Friday, February 4, 2011

Under the sea*

Today we're taking a journey into the world of Sharpie! I love my ultra fine points--I have a pencil cup dedicated to them alone--and they're a major player in this project. Instead of embroidery floss and needles, try using the Sharpies on your fabric. Iron on your pattern and grab some permanent markers. Ultra fine points are good for work that requires details, but have a couple other sizes handy in case you need to fill in some larger spaces. For a major undertaking, you'll need a pack of at least four markers. The Sharpies that start getting a bit weak can be used for shading your designs--yup, it's possible to shade with a permanent marker. You'll get the hang of it, but be mindful that the markers may bleed depending on your fabric. A test run never hurt anyone. I also recommend using an embroidery hoop to keep the section of fabric taut as you work. And you can even venture into color... Ooooohhh.

These pictures are from a series of flour sack dish towels I made for Monika's birthday a couple years back. The theme was 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea because, as I've said before, I do love weird sea creatures and Monika loves them too. I've heard that Monika is not using them as towels, but rather as scarves. Why not?

I dyed the towels gray and aqua and left one its natural hue.

The aqua towel has whales in heart formation. Again, note my
 lack of ironing skills. Or maybe it's my iron because I ironed these.

The gray towel has text and images.

The un-dyed towel is all image, including this Colossal squid. Yes, there's a
difference between the Colossal and the Giant. Have I talked about this before?
I wonder. Colossal squids are bigger (but not longer) than Giants. Colossals
have bigger beaks and eyes, hooks on their tentacles,
  and photophores (light producing organs which help distract from those giant peepers).

I  incorporated Monika's name into the narwhal's body speckles.

And here's the whole thing.

a handful of good Sharpies
embroidery hoop
iron-on transfer pencil
regular white paper

Trace the pattern onto your paper using the transfer pencil. Iron the pattern onto your fabric and trace over the pattern with your Sharpies. It's up to you whether you dye the fabric before or after you've finished your design. I've only encountered pink transfer pencils, so if you dye before, you need to make sure that your ironed-on lines will show on the fabric. In this instance, I tested and it was fine. The transfer pencil will disappear with washing, and the Sharpies do have a bit of a permanent marker smell, so hand wash your items before wearing or giving as gifts.

If you're interested in affordable flour sack towels, you can buy them in the housewares department of Target. They come in packs of four and are like $6.00. Also, check estate and garage sales--in addition to finding lovingly embroidered vintage towels, you can often find really nice blank flour sack towels, just waiting for you to come along and cover them with something special.

For these towels I used some of my favorite Dover coloring books:
Whales and Dolphins by John Green
Coral Reef by Ruth Soffer (She's my fav! You'll see her stuff everywhere.)
Strange Creatures of the Sea by Llyn Hunter

*Again, not about The Little Mermaid...and yet. And yet, I wonder... Could be that if you scrutinized the last picture, you might just find something from The Little Mermaid. Oh, man. When I finally do that Little Mermaid post, it had better be a doozy.

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