Liberty fabric baubles

I know, I know, I had you at “Liberty fabric baubles,” didn’t I? There’s not much need to write anything more…

Fabric baubles DIY
A plate of Christmas loveliness

I made up these little beauties a few weeks ago for my sister-in-law who was running a craft stall at a charity fair at the weekend. I’m not sure that nine little baubles will have made much of a dent in terms of making-an-entire-stall’s-worth-of-items-to-sell but, hey, hopefully they filled a small space somewhere.

DIY fabric baubles
The one in the middle is my favourite

I followed a tutorial in the Guardian by Hannah of the wonderful blog Seeds and Stitches, which I first Pinned two Christmases ago and have been meaning to make ever since.

It’s a great, simple, messy, very pleasurable project. The only extra tip I would add is that you need far, far more fabric than you expect, so cut out loads of tiny squares first and then sit down for the glueing part. I seemed to spend most of the evening going to wash the glue off my hands when I discovered I’d run out of fabric mid-bauble for the hundredth time.

I also didn’t worry about hanging them up to dry, just put them on a sheet of greaseproof paper and turned them over at sporadic intervals, which worked fine.

DIY fabric baubles
Oh, laziness, this one wouldn’t stand up on his own to be photographed and instead of searching for some blue tack, I just grabbed a roll of sellotape that was closer to hand… Don’t worry, I haven’t accidentally glued it onto the bottom
DIY fabric baubles
The blue bauble, though, can stand up all on its own

Most of the fabric I’ve used is Liberty scraps, with the exception of the blue and white stripes, which were cut from my old primary school shirt. I felt quite nostalgic sticking it all together…

This weekend, I’m planning on making some more to adorn our very own Christmas tree. I’ve stuck the fabric to some cheap supermarket-bought plastic baubles, so the very best thing about them is that they’re sproglet-proof. Even if he managed to shatter them somehow, any sharp pieces would stay inside all the fabric, which is just the sort of Christmas ornament I need on my tree this year.

DIY fabric baubles
One last lingering look at the lovely baubles…

Related articles:

  • Planning to make more than ornaments? Check out my top 17 tutorials for homemade Christmas presents
  • If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you might recognise some of the fabric from the original projects. The pink and blue geometric patterns were turned into these egg cosies; the red floral pattern was leftovers from my teapot cosy; and most of the rest is from the (still unfinished) quilt
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A fiddly little project

Looking for something to do while you watch the TV this evening that’s really fiddly, will make you cross and leave you with an imperfect result?

Excellent! Then I’ve got the perfect thing…

DIY fabric covered buttons
These three buttons at the front are made with some scraps of Liberty fabrics, left over from the quilt I’m making my sister.

I spent last Saturday night watching The Voice (it’s not that good this year, is it?) and swearing throughout my second attempt at making fabric covered buttons.

I only recently discovered that covering buttons with your own choice of fabric was something it was possible to do. When I first came across the little kits you can get, I had what I thought was a Eureka! moment.

Because I want to make my own fabrics, and make things with those fabrics, I’m likely to have leftovers of scraps and small pieces. So, of course, the ability to use them for buttons seemed like the perfect situation. “Why doesn’t everyone do this?” I thought to myself, slightly smugly, marveling at my own genius and brilliance.

Fabric covered buttons
Do you like the formica table my buttons are on? It was in our house when we moved in, used as a kitchen table, but I’ve appropriated it for my craft table now…

So I ordered some of the relevant buttons. And tried to put them together a few weeks ago. No joy. Turned out you need a little stamping tool too. So I ordered that as well and felt convinced I was really on my way to a genius creation.

So, there I was on Saturday, full kit in hand: two parts to the buttons, the button stamping tool, scissors and some scraps of fabric.

In theory, it’s a doddle to put them together. You cut a circle of fabric, centre your button onto it, stick it in the button stamping tool, put the back on, then use the other side of the tool to click it into place. I watched YouTube videos. It was quite clearly going to be ridiculously easy.

Except. I’d bought the smallest size of buttons. (I don’t understand sizes and weights so I never have a clue what’s going to turn up when I order something online, it’s frequently too big or too small. I have a bag of stuffing in the spare bedroom that could probably make about 1,000 soft toys. I was only making one…)

With the smallest size of buttons, everything gets really, really fiddly. You need to have the button centred perfectly onto the fabric, otherwise the fabric will slip out of one side of the button, or the back won’t click into place if you’ve got a bit of excess fabric in another place.

I’m not the most patient person in the world for fiddly work and this made me swear quite a lot.

So I only made seven buttons.

Fabric covered buttons
Buttons buttons buttons

They do look cute from the front though, don’t they?

From the back, as you can see, the fabric isn’t perfectly in place though. Grrrrrrr.

Fabric covered buttons
Urgh, horrible back which didn’t work properly

I’m going to order a bigger size of button now. I’ll let you know if I have better luck.

Related articles

Linking this up at Serenity Now, the Shabby Nest, the Shabby Creek Cottage and Beyond the Picket Fence. Head over to see what others have been up to this week.

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
Jaunty!

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.

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!

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!

Please excuse my appearance

Just a quick message to everyone arriving at my blog today: please excuse its squiffy appearance!

As far as I know, my blog hasn’t been out drinking late last night and isn’t suffering from a hangover. No, I think instead there is some problem with WordPress, which is causing my footers to show on the right hand side, and those ugly blue and black horizontal lines to be showing up half way down the page.

I’ve just been visiting the WordPress support forum and lots of people appear to be having problems today, so let’s hope they fix it up soon.

(Apologies to WordPress if I do later find out my blog snuck out in the early hours and drank too much gin.)

Since we’re talking lines, I thought I’d share with you a quick picture of some amazing fabric I stumbled across recently on Pinterest, made just with lines. Hopefully this will take your attention away from my ugly blog design for a second or two:

Richter fabric by Bonnee Sharp
Stunning line-based fabric

It’s called Richter, is designed by Bonnee Sharp for Bon Studio and you can buy it from Schumacher. I love the repetition of the really simply pattern and the irregular spacing of the repeats. It reminds me of a visual representation of sound waves (though I suppose it is inspired by the richter scale used to measure earthquakes…)

Stunning. Now please, mull on those lines and not the horrible ones sticking through the centre of this page…

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.

Aftercare

  • 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

Peacocks and paradise: William Morris at Tate Britain

Before Christmas, we trotted off to Tate Britain to meet some friends and visit the Pre-Raphaelite exhibition. The highlight of the exhibition, as far as I was concerned, was room number six, entitled Paradise. A room devoted to William Morris.

Peacock and bird carpet, William Morris
© William Morris Gallery, London

I flipping love William Morris. I love the ornate details, the colours, the grandeur, I love how his designs are fabulously floral without being twee.

But what really inspired me, aside from the individual beauty of the designs, was seeing all of his different work in this room and realizing just how much he was involved with.  There’s wallpaper, of course, textiles, curtains, books with stunningly ornate wood engravings… There’s even his four poster bed,  festooned with the Kelmscott Tree fabric.

As the Tate website says, his firm, “produced tiles, furniture, embroidery, stained-glass, printed and woven textiles, carpets and tapestry for both ecclesiastical and domestic interiors, examples of which are included in this room. In 1891 Morris founded the Kelmscott Press for the production of high quality hand-printed books.”

That’s quite a list! Everything from fabric to furniture, glass to books. For someone with plans and desires to set up a new fabric business, but who has a serious problem trying to weed through millions of different ideas and settle on doing one solitary thing, this was just what I needed to see. Why not try and do a bit of everything?!

Of course, my biggest problem is that I don’t exactly have the talent that William Morris did. But realising that even the greats sometimes take a scattergun approach, rather than refining and refining one specific discipline, was highly encouraging to me.

I didn’t take any photos of the room (well, you’re not allowed to, so I obeyed the rules), but I strongly recommend a visit if you’re in London before January 13th. There are all the details on the Tate website:  Pre Raphaelites, Victorian Avant-Garde.

Here, though, are a few William Morris patterns that are currently available, which are bringing me a bit of joy and good cheer on this gloomy January morning. I hope they do the same for you.

All photos are copyright Morris & Co and if you click on the photo you can go straight through to their website.

William Morris wallpaper
Fruit wallpaper, designed in 1864
Kelmscott tree fabric from Morris & Co
Kelmscott tree fabric, inspired by the curtains on Morris’s four poster bed
Kennet by Morris and Co
An original William Morris design, this is called Kennet. I think it’s simply stunning

How to transfer printed images onto fabric

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…

A T-shirt tag
Erm, not quite finished with your present yet love, but it’s coming soon. Honest…

But, in the end, we had a crack at one of them together over the weekend.

This is how we got on:

Supplies

  • 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.
Three T-shirts
Cheap and cheery, three T-shirts ready for printing

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.

How to

Image lined up on T-shirt
Oh what a lovely hand that is, lining up the image so delicately onto the T-shirt
  1. 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.
  2. Print!
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Let the paper cool down. (I found this part hard! Patience is not my strong point.)
  7. Carefully and slowly remove the white backing, starting at one of the edges and pulling it off evenly.
  8. Admire your creation…
T-shirt printed with shark graphic
The finished result: one red T-shirt boldly emblazoned with vintage shark image

Verdict

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’ve also written a few more tips on how to get the best results when using transfer paper, which you can read here if you like: Things I’ve learnt: tips on transferring images to fabric

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.

T-shirt with printed image
Shiny, shiny, shiny: you can clearly see in this picture where the whole patch of transfer paper sits

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.

 

Building a fabric empire

A little while ago I had a brilliant idea: why don’t I create a fabric line, with beautiful designs exactly how I want them and then make a range of gorgeous soft furnishings and baby clothes using said stunning line. It sounded really straightforward in my brain, when the idea started germinating, and I picked up the phone to tell my Mum the exciting news:

“I’m going to design my own fabric and then make it into beautiful things and it will be really gorgeous and high end and be like, oh, like Liberty print fabric, you know, that sort of thing…”

And – because she’s my Mum and therefore legally obliged to be positive whenever I suggest another hare-brained scheme, which is frequently – she said what a wonderful idea it was and how there was a definite market for some lovely fabrics and she managed to only chuckle slightly, and very definitely under her breath, when I made the Liberty reference.

Liberty fabric
Could I ever make fabric as beautiful as this classic Liberty print? (Short answer: it’s unlikely…)

Because she was so encouraging, it wasn’t until a little bit later in the day that I started to think about some of the potential pitfalls of the idea: I can’t draw, I’m not a designer, I don’t actually know much about fabric, I certainly don’t know anything about how you get fabric printed, though I have a sewing machine and can follow an extremely basic pattern (just) I wouldn’t have a clue how to start designing my own patterns, oh and even if I did, I’m not sure that my sewing proficiency is quite up to scratch to actually make and sell anything I had designed. Is that it? Oh no, finally, even if I did manage to design and print some fabric and make it into something beautiful I don’t know how I would go about trying to sell this highly desirable object.

But, hey, these are minor details, right? I’ve got plenty of ideas in my head and I can already pictue some gorgeous end results.

So, this is my blog to chart my progress. I guess I’ve got a bit to learn, but that’s all part of the fun. Drop by again and see how I’m getting on.

Of course, if I only blogged about every time I did something to further this fabric plan, then these pages might look pretty sparse, so I’ll be updating you on various other projects as well. Knitting, cooking, sewing and generally anything else that inspires me along the way.

Please post a comment and let me know what you think – I’d love to hear any suggestions (especially if they’ll take me a step closer to my world fabric domination dreams…)

Update Sept 2014:

I have actually managed to design a few fabrics, using the wonderful Spoonflower… Take a look at my teapots and the selection of vintage image fabrics I’ve managed so far. After a little lull in fabric designing world domination dreams (which went on for, oooh, about 18 months) I am now back up and running with the planning, so I hope to have a few more things to share soon!