Today I made my first hand printed tote bag. I ordered some black webbing as handles and stitched the whole thing in about one hour. I can’t believe it’s taken so long to happen. I’m very excited with the results. All I need to do now is make another 50 and start selling them.
I’m going into the studio today for another printing session and i’m super nervous that it will go wrong again. Here are some more designs i’ve been working on. I’m trying to keep them simple and bold.
This design is inspired by the scene in Spirited Away where the little soot characters come out and start eating the Konpeito’s (Japanese candy). It still needs a bit of work though.
I’ve started sewing and have been practicing making purses. All I need now is a decent print and i’ll be over half way there!
Here are the results of the third printing session. This time lots of things went wrong. I’m finding it impossible to line up my prints accurately and am still having issues with getting a clean image.
I attempted to print white onto some lovely Japanese cotton bought on Ebay but I don’t think I put enough white ink in the base. The only successful piece was the blue twig design which worked really well. Before I print again I’m going to have to do a bit of research on textile techniques. So far Squeegee and Ink have been really helpful and have been sending me some YouTube videos. If anyone has tips or advice for me it would be very much appreciated.
I am getting closer to making tote bags. Here is a mock up made with some black webbing. I love this look and just need find somewhere that does large amounts of the stuff.
No one ever tells you that starting up a new project can have a multitude of problems and errors. There can be irritating little issues that make you want to forget the whole thing and retire to eating biscuits on the sofa.
Before Christmas I had my first screen printing session for a while and managed to print onto two lengths of fabric. I came across a few issues as my screen was too small for repeat patterns and it leaked water onto the fabric, causing bleeding. I also realised that i’m terrible at lining images up and ended up with a lot of wonky repeat patterns.
This week I attempted at making some cushions out of the fabric. The first one I made was too big, the second one I stitched the wrong way round and will have to unpick, the third one I prepared properly with a template and got it just about perfect apart from the print itself which is a bit rubbish.
I’m mentioning all this because It’s easy to get frustrated when there are so many people that make everything look so damn easy, printing, making, photographing and branding their work to look beautiful. I’m refusing to be disheartened and am writing all these little problems down so that next time i’ll do a better job. The next big issue for me is photographing my work. I live in a flat surrounded by objects and wires that get in the way. I’m considering shooting outside from now on because the light in this flat is just not enough.
Follow my progress hannah_b_5555 instagram
Anyway, hopefully the next session will be a little easier.
I recently discovered Bainbridge Studios, a screen printing studio that is 5 mins from my house. I booked myself onto ten sessions and ordered some inks and cotton fabric for printing. Here are my first prints in 3 years. I’m very excited to get more designs printed and made into cushions and bags.
Oh yes, and I even photographed my dropcloth too.
I’m taking tiny steps in becoming a textile designer and have just found a local studio where I can screen print my work. In the meantime I have been getting inspiration from other illustrators and printers. Today I stumbled across Leslie Keating, a Canadian designer who is based in Melbourne, Australia. Leslie creates hand printed textiles under the name Maze and Vale. I was really struck by her use of simple clean shapes and soft dusty colours. As a designer I have a tendency to overwork patterns and include too many shapes. These prints really do show how simple ideas can work.
What really got me excited is that she sells cuttings of her dropcloths (sheets of protective cloth placed underneath your printing fabric) as pieces of art. What a fantastic idea! I’ve always loved the unusual layers and shapes created on lengths of old dropcloth.
I’ve been teaching myself how to design textile patterns for 11 months now and have made great progress. I’m really inspired at the moment and have many sketches and shapes waiting to be turned into patterns. This latest triangle design created some problems as I’m trying to stop using white as a background and be more daring with colours. I keep referring to Tamasyn Gambell, Lotta Jansdotter and my print and pattern Pinterest board for ideas but keep coming up with the same palette again and again.
Here are my first little tests with and without a half-drop.
Thankfully I was told about Adobe Kuler, a colour scheme generator that is FREE! It looks pretty horrible with an ugly dark grey background but I tested it out by using the suggested Compound colour selection and as you can see here it worked out ok. It’s really useful as you can scroll around the colour wheel and it instantly gives you the HEX code which can be copied into your editing software.
I prefer my own colour designs for now but will use Adobe Kuler when I’m stuck for ideas.
If you are designing a pattern for textiles, the colours on your screen will look very different to the end result. This is why you should get a custom proof setup so you can see more accurately what your colours will look like when printed. I use the Spoonflower one at the moment which matches well with the company I printed my last design on.
Image with custom proof set up
You can see the difference is huge! The next challenge is to work out how to do a half-drop pattern in Photoshop. I’m currently having to do this manually which is fiddly, any advise would be most welcome.
The other day I made a silly doodle of these wheel shapes in my sketchbook. I love the simplicity of them so decided to create a repeat pattern. It took me a while to organise, first I tried arranging them at random over the page but eventually opted for the “less is more” approach and arranged them in a grid. The most difficult part of this process is getting the colours right. I’ve found that small thin shapes don’t work so well on dark backgrounds. After trying to avoid a white background I realised this is probably the best option for now. The plan is to make some more tote bags or cushions from these. I hope you like them. Do take a look at my etsy site, there will be more items added over the next few weeks.
I have a big stack of scrap paper at home with screen-printed photos and designs on them from when I did an MA in Printmaking. I couldn’t bring myself to throw these away but was desperate to put them to some use. I have an obsession for notebooks and diaries of all shapes and sizes. My favourite by far is Mark’s of Monocle diary, it’s not cheap but it’s perfect for organising your life. Also, check out Serrote, they make beautiful screen-printed notebooks.
First I created a rectangular card template and cut out a big stack of paper so they were all the same size and shape.
Then I chose which pieces I wanted for the front panels and used a typewriter to personalise the front. I bunched them together and sewed them in place in the middle.
Then I glued the last inner sheets to the front and back panel to keep it secure, keeping it flat under a heavy book for 20 mins. I’m very pleased with the results and love how all the different pages have old photocopies and sketches in them. I might even make some more soon.
Last September I discovered a website called Spoonflower that lets you upload your own textile patterns and print them onto fabric. The website is full of hints and tips on getting the best patterns and is perfect for any beginner who wants to teach themselves. The only downside is that it’s based in the U.S.A and I live in the UK. I would have to wait a month for my fabrics to arrive and then pay a hefty charge at the post office. I decided to look around at alternative digital printing companies based in the UK and came across BeFabBeCreative, who are based in Edinburgh. I ordered their fabric sample, uploaded my designs and chose to have it printed 100 x 140cm on plain cotton.
It took about a week to arrive and now I’m super excited to get started on some sewing. I’m planning on making three tote bags out of the first run but my mind is already thinking about the next design to send them and all the other possibilities such as cushions, scarves (yes they do a nice silk and satin options too), purses, rucksacks, umbrellas, the list is endless.
I’ll let you know as soon as they’re made and photographed all beautifully. Thank you BeFabBeCreative, expect some more designs soon.