How to: Make DIY Colorful Geometric Textiles with Sharpies and Rubbing Alcohol

How to: Make DIY Colorful Geometric Textiles with Sharpies and Rubbing Alcohol

Science was never my best subject, but every now and then I find myself using a little book learning in my everyday life. And this project? Definitely one of those times. It turns out Sharpie marker ink mixed with rubbing alcohol creates a very striking effect. Add some ScotchBlue™ Painter's Tape

, and you'll be able to make a unique, DIY geometric textile worthy of hanging on your wall.  




The resulting effect is something akin to tie-die, but not in the 70's hippy sort of way... in the modern, ombre, pop of color style that's so popular today. The process is simple, and doesn't require many materials. Here's what you'll need:

  • Sharpie markers in assorted colors
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • ScotchBlue™ Painter's Tape
  • Cotton fabric with a fine weave
  • A spray bottle
  • Scissors
  • Iron

Above are a few different color combinations that I experimented with before creating my final textile. I would recommend trying out some test pieces before you jump in, because as you can see, each color blends differently than the next and they overlap in different ways.

Now, here's what you do:

1. Iron your fabric so that it is wrinkle-free, and place it on a flat surface. Lay down your ScotchBlue tape in whatever pattern you'd like, pressing firmly. The tape creates a stencil, acting as a a resist to the marker ink. The area underneath the tape will be left with a less intense color wash when everything is all said and done.

2. Next, fill in every part of the fabric that's not taped using your Sharpies. I did two colors inside of each triangular space, and I stuck to a certain pattern for consistency. I would recommend overlapping colors.

3. Your fabric will look something like the image above once you've filled in all the white space.

4. Make sure you head to a well-ventilated area, and put a small tarp or some plastic bags on your work surface. Now spray your Sharpie ink with rubbing alcohol. Don't be shy here, really soak the fabric. Let it dry for a bit, and spray it again until you've reached your desired effect.

It will look similar to mine above for quite a while until it dries completely (which will take a few hours). Then it's time to remove the painter's tape and see what sort of magic has happened underneath. Chances are, it will look something like this: 



A small word of advice here... although you're using permanent marker, the technique does not create a permanent dye. So don't use it as a shower curtain. Using a dry iron afterwards will help to set the color, but it will still run a bit when moistened. It is best used as a wall hanging (or for any purpose where it won't be exposed to water or extreme moisture). I framed mine and hung it in the kitchen. 

For more creative ideas, check out the ScotchBlue™ Painter's Tape Pinterest Page




scotchblue, scotchblue painter's tape, painter's tape, tape

This post is a collaboration with ScotchBlue™ Painter’s Tape. To join the creative community, visit www.facebook.com/ScotchBlue.

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Faith Provencher on May 13, 2018:

Sorry to hear that yours didn't turn out the way you had hoped @anonymous... perhaps different types of fabric take the ink differently? It's hard to tell what might have happened without seeing it in person...

Anonymous on May 13, 2018:

Mine did not turn out like this what so ever. I followed the steps above, and it was supposed to be a mother's day gift. The colors did not blend at all and I used half a bottle of rubbing alcohol. I'm very disappointed.

Jessica on May 16, 2014:

Thanks - sharpie makes a more expensive fabric sharpie. Wondering f it'll still be permanent combined with the spray!

Jessica on May 16, 2014:

Thanks - sharpie makes a more expensive fabric sharpie. Wondering f it'll still be permanent combined with the spray!

faith-towers on Apr 10, 2014:

That's a good thought Beth, I'll have to give that a try!

Beth on Apr 09, 2014:

I wonder if scotch guard might help set the fabric?

faith-towers on Oct 09, 2013:

Sounds beautiful @Peta, thanks for sharing!

Peta on Oct 09, 2013:

Hi. I have a friend who twenty years ago was making fabric for clothes in a similar way to this BUT she would colour the whole piece of fabric. We used to have a ball doing this. Then we would tear up, from really wide rolls of masking tape, any kind of shape & place them side by side, over the painted fabric, with a small gap between the pieces of tape. Then we would paint the whole piece again using a deep blue paint. Black can be really deadening. It doesn't really exist in nature.( I have used a really deep blue with a really deep green or purple. Mix them together you get a colour that looks like black but actually is a really deep, dark colour.) When the paint is dry simply peel off the masking tape. Voila. An original piece of patterned fabric.

faith-towers on Oct 07, 2013:

@Aidel.K yes it's such a versatile technique... (I might just have to try a silk scarf!)

Aidel.K on Oct 07, 2013:

I saw this same process used on white silk scarves (I know--not really a Curbly thing.), and the results were beautiful. It's nice to see this technique in home dec.

faith-towers on Oct 01, 2013:

Good question.... I haven't tried it with any other brand of permanent marker. Has anyone else tried it with another brand? Let us know if you have!

Anonymous on Oct 01, 2013:

Would this work with any other brand of permanent marker? Or does it have to be Sharpies?

Ana on Oct 01, 2013:

Love it! What a great modern way to rev up tie-dye!

Dom on Oct 01, 2013:

Love this! The final result is so beautiful framed! :)

faith-towers on Sep 29, 2013:

Great thinking, vinegar could work! Let us know if your trial is a success.....

MotherLodeBeth on Sep 28, 2013:

When I dye fabric I use vinegar to set the colour, so am wondering if using vinegar to set the colour here would work.  Will try it.  Its why when dying easter eggs you use vinegar with the dye so it sets the colour on the egg,

Anonymous on Sep 26, 2013:

That is really cool! Thanks!

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