Sunday, 22 July 2012

Experiments with fabric paints - Part II: Celery roses

Did you know that printing with the butt of a bunch of celery produces a pretty perfect looking rose?

I can't take credit for this groundbreaking discovery... Like so many good ideas going around these days, I saw this on Pinterest. I did think it might be interesting though to compile a list of fun things to print with. Any suggestions? Off the top of my head... Snakeskin/chainmail effect printing with netting; geometric patterns by repeating a jar-rim print; okra flower stamps... Leave me your ideas in the comments below and if we get enough good ones I'll try them out and do a roundup post revealing the best results!

I used: Bamber Sew fabric paint in Opaque Red; American Apparel bandeau body; celery butt

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Experiments with fabric paints - Part I: Batman and me

Never mind the current cinematic love affair with superheroes, life with an almost four year old boy means that a good 60% of my brain activity is focused on 'Supes. OK, who am I kidding... Having an almost four year old boy gives me the perfect excuse to be into superheroes, when it was probably me who instigated his obsession in the first place! Superheroes are cool, and that's just the bottom line.

Only a matter of time then before superheroes and sewing started to occupy the same space in my brain...

These days I've been having the most amount of fun playing around with fabric paints since having been sent a bunch by the lovely folks over at Bamber Sew for me to try out. Infinite possibilities, my friends, inspiration overload... Expect a flurry of fabric paint related posts and tutorials here and over at the By Hand Blog over the next couple of weeks.

Being non-toxic and only permanent once ironed, the opaque fabric paints are perfect for young kids to begin experimenting with textiles. When my son saw me stencilling a fluorescent Aztec design onto some scrap fabric the other day, he immediately wanted a go. Instead of just giving him some paint, a paintbrush and some fabric, which would have surely resulted in mess and him getting bored after five minutes, I wanted to give him the tools to be able to create something he'd thought through himself, something he'd be proud of, that he could wear right away. Getting flashbacks of nursery school Arts & Crafts, I got out a potato and asked the boy what image he'd most like to cover his t-shirt in. His response: Batman! But of course.

I must admit, carving the batmotif out of that little potato was a lot more challenging than the standard squares and triangles we used to potato-print at school, but not impossible. With a sharp pencil I outlined the image into the flesh of a potato cut in half, then went over the line with a scalpel (Stanley knife would also do). Still using the scalpel, I carefully sliced away the potato's edge, revealing the batmotif in relief.

We had such fun doing this together and best of all my little boy was able to take complete control of his project. Nothing quite like seeing his sweet little face full of concentration and satisfaction as he made his dream t-shirt a reality! In fact, I'm almost tempted to let him loose on some white cotton and use it to make me a dress with what he comes up with!

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

DIY painted mason jars

If Summer won't come to me, then I'm just going to have to make it happen instead. It had crossed my mind to set up some kind of faux beach scene in the sitting room, complete with fake palm trees, hammock, sand stolen from the local sandpit and the sound of waves emanating from my iPod... Wouldn't that be amazing? But a bit over the top. So instead I just painted the inside of some mason jars, filled them with fake flowers and brought a dash of the sunshine into my house that way. Here's how:

You will need:
  • Some empty jars (clean and dry)
  • Glass paints
  • Paintbrush

Step 1 - Start by deciding the colours for your jars. If you want to mix the colours (I added white to mine to make them lighter) do it directly in the jar. Pour a generous dollop of the paint into the jar and mix it up with a paintbrush.

Step 2 - Swish and swirl the paint around, completely coating the inside of the jar. Drain the jar of excess paint by leaving it upside down (tip: leaving the jar to drain over a ramekin will catch the excess paint ready to be used for something else). Any messy bits can be cleaned up with a damp sponge.

Step 3 - Leave your jars to dry overnight. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees. Bake for 40 mins (be sure to double check this with the instructions on your particular paints as different brands may vary) and leave to cool before filling with flowers, pens, whatever!

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Tell me about it... Stud!

As well as all the pattern cutting and sample making going on in my studio, these days over at By Hand HQ we've been having a lot of fun with quick DIY projects. As much as I love the complete process of designing, cutting and making a dress from start to finish, it's so great to be able to break up the concentration with a bit of instant gratification. My little boy is now three and a half and very curious about what his Mama does. He'll often grab some yarn and needles and attempt to knit some socks, order me to make him superhero suits and dinosaur costumes or suggest I make a new dress to wear today, but is always frustrated by how long these things actually take! With all this quickie DIY stuff going on now however, he's found his niche. And my skull studs.

I am proud to say that this project was entirely his idea, he chose his studs and positioned them himself (obviously I did the anchoring of the spiky bits that hold them in place, and demolished my fingers in the process).

It seems the apple really doesn't fall far from the tree. I am overcome with pride. They are the coolest shoes I think I have ever seen. In fact I might have to copy him and make a matching pair for myself. Too much??

What he wore: raglan t-shirt; grey moleskin trousers; his studded plimsoles; 1984 Fisher Price roller skates

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