Author, designer and teacher Melissa Mora recently released her first book, Sundressing: Sew 21 Easy, Breezy Dresses for Women and Girls. Melissa designs for Riley Blake fabrics, and her Blank Slate Patterns brand sewing patterns are carried in Joann stores nationwide. Melissa blogs at Melly Sews, where each June she runs a popular series called (30) Days of Sundresses.

Sundressing showcases 21 dresses for women and girls, and offers a range from toddler through women’s plus sizes. It’s the perfect way to celebrate the casual, happy vibe of summer in your wardrobe!

From the publisher:

    Sundressing is a sensibility played out at barbecues and on vacations and in days without a plan. It’s the slip dress you pull over a swimsuit at the pool and the frock you layer over leggings while dreaming of warmer days. And it’s the effortless style this book will help you achieve.

    Featuring 10 women’s dresses and 11 dresses for girls, and ranging from toddler to plus-size, each project starts with instructions for a bodice and a skirt, but from there, it’s up to you! From the simple and pretty lines of the classic Primrose sundress to the edgy and stylish shape of the city-chic SoCo dress, you’ll find the instruction and inspiration you need to make your own unique and custom-fitted dresses. Change the skirt length or style, try different fabrics and prints– make each dress a one-of-a-kind piece!

    Whether you’re working on something lovely and versatile for everyday wear or creating a stunning showstopper for your next night out, you don’t have to be afraid to mix it up. Your new warm-weather wardrobe is waiting in the pages of Sundressing!

Melissa offered to show us how she created the stamped fabric she used for the cover dress of Sundressing. Learn how easy it is to customize your fabric with favorite stamps and fabric paint. If you’re looking for your next sundress pattern, check out Melissa’s new book! We also have a giveaway copy, so comment for a chance to win. (Hard copy for U.S. residents, eBook for international addresses.)

Hey y’all, I’m Melissa and today I’m excited to be here to share how easy fabric stamping is and show you how I created the custom fabric used in the dress on the cover of my book, Sundressing. I don’t know about you, but I started sewing because I would get ideas in my head of EXACTLY what I wanted to wear and I wouldn’t be able to find those things in stores. And as I started sewing, the same thing happened with fabric; I’d get an idea for EXACTLY what I wanted and then I wouldn’t be able to find it. But just like having clothing design opinions led me to sewing, having opinions on fabric has led me both to fabric designing and to all kinds of fun techniques to create the fabric that I want.

When I thought about the West Lynn Dress from my book, which I knew had a pretty good chance of being the cover look, I knew I wanted a classic kind of print, something that would stand the test of time. I also knew it needed to coordinate with the Balcones Dress, which my niece is wearing on the cover and had already been made. And with that, a vision of a white dress with a cobalt blue print jumped into my head. I originally thought about embroidery, but I knew I wanted a larger scale so it would show up well in photos. And I had a time crunch… So that led to stamping!

I know some great textile artists that carve their own stamps for block printing but I had that time crunch, remember? So I headed to the store to look for stamps, and this large scale dandelion-ish flower and fleur-de-lis stamp both jumped out at me because of their size and how they looked together. I knew I could combine them different ways to create the border print I was envisioning.

To create your own stamped fabric, you’ll need:

  • Your fabric. Fabrics from natural fibers (cotton, silk, linen, etc.) tend to take fabric paint better than synthetic (polyester, nylon, spandex, etc.) textiles.
  • Fabric paint. There are three basic options here: you can get fabric paint (like t-shirt paint), fabric ink stamp pads or you can add fabric medium (also called textile medium) to acrylic paint to make it softer for fabric. The stamp fabric ink is the softest option, followed by some types of fabric paint and finally acrylic with textile medium. For this project I used fabric paint, because I wanted a crisper and more saturated print than I would have gotten from a stamp pad.
  • A plate to spread the fabric paint on for the stamp or a brush to brush the paint onto the stamp (I actually use both).
  • Paper towels for paint blotting
  • Paper or cardboard to protect the surface you’re stamping on. Craft paper works well; I don’t like to use newspaper because the text easily smudges onto fabric.

You can mix fabric paints to make the exact color you want to use, just make sure to mix extra if you’re doing that because it’s really hard to mix a second batch to match if you run out.

Once you are ready to stamp, either press the stamp into the ink pad, dip the stamp onto a thin layer of paint on the plate or brush paint onto the stamp. Make sure the stamp is coated from edge to edge and use paper towels to clean off any excess.

Then carefully place the stamp on the fabric, pressing it straight down.

Once it’s on, hold it in place and press harder around each edge (almost like a rocking motion, but without sliding the stamp or moving it) to make sure all the edges have transferred. Then lift the stamp straight up to make sure paint doesn’t smudge anywhere. It’s a good idea to practice this on a paper towel before going to your actual fabric.

Depending on your design and your paint, you may be able to stamp more than once before re-coating your stamp.

For most textile projects, I do the stamping before I assemble the garment. So I cut out the fabric, and then lay it out to stamp, remembering to stay away from my seam allowances for this particular design. Creasing your fabric with an iron can also help give you guidelines to center designs.

Combining stamps and adding brushstrokes can add even more dimension to your project. So can combining colors, layering stamps… Really your imagination is the limit.

When you’re finished, let the paint or ink fully dry, then follow the manufacturer’s instructions to set the design. This usually involves setting the paint with heat or washing in vinegar (or both).

And then, finally, sew your garment!

Want to learn more? Check out Sundressing: Sew 21 Easy, Breezy Dresses for Women and Girls!