Textile Printing at Leeds Art College

Hello everyone!
I thought it was about time for a full round up of my Textile Printing course. This is going to be picture heavy I’m afraid and I’ve not even included all the pictures!

almond rock textile printing leeds art college

Weeks 1 and 2 we worked with disperse printing using heat set dyes on man made fabrics. Using paper soaked in dye and a giant heatpress, I played with geometric shapes on coloured polyester and crepe.

almond rock textile printing leeds art college

almond rock textile printing leeds art collegealmond rock textile printing leeds art college

Week 3 we made paper stencils using scalpels and when taped to mesh screens we could pull binder ink through onto any fabric we liked. Mine was an utter disaster due to poor squeegee technique and rubbish stencil.

Week 4 was about free form painting direct onto a screen using Procion reactive dyes. I printed a splatter print onto cotton lawn and silk.

almond rock textile printing leeds art college

Weeks 5 and 6 we prepped for future sessions by coating screens in light sensitive emulsion and thanks to a huge light box we exposed imagery onto the mesh. We drew the images in thick black pen to act as positives and when the screen was exposed the black areas washed away creating a negative that would allow ink to pass through in just those areas. I chose pineapples!!

almond rock textile printing leeds art college

While our screens set we also dyed silk, satin, velvet and cotton in big pans using tiny amounts of dye and lots of hot water. Excitingly I also got to use the digital printers while our fabrics soaked! I printed 1.5m of paper crane print cotton drill and 1.5m of painterly triangle print silk.

almond rock textile printing leeds art college

almond rock textile printing leeds art college

Week 7 was the start of my pineapples adventures! We pulled binder ink through our screens onto any fabrics we wanted. I chose to print fluorescent pink ink on white cotton and crepe de chine and black ink on brown polyester.

almond rock textile printing leeds art college

almond rock textile printing leeds art college

Week 8 we tried discharge screenprinting where a smelly seaweed-based paste bleaches the colour from dyed fabric. As well as devore printing which removes cellulose fibres leaving the man made fabric base behind – e.g removing the nap from velvet to create a relief. I used my pineapple screen again to discharge print on my dyed cotton and silk. And freestyled a brush painted devore print on my dyed satin and velvet.

almond rock textile printing leeds art college
almond rock textile printing leeds art college

Weeks 9 and 10 I decided to expose a new screen with hummingbirds and printed onto some colourful viscose. I printed teal ink on pink and pink ink on purple. Plus I had time for a sneaky little bit more disperse printing.

almond rock textile printing leeds art college

It was such a wonderful course, I’m actually a little sad I can’t repeat it next term but I’ve already signed up to a pattern drafting course.

Here are the details for Textile Printing: The course I did was a short evening course run by Leeds Art College, over 10 weeks for 2.5hrs. The tutor is Kirstie Williams who also runs independent print courses.

The course costs £185 with all materials provided but you bring extra if you want to print something specific.

I ended up with enough fabric for 3 dresses, 4 tops, and plenty of A2 pieces for tote bags or small garments – silk pineapple knickers perhaps?!

The new term starts in a couple of weeks so I suggest you sign yourself up asap if you’re interested!

almond rock textile printing leeds art college

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Tips for working with Slippery Fabrics!

If you’ve stuck around here long enough, you’ll have noticed I have a real affection for slinky fabrics.

With the completion of my Satin pyjamas I thought it was about time I share some of my personal survival tactics with Satin.

BUT most of these also apply to Silks, Viscose, Chiffon, Crepe or Georgette.

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1. Storage
I’ve always heard it’s best to store Satin rolled up to avoid getting creases that need to be ironed out later. I’ve stored it both rolled up and loosely folded and I have to say I didn’t have much problem either way. That being said, best not to put a ton of Corduroy and Denim on top of your Satin if you’re not sewing it up straight away.

2. Can’t stand the heat!
Satin has a special kind of weave that creates a glossy right-side to the fabric and a dull wrong-side. This lustre can be damaged by the high heat and steam of an iron or even accidentally picking an overaggressive spin-cycle on your washing machine.

Wash at 30 degrees and turn your iron to its coolest setting. Always press on the wrong side of the fabric or if you must press the right side then use a pressing cloth. The weight of your iron, more than the heat will help you achieve neatly pressed edges.

3. Lay it down.

Don’t be fooled, slippery fabric wants to escape your cutting table as soon as your back is turned! So unless you can fit all the fabric on the table without gravity coming into play I’d suggest cutting out on the floor (not the carpet). Basting will also be your new best friend – pin or stitch the folded fabric together to increase stability.

Best to also clear a good space around your machine, as again, you’ll be sewing along and suddenly your fabric will fling itself off the table like it has decided to end it all!

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4. Nap.
It’s not as obvious as the pile of velvet but there is a subtly different sheen when you view Satin one way rather than the other. Remember to lay all your pieces out in one direction even if your print is multi-directional… if you care about things like that.

5. To the point
First off, I hope you don’t have a tin full of dented blunt pins. That’s going to end in disaster.

Use the finest machine needle you can get hold of. Nice and sharp. I always use polyester thread. Use a small stitch length and try not to rip out stitches.

If you need to unpick, hey it happens, break the threads at regular intervals and then carefully unpick the shorter lengths to save trauma to the fabric.

6. Grain
I’m going to say the words people aren’t supposed to say. Deep breath… don’t beat yourself up about the grain. HEY I didn’t say ignore it completely! If you end up slightly off-grain because of the slippery nature of the fabric, you’ll be okay.

I generally find drapey fabrics far more forgiving in this regard and they very rarely warp over time. A significant amount of ready to wear clothing is produced off-grain and it’s never done us that much harm. But it’s not like it takes long to do so make the effort to line things up as best as you can.

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7. Finishing
Before you end up in a sea of Satin-fluff you might want to think about how to finish your seams. I definitely recommend French seams. I used them for 90% of the pyjamas except for the crotch seam on the pj bottoms and around the armholes in the pj top; there I used my serger to neaten things off.

French seams are so good because they’re secure, look pretty awesome and are really easy to sew when you’ve thought through the logistics! You can even use them on curved seams, even though I didn’t as I was honed in on the finish line – aka lazy. I did take the time to encase the exposed edge of my shirt facing with Satin bias binding as I was feeling classy for about 5 mins. .

Other options still apply — zig zag the raw edges, use pinking shears or bias/seam binding, or maybe you’ve prefer to fold under and top stitch your seam allowances out of sight.

Final thoughts

  • You can use a gelatin bath or similar on your fabric to give it temporary body – this washes out easily enough but I don’t like how slimy it makes the fabric and my machine bed.
  • If you want more tips for silk check out Jen’s awesome tutorial which covers helpful cutting techniques using paper. This is a very common method for a good reason.
  • Familiar with the tissue paper technique? This is for sewing (rather than cutting) and I’ve found it very handy in the past.
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How was your weekend?

“So what did you do this weekend?”

“Oh I went shopping in London with 50 strangers off the Internet and we took over a Lebenese restaurant. What did you do?”

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I want to say that this weekend’s meetup in London was so tremendous that I’m finding it hard to describe. I tried to summarise proceedings in an email to my brother and pretty sure I didn’t convey how amazing it was (plus I know I missed bits out).

So forgive me if I opt out from trying to do it justice. If you were there, well you know. If you weren’t, our delightful host Rachel and many of the FIFTY other attendees will do a much better job than I.

Instead of a full round up I wanted to hone in some of my highlights of the day.

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A big highlight for me was how much more confident I felt at my second meet up than my first, especially given the scare factor of such a huge gathering. I think this was partly down to seeing lovely familiar faces. Rachel makes you feel like you’ve known her years. Marie is such a sweetheart, she always makes me laugh. Roisin is like a fantastic whirlwind and didn’t stay long but made a point to catch up with me. And it was lovely to chat with Catherine again (I had a feeling she’d pick my sparkly jersey from the swap).

Another highlight was meeting so many new people – people I’ve admired and read their blogs from afar and people that write wonderful blogs I’d not heard of before. Sitting with Camilla, Jo and Janene for lunch was great because they were all so chatty and funny. Finally meeting Sallie and confirming my suspicions of her Yorkshire roots was ace. And of course meeting LIZZY! Our international attendee. She really is so so friendly in real life. I felt a bit star struck to be honest; I didn’t get a photo of us together and I felt like I didn’t convey how grateful I was that she brought over for me!

The V&A is so spectacular I can’t believe I’ve never been before! I’m definitely going again.

Goldhawk Road was kind of a revelation. It was so neat to see all the fabric shops along one road where we could bounce in and out of them all hunting for bargains. Now some of you may have noticed my desperate desire to find horse print fabric. And since Goldhawk Road is famous for getting end rolls from commercial fashion companies I felt optimistic.

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I wasn’t disappointed. I also picked up some other delights. Not much mind you as I’d already spent all my money in Birmingham. My swap freebies included this amazing bird print rayon from Lizzy, and a printed silk plus a cute simplicity sundress pattern from a mystery source.

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Finally, I was amazed by the generosity of Minerva Fabrics and Abakhans. These two companies effectively sponsored our day out. I can’t even begin to convey the amount of fabric, notions and trims Abakhans supplied to the swap. And Minerva gave everyone goodie bags they’d thoughtfully put together – see the awesome felted wool knitted fabric I was given (above). I always thought the blogging community was surpisingly separate from the sewing supply companies but lately my eyes have been opened.

* Meet up photos by Digpal Singh

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