Monday, January 3, 2011

Hand printed tea towels

I totally fell in love with stamping during my Christmas preparations. I stamped everything. If you came to my house and stood still long enough you were in danger of being stamped yourself! After printing some Christmas wrapping paper I suddenly thought of my huge roll of linen and knew it would make great tea towels, trivets, table runners and oven mitts (more on those later). I could design my own little stamps, cut and print them, sew the fabric and voila, Christmas presents!

Well, it didn't quite go like that of course!! For my first design I'd decided on trying an image of an artichoke, one of my favourite foods of all time. The first few stamps I made were awful. The line work was terrible and the design was just all wrong. So I sketched and sketched, thought about it some more, then dragged all 3 kids to art shops til I found a good cutting tool and bought extra supplies of the rubber cutting mats. Then I couldn't find the right colour fabric paint so had to buy several colours to mix, needed to work out how to make a stamp pad for fabric paint, kept getting patchy prints from my stamps, and on and on... you get the picture.

On the verge of giving up, it finally all came together and I ended up with some tea towels I was pretty happy with. Wow, it seems so much effort now I look back on it - I guess every new craft venture is a steep learning curve.

The first tutorial I found invaluable was from the very talented Gennine's art blog, tutorial here. And the second was from the excellent jezzeprints blog. It was invaluable for learning how to make a stamp pad (and for tips about all sorts of detail). You can find her tutorial here. Jesse makes the most beautiful prints. I am in awe.

So here are some of the patterns I made with my beloved artichoke. I did some in white (forgot to photograph) and some in green, and added the red twill tape as a nod to the Christmas season.

My favourite design turned out to be one I came up with in the small hours of the night before we were going away for Christmas (hastily ironed and tumbled dry to fix the ink!). Isn't that always the way, inspiration at the last minute! An artichoke Christmas tree, topped with a white star :-)

And here's one packed up and ready to be posted to a dear friend who I worked with for a number of years who I know will 'get it' :-)

It was fun coming up with the different designs but not really so much fun doing all the printing as it was so laborious and time consuming. The design part of the process was definitely my favourite bit!

There are a few dodgy tea towels lurking around on my sewing table that didn't make it to friends and relatives due to their gross imperfections. I hope to put that frustratingly gathered knowledge to use and overprint some in the hope that I can save them from the scrap heap. Wish me luck!


  1. Beautiful! I love the artichoke tree. (And thanks for the link - much appreciated.)

  2. Those are so darn darling! I am really liking how you used artichokes!! And that tree wit the little star is the icing on the cake. It may have been a lot of effort, but it shows in brilliance in the final results!

  3. What a great little design, they look excellent! Love the tree idea!
    ha ha ha... I always come up with my best ideas in the middle of the night!!!

    I love the process of screen printing and it's the best feeling when it all goes to plan though I do have a few tea towel "mishaps" in my kitchen.. we will never be short of a tea towel, that for sure :)


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