Sun Printing with Dye-Na-Flow

So here I go with another new technique! The first time I did this it didn’t go so well, mostly because I failed to follow the directions. Hopefully things will go better this time.

This is a sun printing technique using a fabric paint called Dye-Na-Flow. According to the Dharma Trading website where I purchased this paint it is a “thin, free flowing concentrated color that works on any fabric.” I had it on hand because I had used it to do some marbling (another tutorial?). According to what I read, you simply paint it onto some fabric, place a mask of some sort (stencil, flowers, rocks, whatever) on to the fabric and put it in the sun. The magical part is that wherever you put the mask the fabric will return to it’s original color. I have no idea how this works but it’s super cool!

As I said, my first attempt with this technique didn’t work out so well. I painted a white silk scarf with a combo of white and black paint and then placed some rocks on top to create a pattern. The pattern was just okay. The rocks left a less defined print than I would have liked and I didn’t do a great job of smoothing out my fabric so anywhere that there was a bump or wrinkle was imprinted! Yikes! When it was dry I hastily scooped it up and rinsed it (before checking the instructions). Apparently, I was supposed to wait 24 hours and then iron it for 3 minutes before washing it. So, not surprisingly a lot of the color washed out. Here are a few pics:

Now for round 2!


  • white cotton pillow cover – or fabric of your choosing
  • Dye-Na-Flow paint
  • mask or stencil of some sort
  • sunlight 🙂
  • Derwent Inktense color sticks – optional


Step 1: Pick a piece of fabric and give it a quick wash to remove any schmutz. Then smooth it out REALLY well. You don’t want to have any creases because as you can see from the pics above, they will show up in your final result.

IMG_20160204_104333 (2)

Step 2: Paint your fabric with Dye-Na-Flow making sure to cover it well. I’m using a blank white cotton pillow cover that I purchased from Dharma Trading.

IMG_20160204_105008 (1)

Step 3: Add your stencils or “masks.” I am using stencils that I made from hot glue (I see another tutorial headed your way!). I played around with the design until I was satisfied and then I put it in the sun until it was completely dry.


This is how it looked when I took off the stencils. Interesting that it isn’t solid black around the zipper even though I put a lot of paint in that area. Apparently, it needed more! Some of the edges are also a bit lighter then I would like. The pattern is kind of interesting, but I’m not in love with it.


Here’s the back side. I made sure that it was saturated with paint, so I’m not certain what happened here but it’s kind of cool.


I really wasn’t happy with how this came out so I did a little embellishing.


I used these to add the color. Better.

Step 4: Let your fabric “cure” for 24 hours and then iron on high for 3 minutes to set the color. Wash with a mild detergent until your water runs clear. Hang to dry and iron.

Here’s the finished pillow:

IMG_20160208_121613 (2)

As you can see, some of the color washed out. I don’t mind that it’s more muted but I’m not gaga over it. It looks more “craftsy” than “artsy” to me but I think that this technique has potential and I will very likely revisit it at some point. Thanks for hanging out with me! I would love to get your thoughts on this one. 🙂



8 thoughts on “Sun Printing with Dye-Na-Flow”

  1. I have been wanting to try this technique also so I’m very happy to see your results. Adding additional colors was so the way to go!! I love it!


  2. The back side would need to be done separately than the front. Essentially, the paint needs the sun to set & dye the fabric. That’s why the covered areas returned to white. Since the back side was down & didn’t get the sun, it was the same as it being masked. A cardboard insert the same size as the opening would allow each side to be done separately without the dye bleeding through (although I’m not sure you’d need it, since it would just fade back out).


    1. Hi Sharon! I have been mulling over your comments…I think another factor in how this pillow case turned out is the fact that it sat on a piece of plywood which absorbed the paint. In fact, I can still see a clear print of the pillow on the plywood. I recently made another pillow using the exact same technique but in instead of putting it directly on the plywood I laid down some aluminum foil before painting and masking the fabric. The backside of this pillow was somewhat muted but still had the same color and print from the front side. I would assume that this was in part due to the surface being less absorbent and possibly that it was a reflective surface? So much trial and error in this process, which is half the fun for me. 🙂 Thanks again for your comments!


  3. Hello Sharon!! Some tips for sun printing 🙂 Use only one layer of fabric, and your work surface should be covered in plastic. This allows the fabric to hold the dye or paint your using, instead of the surface under it absorbing some. Sun prints happen because the fabric that is exposed to the sun dries quicker than the areas shaded by the different masks. As the fabric dries, the water under the masks gets drawn out and away from the objects to dry. Therefore, the pigments settle on the outline of the masks. Essentially, most or all the pigments gets drawn out by capillary action to the dryer fabric to dry, and if done right, the masked areas should have little to no pigment because they were drawn out. Using plastic under the fabric helps with the water moving within the fabric. When you use a surface that can absorb the paints/dyes you are using, it keeps the pigments from moving along, since the wood (in this case) has absorbed some, and kept it “hostage.” Lol. I hope this helps you understand it better. I love the effect the wood gave it tho 🙂


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