I love a good chevron (yes, thank you, I know that's weird), so I decided to beautify a plain white tee by printing it with a repeated chevron pattern. And I love the results! Quirky but fun and simple. Check out how I did it...
1. Plain 100% cotton tee
2. Lino block - you can get these really cheaply from any good art shop, in different sizes
3. Fabric paint
4. Lino cutter - again, find this in a good art shop. Mine came with several different sized blades, but I actually only used one for this project
5. Cutting knife
First step is to sketch your pattern to print onto your lino block. This turned out to be pretty easy for chevrons, as being the geek I am I started with a grid and just drew diagonal lines between each one to make two chevrons on the block. I shaded in the part that would be the printed chevron itself, so that I knew which part to carve out.
|Drawing the grid on to my lino block.|
|The shaded area represents the bit that will print the paint onto the fabric. The unshaded bit is to be cut out.|
This is the aforementioned potentially dangerous bit. With the lino cutter you need to gently scoop out the lino from all of the areas that aren't part of the pattern to be printed. Take it slowly and don't force the blade into the lino too far. It should glide in smoothly. And always aim the blade away from you and your fingers. I sliced my finger open before I remembered this vital bit of health and safety information. It hurt.
|Starting to cut the lino away from the negative space.|
|Not really heeding my own advice here to aim away from fingers!|
Continue until all of the lino is cut away from the space that won't be printed. How deep you go is up to you - I didn't cut too deep at some places, which resulted in places in the transfer of paint on to these bits, and on to the t-shirt. But I was quite happy with this look. If you want a really clean pattern, free of bits around the edges, cut deep!
|The finished carved lino block.|
Step 3.To make the repetitive printing process a little easier I glued an old cork onto the back of the lino block, to use as a handle. Any sort of small, sturdy thing would work for this - such as a block of wood, an old lid from something, etc.
|I glued a cork to the back of the lino to make a handle.|
Using a medium-sized paintbrush, paint fabric paint evenly onto the lino block. You could use a roller for this, to get a really smooth and even effect, but I found a paintbrush actually worked fine.
Then came the fun but scary printing part! Once you start there's no going back, so it's a good idea to practice your print pattern on some spare paper or fabric first. I was quite lucky with my pattern as the lino block just lined up adjacent to the bit already printed next to it, but if you were doing something like a single pattern dotted sporadically on the fabric you could mark on with chalk or a pencil the rough location for each print.
|Fabric paint applied to my lino block.|
Lay your t-shirt out and insert cardboard inbetween the front and back, so that the colour doesn't seep through. Then print! I started at the bottom of the t-shirt, and worked my way up, doing the front first and then the back.
|The first print. Love it!|
It dried pretty quickly which meant I didn't have to wait too long to turn the tee over and do the back. I also did the sleeves, but you could leave those blank. Overall the effect was quite rough and ready but I like that! It also meant I was less scared of just going for it and seeing what happens. That's what crafts are all about a lot of the time!
|The repeated pattern.|
Once you're done printing you need to set the fabric paint so that it can then be washed at a 40 degree cycle without the colour running. Turn the tee inside out and iron on a medium setting (no steam!) a section for 5 minutes at a time.
|Urgh. Ironing. Bo-ring.|
Then enjoy! I love my tee, and feel so proud wearing something I've created. It's a fun design to jazz up an otherwise plain outfit with, and the monochrome colourscheme means it goes with so many things.
|My finished tee! You can see the tutorial for the studded jeans here.|
What do you think? Do you like it? What can I lino print next? The possibilities are endless!