Easy Peasy Ikea Pillow Cover Hack

IMG_20160510_163828

Hello dear readers! I saw this pin on Pinterest and it inspired me to create this easy peasy, totally fabulous pillow cover. I was recently at my (not so local) Ikea store and I picked up a few of these pillow covers.

IMG_20160510_120724

I love the color and I love the fabric, which looks like linen but according to the package is made from ramie. What the heck is ramie? I did a little research and here’s what I found on this site:

Despite the shroud of mystery surrounding it, especially in the US market, ramie is evidently one of the oldest fibers cultivated for textiles. Commonly called China Grass, it is grown and used mainly in southern and eastern Asia (with some production in Brazil). Only a small percentage of the overall production seems to be exported for use in Euro/America. Ramie fibers are naturally white, which reduces the need for bleaching, but in order to be used in textiles, they require extensive processing, including de-gumming. The fibers are also very strong and—like linen—improve in strength when wet with very little shrinkage.

Interesting! It has a lovely hand and honestly I would not have known that it wasn’t linen if I hadn’t read the package. Anyways, it was a great starting point, but it was definitely crying out for some color and pattern. When I saw the pin for paper roll shape stamps that I mentioned above I thought, why not?

Materials:

Tutorial

Step 1: Grab and one of these:

IMG_20160510_170615

Then cut your paper towel roll holder in half (If you’re using a toilet paper roll holder, then you don’t need to cut it). I used a serrated knife thinking that I would get a cleaner cut and less squishing of the roll. The later was true, the first not so much. So I decided to use the nice, flat factory ends. Regardless, cutting it in half makes it more manageable to work with.

IMG_20160510_115135 (1)

Step 2: Manipulate your paper roll holder into whatever shape pleases you. I’m going for a squarish shape.

IMG_20160510_120509

Step 3: Put some paint or ink onto a flat surface and roll it out. I’m using a brayer, but a little paint roller would work fine. This is just to get your paint/ink into a nice thin layer so that you don’t blob too much paint onto your “stamp.”

IMG_20160510_115909

Step 4: Experiment on a scrap piece of fabric or even a paper towel until you find a pattern that you like.

IMG_20160510_120312

Step 5: Iron your pillow cover until it’s relatively flat. Then fold it in half and press it in both directions with your iron. This will give you your center point as well as vertical and horizontal lines to help guide you as you print.

IMG_20160510_122422

Step 6: Put a barrier of some sort between your fabric so that your paint doesn’t bleed through. I’m using a piece of clear vinyl, but aluminum foil would work fine.

Step 7: Gently pounce your stamp into your paint and begin stamping starting at your center point and working your way out.

IMG_20160510_125751

IMG_20160510_124559

About 3/4 of the way through I noticed that my “stamp” was looking a bit squished and my prints weren’t as sharp. So, I decided to use the other end of my paper towel roll to start anew.

IMG_20160510_130242

Maybe I was a little too assertive with my stamping? Or maybe you will need to do this too…so I would have the other half of your paper towel roll handy. If you’re using a toilet paper roll, I suppose that you could simply turn it over. 🙂

Here it is right after I finished printing:

IMG_20160510_130958

As you can see, I put some paper towels around the edges. This helps to keep things nice and tidy so that when I’m done printing I can simply pull out the paper towels and I don’t have to worry about getting paint on the underside of my pillow.  You can also see that the row of circles at the bottom isn’t perfectly straight. I’m not sure where things went a bit off kilter, but I’m totally okay with it. This is a handcrafted, hand printed item, so imperfections are part of what makes it beautiful.

Step 8: Allow your fabric to dry completely and then heat set it with an iron on the hottest setting for 1-3 minutes. I generally place a cloth between my fabric and my iron in order to protect my work of art.

Here it is, so great, right?! And SO EASY, this truly requires no artistic ability and in my humble opinion it’s so much cuter than the plain pillow cover. I love the combination of grey and orange and I really love how the paint is brighter in the spots where it went on a bit thicker – It definitely adds dimension and interest to this simple, modern pattern.

IMG_20160510_163828

 

 

Lotus Flower Stamp – Turning a Lemon into Lemonade!

IMG_20160503_133533 (2)

The block printing mania continues! In my last post I reviewed six carving blocks and I gave you my humble opinion regarding the pros and cons of each. In the course of this block carving odyssey, I tried out a linoleum block, which I hated. The carving was really difficult and the print (as you can see) was pretty bad.

IMG_20160428_090256 (2)

I was making this pillow case for my lovely niece Breanna who loves owls…and since I ran out of pillow cases and I couldn’t order more (because they’re on back order at Dharma Trading), I decided to try to salvage this one. My first step was to insert a piece of clear vinyl between my fabric (to prevent any bleed through). Then I set about to cover the whole thing with black ink.

IMG_20160503_112943 (2)

I initially tried to put the ink on with a little roller, but that didn’t work very well. I needed to roll over the same spots repeatedly and I seemed to be using a ton of ink. So, I grabbed one of my daubers (bottom left corner below) and I gave that a go. This worked much better!

IMG_20160503_113728

When I was finished, I set my pillow case outside to dry in the sun. Here it is, the color isn’t completely solid but I’m okay with that.

IMG_20160503_115038

Now it’s time to carve! After a little poking around on my niece’s Pinterest boards 🙂 I noticed that she has a thing for lotus flowers so I decided to incorporate them into my design.

But I digress…before the designing and carving bit you will need to work out the size of your carving block. In this case, since my pillow cover is 16 x 16 inches I decided to make my block 4 x 4 inches (using my favorite Soft-Kut blocks) so that I can get a nice pattern going. I first discovered the pattern making technique that I will be using when I saw Julie Balzer’s amazing pins on Pinterest. However, I soon realized that making patterns by assembling small pieces to form a whole goes WAY back to ancient times…like Mesopotamian mosaics and tile work. Not to mention quilt making which dates to ancient Egypt.

Now that you have your block cut and ready to go you will need to draw a grid – actually this isn’t mandatory but it will help you immensely when you’re drawing your design. Mind you, this is coming from someone who is all too happy to freehand something! However, soon after diving into this technique I realized that precision is super important when you’re trying to create a repeating pattern.

IMG_20160503_120225 (1)

Now it’s time for the fun part! I found a picture of a lotus flower that I used as a starting point…the rest I made up.

IMG_20160503_121825

Next, simply carve out all of your lines with your smallest carving tool. This will give you a little “moat” that will help you to stay in the lines when you begin to remove more material.

IMG_20160503_123337

Now you need to think about your positive and negative space or what you want to print and what you want to remain the background color. Grab a larger tool and begin carving the block to create your “negative”space (the color of your fabric).

 

IMG_20160503_131354

Pretty, right?! Next you will need to do a test print on paper with a regular ink pad. This is a super important step, so don’t skip it! This print will allow you to see your lines much more clearly and it will enable you to determine where you need to do a bit more carving. I always discover areas that need more carving when I do this…and I’m always excited to get an idea of how my design is coming together. 🙂

IMG_20160503_132209

After carving a bit more out here and there, this is my block.

IMG_20160503_133533 (2)

Next you will need to find the center of your fabric. I typically fold my fabric in half in both directions and I press it with an iron to get my center. However, since I already had my vinyl in place and since my fabric is black, it seemed easier to just mark off the center using a ruler and some white chalk.

IMG_20160504_102840

Alright so now for the printing part…I’m using Super Opaque White Ink by Versatex. I put the ink onto a piece of plexi that I picked up at Home Depot (you can use glass or any other hard, flat surface) and I rolled it out with my brayer. Please note that this ink is quite thick and the open time is short so it’s best to work quickly.

IMG_20160504_163949 (2)

Next, I rolled my ink onto my block with my brayer as smoothly and evenly as possible.

IMG_20160504_164032

I then lined up the top left corner of my block with the center of my pillow case and I carefully laid my inked block down. Be sure to press smoothly and evenly on the back side of your block. I have found that my fingers work just fine but some people use rollers or burnishers to get firmer pressure on their blocks. You can lift up a corner and take a peek at your print to make sure that your ink is transferring well. If it’s not, simply place it back down and apply more pressure.

When I got about seven blocks in, I started to notice a decline in my print quality. I think that the ink was starting to dry on the block so I cleaned it off before continuing.

IMG_20160504_104927

Once you have finished printing let your piece dry completely and heat set it for 1-3 minutes with an iron.

Here it is, what do you think? I like the white on black combo and I think that the design is cool but for a minute the lotus flowers looked like pot leaves…yikes! PLEASE tell me that I’m imagining things because that is NOT what I was going for!!!

IMG_20160506_171109