Saturday, 10 April 2010

stamped tea towel tutorial

Ok, so it's time for me to pony-up with the goods.  The tute-goods that is.  I've been promising that I would share how I made my tea towels and now the time has come where I can no longer hold out.  So here goes... my first tutorial.  And on one of my fave subjects too... tea towels!

Stamped Tea Towel Tutorial
Here's what you need before you get started:

1. household sponges 
You can pick up a cheap 5 pack at Coles for a couple of dollars.  Just use the cheapo brand, nothing fancy needed here.  You're going to use the sponge as a stamp pad.

2. rectangular takeaway container lid
I'm sure you'll have some of these laying around from that take-out dinner you had a few nights ago.  If you don't have any used an old plate or something of similar non-porous quality. This will be used as a base for your sponge (so the colour doesn't go everywhere)

3. setasilk fabric paint 
you can purchase these in a range of colours at your local Spotlight store.  They can be found in the paint section for around $7 per colour.  This is going to act as your "stamp ink".

4. foam stamps 
The best stamps to use for this project are foam stamps because they are more pliable and respond better to filling porous fabric.  You can use an alphabet set or shapes stamps or both to create your masterpiece.  Your local craft store (try Lincraft) should have a range of foam stamps between $5 - $25.

5. tea towel blanks
You'll want to find yourself 100% linen blanks.  Linen is more resistant to continuous washing, drying and general use.  You can still use the cotton tea towel blanks, but they won't last as long and I personally haven't tested this method on cotton.  You can go scouring for some on the internet, or go direct to where I bought mine - Linen Line Australia (email them for a quote).

Prep: Ensure you have washed, dried and ironed your tea towel blanks first.  This will give you an easier surface to work with.    Then prepare a clean and flat area to work on. 

  • For each different colour you want to stamp onto your tea towels you will need a separate sponge for your "ink pad".  Hence the reason purchasing a 5-pack of sponges is not only more economical, it's also handy to have a few on standby.  Take one of your sponges and place it on the lid of a rectangular take away container lid so that the sponge sits within the raised edges of the lid (helps to catch any overflow of ink). 
  • Pick which colour you're going to work with first, then take the fabric dye and apply it to the sponge working from one end of the sponge to the other until the sponge contains enough dye to successfully ink a stamp.  Remember that less is more and you can always add more if needed but it's a little trickier to take away excess!
  • What works really well for me is having a paper napkin ready to test my inked stamps onto before I attempt stamping directly onto the tea towel.
  • Now onto the creative part.  Work out what design you want to stamp onto your first tea towel.  Whether you're using letters, pictures or patterned stamps, foam stamps are the best as they pick up the fabric ink well and transfer onto the tea towels with ease.  Rubber mounted stamps just don't work as well especially if they have fine detail in the image.
  • do a dry run with an un-inked stamp if you're going to make a border with a stamp so that you get an idea of how many times you need to stamp a repeated image to make up one side of the border.  That way you avoid getting to the end of one edge and realising you are going to lose half of your image/pattern or have a gap left where there's not enough room to stamp another.
  • Ink your first stamp and make sure you test it on your paper napkin or a scrap piece of light coloured fabric first to see if the colour strength is right.  
  • Then away you go. Be as creative as you like with your designs and don't be afraid of minor imperfections.  It all adds to the finished product.
  • Once you have finished stamping your masterpiece, allow it to thoroughly dry before you stick a hot iron onto it.  Make sure you follow the instructions on the fabric dye you're using to correctly heat set it and don't keep the iron in one spot for too long otherwise you could get a nasty light-brown burn mark on your tea towel.
  • Once heat set, pop your tea towels back in the washing machine for a good old fashioned wash.  Once dry, iron each tea towel again to give it that crisp clean look.  And voila, you have your very own customised tea towels which make great gifts for housewarmings or for that special friend, who no doubt will appreciate their very own kitchen masterpiece.
If any of you make stamped tea towels using my super easy tute, I'd love for you to share some photos! 

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