Beetles and fish and lobsters, oh my!

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:

Fabric swatch designs
I think this would actually make a really fun play mat…

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:

Octopus fabric by Wolves in London

I did it in two different options, blue on white and reversed with white on blue:

Octopus fabric
Like an octopus X-ray

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:

Red fish fabric
Is it giving you a headache?

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:

Lobster fabric
This lobster always makes me think of Dali

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.

Like this little crab (also from Old Book Illustrations):

Crab fabric
Every time I look at this, I just think “crabs” – that’s not ideal, is it?

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:

Squash bug fabric
Squash bug fabric. Good for Halloween. Good for anything else though?

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.

Matryoshka March

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…

Russian doll babygrow
Mummy doll, baby doll, another baby doll, another baby doll…

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.

Russian doll babygrow
Close up of the babygrow

Related articles:

I’m sharing this project at Skip to my Lou, Little Inspiration, Thirty Handmade Days, See Vanessa Craft, Serenity Now, the Shabby Nest, the Shabby Creek Cottage and today’s creative blog. Head over to see what others have been up to this week.

The (fabric) world is not enough…

You know how it is around these parts. You wait four months for any sort of fabric dream development, and then two pieces of news come along at once…

(Okay, to fit the bus analogy it really should be three things at once, but heeeeey, steady on there, let’s not get too carried away in a hive of activity, I don’t want to wear myself out before tea time.)

Hot on the heels of my sneak reveal of my first ever fabric design, I’ve now got a thrilling announcement of the expansion to my (as yet hypothetical) fabric business to include printed stationery as well.

Elephant card and camel card from Wolves in London
Soon the new Wolves in London Etsy shop will not only sell amazing fabrics, but amazing cards like these…

My super talented sister recently bought a Letterpress to make her wedding invitations and we’re joining up together to plan a business of prints for both fabrics and cards.

You’ll be relieved to hear, her love of vintage pics is as strong as mine. These were her incredible wedding invitations:

Camel card by Wolves in London
He’s a glorious camel, isn’t he?

We’re chomping at the bit to get started now and have business strategies and product plans and collection ideas bursting out of our every vein.

Not only is it excellent to broaden out from fabrics to stationery, but my sister is super-talented at design, so I’m really looking forward to working with her on all our new products. There’s going to be more than a thing or two she can teach this dunce…

Elephant card from Wolves in London
Everyone would love to receive this cheery elephant card, wouldn’t they?

More developments soon, I hope! We’re planning on getting our Etsy shop up and running asap…

A toe in the water: teapot fabric

You know the drill by now. I’m meant to be writing a blog about setting up my own fabric business. Except, I’ve been too busy writing my blog to do anything about setting up my fabric business…

Until now, that is.

For, this week, I took one giant step towards making the whole fabric designing thing a reality.

I went right ahead and designed some of my own fabric…

Yup, you read that correctly. This person who’s been bleating on for so long about designing fabric actually, gulp, did it. This is what I made:

Teapot fabric design by Wolves in London
Lovely tea pots in aquamarine all lined up. Even looking at this photo makes me feel quite proud…

It’s cute, isn’t it?

I’m sure you all already know about Spoonflower, the amazing (US-based) website where you can upload a picture, turn it into a pattern and they’ll print it out on fabric and send it to you.

It takes a little while for the fabric to arrive here in the UK, but boy oh boy, is it worth the wait.

I used a free vintage teapot image and arranged it in a pleasing repetition. I’m delighted with how it’s turned out. Here’s a shot with a bit more of the fabric in it:

Teapot fabric designed by Wolves in London
You can get a sense of scale here

I’ve got something special in mind to make from this, which I’ll be sharing here just as soon as I get on with it… (Watch this space, eh?)

It’s not a cheap way of making fabric, and if I really manage to go ahead and set up a business, of course I’ll need to find someone to print it for me here in the UK for a much cheaper price, but it’s brilliant to see some things I’ve envisaged in my head right there in front of me on the weave. Here’s a final pic with the detail:

Teapot fabric designed by Wolves in London
It reminds me of the Mad Hatter’s tea party

Next step: total word domination…

What do you think? Do you like it?

Related articles:

  • Update: I’ve since made a few more fabric designs. I’m less pleased with them than these lovely teapots, but do take a look and tell me what you think: Beetles and fish and lobsters, oh my!

The perfect packaging

I’m a huge fan of good packaging. When I really get started on the great fabric project and open my Etsy shop, I want everything I send out* to be so beautifully packaged that the recipient feels they’re getting a present in the post.

Which was just how I felt this morning, after taking delivery of a parcel containing something I’d ordered for the baby from The Round Window.

When I’d opened up the brown box, this is what I found inside:

Perfect packaging
Could you ever hope to open a box with a more delightful display inside?

Stunning, isn’t it? That gorgeous cheerful yellow paper, the baker’s string tied around it, the little acorn note…

The parcel itself was just like a lovely present. I almost didn’t want to open it up it looked so beautiful.

Perfect wrapping
Is it Christmas? Is it my birthday? Nope. Just something I ordered online… Beats the plastic bags you get from all major shops, doesn’t it?

The cheery little acorn (the motif from her online shop) had a hand-written note on the back, thanking me for the order.

Acorn gift tag
The world’s cutest gift tag?

And when I unwrapped the twine and turned the parcel over, there was even a matching acorn sticker, in place of sellotape.

Acorn sticker
And a matching sticker to hold the parcel together

Packaging just doesn’t get any better than this, does it? In all honesty, I’m not sure that even birthday or Christmas presents I’ve been given have been wrapped as beautifully! (Apologies to anyone whose ever given me a present and is reading this…)

I feel completely inspired to try and produce something as attractive as this for my own packaging when the times comes to actually start selling some stuff in my own shop.

Oh, and the icing on the cake? This was what was inside. A little stained glass egg man, that I’m going to hang in the window of the sproglet’s room.

Egg man from the Round Window
Glorious little egg man, from The Round Window. (His name is Eugene, by the way)

Beyond amazing, no?

(Apologies for all the superlatives in this post. In my defence, it’s not every day something as nice as this arrives at your door…)

*I might be making a big assumption here that I’ll get any orders at all, ha ha.

Related articles

  • It’s hardly in the same league, but I made some of my own gift boxes for Christmas presents last year. Take a look at my free template and tutorial if you’re inclined to do the same.
  • Stamp your own gift tags: transform buff labels into personalised messages
  • And take a look at my Pinterest board Wrap it up if you share my love of packaging

Birthday T-shirts

My love affair with ironing pictures onto T-shirts continued apace this week.

Home printed giraffe and tomato T-shirt

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:

Print your own images on T-shirts
Arcadia beauty brand tomatoes: yum, yum, yum

[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.

Print your own images onto T-shirts
Off to the circus with this jolly giraffe

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.

Tomatoes printed
Good enough to eat…

Intrigued? I’ve got the finishing touches to do today, so check back later this week to see all the details…

Related articles

Inspiration: 5 fabulous floral fabrics

My visit before Christmas to William Morris at the Tate made me realise just how much I love floral patterned fabrics.

Florals used to have a bit of a reputation as chintz, but you only need to take a look at some of the bold, bright William Morris patterns to blow that idea straight out if the water.

I’d love to attempt a fabric design with a repeated floral pattern myself one day, but, frankly, trying to come up with a clever design that would match perfectly for all the repeats is enough to make my head hurt right now.

For the time being, I thought I’d just round up some of my very favourite floral fabrics to share with you on this bleak, cold Friday morning, in the hope it makes Spring feel a little closer…

Click on any of the pictures to go through to the relevant websites to buy the fabrics, if you’re so inclined, or just get more info.

1. Liberty print

You couldn’t have a list of floral fabrics (or, for that matter, any sort of fabric) without including a Liberty print. The hard decision here was whittling down the wonderfulness to just select one…

But I’ve finally settled on this Castile B Tana Lawn fabric.

Castile B Tana Lawn fabric by Liberty
Guerilla gardening

Apparently, it was designed to represent the Elephant & Castle urban forest campaign of 2011 that was set up to redesign the area in London and save trees. I can’t say I’ve ever seen anything looking even remotely like an urban forest whenever I’ve been through there on the bus, and actually I’m slightly shocked that this most beautiful fabric has been inspired by what I think is probably the ugliest area of London, but there we go…

I love all the details in this: the spade and buckets, the weird frog-like creature, the snail. And I’m all about gardening right now, so seeing a representation in fabric couldn’t please me more.

2. Borderline fabrics

In a similar gardening vein, I discovered these gorgeous figs the other day, from Borderline fabrics in World’s End.

Fog fabric from Borderline fabrics
Just looking at this makes me think of a long hot Mediterranean summer

There is something utterly succulent about this print, isn’t there? The lovely purple figs sitting alongside the fat leaves.

I’d never heard of Borderline fabrics before, but the website says they specialise in fabrics for upholstery and curtains with designs produced from archive sources. Sounds right up my street, I might have to go and wander round the shop in the near future.

3. Florence Broadhurst

This wonderful fabric is called Japanese Floral and was designed by Florence Broadhurst:

Japanese flpra; by Florence Broadhurst
Big bold and swirly, I just love this print

If you’ve not heard of Florence Broadhurst (and I hadn’t til about, oooh, five minutes ago) she sounds just as fabulous as this pattern. She was born in Australia, performed on stage around Asia, founded an arts academy in Shanghai, then moved to London where she ran a dress shop in Bond Street as Madam Pellier, then returned to Australia and started a wallpaper business. I like the sound of this woman!

There’s a full biography on the Signature Prints website: Florence Broadhurst. Have a read if you’re interested, and check out the amazing photos of her too. I love her hair almost as much as I love her designs.

4. V&A Quilts

The V&A did a whole exhibition on quilts a few years back, which I didn’t manage to see as I wasn’t in the country at the time.

However, being a total addict of the V&A online shop, I did see (and purchase much of) the special collection they made, based on some of the old designs (in conjunction with Liberty, I believe).   This is my favourite of all the designs:

V&A quilting fabric
Sweet and delicate

I think it’s just called “Petals” – which is as sweet a name as the pattern itself. I’m working on a quilt for my sister that has this fabric in it, so I’ll share more pictures once I get that finished.

5. Joel Dewberry

From something small, delicate and old-fashioned, to something big, bold and 1960s-looking… This is called Sunflower in Sunglow and is by Joel Dewberry.

Joel Dewberry fabric
Makes you want to dance round outside naked singing songs from the 60s, doesn’t it? Doesn’t it?

I first saw this fabric on the blog Delia Creates, where she used it to re-cover a chair. (I know I mention that blog a lot, I’ve got something of a blog crush going on…) When I read the post I wasn’t sure what I wanted more: the amazing re-upholstering skills she displayed or the fabric she used.

This is just so cheerful, retro and bright that you couldn’t help but smile if you sat down on a chair  made of this fabric, could you?

So, there you have it, five floral fabrics. I was originally planning on sharing ten, but I think this post is quite long enough now, so I’ll return for a part two at some point in the future.

In the meantime, you can take a look at my Pinterest board fabulous fabrics if you want to see more gorgeous designs.

Happy weekend everyone!

Happy National Carrot Day!

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…

Print your own carrot onesie
Hooray for National Carrot Day!

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.

Print your own carrot bib
Three fat carrots, sitting on a bib

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.

This image is available at the Graphics Fairy here: vintage carrot.

Here’s a picture of the bib in action:

Print your own carrot bib
Just waiting for the slobber to hit

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.

Print your own carrot onesie
Oh what a luverly bunch of… 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…

Print your own carrot babygrow
Just waiting for Peter Rabbit to turn up

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?

Related articles:

I’ve linked this project up at the following link parties. Pop over and see what others have been up to this week: Katie’s Nesting Spot, Momnivore’s Dilemma, Brag Monday at the Graphics Fairy.

Things I’ve learnt: transferring images to fabric

Transfer prints to fabric: useful tips from Wolves in London blog

I’ve got a confession to make.

I started this blog with all the best intentions. As I wrote, in my first ever post four months ago, I was planning on “building a fabric empire” – creating new fabric designs, making beautiful things from the newly-printed fabric and, oh yes, actually starting up a business to sell said fabrics and gorgeous artefacts. And this blog had a high purpose: I was going to record all my trials and tribulations along the way in these pages…

I had visions of small business people around the world (that’s people from small businesses, not business people who are small) chatting in my comments sections, sharing information about how they’d mastered marketing their business, or selling on Etsy, or turning their initial ideas into business plans. Oh, it was going to be great! And inspirational, for me and for all my readers (short or otherwise).

And now I’m four months in to the blog. I’ve talked about cooking I’ve done, and presents I’ve made. I’ve shared a few pictures of some knitting projects I’ve finished. I’ve had a brief foray into some inspiration for the fabrics. And then I’ve returned to daily life, even telling you about the homemade cleaning products I haven’t made. Buuuut, there hasn’t yet been any actual chat about the fabric company. Mostly because, I haven’t actually done anything about that yet.

What can I say? It’s been winter, I’ve not felt like leaving the sofa for too long.

However, in my articles over the past four months there has arguably been one post that actually included something I might do in this nascent company and that was my tutorial for transferring printed images onto fabric.

Though I didn’t explicitly state it in the original article, I was toying with this method for getting images onto knit fabrics like T-shirts as a possible venture for the company. I love the idea of producing a range of T-shirts or baby-grows with attractive designs printed onto the front (it is ridiculously hard, I think, to find nice baby-grows, especially…)

So when I stumbled across the possibility of just printing out a computer image onto some paper and then ironing it on to your fabric it seemed just too good to be true. Which, of course, it was.

That’s not to say this isn’t a brilliant thing to do at home, but it definitely doesn’t create an end result with durability that would be good enough to sell for cold hard cash. (In my opinion, anyway…)

Transfer prints to fabrics: tips from Wolves in London blog
Great T-shirt with octopus book cover, image found on NYPL digital gallery

That said, I am still a bit obsessed with the process and I made quite a few T-shirts for friends’ children as Christmas presents, as well as finishing off another one for my partner.

So I thought I might share a few extra pointers from my experience using transfer paper for putting images onto T-shirts (and kid myself, at the same time, that I’m getting that one little bit closer to starting the dratted fabric business of my dreams).

If you’d like a step-by-step tutorial, return to my original post as well.

Choosing images

Transfer images to fabric: tips from Wolves in London blog
Amazing vintage image of horse and carriage races, found on the Graphics Fairy blog

This is the most crucial part, as the finished product will only look as nice as the image you’ve selected. So:

  • If you’re looking for copyright-free images, there are some amazing sites on the internet. My three favourites, which I return to time and again, are the Graphics Fairy, which has all sorts of vintage ephemera, cleaned up and ready to use, the New York Public Library Digital Gallery, particularly good for scientific stuff, I’ve found, like old drawings of animals and so on, and Clip Art Etc, which has loads of black and white illustrations of just about anything you can think of.
  • Images that will work best with transfer paper are ones that have no “blank space” in them. You want to choose whole pictures, or silhouettes you can cut out, rather than line drawings. Any blank space shows up as a shiny bit on your finished fabric. (See my original post for an example of what I mean…)
  • Print out the image onto plain paper first and put it onto your T-shirt. Make sure the colours work together. Sounds obvious, I know, but it makes life easier to realise it doesn’t work at this point, rather than once you’ve ironed it on.

Preparing the images

Transferring prints to fabric: tips from Wolves of London blog
Silhouette of horse T-shirt. (Most pointless caption ever? You could already see that, couldn’t you?)
  • The easiest shape of image to use is a square, to make it easiest to cut, but don’t be put off doing a more complicated shape.
  • Silhouettes can look really great, but just take care with the cutting stage. It’s easiest to use a scalpel on a special surface (such as self-healing board for sewing). If in doubt, cut slightly within your silhouette, rather than outside. Anything you have left outside the outline will show up shiny and clear and won’t look so great.
  • Before you start with the iron, check a few times that the image is in the right place. Is it horizontal? Is it positioned where you want it? Again, this sounds obvious, but I’ve often got a bit carried away and wanted to start the exciting part, only to realise afterwards I haven’t put the picture in the optimum place…

Using the transfer paper

Transfer images to fabric
Raaar, bright red dinosaur T-shirt
  • The transfer paper I’ve used has worked in slightly different ways so be sure you check the correct method first.
  • For images that are being ironed onto light fabrics, you will need to reverse the picture first (choose mirror image on your printer setting), as you put the image face down and iron it on from there.
  • For images that are being ironed onto dark fabric, you print it out as is, remove the backing (rather than the front) of the paper and iron it straight on. Double check before you print, so you don’t end up with writing the wrong way round…
  • Not all transfer papers are equal. Shop around, check reviews, try out a few different brands to settle on one that gives the finish you’re happiest with.


  • I’ve not found that my T-shirts wash as well as I would like. It’s best to put them inside out in the washing machine and wash them on a lower heat.
  • Don’t iron the image again, as it will start to come off and stick to everything. Yeah. I tried.

And I think that covers it! If you’ve used this method of transferring images onto fabric, do drop me a comment and let me know if there are other tips you think I’ve missed off.

If you share my love of vintage images and are looking for a different project that uses them, take a look at my homemade paperweight tutorial. For more images, including the ones I’ve used for these T-shirts, check out my Pinterest board Free graphics.

Things I’ve learnt is an occasional series, where I talk about stuff I’ve picked up while trying to set up a new business of printed fabrics. I’m hoping that the information in these posts might be informative / interesting / amusing to anyone else setting up their own craft business. If you’ve any suggestions for other topics for this series, or any thoughts on what I’ve written about, please do post a comment at the end of the piece…

Related articles

A wolf at the door…

Poor old wolves, I’ve only just noticed what a terribly bad press they get. Vilified in literature, always the bad guy (especially in 17th Century children’s books), it seems all they’re good for is blowing down adorable pigs’ houses or dressing up as old women in order to trick innocent young girls into being eaten.

Huntsman kills wolf
This picture is called “The Huntsman kills the Wolf”

What’s brought about this sudden realisation, you ask. (Or, I think you asked, I couldn’t quite hear over the sound of a howling wolf outside the window of my cottage…)

Well, I’ve been trying to update my blog banner and, given my well-documented love of vintage images*, I thought it’d be easy enough to find a cool retro picture of a wolf (for my blog name, y’see) and stick it up there, maybe with a cool retro image of London too.

Ha! How wrong I was. I spent a good few hours trawling all my favourite free vintage picture sites and, sure enough as I’d hoped, I came up with hundreds of images of wolves.  But the wolves weren’t being very nice. They were growling fiercely at woodmen, galloping maniacally across moonlight-illuminated fields while foaming at the mouth, or, worst of all, grabbing tiny babies in their jaws and carting them off to their lair, as the baby’s mother looks on in terror and fear…

Nope, the past few centuries haven’t recorded wolves in a fair and unbiased fashion pictorially.

Wolf as piper
Those dratted wolves, constantly luring innocent little lambs to their deaths by dressing up as pipers… Side note: I wonder why Gallaher’s cigarettes thought this picture would help them sell cigs?

Then to top it all, as if the poor wolf’s name wasn’t blackened enough, they became the symbol for new age hippies everywhere who suddenly wanted to run with them, dance with them, sing with them, howl with them, god knows what else with them.

What has the poor wolf done to deserve this? It’s just a shaggy dog, really and everyone loves dogs. Heck, we even love foxes. You couldn’t throw a stick in a design shop at the moment without it hitting into some fox-emblazoned piece of homeware or clothing.

So, come on people, let’s bring the wolf back in the from the cold. And so I give you, the cute lovable wolf. (Well, maybe not quite, but at least a few cool old pictures of some non-completely terrifying wolves, anyway):

Yet another wolf advertising cigarettes, but this one looks (sort of) friendly
Marionette Peter and wolf
Okay, we know this wolf is up to no good, but he looks appealing in his marionette form
Scared wolf
This is my favourite of all the wolf images. Rather than scaring anyone else, this one looks rather scared himself. Poor little thing…
Wolf and horse, children's book illustration
I suppose the best you can say for this wolf is he hasn’t eaten the horse *yet* – but it’s a lovely line drawing, I thought, and we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and decide he’s just passing through this field on his way to deliver chocolates to old people

All photos found on the New York Public Library Digital Archive: click on the photos to go directly to the right page. For more cool copyright free images, check out my Pinterest board Free graphics.

*For some craft projects using vintage images, see my tutorial for transferring printed images to fabric and the prints section of my top 20 tutorials for homemade presents…