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!

Findings: Cookie tins, earth pigments, and repair guides.

The holidays are all around us. I'm looking forward to taking a little break. I had my wisdom teeth taken out last week and the recovery has been a bit slower than expected (note: if at all possible, get them taken out when you are a teenager instead of waiting!)

On the Blueprints news front, there isn't too much to write though I do have a few different projects in the works: A zine, a new pattern, and the re-imagining of a pattern I started very early on in the process but took a break after development hit a wall.

Doing a little re-development of a pattern concept I've been working with since I started Blueprints.

Doing a little re-development of a pattern concept I've been working with since I started Blueprints.

When I make zines, I still really love to use a manual typewriter. I've had this old Royal since college and I find the process of writing on a typewriter so enjoyable.

When I make zines, I still really love to use a manual typewriter. I've had this old Royal since college and I find the process of writing on a typewriter so enjoyable.

I also have some fun tutorials I want to put together for you, specifically some variations on the A-Frame skirt. But those will have to wait until January as well. But I don't want to leave you blog readers hanging! I am not the most prolific of bloggers, but I try to be consistent when I can.

So, here's some 'findings' from both daily life and the internet:

I'm an avid hobby thrifter. Most of the time these days, I don't buy anything. But I love to look. I love the stories I uncover by browsing through discarded and forgotten possessions.

Last week, I discovered a cookie tin looking rather inconspicuous in the 'random junk' section of the thrift store (my favorite section, of course). When I see a cookie tin, I know to give it a shake and open if I hear a sound. Until the advent of plastic bags and the ubiquitous-ness of totes, many people kept sewing implements and craft projects in old tins. After eating whatever came in the tins, they became perfect vessels for storage. I'm a bit sad that the days of reusable packaging are mostly gone, though I try to buy stuff that comes in tins (tea, cookies, etc) whenever possible.

Upon opening, this tin revealed an unfinished project: A modular calendar. It even included the page from the magazine the kit was ordered from (a 1970's Better Homes & Gardens) that declared "Embroider this Calendar and Use It Forever". This, unfortunately, was not the case. The sad irony and beautiful partial handwork was enough to convince me to take this little surrendered project home.

In the past, I've found half finished projects and brought them home with the intention of completing them, but have not always been able to make it happen. I'm hoping the accountability of a blog declaration will keep me focused! (I also have a bag of partially pieced 1930's feedsack quilt blocks I hope to turn into a quilt some day...) There's something very poignant about finishing an unfinished project; The experience is very gratifying.

And while we're on the subject of finding old thing, I also picked up this beautiful late 30's/early 40's sewing patterns at a local vintage shop that specializes in nicely curated mid-century furniture and housewares. Tucked into a little box under a table was a lovely array of vintage patterns. While I love the illustrations on all these patterns, I tend to only buy ones that have very unique style lines. These two fit the bill AND are from my favorite era. I can see myself making the dress on the left in some color blocked linen or maybe a chambray with contrast stitching.

And some fun stuff from the internet:

From the Textile Arts Center: A tutorial on dyeing fabric using soymilk as a mordant! Apparently the protein in the soy acts as a binder for earth pigments. This is a technique I'd love to try in the future. All the fanfare about natural dyes has me thinking about the many possibilities of adding color to fabric using objects from my surroundings. Plants, dirt, mushrooms... If you're interested in other types of earth dyes, these are also quite interesting.

Patagonia has always been pretty cool when it comes to sustainability and accountability, but their latest move to publish guides on how to repair their clothing is awesome.

Have you ever rescued an unfinished project from a yard sale or thrift store? Did you finish it or re-purpose the materials?