Friday, August 27, 2010
Making Your Own Fabric Lables (& Carving Your Own Stamps!)
The more you create handmade items--whether they be gifts or just things for your own family to enjoy--the more you'll want to make your creations look polished and professional. One quick, simple, and cheap way to do this is by making your own tags.
Handmade tags can be as simple as adding a small piece of folded bias tape or knit fabric before sewing a seam or as elaborate as professionally made stamps and ink pads. Today I'm going to show you a bit more homely way that I've been making some handmade labels lately.
Please note that this tutorial will show you how to carve your own stamps, use your stamps to print labels, and how to turn those prints into a finished tag. So if you're only interested in the "how to turn my print into a tag" part, you may want to skip down to the end.
-artist carving block (or some other material to carve your stamps)
-fabric (I used a heavy muslin)
-pencil & paper (not pictured)
this tutorial from The Storque) and seen a variety of materials used for carving into.
The three most common materials I've seen are corks, erasers, and linoleum. I wanted my stamps to be a step up from corks and erasers, but didn't want to pay for linoleum, so I took one step down and went for the artist carving block. This also proved to be a great decision because the artist carving block requires a lot less tools to work with it. Where linoleum requires a whole set of carving tools, all I need to cut my little artist's block is this cheap-o X-Acto knife. Excellent.
For those who may be interested, I bought my X-Acto knife and my carving block in the art supplies section of the bookstore on campus at the university my husband is attending. One block cost $3.75. Not bad compared to the $20 you could spend on a professionally-made stamp.
Carving Your Stamp:
*Note: If you are making a stamp with letters or numbers, just write your letters or numbers facing the right direction on your piece of paper. When you transfer your image onto the carving block it will be the mirror image. Then when you use your stamp the words or numbers will again read the right direction. So you never have to write anything backwards or upside down! Easy!
I find it's easiest to cut away the excess carving block by doing the following:
You may need to make smaller cuts around curved edges, but be able to make larger cuts along straight edges. If you're feeling nervous about it, try carving a simple shape with straight lines first like a triangle or square. Then, once you feel a little more comfortable, move on to shapes with rounded edges. It's really not hard to do, but it can be a little intimidating at first.
Now your stamp is ready to be used!
First, here's a look at the fabric paint I use:
Now, let's put these paints to good use. You don't want to put your stamp directly into a glob of paint because all the excess paint is likely to make a nice big blob on your fabric instead of the pretty little image you just carved into your stamp. So, in order to avoid the blobbiness, we'll make our own stamp pads. I learned how to do this in this tutorial from Handmade Therapy.
Now your stamp pads are ready.
Some of these stamps don't have very deep bases to hold onto. Such as the two in the middle. Which happen to be the two I use the most. Grrr. I don't recommend doing this as you're likely to get fabric paint on your fingers and then be tempted to wipe the paint on your pants and then realize just in time that you better not do that because you're using fabric paint and it won't wash out. So keep your life simple and keep your stamp bases big enough to hold on to easily.
If you end up with an image like the one on the left (above) and you'd like to fix it to look more like the one on the right, just re-ink your stamp and carefully stamp over your original image. I had to do this a few times while I was making labels today and it looked just fine each time.
Here are a few more stamp/image pictures to give you an idea of different combinations. Umm... and maybe just because they're pretty too.
-scrap pieces from the carving block
-the piece of paper I sketched my image on
-the felt scraps
I did end up saving my plastic lids this time. Only because the big O hardly eats any baby food anymore and I might not have as many of these laying around pretty soon.
Washing Your Stamps:
Turning Your Printed Images Into Labels:
Once you work at it and make a few you'll get a feel for how much extra fabric you want around the edges, but I typically like to start with a little too much (probably 1/2" to 3/8" and cut down the extra after I've made and ironed my folds.
Yes, it's okay to iron on top of the fabric paint.
The corners should be folded in as far as you want your edge to fold over when it's finished. Umm... that probably doesn't make any sense. Hopefully it will by the time I finish explaining this. (Oh, and FYI, I had to trim a little off each end before folding the edges over.)
I was a little busy (ahem, writing this epic tutorial for all of you) today, so I haven't had a chance to sew the birdie label into anything, but here are a few pictures of some other labels I've made and sewn on to finished projects. And I'll give you a little run down on how to attach that label nicely.
Now this isn't my favorite way to sew on labels because it's easy to make things look nice once, but to stitch over the exact same lines a second time when you don't have a guide can get to be a little tricky. Hence the slightly uneven lines in some places. But this was on something for a little kid who won't care anyway, so no big deal.
This is how I prefer to sew on labels:
-Pin the label on using two pins, one going up and down and the other going side to side. This is really just to hold the label in place while you get started. You shouldn't need to pin down each edge of your label since you told those folds who was boss by pressing them with steam and brute force.
-Begin sewing on one of the bottom corners of the label.
-Making sure to backstitch as you begin and end, edgestitch (in other words, sew less than 1/8" away from the edge of your label) all the way around your label.
This will give you a polished look that will stand the test of time.
Please feel free to leave any questions you might have in the comments and I'll try to get to them as quickly as I can. Thanks!