Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Sin City Scraps Stamped Fabric Bird

Steampunk bird in clock nest 4 (800x631)
I wanted to make some spring vignettes with birds in different types of nests, but I’m not crazy about the birds at the craft stores.  I had decided to make some out of fabric but hadn’t drawn the pattern yet when I received the Clocks & Birds stamps from Sin City Scraps.  I love the birds on the plate and decided to try some more stamping on fabric to make my birds.


You can get the whole unmounted plate of Clocks & Birds for $19.  Then all you have to do is cut it apart and adhere each stamp you want to use to an acrylic block with double sided tape.  The bird is also part of Bird Trio, which sells for $8.
I have a tutorial about Stamping on Fabric on my own blog, but here are the basics.  If you are making decorative items that don’t need to be laundered, you can use the same ink you use for paper crafting.  Chunky stamps work on lots of fabrics, but if you want to use a detailed stamp, like the bird I used, you want a smooth, closely woven fabric.  The finer the threads and the closer the weave, the better impression you will get.   I like to use cotton muslin.  The piece I chose for this project had been tea dyed and then dried in the dryer.  If you aren’t tea dyeing, you may want to wash, dry and press the fabric before you stamp.  This removes the sizing the manufacturers put on the fabric and draws the threads closer together.  If you don’t like the prewashing idea, just go ahead and try stamping on the unwashed fabric; it will probably work just fine.
I stamped my bird on doubled tea dyed muslin with Colorbox Chalk Ink in Dark Brown.  Sometimes it helps to put a piece of craft foam under your fabric, but in this case, I got better detail by stamping on a hard surface.
Stamped bird (800x600)
I cut around the image and turned the fabric so the right sides were together.  You can usually use either side of muslin as the right side, but you want to make sure your stamped image is turned to face the second piece of fabric.
Right sides together (800x638)
You can use any color fabric and any color ink, but this particular combination had the advantage that I could see the bird image through the fabric.  This allowed me to stitch around the image without having to draw an outline.
I stitched all the way around.  I used a presser foot that allows me to sew a ¼ inch seam.  For a small, curved project like this, you want to use a very small stitch and turn your piece often.  You want to backstitch at the beginning and end, to secure the stitches.  I put my stop/start point at the bottom of the bird because I thought that was the least noticeable location.
Stitch around the bird (800x602)
I trimmed my seam, clipped all the curves and trimmed close to all the points.
Trim and clip (800x502)
Traditionally, you would stitch most of the way around, leave an opening, stuff the piece, then sew it closed around the edge.  You’d be stitching along a curve and the piece is very small.  So here is my easier method.  I use this for lots of projects.  Stitch all the way around, then cut a slit in the back of the piece:
Cut slit in back (800x464)
Turn the piece right side out, pulling the fabric through the slit.  Use a dowel or knitting needle or the end of a paintbrush to push out the points, taking care not to poke through.  It helps to have a slim but blunt end on the tool you use.  If it’s wrinkled, you can iron it.  Inks can react differently, so I always put a piece of waste fabric over any ink I’m unsure of.  I don’t want it on my iron or my ironing board cover.  But I didn’t need to press my bird.  If you heat set the chalk ink with an iron, you could color it in with ink or paint.
Turn right side out (800x466)
I used polyester fiberfill to stuff my bird.  For a small piece like this, you want to pull out small tufts of it and use your tool to help you get it through the slit.  Fill the far corners first.  Then compress it by pushing with your tool.  Some brands of fiberfill come with a little wooden tool that really helps.  If you are using a knitting needle, using the back end can help here.   Just don’t stuff it so full that you can’t pull the fabric together at the slit.
When you’re happy with how it looks, stitch the slit together with thread that matches your fabric.
Stuff and stitch closed (800x600)
Your bird is finished!
Bird closeup (800x550)
I imagined my bird as a Steampunk Magpie, building a nest in an empty clock case and stealing little gears and watch parts to fill it.  I colorized an empty metal clock case with Vintaj Patinas.  I used Marine as the base, then added a little bit of Verdigris and a tiny bit of Jade.  I applied the patina with a small paintbrush, and when it dried, I rubbed a piece of fine steel wool around the top of the clock case to give it a worn look.  I colorized some gears to match.  I filled the “nest” with some silver bullion, but you could use wire or twigs or fibers, too.  Then I added my gears and some little watch faces.  Nothing is permanently attached, so I can use all these items in future projects, as well.
Steampunk bird in clock nest 4 (800x631)
If you don’t have an empty clock case, you can use a little grapevine nest from the craft store.  I added a few gears to this nest, too, in keeping with my Steampunk theme:
Steampunk bird in nest 2 (800x585)
And if Steampunk is not your style, you can use anything you like for a nest.
Romantic?  Here’s a little teacup nest:
Bird in teacup (800x585)
Shabby Chic? Here’s a nest in a vintage tin:
Bird in tin (800x600)
Vintage?  Here’s a nest in a vintage woven purse:
Bird in purse 2 (800x602)
With a little shredded paper, Easter grass or dried Spanish  moss, you can make almost any container into a little nest for your stamped fabric bird!
I hope you will try stamping on fabric, and I hope you will visit Sin City Scraps to see these beautiful stamps!
Please let me know if you have any questions about this project!

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