Speedball Fabric Block Printing Ink: A Comprehensive Guide

When it comes to block printing on fabric, one name stands out: Speedball Fabric Block Printing Ink. This high-quality ink has gained popularity among artists and crafters for its vibrant colors, excellent coverage, and ease of use. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into everything you need to know about Speedball Fabric Block Printing Ink, from its features and benefits to tips and techniques for achieving outstanding results.

Firstly, let’s explore the features and benefits of Speedball Fabric Block Printing Ink. This ink is specifically formulated for fabric, ensuring excellent adhesion and durability. It offers a wide range of vibrant colors that are fade-resistant, making your printed designs truly stand the test of time. Moreover, the ink is water-based, making it easy to clean up and ideal for beginners and professionals alike.

Understanding Speedball Fabric Block Printing Ink

In this section, we will provide an in-depth overview of Speedball Fabric Block Printing Ink, including its composition, types, and recommended uses. We will explore the various color options available and discuss the unique properties that set this ink apart from others in the market.

Composition of Speedball Fabric Block Printing Ink

Speedball Fabric Block Printing Ink is carefully formulated using high-quality pigments, binders, and additives that ensure optimal performance on fabrics. The pigments used in this ink are finely ground to ensure vibrant and intense colors that retain their brilliance even after multiple washes. The binders in the ink provide excellent adhesion to fabric fibers, resulting in long-lasting prints that resist fading and cracking over time. Additionally, the ink contains additives that enhance its flow and viscosity, making it easy to work with.

Types of Speedball Fabric Block Printing Ink

Speedball offers a range of Speedball Fabric Block Printing Inks to cater to different artistic needs. The standard range includes over 20 colors, including vibrant primaries, rich neutrals, and specialty metallics. These inks are suitable for a wide range of fabric types, including cotton, linen, silk, and more. Speedball also offers a specialty range of fabric block printing inks, such as glow-in-the-dark and fluorescent options, for artists looking to add an extra element of creativity to their prints.

Recommended Uses for Speedball Fabric Block Printing Ink

Speedball Fabric Block Printing Ink is versatile and suitable for various applications. It is commonly used for printing on fabrics to create custom textiles, such as t-shirts, tote bags, and home decor items. Additionally, this ink can be used on other surfaces, including paper, canvas, and wood, allowing artists to explore different creative possibilities. Whether you’re a professional textile artist or a beginner exploring block printing, Speedball Fabric Block Printing Ink provides the perfect medium for expressing your artistic vision.

Getting Started: Materials and Tools

Before you embark on your fabric block printing journey, it’s essential to have the right materials and tools at your disposal. In this section, we will guide you through the must-have items, such as block printing blocks, brayers, and fabric choices, to ensure a successful printing experience.

Block Printing Blocks

The first essential tool for fabric block printing is the block printing block. These blocks are typically made of materials like linoleum or rubber and feature a carved design or pattern on one side. The design on the block is what gets transferred onto the fabric during the printing process. Speedball offers a wide range of pre-carved blocks with various designs to suit different artistic styles. Alternatively, you can also carve your own designs on a blank block using carving tools.


A brayer is a roller tool used to apply ink evenly onto the block. It consists of a roller attached to a handle and is available in different sizes and materials. When selecting a brayer, consider the size of your block and the level of detail in your design. A smaller brayer is suitable for intricate designs, while a larger one allows for quicker ink application on larger blocks. Speedball offers a range of brayers made from high-quality materials such as rubber and foam, ensuring smooth and consistent ink application.

Fabric Choices

Choosing the right fabric for your block printing project is essential to achieve the desired results. Speedball Fabric Block Printing Ink works best on natural fabrics like cotton, linen, silk, and rayon. These fabrics have a tighter weave, allowing for better ink adhesion and durability. It’s important to prewash and iron your fabric to remove any sizing or wrinkles before printing. Additionally, consider the color and texture of the fabric as they can affect the final appearance of your prints. Experiment with different fabrics to discover the ones that work best for your artistic vision.

Other Essential Tools

In addition to block printing blocks, brayers, and fabric, there are a few other tools and materials you’ll need for a successful fabric block printing project. These include:

  • Palette or plate for mixing and rolling out ink
  • Palette knife or spoon for transferring ink onto the brayer
  • Masking tape or clips to secure the fabric in place while printing
  • Protective apron or clothing to prevent ink stains
  • Newsprint or scrap paper for test prints and protecting your work surface
  • Cleaning supplies such as water, mild soap, and paper towels for clean-up

Preparing Your Design

A well-prepared design is crucial for achieving precise and stunning results with Speedball Fabric Block Printing Ink. In this section, we will discuss various methods for transferring your design onto the block, including hand-drawing, stenciling, and digital techniques. We will also provide tips for resizing and positioning your design to fit different fabric sizes and shapes.

Hand-Drawn Designs

One of the most popular and versatile methods for creating designs for fabric block printing is by hand-drawing them. This allows for complete creative control and the ability to create unique and custom designs. Start by sketching your design on paper, considering the size and proportions you want for your final print. Once you’re satisfied with your design, transfer it onto the block using transfer paper or by tracing it directly onto the block. Remember to reverse the design when transferring it onto the block to ensure it prints correctly on fabric.


If you prefer a more precise and intricate design for your fabric block prints, stenciling is an excellent technique to explore. Stencils can be purchased pre-made or created by hand using materials like stencil film or cardboard. Simply place the stencil on top of the block and secure it in place. Then, using a brush or sponge, apply the ink over the stencil, ensuring even coverage. Lift the stencil carefully to reveal your design on the block. Stenciling allows for consistent and repeatable patterns, making it ideal for creating borders, backgrounds, or complex designs.

Digital Image Transfer

For artists who prefer digital design tools, digital image transfer is a convenient and precise method for creating designs for fabric block printing. Start by creating or selecting your design using graphic design software or online platforms. Print the design onto transfer paper using an inkjet printer. Then, position the transfer paper onto the block, ink side down, and secure it in place. Apply pressure using a spoon or a bone folder to transfer the ink from the paper onto the block. Slowly lift the transfer paper to reveal your design. This method is ideal for intricate or detailed designs that are challenging to achieve by hand.

Resizing and Positioning Your Design

Before transferring your design onto the block, you may need to resize and position it to fit your fabric size and desired placement. If you’re working with a physical design, such as a hand-drawn sketch or stencil, you can easily resize it by photocopying or scanning it at the desired size. For digital designs, resizing can be done using graphic design software or online platforms. Once you have the correct size, position the design onto the block, ensuring it is centered and aligned as desired. You can use a pencil or masking tape to mark the corners of the design for accurate placement during printing.

Printing Techniques

Now that your design is ready, it’s time to dive into the exciting world of printing techniques. In this section, we will cover the basics of block printing, including ink application methods, pressure control, and achieving consistent results. We will also explore advanced techniques, such as layering colors and creating texture, to take your fabric block printing to the next level.

Ink Application Methods

There are different methods you can use to apply Speedball Fabric Block Printing Ink onto your block, each resulting in a unique effect. The most common method is to squeeze a small amount of ink onto a palette or plate and roll the brayer back and forth in the ink until it is evenly coated. Then, roll the inked brayer onto the block, ensuring complete coverage. Alternatively, you can use a palette knife or spoon to transfer the ink directly onto the brayer, ensuring a controlledamount of ink is applied. This method allows for more precise ink placement and can be useful when working with intricate designs or multiple colors. Experiment with different ink application methods to achieve the desired effect for your fabric block prints.

Pressure Control

Controlling the pressure applied during the printing process plays a crucial role in achieving consistent and high-quality results. Too much pressure can cause the ink to smudge or bleed, while too little pressure may result in uneven ink transfer. Start by placing your fabric on a flat and stable surface. Position your inked block on top of the fabric, ensuring it is aligned with your design’s placement. Apply even and firm pressure to the back of the block, using your hand, a brayer, or a baren. Be cautious not to shift or move the block during the printing process. Lift the block carefully to reveal your printed design. Practice and experiment with different pressure levels to achieve the desired intensity and clarity in your fabric block prints.

Layering Colors

One of the advantages of Speedball Fabric Block Printing Ink is its ability to layer colors, allowing for more complex and dynamic designs. To layer colors, start by printing your base color onto the fabric and allow it to dry completely. Once dry, clean the block and brayer thoroughly to prevent color contamination. Apply the second color to a clean block using the ink application method of your choice. Carefully align the second block with the printed base design and apply pressure to transfer the ink. Repeat this process for additional colors, ensuring each layer is completely dry before adding the next. Layering colors can add depth, dimension, and visual interest to your fabric block prints, creating truly unique and captivating designs.

Creating Texture

Speedball Fabric Block Printing Ink allows for the creation of texture in your fabric prints, adding a tactile element to your designs. You can achieve texture by incorporating various techniques during the printing process. One method is to carve the block with textured patterns or lines using carving tools. The texture on the block will transfer onto the fabric, giving your prints a unique and tactile quality. Another technique is to experiment with different fabric choices, such as textured or patterned fabrics. The texture of the fabric will interact with the ink, creating interesting and varied print results. Additionally, you can also experiment with adding texture after printing by using fabric paints, markers, or other embellishments. Let your creativity guide you in exploring different ways to incorporate texture into your fabric block prints.

Curing and Setting the Ink

Ensuring the longevity of your printed designs is essential, and proper curing and setting techniques play a significant role. This section will guide you through the necessary steps to heat set or air dry your fabric block prints, ensuring that they remain vibrant and resistant to fading, washing, and ironing.

Heat Setting

Heat setting is a common method used to cure and set Speedball Fabric Block Printing Ink on fabric. It involves applying heat to the printed fabric, which helps the ink bond with the fabric fibers and become permanent. To heat set your fabric block prints, follow these steps:

  1. Allow your printed fabric to air dry completely.
  2. Place a pressing cloth or a piece of clean fabric over the printed area to protect it.
  3. Preheat your iron to the temperature specified on the ink’s packaging or at a temperature suitable for the fabric you’re using.
  4. Press the hot iron onto the protected area, applying firm and even pressure for the recommended amount of time (usually around 2-5 minutes).
  5. Carefully lift the iron and remove the pressing cloth.

After heat setting, allow your fabric to cool completely before washing or ironing. Heat setting ensures that the ink bonds with the fabric, making it resistant to washing and ironing, and prolonging the life of your fabric block prints.

Air Drying

If you prefer not to use heat to set the ink, air drying is an alternative method. While air drying may not provide the same level of washability and durability as heat setting, it can still yield satisfactory results for certain projects. To air dry your fabric block prints, follow these steps:

  1. Allow your printed fabric to air dry completely.
  2. Avoid folding or stacking the printed fabric while it is drying to prevent ink transfer.
  3. Once dry, let the fabric rest for an additional 24-48 hours to allow the ink to cure and set naturally.

After air drying, your fabric block prints may require additional care during washing and ironing to ensure the longevity of the print. Always refer to the specific ink’s instructions for the recommended washing and care instructions.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Even with the best preparations, block printing on fabric can sometimes encounter challenges. In this section, we will address common issues, such as ink bleeding, smudging, and uneven coverage, and provide troubleshooting tips to help you overcome these hurdles and achieve flawless results.

Ink Bleeding

Ink bleeding occurs when the ink spreads beyond the intended design, resulting in blurred or undefined lines. To prevent ink bleeding, ensure that you are using the right amount of ink and applying even pressure during printing. Avoid over-inking the block, as excess ink can seep into the fabric fibers. Additionally, consider using a lighter touch during printing to minimize the chances of ink spreading. If ink bleeding still occurs, you can try using less viscous inks or experimenting with different fabric types to find the best combination that minimizes bleeding.


Smudging can happen when the ink smears or transfers onto unintended areas, ruining the clarity of your design. To prevent smudging, make sure that the ink is completely dry before handling or moving the fabric. Allow ample drying time between layers if you’re printing multiple colors. If you need to handle the fabric before it is fully dry, place a clean sheet of paper or fabric over the printed area to protect it from accidental smudging. Additionally, avoid excessive pressure or rubbing during the printing process, as this can cause the ink to smudge. If smudging still occurs, consider using a fixative spray specifically designed for fabric block prints to set the ink and prevent smearing.

Uneven Coverage

Uneven coverage happens when the ink does not transfer evenly onto the fabric, resulting in patchy or inconsistent prints. To achieve even coverage, ensure that your block is properly inked and that the ink is spread evenly on the brayer. Roll the brayer back and forth on the ink palette or plate, ensuring that the ink is distributed uniformly. Apply consistent pressure while rolling the inked brayer onto the block to ensure even ink transfer. If you notice areas of uneven coverage on the fabric, you can go back and reapply ink to those specific areas using a small brush or sponge. Take your time and make adjustments as needed to achieve the desired level of coverage and clarity in your fabric block prints.

Exploring Creative Possibilities

Speedball Fabric Block Printing Ink opens up a world of creative possibilities. In this section, we will delve into various techniques that allow you to add depth, dimension, and visual interest to your fabric prints. We will explore fabric manipulation, resist methods, and embellishments that can take your designs from ordinary to extraordinary.

Fabric Manipulation

Fabric manipulation techniques can add texture, depth, and visual interest to your fabric block prints. Experiment with techniques such as pleating, gathering, folding, or tucking the fabric before printing. These manipulations create unique patterns and textures that interact with the ink, resulting in captivating and multidimensional prints. Before manipulating the fabric, ensure that it is properly prewashed and ironed to remove any sizing or wrinkles. Secure the manipulated fabric in place using pins or clips before printing to ensure that it retains its desired shape during the printing process. Explore different fabric manipulation techniques and combine them with your block prints to create truly one-of-a-kind textile designs.

Resist Methods

Resist methods involve creating barriers on the fabric that prevent the ink from adhering to certain areas, resulting in interesting patterns and designs. There are various resist techniques you can explore, such as using wax or gutta to create a barrier, applying masking fluid, or using objects like stencils, string, or rubber bands to create patterns. Apply the resist material or technique to the fabric before printing, ensuring that it is fully dry and secure. Once the resist is in place, proceed with the printing process as usual. After printing, remove the resist material to reveal the areas of the fabric that were protected from the ink. Experiment with different resist methods and combine them with your block prints to create intricate and visually compelling designs.


To add a touch of uniqueness and personalization to your fabric block prints, consider incorporating embellishments into your designs. Embellishments can include hand embroidery, beadwork, sequins, fabric paints, or other decorative elements. These additions can enhance the visual impact of your prints and create a truly customized piece of art. When adding embellishments, ensure that the ink is fully dry and set before proceeding. Use appropriate adhesives or stitching techniques to secure the embellishments to the fabric.Experiment with different combinations of embellishments and block printing to create stunning and dynamic designs that reflect your personal style and creativity.

Maintaining Your Tools and Equipment

Proper maintenance of your block printing tools and equipment is essential for their longevity and optimal performance. In this section, we will provide tips and tricks for cleaning and storing your brayers, blocks, and other accessories, ensuring that they remain in excellent condition for future printing projects.

Cleaning Brayers

After each use, it’s important to clean your brayer thoroughly to remove any dried ink and prevent color contamination. Start by wiping off excess ink from the brayer using a paper towel or cloth. Then, wash the brayer with warm water and mild soap, using a soft brush or sponge to remove any stubborn ink residue. Rinse the brayer thoroughly and dry it completely before storing. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions for any specific cleaning recommendations for your particular brayer.

Cleaning Blocks

Cleaning your blocks is equally important to maintain their quality and prolong their lifespan. Begin by removing any excess ink from the block’s surface using a clean cloth or paper towel. If there is still residual ink, gently scrub the block with warm water and mild soap, using a soft brush or sponge. Pay extra attention to the carved areas to ensure thorough cleaning. Rinse the block with water and pat it dry with a clean towel. Allow the block to air dry completely before storing it in a clean and dry location.

Storing Tools and Equipment

Proper storage of your block printing tools and equipment helps prevent damage and keeps them in good condition for future use. Store your brayers in a clean and dry location, away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. It’s best to store them horizontally or vertically, rather than leaving them on their rollers for an extended period, as this can cause deformation. For blocks, store them in a cool and dry place, preferably in a flat position to prevent warping. It’s also a good idea to wrap them in acid-free tissue paper or place them in protective sleeves to prevent dust accumulation and scratches.

Replacing Supplies

As you continue your fabric block printing journey, it’s important to keep an eye on the condition of your supplies and replace them as needed. Brayers that show signs of wear, such as cracks, uneven rolling, or loss of grip, should be replaced to ensure smooth and consistent ink application. Similarly, if your blocks become worn or damaged, consider investing in new ones to maintain the quality of your prints. Regularly check the condition of your inks, ensuring they are still fluid and not dried out or expired. By replacing supplies when necessary, you can continue to produce high-quality fabric block prints.

Inspiration and Project Ideas

If you’re looking for inspiration or project ideas to kickstart your creativity, this section is for you. We will showcase various examples of fabric block printing using Speedball Ink, ranging from simple patterns and motifs to intricate designs. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced artist, you’re sure to find something that sparks your imagination.

Patterned Tea Towels

Create unique and stylish tea towels by block printing patterns onto plain cotton fabric. Choose a color palette that complements your kitchen or matches your personal style. Explore geometric shapes, floral motifs, or abstract designs to add a touch of elegance and personality to your tea towels. Experiment with layering colors or incorporating texture to make each towel truly one-of-a-kind.

Custom Tote Bags

Transform plain canvas tote bags into functional works of art by block printing your own designs. Whether you prefer bold and graphic prints or intricate and delicate patterns, Speedball Fabric Block Printing Ink allows you to achieve professional-looking results. Consider printing a single large motif or creating an all-over pattern for a visually stunning tote bag that showcases your creativity.

Personalized Apparel

Add a personal touch to your wardrobe by block printing your own custom designs onto t-shirts, sweatshirts, or even dresses. From simple monograms and logos to intricate illustrations or quotes, the possibilities are endless. Experiment with different colors and placement options to create unique and eye-catching apparel that truly reflects your personal style.

Home Decor Accents

Elevate your home decor with fabric block printing. Create custom pillowcases, table runners, or wall hangings with intricate designs and vibrant colors. Consider exploring themes such as nature, geometric patterns, or cultural motifs to add a touch of personality to your living space. Mix and match different prints and colors to create a cohesive and visually appealing home decor ensemble.

Gifts and Keepsakes

Block printing on fabric opens up a world of possibilities for personalized and heartfelt gifts. Create custom baby onesies, personalized tote bags, or monogrammed handkerchiefs for your loved ones. The thoughtfulness and uniqueness of a hand-printed gift will surely be cherished for years to come. Let your creativity shine as you design and print one-of-a-kind gifts and keepsakes for those special occasions.

Exploring Other Applications

While Speedball Fabric Block Printing Ink is primarily designed for fabric, it can also be used on other surfaces, opening up a world of possibilities beyond textiles. In this final section, we will explore alternative applications for this versatile ink, such as paper, canvas, and wood, providing you with endless opportunities to express your creativity.

Paper Projects

Expand your block printing repertoire by exploring paper projects. Create unique greeting cards, stationery, or art prints by block printing your designs onto high-quality paper. Experiment with different colors and patterns to create eye-catching and personalized paper goods that stand out.

Canvas Art

Take your block printing skills to the canvas by creating unique and visually striking art pieces. Use Speedball Fabric Block Printing Ink on canvas to create bold and textured prints that showcase your artistic style. Combine block printing with other painting techniques, such as acrylic or watercolor, to create mixed media artworks that push the boundaries of creativity.

Wooden Home Decor

Block printing on wood can add a rustic and handmade touch to your home decor. Explore wooden coasters, trays, or wall art as a canvas for your block prints. The natural texture and grain of the wood will interact with the ink, creating a unique and organic aesthetic. Experiment with different wood stains, colors, and designs to create custom wooden pieces that add warmth and character to your space.

Fabric Mixed Media

Combine fabric block printing with other mixed media techniques to create multidimensional artworks. Incorporate elements such as embroidery, fabric collage, or paint to add depth and visual interest to your fabric prints. The combination of different materials and techniques will result in truly unique and captivating pieces that showcase your artistic versatility.

In conclusion, Speedball Fabric Block Printing Ink is a game-changer for artists and crafters seeking vibrant and durable prints on fabric. This comprehensive guide has equipped you with the knowledge and techniques necessary to make the most of this exceptional ink. Now it’s time to unleash your creativity and embark on an exciting journey of fabric block printing. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced artist, the possibilities are endless with Speedball Fabric Block Printing Ink. Let your imagination soar and create stunning, personalized, and visually captivating fabric prints that reflect your unique style and artistic vision.

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