Watercolor Dress {and tips for painting fabric}

Watercolor Sundress and Tips for Painting Fabric // you & mie

So I have exactly one project coming out of this Kids Clothes Week, but I’m pretty damn excited about it!  The (optional) theme for this season was Kid Art and while this dress was probably the last thing I needed to make, I got really excited by the idea of getting Yuki involved in creating a one-of-a-kind garment for herself.  I had all sorts of ideas like fabric painting, stenciling, iron on transfers, etc.  But I knew I didn’t have much time so I could only pick one thing.  If you know me, you know that I looooove fabric painting (like this cardigan, this hat and bag, and this dress) and I thought Yuki should have a go at it since she loves painting too!

Watercolor Sundress and Tips for Painting Fabric // you & mie

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Sora and the Cloud (and more painted fabric)

So speaking of old projects, here’s one that is loooooooooong overdue.  Do you remember Katy’s Once Upon a Thread Chapter 3?  Back in May?  Like 4 months ago?  So this project is from then.  And I’m not quite sure why I haven’t blogged about it yet – because I like it a lot.  I made this hat and backpack in May, photographed them in July and now I’m blogging about them in September.  Yikes.  I was tempted to just save them for the next chapter of OUT, but I probably would have completely forgotten about them by then.

Anyways!  If you don’t know what Once Upon a Thread is, it’s this amazing series that is hosted by Katy of No Big Dill, where she and her awesome guests take their favorite children’s books and make literature inspired sewn creations.  Well she has an OUT flickr pool where anyone can sew along and add their creations, so I thought I’d join in.  Of course, the last “chapter” of the series has long come and gone, but I’m going to post my submission anyways.

The book I chose was Sora and the Cloud by Felicia Hoshino.  The book is written in both Japanese and English and it has the most AMAZING illustrations.  It immediately drew me in, with the warm, soft, dreamy pictures that looks like a combination of drawing and watercolor.

The story is about a curious boy named Sora, who loves to climb.  “Sora” means sky in Japanese.

“Little Sora loves to climb.  As he grows, he climbs over everything in his path.”

“He even climbs people!”  (Hmmm . . . sounds like someone I know . . .)


“Then one day Sora climbs a tree.  Up he climbs, higher and higher, as if there is no end.  Peeking through the branches at the top, what does he find?”

Sora finds a napping cloud and cannot resist climbing aboard and they embark on an amazing adventure together.

They travel above the city discovering new and old things together from a magical perspective.  I won’t give away all of their adventures, but I’ll tell you, it’s like this story is straight from my dreams!

The character Sora, reminds me of my daughter, Yuki, because she LOVES to climb just like him.  As Yuki grows up and her personality starts to really show, I definitely see her as a curious, adventure seeking girl.

When I first saw the book, I wanted to recreate Sora’s entire outfit from the cover – I think it’s adorable.  But at the time that I was working on this, it was spring, and the outfit was too “fall.”  So I opted for just the bucket hat and a little drawstring bag that Yuki could tote around as she set off on her adventures.

I am really into the Setacolor Transparent Fabric Paint that I used for the Painted Purple Cardigan and the idea of painting my own fabric.  I wanted to try to recreate the soft and warm, watercolory look of the book illustrations.  I was particularly drawn to this page and all the colorful dots that were part of the amusement park.

So I decided to paint dots in similar colors on muslin.

It took me quite a bit of experimenting to get the right colors and the right amount of water (you can see a lot of bleeding with some of the dots, but I decided to just go with it).

I used the Oliver + S Bucket Hat pattern to make a reversible bucket hat with the colorful dots on one side and a tan home decor fabric on the other.

I used A Little Gray’s tutorial for making the hat without hand stitching.

For the drawstring backpack fabric, I was inspired by the inside cover of the book.  It is based on a traditional Japanese sashiko embroidery pattern, but with a touch of soft color.

(The author is local and was at a fair selling these books, so my sister bought the book and had the author/illustrator sign it for Yuki!  Cute huh?)

I was considering trying my hand at actual sashiko embroidery, but I thought sticking with stamping and painting fabric was more up my alley.  It was so much fun and turned out looking exactly how I wanted it to!  So here is how I created my faux sashiko.

First I saturated my fabric with water (I used two pieces of muslin – one for the front of the bag and one for the back).  Then I used some watered down blue and green and painted all over so the colors blended together.

When it was dry, I heat set it by ironing it.  I set one piece aside for the back and only did the sashiko print on the front.

I created the “embroidery” print with a handcarved stamp.  You’ll need a carving block and a carving tool.

1. Draw a circle on your carving block (trace something circular if you’ve got it).
2. Carve away everything except for a thin outline of the circle.
3. Create a dotted line look by carving away small, evenly spaced pieces of the circle.  Trim the block as close to the edge of the circle as possible.
4. Using a ruler, stamp a row across the bottom of your fabric using fabric paint with the edges of the circles touching each other.  Place the ruler along the center of the first row of circles and add your second row of circles staggered from the first row.

Your first three rows should look like this.

Repeat until the entire fabric is filled.  (Oooh, the difference between natural and artificial light!!)

The last touch that I added was some color to try and resemble the page in the book.  I watered down the paint quite a bit so that the color would be subtle.

Here, the paint is still wet.

And dry!

Then I used this Drawstring Backpack tutorial from Prudent Baby to make the small backpack.

And there’s my little climber – ready for adventures!!

Phew!  Feels good to finally have that posted!  These pieces were super fun to create and I love that they are completely original because I created my own fabric prints.  I really can’t recommend these watercolor fabric paints enough.  The possibilities are absolutely endless!

Thanks for letting me share this out-of-date project.  I’ve got lots of old and new ones to share over the coming weeks, so please bear with the back-and-forth time jumps, season switching and hair style changes you may be seeing a lot of 🙂

Happy Hump Day!

(Hey!  You know what tomorrow is?)