Calico – Unbleached cotton
To remember what calico means use the following mnemonic:
The calibre of his coat (calico) was very poor - it was only made of unbleached cotton.
Tote bags are one of the most popular uses for calico fabric. You can buy them ready printed from most supermarkets, but we think it's more fun to design your own!
Once you have your calico tote bag, make sure to iron out any creases in the fabric so you have a flat surface to work on. It's also important to use a sheet of hard plastic or board inside the bag to both prevent the paint seeping through and to give a more solid surface to paint on, you can also clip the edges of the bag to the board to help keep it steady.
For this project, you can either use purpose made fabric pens and paint, or acrylic paint.
Geometric patterns, floral designs, logos and words and phrases work particularly well, but your design is entirely up to you.
If you're drawing a picture or pattern mark out your design in pencil first.
Next, paint your design. Acrylic paint can run into other colours if it's too wet (although this might be an effect you want to use) so give the paint time to dry a little before using the next colour.
If you're doing geometric shapes, try blocking off the areas you don't want to paint with masking tape.
Then dab each shape with a sponge in a different colour.
Next, peel off the masking tape to reveal the design below.
For words it's a good idea to create a stencil out of card (although you can do this for patterns and pictures too) and tape or clip it to the tote bag.
Then as above dab the paint on with a sponge.
Again, peel off the stencil and reveal the words!
Acrylic paint will often look dry but it'll need time to dry properly. We recommend putting your bag somewhere cool and dry over night to make sure it's completely dry. Fabric pens won't need as long to dry and fabric paint varies, so check with the brand you're using.