Shaving Cream and Ink Painted Fabric
The ink design on this shirt was created using Silhouette Fabric Ink and shaving cream. The shaving cream acts as a vehicle for transferring the color to the fabric. I first learned about the shaving cream technique through Youtube videos. If you search you’ll find there are probably more videos than you have time for.
I think the most important point to consider when coloring fabric is if you will need to wash it. If you’re creating a fabric décor pillow, for instance, you may not care to wash it regularly as opposed to a shirt. So the color medium you use will be important. I’ve seen videos that call for alcohol ink with the shaving cream and I initially created several because it works so well and the colors are so vibrant. But I’ve found the downside is, even after setting the alcohol ink with an iron, the color washes out in water.
Water based fabric ink, acrylic ink, and acrylic paint will remain permanently in fabric. The same acrylic paint I use for airbrushing can be used for this project. Whichever you choose, the consistency of your medium should resemble milk. Dilute it if necessary.
I chose to use Silhouette Fabric ink for my project because I know it does not wash out. Other than the cost of this ink, the only expense is really Barbasol shaving cream which sells at Target for less than $2! It should be the original version not a gel.
In this project I used this shaving cream technique on a button front blouse I was going to make. I cut out the front fabric pieces then applied the ink. But you can certainly paint any purchased shirt. Iron freezer paper onto the inside back of the shirt so paint won’t accidentally transfer when you pat the shirt front into the shaving cream.
If you’re creating a blouse from scratch and it buttons up the front, place painters tape at the line where you want your color to start. (See step 9. In this photo the tape is on the right side but it should be on the wrong side of the fabric).
Mix as many or as few colors together as you choose. The design and color options are limitless. See a few of my samples below.
step 10 - Carefully lift the fabric and set it on a clean protected work surface paint side up. Use a sharp edge ruler or credit card to squeegee shaving cream from the surface. Work with small areas, wiping off the scraper between sections to prevent smearing unwanted ink to other parts of the fabric.
step 11 - Allow the fabric to dry completely. Cover the fabric with a pressing cloth. Set the ink with a dry iron on a setting suitable for the fabric. Press for about two minutes.
Although ironing will set the ink permanently, the fabric should be gently washed to preserve the color.
Tips and Ideas
It is always best to do a small test fabric sample with the paint or ink you plan to use to see how it will perform. I have literally done more than a dozen shaving cream fabric pieces and found the results can vary slightly depending on how thick your paint or ink is, or how long it sits on the shaving cream before you transfer it to the fabric. I was curious as to how long it would take the shaving cream to fizzle and flatten. After two hours it was still in tact.
Silhouette Fabric inks should be diluted with water. Be careful not to add so much water that the ink sinks into the shaving cream.
I’ve seen different colors produce varied results at times. If the color smears as you scrape the shaving cream off the test fabric, an alternative to scraping is to pat a clean paper towel on the fabric until no cream remains.
You can color paper using this shaving cream technique. Because it won’t require washing, your color can come from food coloring or alcohol ink in addition to other sources.
All fabric should be washed before painting and dried without fabric softener.
Colors are sharper with cleaner lines on smooth, tightly woven fabric.
Your sheet of shaving cream can be reused after removing your fabric. For instance, you can add more colors and mix them again with the wood pick to create an entirely different look.
If you feel your project does not have enough color after removing the fabric from the cream or think it's too dull, all is not lost. Create another sheet of shaving cream on your work surface. Add a few color dots spaced generously apart using a bright or contrasting color that will work with what is already on your fabric. Pull through the dots with a wood pick to create a design. Place your fabric on this new shaving cream and transfer the design.
There's a limit to how many times you can reuse colored shaving cream. Most shaving cream designs can be transferred at least twice. I have pressed the yoke fabric of a shirt into the ink, removed it, then added new fabric for the cuffs. The colors matched well but a third application would have had a more faded result.
- Silhouette Fabric Ink - Red, Yellow, Black, White
- Small sponge applicator, brush or eyedropper
- Barbasol shaving cream
- Protective plastic
- Ruler or credit card
- Fabric or shirt
- Painters tape