Forgive me if this seems like one of those posts that might have been written by an over-excitable puppy, but the sparkly lemonadey feeling of learning something new (as with the dressmaking) can bring that out in one. It all started when an A4 package arrived on my doorstep on Saturday morning. Photo Papers Direct had written to me the week before last asking if I'd like to try some of their t-shirt transfer paper, an offer which would have had me biting off their hand had they not been at a safe distance behind a computer, as I do love the idea of mixing some fancy-pants wizardry into the stitching arena. Anyway, the papers arrived on Saturday and due to them being 'printer-related' they seemed to break down a crafting gender divide and Mr Teacakes was just as enthusiastic about the potential uses as I was (Mr Teacakes is currently in the process of drawing an enormous picture of another world for the children's walls and so the idea of transferring a small section of this on to a t-shirt was one that really appealed).
Anyway, for the last five years I have been rather desperate to learn to use a computer graphics programmes that would allow me to draw, but more importantly mix drawing with samples of fabric. But somehow I've never got around to mastering how to do this. However, on Saturday every time I thought about the t-shirt transfers that I'd like to create they all involved this mixture of computer-generated drawing and fabric samples and so on Saturday night I sketched a tortoise by hand and then loaded it on to the computer and asked Mr Teacakes to teach me how to draw around it. The first couple of hours were a little frustrating as every curve and line is manipulated by handles that spring off each 'point' and it's not as intuitive as I'd expected it to be...however, by midnight this tortoise had been born, I was happily clicking my way around, revelling in how perfectly curvaceous the computer can make things look, and had even learnt to order my work properly by using 'layers'. There's so much happiness to be had from being geeky. I think the ideal package for this type of thing would be Illustrator, but as I only have Fireworks on my computer that's what I used and it seemed to be capable of doing everything I wanted it to do. I then used Heather Bailey's Nicey Jane fabric line to fill in the tortoise's shell because it's a fabric line that I can't stop thinking about (Fabric Rehab started stocking this last week and seem to be the UK's first and only suppliers - hurrah for them - and as if this wasn't enough fabric excitement for one week, Seamstar has just taken delivery of Anna Maria Horner's Folksy Flannels).
So all this may make it seem like there must be a lot of prep-work involved in using t-shirt transfers...but no, all that is just self-created hustle and bustle around the project. If you didn't fancy gathering enormous eye-bags with yet another late night crafting session you could take a simple picture, photo or even a word (although you'd need to flip it first as a mirror-image is what's transferred onto the t-shirt). Once my tortoise was finished it was actually just a case of printing it onto the transfer paper and ironing it on...a five minute job. My first attempt was unsuccessful in a number of ways...I chose a pink t-shirt, which wasn't the best choice for retaining the vibrant colours, but that was irrelevant anyway, as I managed to singe the t-shirt and actually turn it a rather ugly brown. The instructions said that the transfer would be complete once a symbol on the paper had changed colour...but I wanted to be definitely sure that the transfer really had worked and so chose to leave the hot iron scorching away for another minute once I'd seen the symbol change colour...I'm a wise one. However, once I'd defumigated the house I decided to try again with a white t-shirt and to follow the instructions properly.
This time I was really pleased with the results - the image doesn't have that horrible shiny look that some t-shirt transfers can have - you can see this better here:
I love the way the fabric on the shell looks too. I'd worried about leaving the background of the shell white in case the transfer made this look odd...but you really can't see that it's a transfer, it's as if the prints are actually a part of the original fabric of the t-shirt:
Can you tell quite how much I love this whole process? And the Zebra - well, she loved it - she stood by declaring each stage a success (even the burnt t-shirt) and wiggled her way into the t-shirt the minute it had cooled down. I'd love to also use the transfers on some plain cotton to make pencil cases for her and dinosaur-boy...they seem to love things with their names on and their own pictures could be scanned in and transferred on.
I feel like the fun has just begun - I have so many ideas for how I'd like to use these papers and next on my list is mixing in some stitching with the final transfer to create something more textural and multi-media even more fiercely fine in the fun-to-make stakes (why does writing the word 'multi-media' make me feel completely pretentious? Does anyone share my cringe factor with that word?).
So anyway, should you wish to venture down the transfer route (I've done the t-shirt burning bit for you now...you really can follow the instructions safe in the knowledge that you don't need to double the suggested ironing time for no reason at all.) then my papers were sent from the lovelies at Photo Paper Direct - they sent me two packs, one for using on light coloured fabrics and one for dark coloured fabrics. I'm yet to try out the dark version - I think the technique for transferring differs somewhat, but it looks just as simple. I will report back when Mr Teacakes has had a turn as he is planning to use them for something relating to Dinosaur-boy's birthday in a few months time.
Anyway, I had meant to blog about my new quilt this evening, but really this was all far too exciting not to tell you about right this instant. So sorry for the over-enthusiasm...I think learning new things does this to me...time to lie down in a darkened room.
I hope you've had the most lovely of weekends,