How to stamp on fabric

Thursday, August 02, 2012

I've been toying with different ways of printing text on fabric. I've been printing, dipping, soaking and stamping. I love the way hand-stamping comes out on natural fabrics - it has a lovely 'homespun' look to it that makes me think of Zakka Style. I love this book.

I was inspired by Lynne of Lily's Quilts and her Penguin Books Quilt which I absolutely have to make. Here's a look at Lily's quilt top:

To read her quilt story and find out more about how it turned out, you should visit her blog here. Isn't the quilt amazing? I can't wait to try this out. As you can see - each of the book titles, authors and penguin labels has been printed onto white cotton and sewn on. When I saw this, I realised that you could easily print onto a smorgasbord of fabulous fabrics like cotton, prints, and, dare I add - twill tape?

It turns out that twill tape + hand-stamping = the perfect added embellishment for sewing projects. 

I was piecing together this coffee mug purse (as you do, when you're sewing late at night and discover that you have a bag full of scraps that resembles tea cup prints) sans twill tape. After putting it all together and pinning, I realised that it just looked odd. It looked like a zippy purse with a funny thing sticking out the side. That funny thing is a mug handle, and I laboured over it for quite some time trying to turn it inside out and stuff it, so it had to stay. There was something missing. 

So, I reverted to my Education in Alice and decided that any bottle or cup or thingamajig labelled with the words "Drink Me" would obviously indicate that there was liquid inside. And, a vaguely tea-cup-shaped object could be made distinctly tea-cuppish with a bit of Alice-inspired text. 

I got out my alphabet stamps and VersaCraft ink pads and got all set up. Stamping on fabric is just like stamping on paper - the only thing that is different is the type of ink that you use, and the method of after-care. Here's what I used:

The alphabet stamps come from a set of Stampabilities Writer's Type Lowercase which I bought from Simon Says Stamps in the US (they delivered the stamps in about 4 days, so don't let the location put you off). I couldn't find my acrylic stamp handle, so I used the nearest thing I could find: a Cuttlebug cutting mat. You can use anything clear that will let you see where you're stamping while applying even pressure. Lego bricks work well too! The clear stamps just peel off their backing sheet and stick to the acrylic surface so you don't need to worry about them coming off as you stamp.

VersaCraft ink pads can be used to stamp on fabric, wood, paper and a lot of other surfaces, so they were ideal for the job. I bought mine from eBay seller fluff.pie. You could also apply fabric paint using a sponge, but I like the sturdiness of an ink pad that lets you apply the ink evenly across the stamps. 

Next up: choose your twill tape or other fabric that you want to stamp on. I bought this natural cotton twill tape at the market last week. You can buy white cotton twill tape online almost anywhere, but I wanted something that blended well with flax-coloured linen so I was delighted when I found this canvas-coloured tape locally!

Line up your stamps and your fabric, and apply pressure evenly for a good stamping finish. If you push too hard, the ink will soak into the fabric and get blotchy. I press the stamps until I can feel them sticking to the fabric, and then I slowly pull them off to make sure it has stamped properly. 

Ta da! The final product. You need to iron the stamped fabric to set the ink and make it permanent. You could stamp phrases, quotes, names or labels. 

By the by - how much do you love that book cover? I've put it on display on our table because it makes me smile every time I look at it. 

And that's it. Here's my tea cup purse all sewn up and looking pretty. 

I added a label on the left for embellishment and some stitching along the front to create ridges. I sewed the handle out of matching linen and stuffed it using toy stuffing. The inside of the purse is lined with the same duck egg blue cotton that's along the top of the "tea cup".

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