Make your own clothing labels using stamps

One of my favorite finishing touches to a handmade garment is a personalized tag. I've seen all kinds of beautiful DIY versions, like overstitched fabric scraps, screenprinted bits, and even just special ribbon loops. I've also recently come across lots of label producers who are offering small minimum orders for professional looking woven labels.

Since I love a good DIY fix (and find most woven labels very itchy) I thought I would share my favorite tag making method, using ribbon or fabric and stamps!

The process is very straightforward. Get stamps, stamp on ribbon or fabric. Set with iron and sew in!

Here's what you'll need:

Something to stamp on

1. Use a flat, plain weave ribbon. The smoother, the better. This helps get a nice, clean stamp. Any ribbon that is tightly woven and made from natural fiber should work well.

My favorite ribbon for tags (pictured above) is a chambray ribbon made in France, which I buy locally. Your local fabric shop might carry something similar. I had a bit of a hard time tracking down an online source for it, but came across this Etsy seller that offers the same ribbon.

2. If you can't track down the right ribbon (or you just want to start your project right away) the selvedge from your favorite light hued fabric works well in a pinch! You can also use bias tape.

3. You can also use any plain woven fabric. Light colors and tight weaves (like poplin, voile, or shirting) work best. Trim the edges with pinking shears, cut on the grain and pull away some threads to create a fringe, or finish the edges with a serger. Press your fabric to get it nice and smooth before stamping.

2. Twill tape, which is a bit easier to find in shops, works okay but the texture prevents you from getting a really clean, clear line. Pressing it with a hot iron first will help smooth the texture a bit. This guy should be a last resort.

Stamps

Text

My favorite way to get clear, consistent text on tags is to use alphabet stamps or kits that include stamps and letters. Kits are great because they include multiples of each letter, upper and lower case, and symbols. You can arrange the type and stamp them over and over.

Each type has their pros and cons. I have a few vintage kits I've collected over the years and I love them. Kits make stamping easier, but leave you a bit limited in terms of font. Loose letter sets come in a wider variety of size and font, but you have to stamp each letter individually and line them up.

Your local craft store will have a variety of alphabet stamp sets and Etsy is a great place to track down old stamp kits. You can also find new stamp kits at office supply stores. Martha Stewart makes a kit that comes with round pieces to set letters in a circle. If you know of any other brands that make these stamp kits, please share!

Images & Decorative elements

Your local craft or stationary store will likely have a nice variety of fun stamps. Keep in mind the size if you want it to fit on ribbon of a certain width. Sets of small stamps are a great way to add decorative elements to your text.

You can also create your own stamps! I wrote a holiday tutorial a few years back that covers the basics. Remember, your image will stamp in reverse, so be sure to draw it backwards.

Ink

You can use any stamp pad that is formulated to work on fabric. Be sure to check, because many of them are not. My favorites are Yellow Owl Workshop's large stamp pads (note that their smaller ink pads are not formulated for fabric!). Tags I've made using this ink have withstood years of machine washing with little to no fading or bleeding. They'll also last at least a couple years without drying out (as long as you keep the lid shut). Mine are about 5 years old and still work brilliantly.

Remember, most fabric stamping inks must be heat set using your iron! Be sure to review the instructions for heat setting that come with your ink.

You may also want to run a stamped piece of fabric through the wash if testing out a new ink to make sure it doesn't run or fade.

Tips

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+ Test your design on paper first! I can't tell you how many times I've flipped something upside down printed the wrong thing. Do a test first.

+ Plan your spacing. To keep stamps in an even line, use masking tape to create a guideline on your fabric or ribbon.

+ Ink evenly and press firmly on your stamp!

+ Mind your P's and Q's! Remember, certain letters look the same backwards and forwards. Always do a test print to make sure you've got the right letters.

+ Heat set your tags! Iron on the cotton setting for 5-10 seconds and let cool.

+ If you want to print only part of a stamp, or break up lines of text, use a piece of scrap paper to catch the ink and only stamp the part of the text or image you want on your fabric.

Do you have a favorite technique for making your own tags? Please share!

Refashion to the rescue!

I spend part of every fall and spring, culling my wardrobe as many of us do. Lots of folks lately are writing about this process. The Coletterie has touched upon this more recently as part of their Wardrobe Architect series.

At this point, I feel like my style is shifting again. Maybe it's getting older, moving to the country, feeling subtle shifts in how I want to be perceived. As a result, the need to re-evaluate my wardrobe as I have in the past is unavoidable, but familiar.

I know what I wear all the time. And I know what I'm not going to wear. Since I cull my wardrobe so frequently, I don't have too much to work with as things start to change. There are some serious gaps. And I'm also at the point where a majority of my garments are self made. I've astonishingly been able to part with a few ill fitting or ill conceived makes, but it's the pieces in between that confound me.

I'm still figuring out what to do with the maybes...

There's loads of criteria for whether or not to ditch something and many of these maybes only fulfill one: they don't get worn. For many, I like the fabric, the style, the color, and they go with things I own. But I don't wear them, and I think that's due all sorts of factors.

I find one of the hardest things to do when making clothing for oneself is to distinguish between what you like and what you like to wear.

I decided to take some unworn pieces from my wardrobe that I really, really like and figure out how to make them wearable:

Exhibit A

This is a Hazel Dress by Victory patterns, modified to be a shirt. I used some incredible cotton voile and lightweight sateen. I love the colors.

But I discovered that despite the fact that bow blouses were designed for small chested women, it doesn't feel right for me. It's too fussy and feminine, even though it's made up in the least feminine colors possible. Too much bow.

I think the best way to save this is to do away with the bow. There's quite a bit of fabric in there that could be used for other details, but I think it would be best to stay simple. Perhaps I'll keep the neckline as a sort of band collar and add a button placket. I'm a big fan of the Henley shirt and fantasize about making them all the time (though no pattern exists to my knowledge...I'll have to make one!). The silkiness of the fabric will be the star, offset by a more masculine palette and balancing out the feminine puffy cap sleeve.

Exhibit B:

This was a pattern I was developing for myself after seeing a little boys shirt with button closed neckline. I had, I believe, 1.5 yards of this awesome Nani Iro double gauze and decided to make it happen with this shirt. I think the fact that I was short on fabric, combined with the fact that my posture has changed a lot in the last year, resulted in a shirt that's just a bit too short. It's not a crop top, and it looks ok with high waisted skirts, but as a result of being a pants person lately, it's just not getting worn.

I'm thinking for this one, my best bet is to turn it into a dress, or at least a tunic. The drawing on the left: Find some more of this fabric and attach a skirt right below the purple stripe at the waist, then add elastic. On the right, cut shirt in half as pictured and throw in a contrasting double gauze to add length...most likely cropping right below the bust line.

We'll have to see if I can find a fabric that works...

Exhibit C:

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This is from the Japanese pattern book I Am Cute Dresses.  I made it originally as a sample for JP Knit & Stitch and took it home when the fabric (one of my favorite - and unlikely - Denise Schmidt prints) and the book were out of stock.

In theory, I love this dress. It's over sized and very Japanese, just right. Since I'm a similar build as the models, it looks quite nice on me too. But here's the problem: I don't want to look girlish and demure like the book models. Which I certainly do, despite using a fabric one could describe as feedsack-goth (can that be a thing?). I think this look is great for others, but for me is somewhat retroactive.

The plan here is to eliminate the 13 yr old dressed in mom's 90's sundress cut and make it into something more oversized-in-the-right-way Japanese artist in late 1960's New York.

I decided to crop the dress at thigh length (right now it hits at low calf) and use the remaining fabric to create raglan-ish dolman sleeves. This one inspired the most clear and manageable fix, so I decided to give it a shot. I wrote the majority of this post before attempting this fix, but decided to wait to post until I had a picture of the finished product.

That night, we had out annual JP Knit & Stitch holiday/winter dinner party and I decided to wear this to it.

Here's me an Genevieve at the party (she's wearing her Cabin top in Nani Iro sparkley double gauze.) I can definitely foresee this getting a lot of wear!

I've noticed a lot of other folks taking this approach to their handmade garments, too! Teresa of Dandelion Drift recently made a Cabin shift out of a lovely double gauze. When she decided she didn't like the length and wasn't much for tunic length tops, she decided to turn her potentially unworn Cabin shift into a shirt, and it turned out awesome!

Stay tuned for the other two rescued tops!

Have you performed any successful wardrobe saves? Was it a simple fix, or did it end up being more complicated than the original?

A last minute gift DIY: Stamp Kit & gift tags

It's no secret...I love stamps. As a bit of a paper-media champion, stamps are such an awesome way to personalize stationary, decorate fabric, or create art.

I mentioned I'd create a DIY gift tutorial and this is what I came up with. I'm surprised I didn't think of this earlier...I make stamps for myself all the time!

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Materials

  • A speedy cut stamp block, available at most art/craft stores. Usually about $5.
  • A linoleum cutting tool. Mine are on extended loan from the woodshop where I did my undergrad, but you can pick one up ( made by Speedball ) from your local art store or online. They usually come with a set of tips...the one you'll mostly use is the V-gouge or U-gouge
  • Scrap paper
  • A pencil and marker (sharpie works fine)
  • An ink pad of your choice. I like the ink from Yellow Owl Workshop, since you can use it on fabric. (They also have lots of awesome DIY kits, though I have never used them)
  • A box to put the final stamps in

First, decide how many stamps you would like to carve, and what size. I chose to create a group of stamps that would fit, along with an ink pad, into a box.

Look for inspiration! Creating groups of themed stamps are nice, and you can theme them for whomever is set to receive them. I chose to create stamps of architectural details pulled from one of my favorite books.

Once you've decided on your designs, draw them onto your block in pencil first, then copy in pen. *You'll want to draw your designs on the stamp in reverse, so they will print the correct way, especially text!*  Most of my designs were symmetrical, so it wasn't necessary to reverse the image. If you need to do this, draw your design on tracing paper, then flip the paper over and copy the design onto the block.

When making stamps, simple shape with thick lines are easiest to cut. Drawing your design in pen will help to create thicker lines. You'll be cutting away the negative space.

After drawing in your designs with marker, you will want to cut apart your stamps if you have not already. An exacto knife (or sharp kitchen knife) works best for this purpose. Be careful and place some cardboard or a cutting mat underneath while you work!

Once your blocks are ready, begin cutting away the negative space with your cutting tool. If you have scrap cutting block, try some practice cuts until you get the hang of it. Luckily, with stamps, the more 'hand-cut' they look the better. Don't get hung up on nicks or small mistakes.

Once you've carved your design, ink it and stamp onto scrap paper. You'll be able to see any parts that you've missed cutting out or negative space that aren't cut deep enough. Go back and fix these spots and test print again.

**A note: If you've drawn your designs in sharpie, you'll want to take a swab with alcohol and remove the sharpie before printing using lighter color ink, otherwise you'll get black sharpie ink in your print and possibly on your stamp pad. You can see this in the picture below where the black sharpie shows through the blue ink.**

Once all of your stamps are complete, cut a sheet of paper that fits in the inside of your box. Layout your stamps where they will sit in the box, then stamp each one in its place, so they can be put back nicely after use.

Add a stamp pad and any other drawing accessories to the box and you're ready to go!

Once you've created your stamp kit, wrap up your box with some ribbon and a gift tag!

When writing up this tutorial, I felt compelled to make some Cabin inspired gift tags for you all to use and enjoy, especially if you plan on giving Cabin as a gift!

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I printed my tags on kraft paper card stock, which looks particularly nice. Keep in mind, if you have a laser printer, sometimes the toner doesn't stick well to heavier paper, so be sure to test first. The printout includes a few different sizes and a few blank tags for you to draw your own cabins if you like!

You can download the Cabin inspired gift tags here!

 

It's that time of year

The holidays are upon us. Whatever holidays you celebrate, nearly all of them involved food and/or gifts.

I love all the holiday stuff. I was raised in a fairly secular household. My extended family runs the gamut from born again christian to orthodox jew, with a few Buddhists thrown into the mix. But family has always been important, so that is what holidays have always meant to me. Plus food.

While I love food and cooking, I'll save my arsenal of recipes for another time. Today we'll talk about the later: Gifts.

I love giving gifts. In fact, I'm a year round gift giver. When I find something that reminds me of someone, I like to give it to them right then and there, without having to wait for a designated time. This, however, probably makes me a bad holiday gift giver. As soon as I need to find gifts for somebody, inspiration vanishes.

My business is new. I wish I had all sorts of fun promotions and specials to offer you all, but I do not - though believe me, my brain has been bursting with ideas for next year! Since I only have one pattern, Black Friday and other holiday promotions seemed like overkill.

So I thought instead, my gift to you would be a collection of gift ideas for all types of people. This collection includes things you can make and (for those who have yet to realize their true crafting potential) things lovingly crafted by others.

A note about this list: These are all online resources for gifts, since this is a blog gift guide. I've tried to show only items by artists, craftspeople, and small businesses. If you are able, shop local for some of your holidays gifts and help out your local economy! Also, this list is far from complete, so if you have awesome shops you'd like to recommend, leave them in the comments!

Don't forget to check the links page for more places to find awesome, ethical, fair trade, usa made, and more!

*Click the image to reach its retail page*

Art

Art is an awesome gift. People can always use more art in their life, regardless of what type of person they are. Most people have a few empty walls to call their own. Art is not always expensive, but it is always valuable. Plus, isn't it cool to give your gift money to an artist trying to make a living instead of throwing it at Target or Walmart?

Dogs Watercolor Painting  by  LizzyStewart  (etsy.com)

Dogs Watercolor Painting by LizzyStewart (etsy.com)

Golden State of Mind  by  Jenny Sharaf   (thetappancollective.com)

Golden State of Mind by Jenny Sharaf (thetappancollective.com)

The Dream Catcher III  by    fricdementol   (etsy.com)

The Dream Catcher III by fricdementol (etsy.com)

The Old Frontier - Las Vegas  by  stoopidgerl  (etsy.com)

The Old Frontier - Las Vegas by stoopidgerl (etsy.com)

Etsy is a great place to find all kinds of art in any size or medium. The nice thing about Etsy is, due to the volume of artwork on it, it is easy to search for "boat" for a fisherman uncle or "Pomeranian" for a pooch loving aunt to get a truly personal gift.

Other websites like The Tappan Collective and Saatchi Online are places to buy art at a range of prices as well. Look for local galleries in your area if you want to support your community.

Are you an artist (even if it's just after work and a few cocktails)? Be bold and make some art for your friends and family!

Useful Things

It's often tempting to get somebody something super cool and exciting, but one thought that rarely crosses the gift giver's mind in this instance is, "is this useful to the recipient?" Why not get somebody a super nice/cool version of something they will absolutely, 100% use?

German made dustpan and brush set from  Schoolhouse Electric

German made dustpan and brush set from Schoolhouse Electric

Brass Scissors from  Present & Correct

Brass Scissors from Present & Correct

Net Grocery Bag from  Kiosk NY

Net Grocery Bag from Kiosk NY

Pallarès-Solsona Aragon Knife from  QuitoKeeto

Pallarès-Solsona Aragon Knife from QuitoKeeto

Clockwise from top left, a selection of super useful gifts from some of my favorite places:

Schoolhouse Electric- Lighting, as well all all sorts of other fine home goods and accessories. Well made useful thingd

Kiosk - A shop in NY that sources all sorts of interesting objects from around the globe. Sort of like a globally curated general store.

Quitokeeto- A kitchen supply shop run by one of my favorite chefs, Heidi Swanson. You may know her from her recipe blog 101 Cookbooks (if you don't, there's a start on the recipe guide mentioned above)

Present & Correct - The most delightful stationary and accessories to brighten up any desk or office.

Clothes & Accessories

Now I know what you're saying: A. How do you buy clothes for other people and B. Aren't you supposed to tell me to make the clothes? Well, certain kinds of clothes are supposed to make good gifts. Here's some novel clothing type gifts:

Settlers of Catan Socks by  Betabrand

Settlers of Catan Socks by Betabrand

The Ten Year Hoodie from  Flint & Tinder

The Ten Year Hoodie from Flint & Tinder

Seed Stitch Raglan Sweater by  Everlane

Seed Stitch Raglan Sweater by Everlane

The Albatross Skirt  from  Paridaez

The Albatross Skirt from Paridaez

Betabrand is based in San Fransisco and makes all sorts of clothing novelties (and not so novelties) including bike-to-work pants, discoball hoodies, and brain-scan print dresses. Everything is made in SF. The Catan socks above come with sock insurance, meaning they will replace your lost socks!

How about the most basic, comfy, and lovely sweater from Everlane, a clothing company that makes awesome basics and preaches radical transparency. Their webshop used profits from Black Friday to build recreational facilities for their factory workers. Awesome.

I recently helped a friend Launch Paridaez, a yoga apparel company geared towards women who need more versatile clothing that works both inside and out of the studio. The kickstarter ends Christmas Eve, so you have plenty of time to get the yogi in your life something special. While items won't be delivered before Christmas (you'll receive a nice 'coming soon' postcard), they'll help you get a good start on your new years resolution ;)

Made in the USA, Flint & Tinder's 10 Year Hoodie is guaranteed for 10 years. They even offer free mending service!

Books

When I was a kid, the rule was that I only received toys on holidays or my birthday, but I could buy a book anytime I wanted to. Books are awesome...and in a day and age where so much is digital, kind of special? Here are some cool ones:

We received this book one year from my grandparents in Maine. It is an awesome visual dictionary of farming illustrated by Julia Rothman. Always a pleasure to pick up and peruse.

We received this book one year from my grandparents in Maine. It is an awesome visual dictionary of farming illustrated by Julia Rothman. Always a pleasure to pick up and peruse.

A gateway book for those who don't read yet. This dollhouse book has pages for kids to draw their own interiors by   Rock and Pebble

A gateway book for those who don't read yet. This dollhouse book has pages for kids to draw their own interiors by Rock and Pebble

Home Comforts  by  Cheryl Mendelson  is to housekeeping as Emily Post is to etiquette. This is a great gift for those who are too old to live with their parents, but too young to have taken home economics in High School. Maybe even for anybody who's just bought their first home. I use it as a reference for how long certain types of leftovers stay good in the fridge and pre-treating stains.

Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelson is to housekeeping as Emily Post is to etiquette. This is a great gift for those who are too old to live with their parents, but too young to have taken home economics in High School. Maybe even for anybody who's just bought their first home. I use it as a reference for how long certain types of leftovers stay good in the fridge and pre-treating stains.

Full disclosure: I helped write this book on Knittings, Crochet, and Sports. However, I think it would make an awesome gift to anybody interested in crafts, activism and/or basketball. As a bonus, 50% proceeds before x-mas go to sister organization  Voces de Cambio .

Full disclosure: I helped write this book on Knittings, Crochet, and Sports. However, I think it would make an awesome gift to anybody interested in crafts, activism and/or basketball. As a bonus, 50% proceeds before x-mas go to sister organization Voces de Cambio.

Subscriptions

Call me old school, but there's something really cool about somebody gifting you a magazine subscription. I also recall as a family getting fruit-of-the-month which is a little weird but pretty cool. Here are some subscriptions for all kinds of people in your life.

The old school gift subsciptions:  Fruit of the Month Club from  Harry & David

The old school gift subsciptions: Fruit of the Month Club from Harry & David

Why get somebody a tie when you can get them a tie-of-the-month subscription where ties are mailed back for new ones, a la original netflix:  Monthly Tie Subscription from  Tie Society

Why get somebody a tie when you can get them a tie-of-the-month subscription where ties are mailed back for new ones, a la original netflix: Monthly Tie Subscription from Tie Society

For the Green Thumb or aspiring greenish/grey thumb:  Green Box Subscription from  Homegrown Collective

For the Green Thumb or aspiring greenish/grey thumb: Green Box Subscription from Homegrown Collective

Or go with the traditional print based magazine (we have to keep them alive!!). Wired and Frankie are two of my favorites.

Last Minute Handmade Gifts

You love making things, especially for other people. But you lead a busy life, are working on a budget, or need a gift for a ton of people. Here's some quick and awesome DIYs.

Tea towels are super quick to sew and most people use them. The above tutorial from Spoonflower shows you how to create fabric of beloved family recipes and create tea towels. They also have a great selection of yearly calendar tea towels by designers...or design your own tea towel. One yard of fabric will make four!

Tea towels are super quick to sew and most people use them. The above tutorial from Spoonflower shows you how to create fabric of beloved family recipes and create tea towels. They also have a great selection of yearly calendar tea towels by designers...or design your own tea towel. One yard of fabric will make four!

Fancy washcloths are a lovely gift and very classy. These are designed by Kate Alvis and you can find the free pattern on  Ravelry .

Fancy washcloths are a lovely gift and very classy. These are designed by Kate Alvis and you can find the free pattern on Ravelry.

Coasters are always nice, and this tutorial from  Purl Bee  is no exception. Their website is a treasure trove of DIYS, so check it out if you have not already fallen in love with their style!

Coasters are always nice, and this tutorial from Purl Bee is no exception. Their website is a treasure trove of DIYS, so check it out if you have not already fallen in love with their style!

Diy Pet pillow, easy to make one of any of your furry friends, or friends furry friends. Here's a  tutorial !

Diy Pet pillow, easy to make one of any of your furry friends, or friends furry friends. Here's a tutorial!

I wish you the best of luck in all your gifting this season. But remember, it's the thought that counts! (No, seriously...it's the thought that counts). If you know of lovely stores in your area or awesome items, share them in the comments!

Stay tuned...next week I hope to offer up some cool and super last minute DIY gifts and corresponding tutorials!