We love getting crafty and colourful, so when we get the urge to decorate, why not start with our pillows? They’re where we lay our head at the end of a long day and the first things we open our eyes to in the morning.

Taking us through the six stages of screenprinting are Emma Byrnes and Jess Wright, who along with Lara Davies form the Harvest Textiles trio. For this session, Byrnes and Wright chose geometric shapes in a gelati-hued neon palette – a combination reminiscent of sun-splashed beaches and 80s art deco. The Harvest team work with Permaset, an Australian range of water-based, organic fabric inks that come in an array of colours including metallics and a glow-in-the-dark, phosphorescent green. Glowing or not, pick your colours and let’s get printing!

You will need:

1 plain cotton pillowcase
1 squeegee (like for cleaning car windows) or a foam roller
1 blank fabric printing screen
a few sheets of *Ezy Cut stencil paper (or a few layers of regular paper)
a Stanley-knife or scalpel
a few pots of *Permaset fabric ink
plastic bottles or takeaway containers, for mixing inks
an iron
water-resistant masking tape

  1. Make sure your pillowcase is cotton (natural fibres are better to print on than synthetics), washed and ironed. Prepare your inks so they are ready to use, either straight from the jar or mixed in containers.

  2. Place a large piece of scrap paper inside the pillowcase (so the ink doesn't seep through) and lay it on a flat table, taping down the corners. Have a think about the kinds of shapes you might want to use in your design.

  3. Draw your shapes onto Ezy Cut stencil paper and cut them out with a Stanley knife or scalpel. You can use an object such as a roll of masking tape to trace your outlines. Remember to use different sheets for different colours to avoid smudging.

  4. Make your colour selection. You may wish to do a test print first. Tape your stencil to the blank screen and use your squeegee to print randomly over your pillowcase, using one light ‘pull’ followed by three heavy pulls for each shape (you can use two hands if you can hold a steady frame). Meanwhile, hold the screen with the other hand so it doesn’t move. You can get a similar effect by taping the stencil to the fabric and using a foam roller to roll the ink onto your pillowcase. Make sure the ink is dry before printing over the top of it. Keep building up the design using your different shapes, making sure you don’t put the frame over the wet ink. Reserve excess ink in glass or plastic jars for future use.

  5. Air dry for 10 minutes to 1 hour, or to accelerate the process, use a hair dryer. Test by placing your wrist on the fabric to see if it’s touch dry.

  6. Now you are ready to heat-set. It is important that you heat-set your pillowcase so the colours don't run when you wash it. Set your iron onto cotton and turn off the steam setting. Iron the reverse of the print for 4-5 minutes, allow it to cool down then repeat – make sure you keep the iron moving so you don't burn your pillowcase. Pop a pillow into your new pillowcase and impress your friends with your screenprinting prowess.

*Ezy Cut, also known as Yupo is Available to purchase at Melbourne Artists’ Supplies and Harvest Storeroom. Choose the thinner variety for this purpose.

*Permaset fabric ink is also available from Melbourne Artists’ Supplies and Harvest.

harvesttextiles.com.au