We’re just back from a lovely week in Somerset and I’ve got lots of photos I want to share with you of some of the beautiful places we visited. However, since I think I would need to change this blog’s name to Gardens wot I have visited if I were to follow on with yet another garden visit post, I’ll save them up for next week. This, instead, is something I found sitting in my drafts, written a month ago when it actually had just been the littlest’s birthday and then left as I had wanted to get some better pictures. I think it’s time to admit defeat on that front and just publish it…
Just popping in rather quickly to share a photo of the T-shirt I made for the littlest’s first birthday at the weekend.
Needless to say, far less time, thought, planning and energy went into the making of this one for the poor old baby. Where the sproglet had a large, well-planned and well-cooked-for first birthday party, last Saturday’s affair was a family only, last-minute organised do, catered by a quick trip to Waitrose to pick up sausages, scotch eggs and the like. We managed to make him a cake, at least, but forgot to buy candles.
And as the first guest arrived – my Mum – I was still busy ironing the image onto the front of his birthday T-shirt, cobbled together in the last few minutes before the party officially started.
Ah well, I rather suspect this will be his lot for the rest of his childhood. Hand-me-downs and less fuss made over all the big milestones. I wonder if it might not be a much easier entrance to the world, though, always aware that you’re not actually at the very centre of it, making it all spin round. At some point in time, his elder brother, the sprog, might get a rather rude awakening to all that, after the constant adoration and amazement from his family.
Gorgeous boys, both, in their different ways. I’m very lucky.
PS, I should mention that the image I’ve used isn’t actually copyright free and good for reproduction, so, erm, don’t tell on me. In a bit of a rush, rather than use my normal vintage images sources, I just had a very quick Google.
Oh dear me, no photo for the day yesterday. I was absolutely determined that I was going to manage to post a picture every single day this month, but yesterday passed by in a blear of exhaustion as I’d got up at 3.30am to go to the New Covent Garden flower market for a trial of wedding flowers…
But more on that tomorrow.
Today, a little more wedmin. I spent the sproglet’s lunchtime nap today hand stamping these bags (above) to use as favours. They’ll be filled with either homemade fudge or homemade peppermint hearts, depending on how the sweet making trials pan out at the weekend.
They’re lying out on the dining room table drying off, surrounded by four buckets full of flowers. It’s all very jolly in there — or would be if I didn’t have the curtains closed and the door shut, in order to keep the flowers as healthy as possible.
Take a look at the rest of my August break photos. (Sob, though there are only 20 others, not 21 as there should be…)
Last week I became an Aunt for the very first time.*
One of my sisters had a baby boy and I can report, completely objectively of course, that he is one of the cutest little babies ever to be born.
I’d been knitting a blanket for the new arrival for a ridiculously long time, but of course it still wasn’t finished when he arrived, so I did a bit of frantic knitting while we were staying in Shropshire and managed to finish the second half in approximately one hundredth of the time I did the first half.
Together with the blanket, I put together a whole little new baby present pack. Here’s a photo of the whole thing.
I made three little babygrow tops, in the same style as the baby carrot set I made for my own sproglet, and using my tried and tested method of iron-on transfer paper. (I’ve got a step by step tutorial for doing this, if you’re interested: how to transfer images to fabric.)
I used a vintage bicycle image (which you can find at the Graphics Fairy: vintage bike) because the baby’s Dad loves to cycle. I love the caption underneath: “the dandy horse.”
For the second babygrow, I found this lovely balloon image, with the word “TOYS” emblazoned across it (also from the Graphics Fairy: toys balloon). Perfect for any child, really…
And the third babygrow reads, “D is for the dirigible, a motor driven balloon.” The baby’s name starts with D, as I’m sure you guessed, and this was far more appealing to me than “D is for dog”…
Then I made another pair of the baby trousers in the same elephant fabric I used recently for Laura’s baby. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, I can’t stand the persistent blue-for-boys and pink-for-girls, so I always like to use any other colour that I possibly can.
And, in an amazing instance of learning from my own mistakes, I lined the elephants all up in a straight line this time, so none of them were diving off a cliff. Look, look!
Finally, the blanket. It’s called the baby chalice blanket and is a free pattern by Karen S. Lauger. You can see full details on my Ravelry page: baby chalice blanket.
The pattern is really beautiful, when finished. Intricate, but yet quite bold too. I found it less pleasing to knit than my previous shale baby blanket which was exceedingly simple to remember, but the overall result is really lovely.
I used a Debbie Bliss baby cashmerino yarn, which is just lovely to knit with (though not cheap…) I think I could have used a slightly smaller pair of needles, actually, but it’s never worth worrying about that sort of thing at the end of the knitting.
She was pretty happy with the box, I think. Lots of things to dress my tiny nephew in, when he gets a little bigger…
*If that wasn’t exciting enough, I’ll also become a double Aunt in a few weeks. When I get married, my partner’s niece will officially become my niece too. (I already call her my niece, in fact, but if I do so in his earshot, he always says to me, “She’s not your niece, she’s my niece…”)
It’s been a little while since I’ve joined up with any link parties, but I’ve just seen a new one that’s started on one of my favourite blogs, Dream a Little Bigger, so I’m joining up there this week. Also back to my old favourite, Brag Monday at the Graphics Fairy. And finally remembering to link up with Handmade Monday, A UK-based link party (hooray! they are few and far between) on Handmade Harbour run by the very lovely Wendy Massey who I met earlier this year at the Pinterest party.
If you’re looking for something to make a new baby, I’ve got a free tutorial and pattern for a baby bib
Or take a look at my tutorials page for more projects that use lovely vintage images
Screen printing was the very first thing I wrote on my Things to Learn list, that lengthy tome of everything I need to do to get this fabric business started.
I want to print onto T-shirts, babygrows, bags, cushions… …you know, the usual old things. But I didn’t really have a clue how to go about it.
So, I was pretty excited as I went off to my first screen printing class a few weeks back. Excited and a little trepidatious too. I had a horrible feeling I was going to be the least “arty” person there. That everyone would turn up with amazing intricate images they’d drawn themselves and poke fun at me (or at the very least sneer behind my back) for my envelope stuffed full with vintage images that I had not lovingly drawn by hand, but downloaded from the internet.
Of course, I needn’t have worried. I was, most definitely, without a shadow of a doubt the least arty person there. In fact, I was the only person there who wasn’t a fine art student. (Okay, okay, it was only a class of two, but the tutor was also a fine art student as was the, erm, fine art student who was there using the studio…)
But, not a single one of them laughed at me. I know! It’s almost as if I’m not still at school anymore, but a functioning adult in the real world, isn’t it?
The screen printing process was actually a little more complicated than I was expecting. And used a lot of really big, impressive swanky machines, that I couldn’t possibly hope to get into my spare bedroom. (Yeah, that had been the plan before I set off…)
I’m certainly not about to give you a step-by-step of how to screen print, but this is what I did on the day…
First we drew out our designs on acetate.
This is mine:
I traced out a fish image I got from Old Book Illustrations and the F is from a free downloadable font called Coffee Tin. (I’d printed them out beforehand onto normal A4, but actually if I’d had some tracing paper that I could load into a printer, that would have been the easiest way of doing it…)
Screen printing works by building up layers of different colours on top of each other. The prints I made just had two colours.
For my base layer, I used red. So when it came to printing this layer, I just needed the block outlines of my design.
For the top layer, I used black ink. This was where the detail of the images were really going to show and this was more the more intricate design.
We then needed to get these designs onto the silk screen.
I’ve got no photos of this part, but a very brief overview is that we put emulsion on a screen, which, when exposed to light, sets hard. Our designs, put onto the top of the screens, prevent that part of the emulsion reaching the light, so you can wash off that area and the ink goes through later.
Clear as mud? Thought so.
Anyhoo, the end result is a screen through which you can push paint in certain parts.
It was amazingly good fun doing the actual printing and I got a bit carried away and made ten copies of my design. I’m not actually planning on using this on paper (otherwise I would have given it a background colour too) but I thought about doing an alphabet like this on the front of babygrows…
So this was the finished result:
I’m really pleased with the way the F turned out. The way the paint’s come through the design looks pleasingly aged…
The fish was less successful, however. The middle fins have turned out really well. The tail is pretty good too:
But the face hasn’t taken as much detail as I would have hoped, nor has the cross hatching on the main part of his body.
See, this is how the face looked on my transfer paper:
Compared to the end result:
This is because I didn’t go over the black lines on the tracing paper enough times, so they’ve let a bit of light get through when we were exposing the screens. I’ve still got the design though, so I plan on going over a little more and trying again.
Still, imperfections aside, it’s not a bad first attempt is it?
My main disappointment was that the open access studio is going to cost a lot more than I had hoped.
However, and hold onto your hats people, because here is the first really useful bit of info I’m sharing in this post… …I have found an absolutely brilliant tutorial on screen printing at home from the ever-amusing blog The Art of Doing Stuff.
I need to look into buying the supplies, but it might be, it just might be, that I could set it all up in my spare bedroom after all.
If screen printing sounds like a bit too much (and I certainly haven’t made it sound simple, have I?!) then have a go at ironing printed images onto fabric. It’s really, really simple. See my step by step tutorial and take a look at a few more tips and hints for getting a really great result. (The last one was another Things I’ve Learnt post!)
There are various other projects and ideas I’ve made with vintage images in the vintage images category, if you feel like a browse…
And this lovely fish (a smelt, apparently) shows up again in the fabric designs I made on Spoonflower.
You can head over to my tutorials page for more projects to make.
My only other article sharing things I’ve learnt was about photography. But I warn you in advance, the main point is that I’ve not learnt enough… Ah well. One day.
Small print disclaimer:
The title of this post is a little misleading. The premise for my things I’ve learnt series, is that I discuss things I have genuinely learnt as I embark on this whole fabric business project. Learnt to the point – dare I say it – of being good at them.
It was a great idea when I first thought of it, right back at the very beginning of this blog. I would share information and tips that would hopefully be useful to others, all about setting up a craft business.
But, of the 62 blog posts I’ve written since then, only two of them have been for this series. Why? Because I haven’t yet learnt that much, ha ha.
So I realised that if I’m going to wait until I’m properly really, really good at things, this series is never going to get going.
That, then, is the disclaimer: I have only “learnt” screen printing to the point that I technically know how it works and I have made one, just one, print. I am certainly not an expert. Not even an amateur yet, really. Definitely not “good”… Just someone who has tried it out.
In which I feel some disappointment that my design skills aren’t quite as faultless as I thought…
You know the saying: the work of a budding fabric designer is never done.
Buoyed by the success of my teapot fabric, I went straight back to Spoonflower to experiment with some different designs.
With the teapots, I loved the simplicity of the repeat combined with the more ornate vintage illustration. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, I thought to myself. So, I dug out some more of my favourite vintage images and tried them out with a similar layout.
Satisfied with my efforts, I ordered swatches of the 15 new designs I’d tried, all printed out on one giant piece of fabric.
The Spoonflower parcel arrived through through the post last week. I could hardly contain my excitement as I ripped into the (ever beautiful) packaging. And this is how it looks:
Firstly, please excuse the lack of ironing before photographing it.
But, I was a bit disappointed with this batch. I’d been really pleased with them looking at them on the computer screen, but once I saw them printed out onto the actual fabric, so many of them didn’t seem to work.
The scales are off in quite a few designs: the images too large or not enough white space between them.
Some of the colours didn’t work as well as I hoped.
Some of the images didn’t look great in fabric form.
And some of them I just couldn’t imagine ever having anything to sew with a fabric with those designs.
Overall, I was just not feeling enough love for this batch to bother heading for the iron…
Now, don’t examine that photo too closely, please, as I will show you some close-ups of the ones that worked a bit better, or which only need minor alterations to look more appealing.
My favourite, over all, is this octopus fabric:
I did it in two different options, blue on white and reversed with white on blue:
I think these would be amazingly cute as a little pair of baby boy trousers. Or perhaps a sun hat. Or, gender stereotyping aside, a nice summer skirt for a girl…
The octopus image was from the NYPL digital archive from a plate in an 1809 French book about zoology: octopus image.
Next up, these glorious bright red fish managed to cheer me up from my slight doldrums:
They’re seriously jolly, aren’t they? The fish is a smelt, apparently, and I got the image from the brilliant website Old Book Illustrations: smelt.
Continuing the nautical theme, you might recognise the lobster in this fabric:
He’s the same one I used to make my lobster necklace. I adore him (he’s from the Graphics Fairy: lobster image here). But, I don’t think this layout has done him many favours. I think I’ll try again, with alternate rows facing in different directions. And maybe a little more white space around him.
He looked awful in yellow, as you can see on the left of the picture, but the simple black image is quite appealing to me. But what could anyone possibly make with a fabric covered in crabs? Any ideas?
Finally, a non-nautical fabric, but in a similar theme to the crabs, these little beetles:
This is, apparently, a squash bug, which I also found from Old Book Illustrations. I tried him in turquoise as well, but I’m not sure how well that worked.
So a definite mixed bag. If I was marking myself, I think it’d be a C+. Plenty of room for improvement. Back to the drawing board with these.
At school when I was younger (ahem, much younger) my favourite class was English. And my favourite ever English class was when we had to write a story. And my very favourite story-writing English class was when the teacher gave us the first line of the story and asked us to finish it.
I used to relish the opportunity to write something with a starting prompt, and then be free to go wherever my imagination took me.
It was always fascinating to me (yeah, I was a bit of a spod at school, I have to confess) in the next lesson when a few people read their stories out. From an identical initial starting point, everyone would have done such very different things, ending in places that I, personally, could have never imagined.
So my inner eight-year-old was really excited to come across a similar idea, but for crafting, on the LucyLovesYa blog last month.
Every month, Lucy gives her readers a challenge to make something – anything – inspired by a specific theme. At the end of the month, she posts photos of all the projects that have been made.
I joined in eagerly last month, for Matryoshka March; the challenge to make something inspired by a photo of some old school Russian dolls.
You can guess what I did already, can’t you? Yup, I made a babygrow with a nice Russian doll image printed onto the front…
There was something that tickled me in the idea of an item of clothing for a baby, emblazoned with a picture of all those little baby dolls.
I love the photo as well; those bright reds, with the blue flowers on the front and the bright yellow hair epitomise for me everything inherent in a Russian doll.
Though, have you noticed that the second size doll, on the left of the photo, has a slightly evil glint in her eye?
Today, all of the projects have been rounded up, so head over to LucyLovesYa to see the rest of them. I think the cushion made with the bright 1960s fabrics is probably my favourite, but they’re all pretty stunning. Just as with those stories at school, it’s fascinating to see the different ideas that different people have had…
She’s on the lookout for someone else to take over hosting from next month as well, so drop by if you’re interested.
My love affair with ironing pictures onto T-shirts continued apace this week.
We’re off to Ireland at the weekend, to stay with some friends and celebrate their baby’s first birthday.
(We may also be tempted to betroth our sproglets to each other, ready to be wed as soon as they hit 16, if we could just find the relevant “Betroth your children” legal kit in WHSmiths…)
So, I was after a nice DIY one-year-old birthday present.
Of course, before the phrase “I’m after a nice DIY one-year-old birthday present” had even fully formed in my mind, I was reaching for the iron on transfer paper and searching my favourite vintage image blogs…
As you’ll know if you’ve perused these parts before, home-printed T-shirts were my go-to present for friends’ children last Christmas.
I was delighted, last week, when I met up with the recipient of the blue horse T-shirt (and his Mum) to be shown that he was wearing it right then. I was even more delighted when his Mum told me that he wears it at least three times a week (whenever it’s not being washed…) And it was a mixture of delight and relief to see that after all those washes, the transfer was still firmly in place.
(I’ve also been pleasantly surprised to see how well the carrot set I made for my baby has coped with being put through the wash. And it tickles me every time I put his chubby little tummy into one of the babygrows.)
So, spurred on by these successes, I thought that another outing of the transfer paper was in order for this occasion.
Knowing that the birthday girl’s favourite food is tomatoes, I found a nice old tomato image and, following my own tutorial, printed up the first T-shirt. (Of course, I didn’t actually follow my own tutorial, that would be a bit mental. I’m now imagining myself sitting reading my own blog in order to see what to do, ha ha.)
This was the end result:
[I’m not going to share the link to this juicy, plump tomato image, I’m afraid, because I’m not 100 per cent sure that it’s free for use, so don’t sneak on me to the authorities, please…]
The second T-shirt, however, with this cute circus giraffe picture, you’re free to replicate if you’d like.
I got this image, entirely legitimately, from the Graphics Fairy blog here: circus giraffe.
There’s a whole set of other circus animal images, so you can take your pick from a bear, zebra or even camel. (Has anyone in living memory ever seen a camel in a circus, I wonder?)
So, as ever, I’m pretty pleased with my T-shirts.
And I’ve got something else lined up, that also involves printed tomatoes. Here’s a sneak peek of it in process.
Intrigued? I’ve got the finishing touches to do today, so check back later this week to see all the details…
My Abel and Cole calendar* tells me it’s National Carrot Day today.
It would surely be a crime to let such a prestigious occasion pass uncelebrated…
I was just going to share a nice vintage carroty image with you in celebration of this momentous event, but on my search round my favourite vintage image sites I was completely inspired by a baby carrot bib and hat set, shared on one of the Graphics Fairy’s Brag Mondays.
Well, never one to resist an opportunity to get out my iron-on transfer paper and stick some images to fabric and since my baby has just started solids in the past few weeks, I completely stole the idea and made a carrot baby set of my own.
I whipped up four bibs laboriously drafted and sewed a single bib (and broke my sewing machine three times while doing so) and ironed the cute carrot pattern onto the front.
When I fix the sewing machine / find some new reserves of patience, I’ll finish the other three bibs and pdf the pattern I made to share it here. I just drew round one bib we had that fit and then cut the pieces out of terry towelling and an old white shirt, stitched together and turned inside out.
Getting a little carried away, I packed up the sewing machine and decided to emblazon a couple of (pre-owned) white baby-grows too, using carrot images from Clip art ETC: this horizontal carrot and these vertical carrots.
As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t normally advocate using images with blank space and fine lines, as the transfer paper where there’s no image can look quite shiny. However, since baby clothes mostly get covered in sick, food and dribble for a month at best before they’re too small, I wasn’t too fussed…
Non-UK based readers of my blog are probably filled with jealousy right now, but fret not! I did a little Googling just for you and discovered that it’s International Carrot Day on April 4th, 2013. I know! Which gives us two whole months to prepare some suitable carrot shenanigans. Suggestions below please…
*Yes, I am the sort of person who has an Abel & Cole calendar. What can I say? It was free with my weekly veg box, but I know that doesn’t really improve matters does it?
Last year, I was in Hong Kong for six months over Christmas so I had to buy presents online for my family back in the UK. Despite the fact I was on what I cheerfully referred to as a “sabbatical” (read instead “long holiday”) and wasn’t earning any money, I felt a bit sad that I wasn’t with the rest of my family for Christmas and wanted to make sure I sent nice presents over.
So I over-compensated. I spent £800 on presents. £800! And that’s not on presents for everyone, just my family. And to clarify again, I don’t mean aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents. No, I mean mother and siblings and siblings-in-law. Eeeeeep. I didn’t even buy everyone grand amazing presents, I just did that thing where you see something cool online and it costs £15 or so and you think “Oh, that would be a nice little present for x” and you buy it and then you forget you’ve bought it and you keep on going until you’ve got five “little” presents for x and accidentally spent a fortune.
Anyway, lesson learned this year, and the plan is to spend nothing at all and make presents for everyone (or at least only spend money on supplies…)
With this in mind, here’s a round-up of 20 appealing-looking tutorials for presents. I’ve only made a few so far, but I’ll keep you updated on any successes (or amusing failures…)
You can find more craft projects that I’m planning on making at my Pinterest board I could make that. Go on, follow me there, you know you want to.
I’m normally tempted to go all-out on knitted presents, but this year I am trying to keep the selection small, as this is one of the slower ways of making presents and I have less time on my hands than normal, what with a four-month-old to look after and the past few weeks spent making presents for my partner’s birthday. Here, then, are a few quick and simple knits:
I absolutely adore this little cabled romper suit (and the cute baby in the photos…)
I’ve had the pattern saved in my Ravelry queue for ages and a Christmas present for my baby is the perfect excuse to get it out of the queue and onto the needles. By the way, if you’re on Ravelry too, do friend me. I’m here: Wolves in London.
If this romper suit is just so much adorable cuteness that you can’t actually bear to stop knitting once you’ve finished it, there is a matching hat and booties to go with it too. All for free. Amazing…
2. Bella’s mittens. A free pattern by Marielle Henault found through Ravelry. These look lovely and snuggly with a big thick wintery cable pattern. I’ve already started on these, in fact, and the first mitten knitted up super-quick. I’ll dedicate a separate post to them, once finished.
3. Selbu Modern hat. This looks so elegant and comfy. Free pattern found through Ravelry (as always!) I’ll be making this for the same sister who is getting the mittens. I’m currently trying to decide whether to match yarn or just make two completely different items. Hmmmmm…
4. Cable knit socks. Classy, woolly sock pattern from the Purl Bee. These would be perfect for wearing under wellies or boots, or just for slouching around the house.
6. Citrus sugar body scrub. I followed this tutorial from Maybe Matilda to make up a tub of sugar scrub for a friend earlier this year after she had a baby.
She said it smelt so delicious that she had to taste a little bit to try it. If that’s not high praise, I don’t know what is.
(Disclaimer: no matter how gorgeous your scrub smells, I don’t advocate eating it…)
7. Bath Fizzies. Simple sounding instructions from the Martha Stewart website.
8. Also from Martha Stewart, these grass soaps look amazing…
There is something about the presentation here that is so fantastic. There are lots and lots of different soap making projects on the website so I definitely plan on buying some melt and pour soup base and having a crack at a few of these.
10. For all my bath and food creations, I plan on printing out and attaching some homemade labels. I was inspired by this post on a thousand word’s blog. She’s made a whole hamper for her friend’s birthday with matching labels on all the products. So gorgeous. There’s a raft of great labels to download and use on the World Label blog.
11. I’ve been planning a quilt for my sister and her husband for some time. I bought some stunning Liberty fabric a few years ago and it’s been sitting waiting to be transformed ever since. Consequently, I’ve been storing lots of quilt tutorials, so can offer a few options:
12. Lavender and cedarwood bags in matching fabric to the quilt. I met up with my sister the other evening and was gratified to see that she was wearing the snood I made her for Christmas two years ago. Less gratifying to see though, was that there were a couple of holes in it — however, gratifying again, that when I pointed this out, she was genuinely annoyed at seeing them and said they have got a serious moth problem in their new house. So, lavender and cedarwood bags are an essential. I won’t actually be following a tutorial for this as it’s pretty straightforward, but there is a great tutorial on Martha Stewart’s site that also tells you how to print your own designs onto fabric first.
I’m not entirely sure where I’d be finding big slabs of wood, but if I do I will certainly be making…
15. This must be one of the simplest ideas for a present ever. Print out some beautiful vintage bookplate designs and cut to size! I’ve come across a few different free graphics for these, so I’ll be putting together a combination of the ones I’ve found at The Graphics Fairy (pictured on the left), Design Sponge and Benign Objects (links take you directly to the bookplates). I think I’ll also make some little envelopes to hold them all. Will cut some to size out of card, stick one of the bookplates that is inside on the front and embellish the insides using the Guardian’s guide to making envelope liners. It’s a really simple idea, but hopefully will be appreciated by the bibliophiles in my life…
16. I’m going to have my first crack at grown-up potato stamp printing, inspired by the tutorial for this stunning feather-printed gauze blanket. I think I will try and craft mine into a scarf, however.
17. I’ll be following my own tutorial for transferring printed images onto fabric to make some more printed T-shirts, this time for friends’ children. I’ve been storing cool free graphics to use for this. The advantage of doing this is you can make the perfect T-shirt for their tastes. One friend’s son is crazy on horses, so he’ll get a horse T-shirt and I am already excited about how much he’ll love that…
This is a really perfect homemade present: hard to find in the shops, a bit unique, looks beautiful and, best of all, utterly delicious…
19. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without Turkish delight. I’ve never tried to make it before, so I don’t know how well it would turn out, but this turkish delight recipe from the Guardian sounds pretty simple.
20. Thesepeppermint hearts from Flossie Teacakes blog (love that name, don’t you?) originally got on my radar as a potential Valentine’s Day present. But I think they’d be great for Christmas too: all wrapped up in a nice box, with a jolly ribbon tied on. I think I’ll make up a couple of batches of these to use as “back-up” presents, just in case I forget to buy someone something…
So tell me, what have you got planned for your DIY Christmas presents? And what amazing tutorials have I missed off this list? Please share anything fabulous you’ve seen or created by posting a comment below…
I’ve made a few of these projects now, so I’ll add links here to anything I’ve tried out
My favourite of the completed Christmas presents was definitely the homemade soap. It went down really well with the recipients and I made so many I’ve used a fair few myself! Read more about it: how to make your own soap
I managed to get a fair few things knitted in time, including the lovely Bella’s mittens, along with a hot water bottle cosy and a nice slouchy cable hat. See more photos and details of all at Christmas knitting
The bookplates were certainly one of the simplest but most appealing of all the homemade presents. See the finished bookplates and the cute little envelopes I made for them (ahem, even if I do say so myself…)
If you’ve read my last couple of posts about my plans for my partner’s birthday, you’ll know that some of the final presents I needed to make him were three T-shirts with ironed on prints.
(If you haven’t read these posts, don’t worry, there’s absolutely no fascinating back story you’re missing out on, beyond what I just wrote, required for enjoying this post, but if you would like to catch up, you can find them here: Three secret projects and His (birthday) scarf.)
If you’d been waiting in suspense to find out whether I would get these made in time for his birthday, the answer was no. The printer arrived the day before, which coincided with a grumpy baby day, so there was no chance at all of me getting anything done. So instead of the finished product, Jamie received three plain T-shirts with tags on and a promise to be turned into something a little more wonderful…
But, in the end, we had a crack at one of them together over the weekend.
This is how we got on:
Plain cotton T-shirt. (I bought mine from the bargainous Primark, at a whopping £2.50 each.)
T-shirt transfer paper. (I bought mine from eBay. Stick it in the search and loads of options come up. I had two packs with ten pages each: one for printing on light fabrics and one for dark.)
Some cool graphics. (You can use whatever you like here. I’ve been particularly enjoying the ones at Clip Art etc. You can use these images for free for non-commercial projects.)
A printer (ink jet not laser jet).
An iron, with the steam setting switched off.
A hard surface, with a couple of tea towels on top. Note: not an ironing board as this is too soft for the transfer to take properly.
Once you’ve gathered all your supplies, it’s really very simple to transfer the print onto the T-shirt. The instructions that follow work with the transfer paper I had, but obviously check the instructions on your paper before you go ahead.
Practice printing your graphic out onto normal printer paper first. You want to make sure you know which side of the paper your printer is using, that the graphic is the right size for your T-shirt and that it looks how you’d like it to once it’s printed out. Put the white paper over the T-shirt and make sure it all looks right. It’s also worth pointing out that your final graphic will appear as a mirror image of the one in front of you, so make sure it looks okay this way round. (If you’ve got words in your image, you can use the “mirror” setting on your printer, though this might not give as clean a print as normal.) But at this stage, experiment and make sure you’re completely happy with your results before you put it onto the transfer paper.
Cut round the details of the graphic as closely as you can. Try and remove as much of the area that has nothing on as possible.
Line up your image onto the T-shirt. The clear side with the print on should face the fabric, the white side with the squares faces out. Check and check again that it’s straight and just as you want it to be.
Iron the paper for around two minutes. Make sure the steam setting is not switched on. Concentrate on the centre first and then work your way out to the sides.
Let the paper cool down. (I found this part hard! Patience is not my strong point.)
Carefully and slowly remove the white backing, starting at one of the edges and pulling it off evenly.
Admire your creation…
Update, summer 2014: since writing this post, I’ve discovered the absolutely wonderful transfer paper made by Lesley Riley, which produces a really brilliant finish and definitely could be used on products to sell. In fact, I’ve plans in the pipeline to sell some tops I’ve made using it!
I’d never tried this before and was really excited to see how it was going to turn out, wondering if this could be a good way to get prints onto babygrows for my embryonic fabric line. I have to admit, however, my expectations slightly outweighed the end result. From a distance, and away from direct light, the T-shirts look great. Every little detail of the pattern has been transferred, crisp and clear onto the T-shirt fronts.
But up close, or in the light, the area where the transfer has been ironed is really shiny and stiff, to the point of being reflective. That area has also lost any stretch, so it sits stiff and solid even when it’s being worn. Overall, it definitely looks amateur.
Because I’d used an image that has lots of black lines with white “space” behind it, those areas which should appear neutral show up shiny. I think this method would work far better for transferring on a solid block image, probably with colour, rather than one that any blank spaces in. Then, you’d need to cut exactly round the image you had and you’d eliminate my problem of shiny areas where nothing is happening.
I’ll reassess once they’ve been through the wash a few times, as that might help soften it up a bit, but for now, this wouldn’t be a method I’d repeat for anything but a “homemade” effect.
I’ll try the next one with a solid image, though, in colour, and see how that works out. Will report back with findings…
If you try this method of printing images onto fabric, do post a comment below and let me know how you get on.