My daughter requested a new unicorn backpack for starting first grade. The full-sized backpack by Upstroke Studio has a good-sized main compartment with plenty of room for her binder, notebook, and a spare jacket. The front pocket holds her emergency snack (hoping she doesn't get hangry for her teacher), but it will probably be more useful for older grades.
I didn't want to completely saturate the backpack to wash it when all I really needed to clean was the white front panel. I took the easy route and used a wet wipe on the white panel. I set the backpack aside to dry and collected the items I wanted to use in decorating the Unicorn Horn design.
- Dual Tip Fabric Markers
- Flip Sequin Sheet
- Fabric/Beaded Flowers
- Matching Jewels
- Quick Dry Fabric Fusion
- White Pearl Rivet Studs
- Needle Tool (for poking a rivet hole)
- Hot Pink Dimensional Paint (see: One Last Addition)
Caution: Color Bleed
Color bleed is frustrating and very common with fabric painting. If the fabric is damp at all, the color will bleed. The more wet the paint is, the more it will bleed.
Fabric markers are most prone to bleeding when they are brand new. Be cautious and use very light strokes. By light strokes, I mean almost so light that it doesn't feel like you are even touching the cloth with the tip of your marker.
Using Fabric Markers
Once the "canvas" was dry, it was time to start coloring. I like the dual-tip fabric markers. I can fill in larger areas with the wide tip while staying clear of the edges to avoid color bleed. I then go around the edges with the fine tip.
I used a very light touch to avoid color bleed. I went over several areas more than once to get the vibrancy I wanted. Occasionally I used a different color on my second coat to mix the colors. To give some shapes more depth, I used different colors on the inside and edge.
Flip Sequins & Embellishments
What made this project extra fun was when I moved beyond just painting. I like using different kinds of embellishments because it gives projects more dimension, depth, and texture. Flip sequins were perfect for this project because they add both texture and fun. Not to mention, my six-year-old loves them!
I measured the horn element of the design. I knew I would be covering up the fun spiral shape of the design but it was worth it for the look I was going for. Once I had the dimensions, I used tailor's chalk to mark the shape on the back of the flip sequins. I cut the shape a little wide. You will lose several sequins along the cut path. Cutting the shape a little wide will give a little allotment to account for those lost sequins.
I used Quick Dry Fabric Fusion to adhere the sequins to the fabric. The fabric on the back of the flip sequins was rather thin, so while the fabric fusion was drying I flipped the sequins a few times to make sure they weren't getting stuck down. That may have been unnecessary, but it made me feel better. Once the fabric fusion was dry I checked the edges and reapplied to any edge that wasn't completely attached.
The edge of the flip sequins was a harsh line, which was fine for the sides. Where the horn met the flower tiara, the hard-line didn't work so well. Cutting a curvy line with fine detail in the flip sequins just didn't seem feasible. To blend the sequins into the design I attached some fabric flowers and a matching jewel with the same Quick Dry Fabric Fusion.
To finish the project I added another flower as well as a jewel to the center of the largest flower. For the center of the three smaller flowers, I used White Pearl Rivet Studs. To attach the studs I used a clay needle tool to poke a hole where I wanted the rivet to go. The size of the rivets was small enough that I didn't want to punch out a large hole. A small poke was all I needed. These particular studs were not threaded so all I had to do to attach the white pearls was pinch them on the rivets.
Forgot to Heat Set?
This was the point at which I realized I missed a step. I usually heat set fabric paint with an iron and occasionally I use the clothes dryer method. With the added embellishments, the iron method definitely wouldn't work. So this time, instead of throwing the backpack in the clothes dryer, I took a hairdryer to it. I didn't let the hairdryer get too close or let it stay in one place for too long. It may not be the best method but the fabric did get quite warm to the touch for long enough that I felt doing this was helpful.
This is a backpack that will get used and will probably see its fair share of both rain and snow. Using a fabric waterproofing spray, such as Scotchguard is also a good idea to ensure the longevity of the art.
I had a lot of fun with this craft project and I'm pleased with the final look. I gave my daughter the backpack, satisfied with how it turned out. She loves it and couldn't wait to show her friends at school.
One Last Addition
After giving her the backpack she played with the flip sequins a lot. She ended up losing a single sequin. I know that's not bad at all, but I'm a worrier. I wanted to make sure the sequins weren't going anywhere. I decided to add a border around the edges of the horn that weren't already covered.
I used pink dimensional paint, or puff paint, to go around the edges of the horn. It's not as clean or nice as I would like, but it still turned out better than I was afraid it would. Now those sequins aren't going anywhere.