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Speedball Fabric Block Printing Ink Washability

Speedball fabric block printing ink

After I made our Squirrelfriend t-shirts I was curious as to how well the Speedball Fabric Block Printing Ink would hold up over time. I was a bit skeptical that it wouldn’t eventually wear off especially since the instructions specifically say that it only needs to air dry for a week.

I wanted to test the ink out a little more scientifically than just waiting a year and checking out how it looked, so I printed a couple samples on some scrap cotton I had laying around. This is the same fabric I use for dyeing so there are no chemicals in the fabric that could interfere with the ink – just plain old pure cotton. Following the instructions I allowed my samples to air dry for at least one week. One was kept as my control and one washed.

I used the same method as when I tested out Jacquard’s Textile Paint washability. 50 times through the washing machine with whatever load of my normal laundry that happened to be going in. That meant that it was washed a few times in bleach, sometimes on hot, sometimes on gentle.

After the first couple of washes I could already tell it was going to be a problem – the print had already dramatically faded.

So I started another set of test samples and treated them more like the textile paint I had previously tested. I allowed them to air dry for a week, heat set them with an iron for approximately 2 minutes, and washed them 50 times. This time I did them in duplicate (2 controls and 2 test pieces).

Once I was close to finishing the 50 washes tragedy struck. One of my squirrels ran away!

I looked everywhere for it. I dug through all the clothes, checked in between all the towels and the squirrel was nowhere to be found! I was hesitant to start over when I was so far in, hoping that it would just show up one day. Just when I was about to give in and start a new sample, the squirrel showed up! Guess where it was…

My missing squirrel
All nestled and cozy for the winter.

Yeah. It had gotten caught in the fitted sheet and it just happened to occur during the last wash before stowing it away for the winter. My little squirrel hibernated in the closet all winter until it warmed up again and I switched out my warm flannel set for the summer cotton set.

Now I was finally able to complete my test! Check out the results below:

Look at how much the paint faded when I followed the manufacturer’s instructions:

Honestly I think the fading looks worse in person.

And compare that with how it looks when I heat set the samples:

I’d also like to note most of the fading happened in the first few washes. After that the print stayed pretty much the same with very little fading.

Needless to say I’ll be ironing anything I make with Speedball Fabric Block Printing Ink. This is my recommendation for you as well:

After printing, allow to dry for one week and then heat set using a hot iron (as hot as the fabric can handle) for two minutes on the back of the fabric. I’d also recommend laying something like a press cloth on the paint side to protect your ironing board surface.

Heat setting seems maximize the washability of the print. It only takes a few extra minutes to do and is totally worth it to prevent your hard work from fading.

Fortunately I was able to iron our Squirrelfriend tees before they went through their first wash. I took a quick pick to show you how one of our actual shirts have held up since last fall.

This shirt has been worn nearly weekly by a child who is very rough on clothes.

Squirrel tee after several months of wear

While the shirt faded slightly more than my test samples, it is still in pretty decent condition.

Now you know how to safely stamp without worry of color loss!

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September 25, 2021 12:17 pm

Thanks for this info. I printed a set of pillowcases and other household items for a wedding present , and I’ve been hesitant to give them because I didn’t trust that just curing would be enough. I’ll be pressing them today, and sending them on Monday!

Dianne Belliveau
Dianne Belliveau
April 16, 2022 9:36 am

Great information! Thank you 💕

Jane Dixon
December 20, 2022 1:19 pm

Thanks so much for your time spent doing these trials and for sharing the info. While I love printing designs on fabric, I dread seeing them fade. I’ll iron the tea towels I’ve printed per your meticulous instructions! Yay!

May 19, 2023 5:50 pm

Thankyou so much for all your helpful information.

October 22, 2023 6:28 pm

Thanks for the heads up to iron the print! LOVE the squirrel! Question for you… Did you wash your fabrics before printing, or did they still have manufacturing “funk” on them?