How to Dye Polyester Using Sublimation

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How to Dye Polyester Using Sublimation
The time I tried dyeing synthetic fabrics, I took pre-bought sublimation ink printed sheet of paper and ironed it directly onto the fabric (blog post here).  The issue with this is that I had to buy the sheets in advance and unfortunately, the colour faded over time. This meant I had to plan well in advance - sometimes not so good for me!

sublimation techniques in textile art

Dylon iDye Poly

Christine of Rhinesticknickknacks showed me a packet of iDye Poly from Dylon. On the packet it says it's suitable for polyester and nylon fabrics. We decided to give it a go and followed this tutorial

We painted and screen-printed with black and brown dyes.

Sublimation - screen printing

Upcycled t-shirt using sublimation techniques

What we liked

  1. Only needed small amounts of the powder  were needed with the thickener (we used alginate) - less than a teaspoon to about three tablespoons of the alginate - but the more powder we added, the darker the paste.   
  2. Because it was made into a paste, we were given the artistic licence to do absolutely anything with it on paper - screen print, paint or do printing on a jelly plate!
  3. Varied levels of pressure and heat enabled us to get ghost prints and different intensities of the desired pattern. If you're looking at achieving depth and layers then this is for you.

What we didn't like

  1. There's a tendency to make too much, so it can get wasteful, but you can put it in the fridge (sealed in a jar and labeled!)
  2. One piece of paper can do roughly 2 prints depending on how heavy handed you are with the hot iron. So unless you like ghost prints, then you'll need to use a lot more paper (or maybe get bigger sheets) if you are printing large amounts of fabric.
  3. It's hard to replicate if you are thinking of doing a batch of the same print.
  4. What you see is not what you get - sometimes the colours were too faint. I think it takes a bit more experimentation to achieve you want. Here's what we had done as an experiment with black and brown. The black turned out green and the brown was a nude colour.  Different from expectations!

I think I would use sublimation only for layering effects which are useful in fabric collages. It will definitely take a bit more experimentation.  Have you tried this technique? Let me know your thoughts. 

Stitch Meditation

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First week into 2019 - how is everyone feeling? Before we wrapped up 2018, I came across this relaxing, yet very creative process called Stitch Meditations. It is a bit like doodling in your sketchbook, but think of it more of doodling with thread. As Liz Kettle in the video says, there are no rules, or boundaries, just go with the flow and see what you come with.

Stitch Meditations with Liz Kettle from Liz Kettle on Vimeo.

I have cut my batch of 4 by 4 inch squares of cotton muslin and have started to set aside time to create a tiny collage. Sometimes I spend 15 mins, sometimes an hour or more.  It really depends on my mood, but at least I'm practising my skills.  You may notice that I don't use more than a handful of stitches - they are just straight running stitches, sometimes a few back stitches, but most of the time just running. I send the one direction and then back the other depending on how I feel or how the piece of fabric speaks to me.

So how did I get started?

1. Pre-cut your squares
Start somewhere! This was very important advice from Liz. Have the squares all pre-cut, put them in a box and you won't have the excuse of not having starting. The blank canvas is ready to be stitched on!

2. Limit your scraps and sewing thread to a few
I limited myself to 4 colours of thread and 2 weights, 12 and 30.  I grabbed a handful of scraps and put them in a box and that's all I was going to use. If you have too many choices, you'll end up wandering all over the place! Remember the power of limitations!

3. Dedicate a certain time for it
You know you! It doesn't matter when is best, only you will know!

This is what I've done so far, and I find it useful to do this concurrently with my walks and observation recordings in my sketchbooks. The best thing about it is you can carry your project anywhere with you! How fab is that?

stitch meditation

Stitch meditations

PS - there is a Stitch Meditation facebook group if you're keen to join!

Eco Printing with Leaves #2

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Eco Printing with Leaves #2
Ecoprinting with leaves

Recently, I've been obsessed with trying to get the leaf prints (aka botanical prints) to just print well and clearly. Most of the time it's either been a bit of a blur or the unexpected happens. It's all part of the process, but we do sometimes want to have a good print especially when it's going to be on some clothing. 


Just last month, I printed eucalyptus leaves onto cotton. The leaves naturally had tannin but the ones that were placed on iron soaked fabric gave a distinct dark colour. On the other hand, I achieved an ethereal look for those soaked in alum and soy milk. Very different effects!

I found the iron soak method gave more defined prints as shown above with eucalyptus, neem and rambutan.  It really depends on what effect you would like so take your pick, and remember, each unroll is like opening a present.  Read more about Tips on Creating Botanical Prints

Eco Printing - Leaves in the Rain

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Being an artist means observing things that others don't notice.
The small shoots growing on the kerbside, the tufts of grass struggling for sunlight between the tiles, and the flowers scattered all across the pavement from a tree in full bloom. I begin to see how our natural and humans are "living together" maybe not in perfect harmony, but perhaps trying?

Finding My Inner Tortoise

I recently wrote about how slowing down allows me to draw my attention to these tiny details. Taking a walk through the park or even just deliberately looking at things that I wouldn't normally look at has drawn me to sketching and translating them into stitch. I think I can now say that I am no longer tree blind! (pssst - put down that phone!)

sketch book Agy

Leaves on a rainy day

The Wet Season

It's been really wet in the last part of the year in Singapore. If you walk past a eucalyptus tree, you'll notice how the leaves make marks on the pavement after a heavy downpour.  It's nature way of communicating with us. After another period of rain, the tannin marks get washed away and new marks get made in their place - different patterns reflecting different moods of the weather!

eco printing Singapore

I wanted to translate and communicate this interaction of nature's marking on our lives through an eco-printed and embroidered piece. I had experimented with ecoprinting but wanted to produce a more subtle and grey look on the piece.  This involved using more diluted iron solution to give a gentler washed out look.  Once the eco-printing was complete, the piece was then layered with hand and freemotion embroidery - this alludes to the complexity behind nature's interaction with us.

free motion embroidery

freemotion embroidery

The final piece is 100 x 50cm. Fear had held me back for a while before I could complete this, but once I let go and just (as my friend told me) "do it because there's nothing to lose", everything fell into place. Even if it doesn't become something I like, I can always put it away for later or use it for something else. There's always a way!

Leaves in the Rain - free motion embroidery

🌱Leaves in the Rain🌱
Eucalyptus leaves ecoprinted on fabric offcuts.
Handstitch and free motion embroidery

Community Art Installation - Take Part!

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How to upcycle t-shirts

I love working with textile waste. Since working at The Green Collective SG, we have noticed the huge amounts of clothing that gets dropped off at the clothes recycling point. You won't believe that we have collected close to 800kg for recycling since April 2018.

My friend Cheryl Lee of Singapore Eco Film Festival decided to create an art installation at the event (2 - 4 Nov) made from all these t-shirts.  We are planning to create a panel of Singaporean flowers in the style of Peranakan tiles from the t-shirts.

Would you like to help out?
It's going to be fun!
Check out the dates and let me know which day you are keen to help out in at

12 Oct (11am - 5pm)
13 Oct (11am - 5pm)
14 Oct (11am - 5pm) - This will be held at Singapore Sustainability Academy. Details tbc
19 Oct (11am - 5pm)
28 Oct (11am - 5pm)

What are we making?
A 1.5 x 5 m long installation collage made from old t-shirts. We are replicating the flowers of Singapore in the style of Peranakan tiles!

What will we be teaching you?
How to make t-shirt yarn.
How to make the collage

What to bring?
An old t-shirt, any colour
A pair of scissors (if you have a pair!)

All sessions will be held at The Green Collective SG. If any changes are made to the venue, we will inform you via your contact details.

Upcycled art installation

A Pigment of Imagination - TEDx Pickering Experience

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It's been really hot, actually scorching hot. I've never experienced such intense heat before especially during the early hours of the morning. Is it climate change? I saw the destruction in the wake of the super typhoon in Hong Kong and it's very scary - could it be Earth leashing its anger upon us? My friend told me that the storm dumped a couple of inches of sand from the beach onto her roof!

Slowing Down

I sometimes feel that if we all slowed down, if we were all very content with life and not chasing after more, maybe things would be different. If you would like to experience what has been going on behind the scenes with my efforts in slowing down, join me for A Pigment of Imagination. This experience session is a collaboration between me and TEDx Pickering and is 8th in a series of experiences. 

15 slots only! Sign up here.

[About Adventure]

You might have heard of the slow food movement, but what about slow living? Slow living is all about slowing down. And in this adventure, we join Agatha Lee "Agy" (Agy Textile Artist) on her journey to discover nature's colours, which helped her discover her 'inner tortoise'. 

On this adventure, you will learn about the different flora in our own 'backyards', connect with nature and also gain insight on Agy's creative process in transforming these colours of nature into beautiful ecoprints. 

[Session includes]

a) exploratory session in neighbourhood park
b) sharing session and demonstration of natural dyeing

We would first meet at Woodlands MRT, before leaving for Mandai Tekong Park! 

All of our Adventures are FREE and the $2 collected would be refunded at the door. :)

You can also choose to get a 16 x 16" naturally dyed cotton handkerchief for $26 as a souvenir. Limited to 5 pieces only!

[Things to Wear/Bring]

Comfortable shoes and clothing
Mosquito repellent

====== This event is made possible by ======

LearnSG Seed Fund, created to help individuals and groups bring learning ideas to life!

Our Singapore Fund aims to support groups of individuals or registered organisations to initiate projects that promote our Singapore Spirit and shared values and build more socially inclusive communities.
Find out more at:

Natural Dye Workshop with Agy

Natural dye workshop Singapore by Agy