New thermofax screen – Sashiko stitching

I am currently enamoured with all things Japanese. I am re-learning the language, forty years after I first did an intensive 12 month course, and I have a trip planned for later this year. So I wasn’t surprised to notice that a number of the new screens I have made recently have a distinctly Japanese theme to them.

Sashiko stitching is a traditional style of running stitch usually done in white on an indigo background. I must confess that traditional sashiko just doesn’t appeal to me much – the traditional designs are very precise and orderly. While many people find repetition and symmetry pleasing in designs, I am afraid I am not one of them. To me, same, orderly = predictable = boring, no matter how artfully executed. I like eccentricity and asymmetry – it takes far too much effort to be perfect!

sashiko-scallops-on-indigo

sashiko-scallops

thermofax screen sashiko stitching

zippered pouch with ‘sashiko’ stitching

So I took a traditional sashiko clamshell design and in Adobe Illustrator, drew free-hand clamshells then used a seed stitch brush to simulate the stitches. I turned this into a thermofax screen, and voila – instant, quirky sashiko ‘stitching’. I made a zippered pouch of the fabric, and backed it with some complementary Japanese patchwork fabric.sashiko-zippered-pouch-back
thermofax 'sashiko' stitching

I played with the idea a bit and made a few more designs, including a traditional hexagon, some random, wavy stitching lines and then interspersed straight lines with circles. These remind of of the sand/gravel gardens at at temple in places like Kyoto.
sashiko-stone-gardensashiko-hexagons

I have printed these onto some indigo fabric that I dyed using 60% reduced indigo from KraftKolour in Melbourne. A very quick and easy way to get into indigo dyeing if you would like to give it a go. These pieces only had one dip in the vat, so aren’t very dark, but I like this shade of blue.

I’m baaaack!

Dear me, I am not quite sure why I go missing in action from time to time.  This has been a particularly long absence, but yes, I am still alive.  I have had a steady flow of thermofax screen orders recently, so people are obviously finding the site, despite my inactivity.  If you are wondering, yes I still provide a custom screen service.

2016-AHQ-label

My first screen of the year, as always was for the 2016 label for Aussie Hero Quilts.  I have sent off about 30 of these already. Of course not everyone uses my labels, many people make their own, but there are obviously some people who appreciate having someone else take care of that little detail, so I am happy to help, especially as it is such a good cause.

I made 11 AHQ quilts in 2015 and quilted six made by others.  So far this year I have one nearly finished and two waiting to be quilted.  I will gradually update the AHQ quilt gallery with the photos.

Yes I am still alive!

Have been getting a steady flow of thermofax screen orders coming through, usually prefaced with a query along the lines of ‘..if you are still in business”!  Made me realise I have been neglecting this blog.  However I haven’t been idle.  For one thing, I just sent off a bunch of Aussie Hero Quilts to soldiers and sailors serving in the Gulf, Afghanistan and elsewhere.  As well as making quilts for them, I print labels to go on the back of the quilts.  If anyone is making a quilt for them, all they have to do is send me a SSAE and let me know how many labels they want and I will pop them in the mail.

sceen printed label for AHQ

 

Direct to garment printing

image of a white daisy like flowerDTG printed cushion

DTG printers are mainly used to print t-shirts, tote-bags, aprons etc.  They are inkjet printers specifically designed to print to fabric.  For many years I made do with printing to fabric using my home inkjet printer, which works fine providing you have the right sort of printer, or if not, use pre-treated fabric, and, don’t mind putting up with the size limitations.  The print areas of DTG printers vary depending on whether they are single or double platen machines.  The one I use is a double platen and can print up to 45cm x 60cm.

I have just completed this cushion for a client who wanted a very special flower (it looked like a white daisy to me but apparently not!) printed onto grey fabric with a quote about sisters. I extracted the flower from the background in Photoshop, resized and rotated it and added the text.  One of the good things about the DTG process is that it provides photographic reproduction, so you can incorporate all the sorts of photographic effects (drop shadow, bevel and emboss, strokes etc) that you can’t use if you are say using a thermofax or other screen printing process.

This is now on its way across to the other side of the world – I hope she likes it!

 

You can see a bigger range of examples of DTG printed cushions on my website http://hilarymetcalfdesigns.com/.  Remember, if you can create or capture a digital image, you can print it, with photographic quality, onto fabric.

Small things

I like making small things – they are quick, no big investment in time or materials and very satisfying.  You can sort of work in a series doing lots of small things in a row to work through an idea.  These cards bring together my love of working with rusted fabric, snippets from my embroidery and a few new techniques.  Although not a scrapbooker, I have recently peered into that world and discovered a thing or two that is handy.  A Cutttlebug paper embosser for one, that allows me to add some embossed detail to cards to combine with lace and bits. The last two cards have been embossed.

The numbers 3 and 9 and the ‘@’ were all cut with a an electronic stencil cutter – these are way too much fun and have great potential for surface design.

card8

This little card was inspired by Helen Smith’s work.   I don’t have the sort of printing press that she does, but after a bit of research discovered the Cuttlebug – lots of fun! Technically I think what she did is called collograph printing, whereas I embossed – suspect there is a subtle difference there, but don’t know enough about it!

Digital fabric printing

vintage postcard printed onto fabric

A little while back I showed some vintage postcards from a friend’s collection.  I have scanned all of these at high resolution and recently printed one onto fabric.  This cushion is 35cm x 45cm.  This idea has lots of potential for preserving and sharing old documents – imagine great-grandma’s birth or marriage certificate.

Digital fabric printing produces photo quality images onto fabric and opens up all sorts of possibilities.

A  number of quilt artists use digital printing onto fabric in their work, including Wen Redmond, and Sandra Meech.  At the recent tACTtile exhibition in Canberra I saw a couple of pieces by Beth Miller where she had embroidered/machine quilted on digitally printed fabric images which were close-up of tree bark – very effective.

Do you know of any other quilt/embroidery artists who work with digital fabric printing?