major progress!

I got to spend a lot of time finishing up my fabric printing for my wing back chair slip-cover on Saturday.


cups of ink

Here’s a few details on how I go about doing this:

I carve my stamps on Soft-Kut printing blocks from Dick Blick.  They cut so smoothly and hold all the detail too.  Once I get my design carved I cut it out with an exacto-knife, round down the edges with my carving tools and then use plain old double stick tape to attach it to a piece of plexiglass.  (I just get a big sheet of plexiglass from Home Depot and cut it down with a utility knife.  I’m not going for perfection, so it’s okay if my edges are a little wonky sometimes.)

3 stamps

I use Versatex screen printing ink with permafix added so I don’t have to do any heat setting to make it permanent.  To get it the right consistency I just add a little water.

I put an old towel down on my drafting table to be a cushion for my stamps to sink into when I print and to catch any prints that go over the edges of my fabric.  Someday I’d like to have a table with batting and canvas stretched over it for fabric printing, but this works for now.

mum #1


The fabric I’m using is just a big canvas drop cloth from Home Depot that I pre-washed.  It’s quite a bit coarser canvas than the one I used to recover my rocking chair right before Eva was born.  I think I got that drop cloth at Lowe’s.  I prefer the Lowe’s drop cloth, but didn’t realize there was a difference until I had washed the Home Depot one and couldn’t return it.  I would get a lot clearer prints on a less coarse fabric, but I like the character.  It’s handmade, right?

big brown mum

blue mum

Can you imagine it all fitted and sewn into a lovely slip cover for my sad old chair?

my poor chair is ready for its new fabric

ready for the chair!

There’s light at the end of the tunnel of this project!  It felt so liberating to have it all cleaned up.  I can’t wait to show you my finished chair!


How are you doing this summer?  Dealing well with the record heat?  I have to say there were a few nights while we were trying to sleep in my mother in-law’s un-airconditioned and only one fan house that I thought I would literally melt into a puddle and disappear from off the face of the earth.  Luckily the second half of our stay was MUCH more pleasant in the temperature and humidity department.  Thank heavens.

Now we’re home.  I’m an air-conditioning kind of girl.

inking up

But, I didn’t sit down to write a post about the weather.  What I wanted to show you was my start on printing fabric for my poor worn out wing-back chair in the living room.  When I realized Barry would be home on Thursday I told him that it was going to be my printing day and he’d be in charge of kids (along with his mom who is visiting us now).  He makes it a priority to spend hours upon hours doing what he wants to do– riding his bike.  I have a hard time feeling like I’m not selfish carving out time to do what I want to do– make things.

Anyway, I got some time and took advantage of it.

printing slipcover fabric

with some mums

(My sweet husband took some photos of me working.)

I’m no Galbraith & Paul, but I’ve got a good start.  Next time I work on it I’ll take some photos of my printing blocks so you can see how I made them.

a little bit of my dream come true

Ever since I got the sewing bug while I was pregnant with Brenna and in my last days of art school I’ve thought it would be fun to design fabric.  Then I became a quilter, discovered designers like Amy Butler and Anna Maria Horner (who also has 6 kids) and have thought over and over, “I could do that….. if I could just figure out how to do that.”

Well, I decided this is the year that I will learn to be a fabric designer.  I got myself some books

my school books

which have helped me immensely.  I learn by reading.  If I can read about how to do something in a book, then I can do it, but reading directions on the computer, experimenting by trial and error– they just don’t do it for me.  Kim Kight’s Field Guide to Fabric Design is fantastic.  All the tutorials for digital design are for Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, but since those aren’t quite in the budget I’m having to translate things into GIMP and Inkscape, which are free.  I also got a vector drawing app for my iPad call iDraw and a stylus so I can draw right on my iPad.  It’s like a glorified sketchbook, though I have been using my real sketchbook a lot too.


And then there’s Spoonflower.  I’ve known about it since it first started in 2008 or 2009 and signed up as soon as it wasn’t just by invitation only, but have never figured out how to make designs until now.  And look!

first spoonflower fabric

My first test swatches came in the mail!!!  My designs are printed on real fabric!!!

first spoonflower fabric

Anyone remember the story I told about Ian coming downstairs one morning and telling me, “Mom, we’re going to get a girl baby and her name is going to be Eva and she is going to be zero and she will have a pink shirt that is a dress”?  Well, he further described that pink shirt that is a dress as having blue butterflies on it and a skirt that is blue with pink butterflies.  I’ve been on the look out for pink shirts with blue butterflies, pink fabric with blue butterflies, blue fabric with pink butterflies.  None.  I guess I’ll have to make some.

first spoonflower fabric

And I can!!  How fun is that?


a spider mum stamp

I don’t sit down and draw or just make art very often anymore.  For one thing, I need lots of time and quiet concentration– a way to get in the right frame of mind– to draw.  That is hard with a 2 year old who insists on climbing in my (shrinking) lap if it ever looks like I’m doing anything remotely interesting, and all the daily responsibilities that come with this stage of life I’m in.  I also have a hard time justifying making things that aren’t useful, and so as I’ve settled into motherhood I’ve turned to sewing or knitting to fill my creative need because they require less brain power from me, and I end up with a finished project that can be USED by me, my family, or whoever it happens to be gifted to.

But, today I needed to make something just because I wanted to make it.  My sweet husband has kept a bouquet of fresh flowers on my counter or kitchen table since Valentine’s day, and so every now and then I’d put a quick sketch of one flower or another in my sketch book.  I’ve wanted to turn those sketches into hand carved stamps, but never find the time.  Today I just made one.


(When Brenna saw me working she ran to get the camera.)


I was out the door to do grocery shopping much later than I had planned on, and then when we did go Hunter still had some wild and crazy bedhead going on.  But let me tell you– it felt so good to sit and draw and create just for the sake of it– so right, so me.  Does that make any sense?

hand carved spider mum stamp

My  kids draw and draw and draw all day and I always tell myself I don’t have time to sit and draw with them, but maybe I do.  The groceries did get bought and put away, diapers still got changed, meals got made– but drawing and carving just one flower helped me do it all with a brighter smile inside.