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How to print children’s drawings on to fabric

Earlier this year I shared a quilt I had made using children’s artwork printed directly on to cotton (no transfer) I’ve had a few questions about the construction of the quilt and how the printing process works, so I thought I’d tell you a bit more about the project in this post.

childrens art printed on to cotton poplin

The original idea for this quilt is not mine, but actually goes back to this blog post I read whilst living in Canada nearly six years ago. The first stage of creating the quilt involved getting the  class teacher to oversee the creation of nineteen pieces of artwork. I wanted the finished blocks to be 5 inches square so after factoring in the seam allowance I would need, I asked her to get the drawings on squares that were 5.5 x 5.5 inches – This was an error!

I hadn’t thought that the kids would colour to the edge and draw beautiful borders, I should have added the seam allowances afterwards. Fortunately this was not a problem, after I scanned the pictures in to my computer I used Photoshop to resize them to 5 inches which was a quick and easy process. (If you don’t have Photoshop other free photo editing software will do the same job)

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The next task involved placing the resized drawings on to an A4 template in Photoshop (though you could also use Microsoft Word). I stacked them vertically with two to a page. Then I did a test print on a piece of normal paper to ensure I had enough of a gap between each one for my quarter inch seam allowance. To do this I got a ruler out and measured round the edge of the artwork on my sample print to check there was enough space.

Once I’d adjusted the margins I was ready to print straight on to the Blumenthal Craft’s printable cotton poplin. Unlike printable transfers, using this process you print directly on to cotton which has a waxed backing sheet which keeps it rigid. The result is proper printed cotton and it doesn’t crack or flake after washing like a transfer.

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I used a roll and a pack of sheets as the roll is more economical but not quite long enough for this job. With the roll I cut nine 11 inch long ‘pages’ from the 100 inch roll and printed two drawings on each. This made the sheets the equivalent size of US/Canadian A4 paper which is slightly smaller than European A4.

After printing you need to let the ink completely dry on the sheets for about half an hour. Then you remove the backing and wash the sheets under running cold water. I found there was very little run off of colour so the washing process was quite quick.

Cotton poplin creases easily so you have to resist the temptation to wring the sheets out too much. I draped mine over a radiator and put an old towel underneath it to catch any coloured drips. When the sheets were dry it was time to start the quilt.

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I trimmed all the blocks down exactly as you would with a normal sheet of cotton and then sewed on 2.5 inch borders made with Kona solids. The sashing between the blocks was made from 3.5 inch strips of Kona Snow and the off cuts of the Kona solids formed the border around the edge of the quilt.

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I’m delighted with the result and will definitely be using the Cotton Poplin again. The official washing instructions tell you to hand wash or dry clean, but I have checked with the blogger who made the original quilt seven years ago and she says she has machine washed and tumble dried her quilt and that the blocks have only faded “a bit” so I don’t think the occasional cool machine wash and line dry will be fatal.

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Any questions about the printing process or the quilt construction please leave them in the comments…

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Upcycling glass jars for storage

Upcycling glass jars for storage

by Clare Mansell

I have a confession, it is possible that at some point in the past I have put an empty glass jar in the recycling bin in the same week that I have then bought a Kilner jar, which is pretty illogical apart from the fact that Kilner jars do look so pretty…

So this month for my Pinty Plus Chalk Paint Spray makeover I thought I would upcycle some old glass jars into storage containers for my She Shed. I never seem to have enough small containers for all the bits and pieces that go with sewing and as a result they often tend to get lumped into a big box together. A bit of organisation will help me keep tabs on which supplies are running low…

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I put out an SOS on Facebook and discovered that at least two of my greener pals keep all their old glass jars to reuse and I was able to pick and choose from their stock.

Here is the collection of jars I salvaged. A real mixed bunch…

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After I had given them all a really good clean to remove any sticky labels, I decided to spray paint the lids using Pinty Plus Chalk Paint Spray in Turquoise. If you saw my post last month, this is not the same colour I used for the chair. It’s slightly darker, but when you look at them separately it would be easy to assume they were the same.

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If you look very closely at the image above you might notice the left hand lid has a bubble on it. This was entirely my fault I had scrubbed the lid with a brillo pad and a bit of the soap residue had been left on it which made the paint bubble up. Moral to the story? Make sure your lids are clean! After the lids had dried I sprayed again with craft varnish to protect them…

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And added some chalkboard labels which come in all different shapes and sizes and you can buy from Amazon. You also need some chalk to write on them with, but if you have a small child, there’s always some of that somewhere in the house…

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Simple uniform storage jars! I used a fraction of a can of the turquoise paint and a third of a packet of labels. If I keep this up I may have to invest in a chalkboard pen with a fine nib as my actual chalk handwriting is a little messy for my liking!

And if you are wondering when exactly the She Shed makeover will be complete, we had a small setback this weekend because I ordered the wrong legs for the units (oops!) but it should be finished next weekend…

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DIY Poundland bird feeder

DIY Poundland bird feeder

by Clare Mansell

We’ve never been particularly successful feeding the birds in our garden until recently. Theo went to an activity morning at a local organic growers over Easter and came back with a simple pinecone bird feeder and decided he wanted to hang it in a totally different spot in the garden to our other bird feeder. Within hours the local blue tit population had made it their favourite new feeding spot and we had to go out and buy a peanut feeder to keep it company.

When the pinecone feeder was empty, Theo wanted to make another, but really you need open pinecones for the idea to work best and the ones that are around in spring are tightly closed, so we started looking for other things to use.

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This DIY project uses a tealight holder from Poundland which can be washed and reused when the birds have emptied it. Great fun to make and so far quite popular with the birds too. Poundland also sell bird seed and you can get vegetable suet from any supermarket. It doesn’t need to be refrigerated and has a long shelf life.

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Making the feeder is a perfect messy hands on job for kids and is best done outside where any wasted ingredients will get eaten up and don’t have to be swept off the kitchen floor! Simply combine the suet and seeds in a bowl…

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Squeeze the combined suet and seed mix together into clumps and stuff into your tealight holder…

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Find a sturdy stick from the garden and push it through the feeder to provide a perch for birds. If you live in a windy spot, you might want to replace the string that holds the feeder with a bit of garden wire so that it doesn’t spin around too much in the breeze.

After hanging it in place you need lots of warm water and soap to clean up those suety hands!

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If you follow this tutorial please let me know, I’d love to see your feeders.

PS –  please be aware if you reuse your feeder it is recommended that you wash it outside so you don’t introduce germs in to your house.

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Peek-A-Boo Pin Cushion Tutorial

Peek-A-Boo Pin Cushion Tutorial

by Clare Mansell
peekaboo tutorial

My partner on the PillowTalk swap on Flickr asked for circles to be included in her cushion design and so I have spent a bit of time over the last couple of weeks experimenting with circles. Last night I also made her a pin cushion to match in the same style and decided to turn it into a tutorial. This is actually my first tutorial so all feedback will be much appreciated…

What you need. Fabric for your fussy cut centre, fabric for the middle circle, fabric for the pin cushion front and reverse as well as a pen/pencil/marker and two different size circles. In this instance I used the top and bottom of a glass bowl. The key to it all is that the smallest circle needs to be the same size as the area of fussy cut fabric that you want to show through.

Start by cutting two squares of your middle fabric, and place them right sides together. The size of your fabric will depend upon the size of your smaller circle.. Allow the top fabric (wrong side up) to be about an inch wider all round than your circle template and the fabric beneath (right side up) to be about two inches wider.

Then sew the two layers together by sewing around the circle you have drawn.
Next cut a hole in the centre of your circle going through both layers.
And take the middle out of the circle leaving about a quarter of an inch margin between the hole and the stitching   

Snip around this quarter inch margin circle being careful not to cut through the stitching of the circle.
Pull the smaller piece of fabric through the hole and onto the wrong side of the larger square
 
Once it is pulled through, iron in position. (I repeat this step with the red fabric further down which may make it clearer)

Place the square right side up on top of the fussy cut fabric, position and pin in place.

Then top sew around the circle close to the edge.

Next check the size of your larger circle by placing your template on top of your middle fabric. You can see here that this shows how much of the cream fabric will show through at the end.

Once again cut two squares of fabric (the larger of which will be the size of your pin cushion) and place them right sides together with your larger circle template on top. I don’t bother to accurately cut the fabric at this stage, as all the stitching, pulling and ironing tends to warp it out of shape. It’s easier to do it roughly and then trim when that bit is done. 
Sew around your circle and cut the middle out.
Pull the fabric of the smaller square through to the wrong side of the larger square
Turn over and pin the top layer to the middle layer (with fussy cut fabric attached)

Top sew around the circle on the top layer, attaching fussy cut layer + middle layer to top

Trim the top layer down to a neat square/rectangle and cut a piece of the bottom fabric to match. Place right sides together and sew the back to the front leaving a gap of a couple of inches in one side to allow you to turn it inside out and fill it. Then trim the corners off.
 Using the gap you left turn the pin cushion out.
Stuff with a filler of your choice and hand sew up the gap.
Ta-dah! One pin cushion. You can also use this principle for larger cushions or indeed quilt tops. Let me know how you get on or if anything isn’t clear.
 PS – I would like to make it clear that yes, I am wearing an apron in these photos and no I don’t normally wear it to sew, but I was multi-tasking and baking bread at the same time.. Must sort out my sewing wardrobe next time!

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