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Wearable Photos: A DIY guide

Extra photos for bloggers: 123

Ever had the urge to wrap your body in photographs? Yes? Well, today, all of your dreams can come true!

Follow this guide to learn how to turn your photos into wearable photo fabric — that’s right fabric.

Use our Photo Fabric Dye Kit and the power of the sun to permanently print images onto most fabrics. This process is quick, easy, and works like magic.

You’ll be draped in photos in no time.

Make Wearable Photos

p.s. Yay! 4by6.com has a free special for Photojojo fans today. They make primo square cards from your Instagram shots & more!

Why it’s cool:

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1. You’re wearing photographs.
2. You’re wearing photographs!
3. And, you made them yourself.

Within a few short hours, you’ll have photographs permanently printed on fabric. You don’t even need a darkroom. This stuff comes ready to go out of the bottle. Just mix, paint, and expose. Watch the dye change right before your eyes.

Ingredients:

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  • Sewing Pattern
    (If you’re new to sewing, you can print on pre-made clothing, too!)
  • Fabric
  • Photo Fabric Dye
  • Negatives
  • Scissors
  • Scotch Tape
  • Masking Tape
  • Sponge Brush
  • Water
  • Measuring Cup or Mixing Bowl
  • Portable Hard Surface to work on
  • Additive Free Sop
  • Washing Machine
  • Sewing Machine

Step 1 – Pick your favorite pattern

paper-smBuy enough fabric for your pattern and size. We found that 100% cotton that has been prepared for dyeing (PFD on the label) works best. Feel free to experiment, but test small pieces first.

TIP Need a little help sewing? Check out this page for step by step instructions.

Step 2 – Print your negatives

paint-sm Scan old family photographs or use that amazing digital image you shot yesterday. Inverted your photo in Photoshop to make a negative image, and printed them on 8.5 x 11″ transparencies.

TIP Higher contrast images tend to work better. Boost up your contrast before inverting it.

Step 3 – Plan it out

paint-sm Think about the layout of your pattern and how you want your images to look in the end.

Do you want all of your images facing a certain direction on your dress? Do they need to be placed vertically on your fabric or horizontally? Will you cover the whole dress or just the skirt?

Cut fabric into manageable parts. This will make it easier to transport and manage during the dyeing steps.

TIP Remember that whole measure twice cut once theory? It’s a good one. Make sure you cut your fabric into pieces that will leave you enough room to cut out your pattern later.

The cut fabric will shrink and fray along the edges in the wash, so don’t cut out your perfect pieces just yet… Just big sections that are easier to work with.

Step 4 – Secure your fabric

paint-smUse a portable hard surface to tape your fabric onto. We found a sturdy board does the trick.

You want to be able to pick this up and move it outside. Imagine a windstorm as soon as you walk outside. Make sure your hard work (and delicate materials) stay in place. Tape, tape, tape!

Step 5 – Get ready:

paint-smSet up your workstation in a shaded place. Lay out all of the materials you’ll need within arms reach (dye, water, measuring cup, brush, tape).

The dye is light sensitive, so you’ll want to work quickly to minimize unwanted exposure.

Step 6 – Shake, rattle and roll, paint:

paint-smShake your bottle of dye really well before opening. All the good stuff settles to the bottom. Paint it onto your fabric.

TIP Try diluting the dye with water in equal parts and mix well. You’ll get a little more out of your bottle, and painting it on will be much smoother.

Diluted dyes take a bit longer to expose. We definitely recommend doing a small test exposure before diving all the way in.

Step 7 – Tape Down your negatives

paint-smLay your negatives on the coated surface and tape them in place. Remember that windstorm we mentioned?

Trust us, you’d rather spend a little extra time taping all the edges down now than chasing those negatives down your driveway.

Step 8 – Expose!

paint-smJust like magic! Take your coated, taped fabric outside and watch the sun do its thing.

On a clear sunny day, exposure is usually around 6-8 minutes. If it’s cloudy, later in the day, or a diluted solution, exposure may take a bit longer.

TIP Do smaller test pieces first to check your desired time.

Step 9 – Rinse and Repeat!

paint-smWhen you’re satisfied with your exposure, take the whole board back into a shady place. Remove your negatives, marvel at your accomplishments, then get that sucker into the wash.

Use HOT water and additive free soap- you don’t want any crazy chemicals mixing with the dye. We used a little Dawn dish soap.

Run your fabric print under water and scrub it with your hands before the washing machine cycle. This stops the developing process, and the wash will remove unexposed dye. Prints will lighten a bit after washing and drying.

Repeat the above steps for the rest of your fabric.

Step 10 – Stitch

paint-sm
Follow the directions on your pattern. Cut. Stitch. Magic!

Voila!

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A wearable photograph. You’re welcome! :)

GO Nuts!

  • Why stop there? The Photo Fabric Dye can be used on virtually any fabric surface (searching closet now). If sewing seems too much, try making pillow cases, like the photo above, tote bags, t-shirts, shower curtains, even lampshades.
  • Tile photos together to make larger prints. Bigger is better right?
  • Get inspired by this vid all about using Photo Fabric Dye (from the makers, Lumi!)
  • Get artsy with fabric photos! Artist and photojojo fan Margo Duvall, of The MARMAR Studio, has been using the Photo Fabric Dye for installation based art works.
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