Crafternoon: Solar Print Fabric

Looking for a fun and unique DIY project this summer? Well move over, tie-dye! Sun-printing is the new ultimate summer craft. With only a few materials and a little bit of sunshine, you can create beautiful patterns that will last a lifetime.


(Photo Credit: Elizabeth Creates)


The key to this neat impression is cyanotype fabric. This light-sensitive fabric changes colors (or "develops") when first exposed to sunlight, leaving behind the pretty patterns of your chosen overlay. In addition, Inkodye has several different colored dyes so you can create your own solar printable fabric.



1. Choose your overlay materials. Anything from leaves and flowers to bubble wands and stickers will work wonderfully. Create a theme piece and get creative!

Tip: The flatter your material, the more crisp the image will be. For example, if you use flat leaves or paper cutouts, the sunlight will develop all of the fabric that is left uncovered. Whereas a larger 3-D item (like a block, or even a person) will create a shadow onto the fabric, blurring the edges slightly. 

Also, an opaque object will let no sunlight through to the fabric behind it, creating a stark contrast in color. If you choose a more sheer material as an overlay, the result will be a color somewhere in the middle. This gives you a lot of flexibility to play around with shapes and shades, so have fun with it!

2. Remove the solar print fabric from its packaging—or paint a clean, white fabric with the light-sensitive dye—indoors and/or out of direct sunlight.

3. Place your chosen materials carefully on the fabric. Be sure none of them are wet (or your hands) as it can spot the fabric.

4. If necessary, pin your materials down, or place Plexiglass on top, to keep them from shifting.

Tip: Movement creates blurrier images on the fabric, so you can easily customize the style of your piece. For example, using Plexiglass or carefully pinning your items to the fabric will leave you with crisp edges, but leaving them unpinned or intentionally moving them during the process will create a more shadowy effect.

5. Take fabric outdoors and lay flat in direct sunlight. Avoid this project on rainy or very overcast days, but don’t worry about a few clouds. Those strong UV rays will still activate the fabric!

6. Let the fabric sit for the specified amount of time (generally between 5 and 10 minutes, but it will vary according to instructions).

7. Take your fabric inside, and remove all materials carefully.

8. Rinse under cool water and hand-wash with a gentle, phosphate-free detergent, like Dropps.

Tip: It is very important to never use a detergent with phosphates on sun-printed fabric. It will cause the fabric to yellow and fade your pattern.

9. Let air-dry flat out of direct sunlight, and enjoy!


    Here are just a few samples of how beautiful—and creative—these crafts can be!


    (Photo Credit: Martha Stewart)                            (Photo Credit: Bloom Bake Create)

    (Photo Credit: Bloom Bake Create)


    (Photo Credit: Alisa Burke)                                  (Photo Credit: Anna Atkins)  


    (Photo Credit: Garden Therapy)

    (Photo Credit: Beso Style)


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