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Embellish with Handmade Stamps

Bird stamps were carved from potatoes and stamped with fabric paint onto a ready-to-wear dress.

Fabric paint isn’t just for kids’ projects anymore. Here, we show you how to create stamps from staples like potatoes and from everyday items in your kitchen, including sponges, corks, and more. We’ll explain how to elevate stamping projects to create high-fashion garments by covering the basics on paints and inks, and then how to carve your own stamps. Soon you’ll be making stamps from countertop finds. Then, you can choose to print on fabric before you sew, or print on a garment that’s already made to get a unique look.

The Scoop on Supplies
Most of the supplies for making and using stamps can be found at your local crafts store, online, or in your kitchen.

Paints and Inks
Fabric inks and paints are available in myriad colors and textures, including glossy, matte, metallic, glitter, and more. Experiment with the inks and paints to see which works best with your stamp. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s heat-setting and washing instructions. Some fabric paints come out in the wash, or require lengthy drying times, so double-check the bottle’s information before selecting it for a washable garment.

Cutting Tools
Sharp kitchen knives work well for carving stamps. You can also use linoleum cutters (available at DharmaTradingCo.com) to create detail in your stamps, or even sharp cookie cutters to make hard-edged designs. To cut softer items like sponges, use sharp scissors.

Bird stamps were carved from potatoes and stamped with fabric paint onto a ready-to wear dress.

Speedball linoleum cutters make it easy to carve stamps.

Whittle a Stamp
Many items around the house can be used to make stamps. Always test your stamp on scraps first to make sure it’s to your liking, and always cut away from yourself when cutting out your motif.

Cut sponges with sharp scissors to make affordable, reusable stamps. Draw a shape on the sponge with a marker, and then cut along the lines. Think about the positive and negative spaces in your stamp designs and how they will transfer to your fabric. We created chained rings, leaves, and vines.

Corks are easy to carve with linoleum cutters or a sharp kitchen knife, and they work well for creating small graphic geometric designs. Try crosshatching or other simple shapes for a quick stamp option.

Let your potato warm up to room temperature before carving. To make a flat printing surface, first cut the potato in half. Then, cut into the flat surface any way you like using knives and linoleum cutting tools. You can draw your design onto the potato with a permanent marker first, to perfect the design. Blot excess water from the potato, and apply paint or ink to it with a sponge for an even print. Then stamp your fabric. Store your potato stamp in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 72 hours.

excerpted from SewStylish Spring 2011, p. 72.


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