DIY Tea Towel Tutorial

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Tea towels…we all need them, we all use them, why not make them beautiful? But then this is about more than just tea towels. The stamps that I created for this project are ridiculously easy to make and the patterns (although they look complex) are not at all hard to pull off. REALLY! So, you could stamp away at pillow covers, scarves, tote bags, zippered pouches, you name it!

I was inspired to make these when the amazing Jemma Wildermuth of CReATE STUDIO (www.createstudiofun.com) asked me to teach a class of some sort. Since one of the major components of CReATE STUDIO is recycled and reused materials and since I’m totally down with that concept, I wanted to add an eco-conscious element to this project. So I scrounged and salvaged as much as possible to make my stamps.

Tutorial

Materials:

  • cotton tea towels or whatever your heart desires
  • wood shapes
  • scrap craft foam, foam shapes, rubber bands, wine corks, etc..
  • VersaCraft ink pad in real black
  • Permaset Aqua fabric ink in jet black (optional)
  • iron to heat set

Step 1: Wash your tea towels (or whatever fabric you’re using) before you begin stamping. This is particularly important for fabric that will shrink – like tea towels!

Step 2: Be certain to protect whatever surface you’re working on and be sure to try out your stamps on a scrap piece of fabric before you begin stamping on your tea towel. Honestly, I don’t always do this because I like to live dangerously, but you really should. 🙂

There are so many options for creating stamps! If you’re a newbie, I would recommend copying mine or using mine as a springboard until you get the hang of it. Then branch out and do your own thing!

Okay people, this is literally a 3 x 3 inch piece of wood (leftover from an indigo shibori project) that I wrapped with dollar store rubber bands. I then inked it up with my VersaCraft ink pad and stamped away turning as I went. So easy and so cool!

For this one, I simply cut some scrap craft foam into circles and hot glued them to wooden circles. As you can see, I wasn’t even super careful about cutting out my circles – which I think made the print more interesting! I mean just look at that awesome print!

This one was a tad more complex but still ridiculously easy considering the result! I used another 3 x 3 piece of leftover wood and then hot glued foam shapes to create a pattern. I stole these foam shapes from my daughter’s stash of art materials, but you could just as easily cut them out. The only shape that I altered was the square in the center. I then inked my stamp and began stamping being careful to turn it and line up the “like” sides to create a pattern.

Apparently I forgot to photograph this one before I inked it up?! But once again, it’s super simple. I hot glued craft foam in diagonal strips onto a 3 x 3 inch piece of wood. The amazingly cute pattern happens when you align your stamp with the same sized lines as you move along.

I wanted to cram multiple techniques onto one tea towel to demo them, but I’m very happy with the overall result. You could most certainly do an all over design with any one of these stamps and it would be gorgeous!

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Speaking of all over designs…I was so enamored with the circles that I decided to devote an entire tea towel to them. I used the two circle stamps above and I added a few more.

I hot glued craft foam to three wood circles. I used a ball point pen to draw concentric circles on two of them and I left the third one blank. Interestingly, the blank circle ended up transferring the pattern that the hot glue made under the foam (the print in the center on the bottom row above). This was unexpected, but I liked it. To get a completely solid circle in a few spots I inked up a plain wooden circle.

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The diamond shape in several of the circles was from the pattern on the Bounty paper towels that I had placed under my tea towel!

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Voila! This is the finished towel. I think it’s lovely. It’s a bit off kilter in spots because my stamping wasn’t perfectly straight and because the fabric isn’t perfectly square but that doesn’t bother me one bit. The only caveat is that this baby was time consuming! If you’re making it as a gift, you should definitely bear that in mind.

Last but not least, I wanted to experiment with slightly larger scale stamps and I wanted to try using screen printing ink rather than the VersaCraft ink pad.

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This stamp was made by linking four equally sized diamonds to form a shape. Once again I glued the craft foam to the wood with some hot glue and I inked my stamp with the Permaset Aqua. This method was a bit messier than the ink pad but it worked fine. In order to get an even layer of ink on my stamp I first put some ink onto a piece of plexi (any hard, flat, non-porous surface will do) and I rolled out a thin, even layer with my foam brayer. I then rolled the ink onto my stamp and pressed it firmly onto my fabric being careful to lift straight up when I removed my stamp. Once again this was super simple to create but it looks complex.

Last but not least, I joined the diamond shaped pattern and I made the little border at the bottom with a wine cork.

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The next pattern was made with a wood shape that I found at Michaels. I attached craft foam to one side, rolled on my ink and stamped away. This one went quickly and because the wood shape was thicker, it was really easy to press onto and lift off of the fabric.

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The last stamp for this project was created to act as a bridge between the two patterns above. I cut the diamond shapes out of some trusty dollar store craft foam, drew the lines with a ball point pen and hot glued them to a rectangular piece of wood (sound familiar?).

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Another graphic, modern piece of functional art for your home! There really is something so lovely about picking up and using a tea towel that you made or that was made for you by someone you love. I almost always pause and think about that fact when I use these and it makes me smile. Not to mention how much style these little babies add to my kitchen.

Step 3: Allow your fabric to air dry for 24 hours and then heat set it with an iron on the highest setting for 3-5 minutes. I generally put a cloth or some paper towels between my iron and the fabric, but that’s probably not totally necessary.

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SO Cute, right?! I have to say that I’m kind of in love with the black and white thing. The screen printing ink left a bit more texture on the fabric than the ink pad, but both inks worked well.

I know I’ve said it ad nauseam but these stamps really are RIDICULOUSLY easy! And for the last time, the patterns that you can achieve with such simple designs are amazing!!!!! And once you have your stamps you can use them again and again on a wide variety of things!

Check out the flyer for this class here. If you’re in the vicinity, I would love to meet you!

Easy Peasy Ikea Pillow Cover Hack

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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.

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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:

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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.

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

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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.”

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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