Sunday, August 28, 2011

Inspired by Children...Again: a T-shirt tutorial

What could be more inspiring that a child's drawing?
A few weeks ago I wrote a posting about being inspired by children. This past week, I was so inspired again, I decided to share it with you. And the bonus? You, too, can do this with the Magic Baby in your life!

This past week, my oldest grandchild started first grade. Oh, the memories, and oh my, how quickly time flies!

My favorite First Grader...

My grandson loves to draw, an activity that I encourage. On a recent visit I had shown him a drawing his own father had made as a child with fabric crayons. We decided to try it on his next visit, and voted to make a drawing that he could wear on a t-shirt. If you want to try this at your house, here's what you will need:
White drawing paper
Light to medium colored cotton knit t-shirt fabric (or actual t-shirt) a bit bigger than your paper
An old towel, a hot iron, and some scrap paper

First of all, you should know that Pentel Dye Sticks can also be used, but they work differently than fabric crayons. Printing with fabric crayons is a two-step process: draw on the paper, then transfer to the fabric. The dye sticks, which look similar to fabric crayons, use a one-step process: direct application onto the fabric, followed by heat setting.

Step one: Make your drawing!
Drawing is easy, especially for children. Here is my grandson's drawing. So that his lettering would not be backwards on the final print, I showed him this trick:
1) Write the letters on the back of the paper.
2) Tape your paper to grandma's sliding glass door with the letters toward the glass and the drawing facing you
3) Trace your letters on the front of the drawing, then color them with the fabric crayons. Yes, they will be backwards...for now.

Above, you see the fabric crayon drawing on the left, and the transferred drawing on the right. To transfer the drawing onto fabric, place an old towel on your ironing board (this will protect the surface from the crayons.) Place the t-shirt or piece of t-shirt fabric (we cut off the back of an old t-shirt) onto the towel, the fabric crayon drawing face down on top of that, and a piece of scrap paper on top of that.
With a hot iron (no steam), iron until the design has transferred. I let my grandson carefully help me, being careful to keep him away from the hot tip of the iron. His back and forth movement shifted the drawing a bit, so I gave him some fabric markers to outline the shapes for a crisp look on the t-shirt fabric.

Grandma is going to sew his drawing into a special t-shirt for him. You can, of course, transfer the drawing right onto a t-shirt and be finished. Save the precious drawing, however, as it can be used over and over. Just color it in with more fabric crayons to brighten the colors up, then transfer it again. Think of the possibilities : )

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Artist Grandmother

Becoming a grandmother was the inspiration for creating Magic Baby Designs. When my own children were babies and my husband was still in college, I had to make do with what we had. I recycled sweaters, coats and usable cottons to make all of their clothes. I started making quilts in earnest about the same time. The first Christmas we were married, I got my first sewing machine, a $99 Singer. I still have it. It's the machine I use to stitch paper.

When I was still living at home, I sewed on my grandmother's converted treadle machine. Having come very close to getting kicked out of Home Ec. in Junior High for making a bikini instead of an apron, it should have already been clear to anyone who knew me that I was going to follow my own path.

When my first granddaughter was born a few years ago, I was thrilled. Although I have sewn several things for my grandson, I admit that making fancy baby dresses for little girls is a lot more fun than a Thomas the Train pillowcase. I made her this dotted dress outfit for her first Valentine's Day. I now own more baby patterns than I ever had when my own children were small. Of course, I never follow the pattern instructions. I prefer to use them as a suggestion, and proceed as I do when making my artwork: do something, respond, do something else; collage and layers upon layers.

Happy first Valentine's Day, Miss E!
My own grandmother was very artistic. Even though I was still little when she died, I remember how she always encouraged my artistic efforts. And when she was able to finally have the time, she started making art and craft pieces for the sheer enjoyment of it. She was the only grandparent I knew, and I absolutely adored her, even though I only saw her a few times a year.

As a grandmother of three, the youngest born two years ago already, I cherish taking some time away from work to make special things for my grandchildren. With my Magic Baby line of clothing, the hardest part is not making everything for them. I have told their mothers that the baby girls will be the recipients of my learning curve process; the prototypes go to them, or, as in the case of Baby E's Valentine dress, are designed for them. Some patterns are just too intricate and detailed to make for anything but a custom order.

The Little Frenchy dress, to the left and below, was my very first Magic Baby design. I made this one, the prototype, for my oldest granddaughter. She wore it for years, then passed it on to my youngest granddaughter just this year. It is designed to fit for a very long time, is completely reversible (two dresses in one,)and transitions easily from dress to cute top! These are now available in many color combinations for custom order in my etsy shop, from newborn sizes on up to girl's size 8. I also have designed a Frenchy Girl style, which is has a patchwork skirt. Very cute! 
With fall around the corner and a wearable art exhibition and a fashion show booth coming up, I am busy finishing up new fall designs. I would love to know what clothes YOU loved wearing as a kid. Leave me a note in the comments section!


Baby dress to cute top, several years of wearable cuteness!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Inspired by Children

My Frenchy Girl prototype
I met some dear friends for coffee a few days ago at the new branch of Mojo's on the Lake. It is always pleasant to take a break from the studio, and see what my other creative friends are up to. My one friend brought her daughter along, and she read, played and studied while we chatted.

I made my first Frenchy Girl prototype for my friend's daughter, inspired by the bag of fabric scraps my girlfriend had generously shared with me. I have made many variations of it since then.

As I talked with my girlfriends about some design ideas, my girlfriend's daughter sketched out a dress she would like me to make for her. It is an amazing design, and I can't wait to try it in knits and upcycled t-shirts!

The Count on Three design at the bottom is a second design, a reversible A-line pullover jumper with a wide band. The numbers will be on the shaped band all around the dress. What fun!