

  2. Hello,
    Thanks for the great tutorial! It’s the most in-depth one I’v found on line. I had a question about using brass embossing plates on fabric. I found these great antique metal plates for embossing book covers at a flea market, and would like to stamp the images onto fabric. I’m afraid of using an ink that will damage the plate. Do you think the cubes of versacolour would be safe?

    Thanks so much,
    -Nicole

  3. hi, very new at embossing and using it on fabric to incorbarate it into my patchwork. How do you any different colour powders on the one stamp. please.

  4. Hi: if I paint and emboss directly on fabric for quilting would it flake off or peel off eventually. I’m thinking of trying to put the black spots on a small lady bug that I will then applique onto the quilt. There are so many possibilities if this application can be done. Thanks for any information.

  5. hi there

    i loved your instructions for embossing.
    i really want to make my own quilt but worried of when it goes in the wash. may i please know if embossing powder on fabric is washable if it last and how long if so.
    hope you can help warm regards tammy

  6. I enjoyed reading the above article…Do you think it is possible to do embossing on a leather belt?
    or perhaps a vinyl belt?

  7. Hi, this was a great tutorial and very interesting. Only one thing, it’s awful that you assume anyone doing crafts are “girls”; I am an adult man looking for activities for my grandkids. I just think it enforces antiquated gender roles.

  8. Hi there !

    Was wondering if anyone knows a decent company or someone who does a fabric embossing in London or UK ? would be grateful .

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  10. Hi, thanks for the tip and I want to try it. Will this technique, using embossing powder hold up in laundry.

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