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How to Make Digital Fabric Prints

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The one thing I’ve been asked time and again since showing off my pictures is how I do the vintage fabric illustrations like these:

They’re super-easy to do, so I thought I’d show you all how.

We’ll start with a distinctly tatty 70s T-shirt with an amazing nautical print:

I love this T-shirt which was a hand-me-down from my then-flatmate in 1999. It’s mis-shapen now and has teeny little holes dotted all over it… it’s about time it got recycled into something else. But the good thing about this project is that it doesn’t have to be. All you have to do with your T-shirt (or curtain or pillow case or whatever) is stick it in your scanner.

So, one scanned bit of fabric:

Now all you have to do is draw on it. This can be done is MS Paint or any other basic drawing package, but I use Photoshop; unless you’re absolutely confident of your ability to draw well first time, the layers in Photoshop are invaluable.

Create a new layer and draw your image on it. I actually prefer to draw my image on several layers, one piled on top of the other, as it allows me to move different bits of the image around and delete or filter just one part at a time. For this image, I used one layer for the boat, one for the body and one for the head.

You could also draw a stick figure on a separate layer to use as a guide, then delete it when you’re done. I don’t often do this because my illustrations are scrappy, but it can be useful if you want nice, tidy lines!

Happy with your drawing now? Good.

In the layers palette, hold down CTRL and select all the different parts of your drawing (not the fabric background), then right click and select “Merge Layers”. This will leave you with one solid line drawing.

Colour your drawing in using the Paint Bucket tool.

I still wasn’t completely happy with this one; the background was a little too sharp for the dreamy effect I was trying to create. I selected the fabric background layer and applied a radial blur filter at a very low setting:

Still on the fabric background layer, I then used the gradient tool set at 20% opacity to add a sky blue corner. And that’s it – from tatty old T-shirt to illustrated print:

Neglected Projects

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I am three days into an eleven day break from work. I don’t remember ever having had the full Christmas-New Year season off work before (maybe once when I worked at a university?) and was feeling both thrilled and overwhelmed by so much free time… Thinking perhaps I might put some of it to good use, I made a list of all the projects and repair jobs I’ve been failing to get around to for some or all of the past year:

  • Adjust the various dresses in my wardrobe which are waiting to be made wearable.
  • Spackle hairline cracks in the kitchen ceiling.
  • Sort the gap in the bedroom coving.
  • Clean up the replastering splatters from the living room ceiling.
  • Replace the manky bathroom carpet with something hair dye resistant.
  • Frame the assorted prints I’ve got lying around.
  • Hang Steve’s dinosaur garland.
  • Come up with some pretty way of covering up where the cooker hood used to be.
  • Adjust the wonky kitchen cupboard doors.
  • Decide what to do about the cracked lie in in the living room (replaster? somehow repair? cover with bumpy wallpaper?).
  • Paint the new strip of skirting board.
  • File away about six months’ worth of bills and official letters.
  • Create some artwork for the bathroom.
  • Find a solution to Steve’s mountains of Stuff.
  • Clear out my old T-shirts to either the charity shop, the bin or my scrap fabric box.
  • Do a blogroll.
  • Generally spruce up the blog.
  • Make some sort of print with Glow in the Dark paint.
  • Make curtains for the living room; possibly blinds for the kitchen.
  • Do a post involving the first photo I ever took.
  • Repair my two favourite work dresses, both of which have split on the left side.
  • Touch up the paint under the new windowsills.
  • Turn vintage suitcase into a coffee table.
  • Do something with the enormous canvas I’ve had lying around for months on end, thanks to a brief and crazy idea that a huge painting could be the solution to the cracked lie in dilemma.
  • Replace the seal around the bath.
  • Tighten the buttons on my winter jacket, all of which are one big dinner away from bursting off.

As my eleven days are rapidly filling up with plans and schemes and decent movies, there may not be much crossed off this list by January 5th, but it will be interesting to come back to it in a few months and see how much progress I’ve managed to make!

**edit: I forgot about replacing the fusty linings in our two vintage display cases and about getting the doorbell fixed**

First Birthday

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Happy first birthday to my one and only nephew, Jasper!

Here he is, looking both dapper and alert at his granny’s wedding last month.

And just to turn the topic back to me (*grins*), here’s an in-progress snap of the card I made him. My second ever craft knife creation so I’m quite pleased with it; it was finished off by erasing all the pencil marks and inserting a bright yellow background.

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