Friday, 18 May 2018

How to Print Sashiko Stencils on Fabric

If you have been swept away with the Sashiko stitching craze (like me) you are probably looking for easy ways to transfer designs onto your fabric without the hassle of tracing out grids, or buying expensive templates.

I have found a fabulous way to transfer your design onto fabric using an ink jet printer (these are the ones generally used at home with ink that is water soluble) and freezer paper. Freezer paper is the old fashioned way to wrap and store meat in the freezer and can be readily found in the supermarket. If you have trouble finding it, you can make your own (and I'll go into these steps in another post).

You willl need:

  • Freezer paper
  • Scissors
  • Fabric (any light weight fabric will work)
  • Iron
  • Printer 

Step 1
Iron your fabric first to remove any wrinkles. You can work with any light weight fabric and I often use muslin (calico) because it is a good weight and it prints well. I often dye my fabrics before printing to create extra depth and interest, however plain fabrics work well too. The above sample was printed on indigo dyed muslin and the black ink contrasts well against the deep blue.

Step 2
Cut out a section of freezer paper to the same size of your printer paper (either 8.5"x11" or A4). I use a piece of printer paper as a guide or you could use card stock for something more durable.

Step 3
Place the freezer paper shiny side (plastic) down towards the fabric and iron it. The plastic will melt and adhere to the fabric.

Step 4
Cut around the paper making sure you have no frayed edges and that you are cutting close to the paper edge. 

Step 5
Place your fabric/paper into the printer facing the correct way. ie with my printer HP Envy 4000 I place it fabric side down with the paper side visible on the top. This ensures that the print goes on the fabric and not the other side. (if you get confused and accidentally place it the other way around, simply flip it and run it though the printer again)

Step 6
Press print! It should run through the printer ok and out comes an image printed on your fabric.

Step 7
You can peel off the paper and start sewing your design.

Step 8
I use a water base ink so that I can wash off the printed design after I have finished embroidering the pattern, however there are waterproof inks available if you wanted to have a permanent design.

These are some examples of fabrics that have been printed using my inkjet printer. The one below you can see wasn't completely ironed onto the freezer paper and was wrinkled going through the printer. But it still went through ok without getting stuck!

You can find lots of sashiko stencils online to download onto your computer to print.

Happy Stitching!

Friday, 11 May 2018

Print Making at Old Barns Elementary School

This week I had the pleasure of being an Artist in Residence at the Cobequid Consolidated Elementary School in Old Barns. 

I was invited to talk about myself and my life as an artist, followed by a print making demonstration. 

I demonstrated how to design and make a print using polystyrene trays as the 'print plate'. The students in years 3, 4, 5 and 6 then put their knowledge into practice to design their own prints.  

These are some of the results from the two days I was there. I simply love them! 

A big thank you to fabulous Jane Ross,  Grades 4/5 Teacher who tirelessly organized everything, and PAINTS, a program that helps schools in Nova Scotia bring professional visual artists into their classrooms. 

Friday, 4 May 2018

The Cat with the Mona Lisa smile

Mr Whiskers by Ruby
Acrylic on Canvas

My youngest student Ruby has been working on a painting of her cat, Mr Whiskers, for the past month. 

This painting explores colour theory and she choose complimentary opposites on the colour wheel (orange and blue) to understand how placing a cold colour next to a warm colour makes some things recede whilst other parts of the painting pop out. 

The distinction between warm and cool colours has been important since at least the late 18th century. The contrast is related to the observed contrast in landscape light, between the warm colours associated with daylight or sunset, and the cool colours associated with a grey or overcast day. Warm colours are often said to be hues from red through yellow, browns and tans included; cool colours are often said to be the hues from blue green through blue violet, most greys included. 

Many artists use this to lead the eye around the canvas and give their paintings depth. For example, Vincent van Gogh used this technique often in paintings often using bright blues next to clear yellows for vibrancy. 

Friday, 27 April 2018

Learning to Stitch : Five benefits of sewing

An example of layering stitching combined with initials
This week I taught a class of elementary students how to stitch. The students ranged from 5 - 12 years old, and for many this was their first experience of sewing.

There are many reasons why sewing is beneficial....

Pockets designed to hold sticks

1. Hand Eye Coordination 
Sewing with a needle and thread requires coordination, and is a great way for little fingers to learn that fingers help us feel and see. Practicing these skills keeps our brain as nimble as our fingers. 

2. Sewing is Creating
Choosing the colour of material and thread is an act of creativity and it is delightful to see the colour combinations chosen. Getting creative by making these choices means we are engaging our brains in creative thought which is great for the mind. It also assists with boosting our confidence as we learn to trust our choices.

3. Environmental Impact 
Learning to sew on buttons or repair holes saves clothes from being thrown away. According to the Huffington Post a devastating 85% of our clothing ends up in landfill. By lovingly repairing our own clothes we are more likely to continue to wear them and cherish them for longer.  

4. Emotional Wellbeing
Sewing can be therapeutic, which leads to being calmer, happier and relaxed. It encourages a state of mindfulness, awareness or meditation. 

5. A Sense of Accomplishment
The best reason for learning to sew is the sense of accomplishment that comes from creating something handmade. 

Layers of colour

Tree embellishment on pocket : work in progress

Even the teachers got involved and commented on
the meditative qualities of stitching

These days our lives are so busy I feel that it is such a treat to be able to sit still and sew,  listening to the sound of the thread as itpasses through the fabric, feeling the textures on my fingers whilst letting my mind drift. The humble act of sewing and repairing is becoming a sought after experience - and can be a meditation retreat in our own home! 

These are just some of the benefits sewing can offer that I can think of - and I'd love to hear from you too. What are the benefits of sewing that you have recognized on how it can impact positively on your life? Leave a comment below and let me know. 

Friday, 20 April 2018

Fibre Arts at NSCAD

SeaWeed inspired necklace,
felt and embroidery
by Allison

Every week in class we begin with show and tell - where my students bring in the projects they are working on that demonstrate the techniques they have learnt. 

Allison, a marine biologist, is inspired by the shapes, colours and textures of seaweed. She is creating a necklace using felt and embroidery to achieve her desired result. 

I think it is fabulous!

Friday, 13 April 2018

Contemporary Knitting and Crochet

I am currently teaching an intensive Fibre Arts four week course as part of NSCAD's Extended Studies program, which offers a wide range of short and long term course, workshops, open studios, certificate programs and online course to adults who wish to learn, improve their skills, and have fun!

In week 3 of the program we are learning knitting and crochet skills, recycling fabric and plastic bags to use as our 'yarn'. We also looked at some artists who have appropriated these skills and created large scale installations.

Crocheted playspace by Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam

Japanese fibre artist Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam uses knitting, crochet and knot making techniques for her work. Most popular are her "textile playgrounds” for children with their characteristic brightly-coloured net-like structures made of crocheted and knotted nylon, that are found installed in various locations worldwide.

Orly Genger yellow roped fiber installation

Orly Genger and her unique sculptural installations completely commandeer both indoor and outdoor spaces. Her installations are built entirely out of recycled rock climbing rope: stacking and knotting the fibre to transform large spaces and engage viewers.

Orly Genger gray roped fiber installation

Whilst learning the skills of knitting and crochet my students are sticking with smaller, domestic sized objects, however it is always great to know that these skills can also be applied to large scale outdoor sculptural objects too. 

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Intro to Tapestry at NSCCD

The year is off to a good start as we gathered for my Introduction to Tapestry weaving 2 day workshop. 

Tapestry is a fun, portable and expressive weaving technique with endless possibilities. Its also a fabulous way to use up small lengths of yarn.

Once you master the basics, you can paint with wool - the only thing that limits you is your imagination!

During the course I demonstrate how to blend colour, learn different weaving techniques including the slit and dovetail methods for creating a design, build geometric shapes, weave circles, and make waves.

Once you can create these shapes you can weave any design you wish.

Weaving a circle is by far the trickiest thing to master, but even the youngest in our group picked it up pretty quickly. 

Some were even bitten by the bug and did extra work over night to complete their design, and ended up completing 2 small tapestries by the end of the class. 

Sample by Charlotte

Sample by Teresa incorporating her hand spun yarn
Sample by Charlotte


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