Wednesday, September 21, 2011

baby love, day 3: relaxing eye mask and clothing tags

This week is all about the baby gifting.  My SIL is having a baby, maybe now!, and I wanted to spoil my new little niece the best way I know how: handmades!

Today's gift is all for Mum though.  Time to relax is hard to come by as a mum, and when you add to the number of children you have, that time gets even more precious and hard to find.  So, to help make the most of those fleeting moments, I made the eye mask from Sew Liberated.  I used bits of satin I had leftover from a 30's style dress I made several years ago, and several other scraps.

The pattern called for flax seed, but I could not find flax seed here in the UK.  I ended up using something that can be found in great abundance here, lavender.  There are so many lovely lavender farms here, and what better way to relax.  Since my big bag of lavender arrived, I've been really enjoying walking into (and staying in) my studio.  It's one of my favorite scents.

I didn't care for the design on the eye mask in the book, so I came up with my own, which I quite like.  I actually hand-appliqued this too.  I was afraid I would really mess it up on the machine with such small curves, so I did it all by hand.  I don't have any thimbles here (I have no idea how they could have become separated from the rest of my sewing gear in the move, but hopefully they'll turn up again someday), so I ended up with a really raw finger by the time I was done, but worth it!

You've been looking at photos of tags with my new logo all week, and I said I'd let you know how I made them.  It's really quite simple!  A friend of Mr. R made the logo for me (Thanks, Pete!), and I took the image, shrunk it in GIMP (which is free) to the size I wanted (you could also use Picnik).  Then I created plain old address labels in MS Works (yea, I can't even afford MS Word).  Paste the image in the label, finagle the spacing a bit to get the image where you want it.  After some thought, I bet you could do this in a spreadsheet too, and perhaps have even more spacing flexibility.  Next, print it out on printable fabric.    I used Crafter's Images Silk Habotai that I found here (scroll down to find it).

Here's my take on THIS particular fabric (forgot to take photos of the process, sorry).  I've never used any other so the following is specific to THIS brand.  I think it's a great tool for crafts that you will not wash.  The fabric is super soft and lovely and sews surprisingly easily.

I test printed with regular settings, and then with photo settings.  The photo settings bled a great deal more than the regular, general/everyday-use printer settings.  I let the fabric dry over 24 hours.  It's not necessary to wait this long, but since the labels will be put on things that will be washed, I wanted to let the ink set for as long as possible first.  When the ink is dry, peel off the paper backing.  I thought this would be hard since there is no tab or corner left to grab onto, but the fabric separated from the paper quite easily.  Then you rinse the fabric to get the excess ink off and to pre-shrink the fabric.  The fabric frays a little when doing this, so I recommend not cutting up your tags until after this step.

After rinsing I dabbed the fabric between some paper towels, and then ironed dry.  I used my rotary cutter to cut them to the sizes I wanted, then pressed the edges over, and sewed them into the pieces I made.

Now here's the tricky part.  This fabric states that it's washable.  That was something I specifically looked for when choosing a printable fabric.  However, it's only hand-washable.  Several online shops that carried this fabric didn't mention that.  So I tested it myself, and here are the results:
Warm wash, normal agitation: all colored ink is washed out, black ink remains
Cold wash, normal agitation: colored ink faded slightly, black ink still crisp
Cold wash, gentle cycle: colored ink barely faded, black ink crisp

So, with normal use, the labels won't last long.  Luckily, this batch of labels is going to family, and I think they'll be able to remember who made them.  Looks like I need to save my pennies in order to purchase the woven labels that I've had my eye on for months now.

Update: Since first writing this, I decided to try facing the labels.  This time I didn't rinse the fabric after the ink had set.  After peeling off the backing paper, I ironed the entire sheet with a steam iron on high - you'll see the sheet shrink up a good bit when doing this.  Then I ironed on some lightweight fusible interfacing on the back.

It really helped to keep the labels from wobbling around when cutting them, and made it easier to press the edges under.  It did take a little away from the beauty of the silk, but they're still soft and pretty.  I haven't tried washing any yet to see if the interfacing helped with the colorfastness issue, but I'm guessing it didn't.

Anyway, it's a good cheaper alternative to the pricey (yet very lovely) woven labels that I will continue to swoon over until I can own my very own. *smile*

Tomorrow: dress, hat and bloomers

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