How To: Watercolor and Free Motion Mandalas

I’ve been playing a bit more with mandalas, but this time on fabric.


To begin this process I was inspired by the Painted Hearts article by Joanne Sharp  in Cloth Paper Scissors. I thought I’d try the hearts and make Dave a card for Valentine’s Day.  Joanne used watercolors on the fabric which I had never tried.

Here are my results with the hearts.

hearts2016And my card for Dave


I loved how the watercolors looked on the fabric so I just had to try this technique with my mandalas.  I started by tracing a mandala I had drawn in the past. I placed the fabric over the drawing and traced it using a air soluble pen. If you don’t draw mandalas you can use one you like (or really any image) and trace it using a water/air soluble pen. Or like the hearts, you can just draw it free hand.

watercolormandala1 watercolormandala2 watercolormandala3 Then I added watercolor.

watercolormandala4This is the first layer of watercolor. It dries much lighter than when it is first applied. (I’m using the Sakura Koi 24 Assorted Watercolors Field Sketch Set with Brush. They can be purchased online or at local art stores.)


After it dried I added another layer of watercolor.


I finished it by adding a background.

watercolormandala7Once it was dry I made my quilt sandwich placing a piece of felt between the top and the back fabric.


Now it was time to head to the sewing machine. I’m pretty new to free motion so I decided on this mandala since I thought it would be easy to sew with little stopping and starting. However, the leaves were a challenge.

watercolormandala9Then I used the serger to finish the edges. You will notice that the air/water soluble purple pen hasn’t worn off yet.


A closeup picture


Here is another one. I decided not to finish this one – yet!


I thought about using some textile paint or some Jacquard Lumiere to give it some bling, but really liked how it looked. Maybe next time.

This is such a fun technique and totally addicting. I have several more pieces on my work table waiting to be taken to the sewing machine. If you’ve not tried watercolor on fabric, I highly recommend it!