Textile Lino-block Repeating Motif


Block printing is a traditional Indian way of decorating textiles. It has become widely used because it is an uncomplicated method that creates vibrant, colorful patterns. Chemical and artificial colors have replaced the traditional natural dyes used in block printing. The principal tints are red, yellow, blue and saffron. Block printing can be manufactured, but here we offer step by step instructions to decorate your own fabrics by hand block printing.

Creating the Art work: With pencil draw your original design proposals in your sketchbook. The block design must be two colors – one more dominant than the other. Use colored pencil to suggest the color. The design needs to continue repeatedly – like a tessellation – connecting over the entire square yard of fabric. Each block needs to connect continue the design as if never ending…..

Inspiration for the lino block design should be either based on a native botanical (plants and trees). ID the plant’s scientific and common name.  Your drawing of the plant must clearly showing the leaf structure/shape, orientation of stem and leaves, fruit, flowers, and any other helpful identifying features.

After sketching out ideas choose the design you want to complete for this project. (Trace the 8″ x 8″ square in your sketchbook to complete the design. This will be enlarged on a copier for the linoblock). Carefully draw out your design, making sure the art will “connect” seamlessly to itself when printed side by side. Make photo copies to be sure before continueing. This will be your dominant color.

On an overlaying tracing paper add the areas you choose for the secondary color. Remember that this is printed first. The dominant color will overprint.

Square sizes that will be repeating over the square yard; 12″ x 12″ square would be repeated 9 times over the yard square, 3″ x 3″ would repeat 16 times.

See below – 2 tiles demonstrating connecting designs.


Rework the design until it connect seamlessly to the block prints surrounding it. Copy your proposed linoblock four times on the copy machine and place them together as a “check” to see if the idea will work. Does it satisfy the criteria for the art?

Designs need to be two colors and cover the entire yard of fabric (plain or calico).

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Block Printing Instructions:

  1. Draw your design out in your sketchbook and outline the design with a pencil.
  2. Trace the design onto a linoleum block using carbon paper, and go over the lines with a permanent marker.
  3. Etch out the negative areas on the linoleum with carving tools.
  4. Repeat this process on other linoleum blocks for different elements of your design, if your pattern requires it.
  5. Using a brayer, apply ink on your linoleum block.
  6. Stamp the design onto the right side of your fabric. Continue to ink the linoleum block as necessary.
  7. Ink and stamp your other linoleum blocks for different elements of your design, if your design calls for it.
  8. Let the ink dry overnight.
  9. Iron your fabric to set the ink.


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