One of the great joys of my job is the fact that we sometimes get to review books for other authors. Sometimes we order the books from a catalog of new titles and sometimes, the books just arrive like magic in the mail. This was the case last year, when we received a book called Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book by Johanna Basford. The coloring book—intended for children and adults—was published by Lawrence King and immediately found its way to my pile of books I love. On the inside cover is a quote that reads, “Tumble down the rabbit hole & find yourself in my inky wonderland…” And that is exactly how I felt after browsing just a few pages. Although we have played with permanent markers for years in writing on quilts and garments, looking at page after page of beautiful detailed illustrations, I was overwhelmed by inspiration.


Through some experimentation, we found out that black and white photocopies will transfer onto white and/or natural colored fabric with a hot iron.  This made it possible for us to transfer the pattern one-to-one from this or any coloring book, stencil, or black and white design. There are arrays of fabric coloring tools available at local craft stores and more arrive on the market each year. We found that the pastel dye sticks and fabric markers (designed for children) work very well.


Keep in mind that when transferring your design to your fabric, you will get a mirror image of the original artwork. If you are working with text and/or letters or if you want the exact same (un-mirrored) layout, you can ask your local copy shop to mirror the artwork for you.


100% organic medium-weight cotton jersey
Photocopied drawing design printed out to the desired size
Permanent marker in black (keep in mind that red permanent markers will run when washed)
Pastel dye sticks for fabric
Fabric markers and/or paints
Iron and ironing board

1. Print Out Coloring Design
Choose your design, and print out to your desired scale.

2. Transfer Your Design with a Hot Iron
Place your printed design face-down onto your cotton fabric. Using a dry hot iron (without steam), press down on the paper to transfer your design to the fabric.

3. Trace Design with Permanent Marker
Using a permanent marker, carefully trace the outline of your transferred design.

4. Color
Using fabric markers, fabric pastels, or permanent markers, color your design as desired. Keep in mind that red permanent markers have a tendency to bleed and/or crock (rub off on other fabrics) when washed. For this reason, we advise you to stick to pastels and fabric markers when you want to include the color red.

Following manufacturer instructions, finish your fabric by air drying, heat setting, or using any other recommended method of preserving your work.



100% organic medium-weight cotton jersey — White
Drawing design — “1 butterfly” design, increased in scale by 275%
Permanent marker — Black, extra fine
Coloring tools — Fabric markers

4 comments on “THE SECRET GARDEN

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  1. Missy

    I love this idea, but would recommend that readers get permission from the illustrator or author first, before duplicating or photocopying any image from a publication, to avoid infringing upon any copyright laws.