An Awesome T-Shirt

I always try to put any skills that I have or am trying to learn or develop into practical use, to make unique things for myself to wear, or to use and enjoy around the house, but my confidence in knowing what I might and will enjoy wearing once made does not extend beyond myself, so Mr Awesome rarely gets anything handmade. Outside of work, he usually wears T-shirts with a graphic print, and though it is possible to sew a T-Shirt, they are so readily available that the time and materials taken to make them by hand does not seem worth the outlay of either.

However, I thought I might design a graphic for a T-Shirt and get it professionally printed, so I could make him something unique and (hopefully) that he would enjoy wearing and be able to make use of.

Obviously the most awesome thing you could possible have a T-Shirt of is Giantmonk, so I designed the Totally Awesome Giantmonk T-Shirt graphic and had it printed by the lovely folks at Spreadshirt (I say lovely not because I have any affiliation with them, but because their communications, website and everything down to their packaging just make me smile.)

Now I just need to design Giantmonk a matching Mr Awesome T-shirt…

Free To Download Gift Tags With Care Instructions For Knitting, Crochet And Sewing

Every so often I like to design a new set of gift tags for giving with handmade gifts that might require some special care, especially by way of washing/drying and ironing instructions. When someone cares enough to spend the hours of creating that goes into a handmade gift they will always be hopeful that the recipient likes that gift and wishes to use it often, but if they do it will inevitably require some care skills that the recipient may not be aware of. I like to send my gifts along with a little gift tag with care instructions on the back. I usually print mine on to a sheet of card, fill out the relevant fields on the reverse, and put a personal greeting inside along with any spare yarn or threads for mending, or sew a spare button in the inside in case needed in the future.

The sheet of six gift tags I have designed this year are all foldable tags that can be printed onto a medium weight card stock, or on to paper that is then layered onto card stock, and then cut and folded as needed. Each of the tags feature pictures of clouds in gentle colours with fun polka dots adding to the graphics.

The gift tags are free to download, use and link to but please do not distribute the file nor the printed tags, for free or for profit. Click to download the Gift Tags With Care Instructions For Handmade Gifts for personal use.

A good number of other designs of gift tags with care instructions in various designs from argyle flowers to nordic colourwork, to a cheeky nod to the hard work of a crafter are available in the Free Downloads & Projects section of the site.

Sashiko: A Japanese Embroidery Technique

A week ago, at the very end of my week off, I found myself awake at a very unlikely and unfriendly hour with a spell of insomnia. I ended up browsing the internet and somehow navigated to various sites researching the techniques and history of a Japanese embroidery craft known as Sashiko.

Sashiko (pronounced with a short i, as in ‘hip’) is a technique that builds lines of simple running stitches placed at even intervals to form geometric patterns or images. The technique originated as a means to strengthen weakening areas of peasant clothing as a form of darning, and the word Sashiko itself mens ‘little stabs’, representative of the small darting stitches that punctuate the surface of the fabric. The utilitarian uses of the technique later evolved into a finer decorative craft used to form pleasing patterns.

I decided that I’d like to try some Sashiko stitching of my own so ordered a printed Sashiko base fabric from Australia. Through some magic, the kit arrived in my mailbox only four days later, so after work we dashed to the nearest craft store to buy some thread and needles appropriate for the embroidery work and started the meditative stitching.

Traditional Sashiko designs are usually worked by first completing the outside border stitches and then working in defined directional steps. The instructional steps sheet that came with the sampler I purchased advised that once the border stitches were complete that the diagonal rows should be worked first one way and then the other, working from corner to corner (at least, I believe that this is what the instructions advised, as they were in Japanese).

The long, evenly spaced rows of running stitch that make up Sashiko embroidery are worked using a special Sashiko needle, a very long (5-7cm) needle that can hold a lot of stitches along its length. A good but comfortable number of passes through the fabric are built up on the needle before the thread is drawn through to create a line of running stitches. This not only helps the work pass at a reasonable speed but also helps the lines of stitches remain straight as the needle is passed in and out of the fabric weave in parallel rows.

I decided to work the design in an indigo cotton size 5 perlé thread with the colour chosen as most examples of Sashiko work that I found appeared to be white or cream thread on Indigo cloth, or vice versa, with the former arrangement being the most popular. Unfortunately it appears to be far easier to find white background fabric samplers than those in Indigo, though I’d like to try a few different patterns and colour variations if I were to do any more Sashiko stitching, which I do hope to explore further.

As the lines of stitches build, the rhythm becomes meditative and calming, until you reach the shortening rows of the diminishing diagonals that suggest some kind of goal once you can fit an entire row of stitches onto the needle in a single pass. This heralds a sprint finish for the section and the promise that the geometry will build to reveal some new shapes as a new direction makes itself apparent, before this gently settles into yet more meditative stitching.

I’m on the cross diagonal rows now, and every line of stitches changes the dynamics of the piece of fabric, as lines make their way for a wave of little boxes, which will in turn make their way for yet more complexity of shape as new stitches are added and built.

I hope to find some more time this week to work on my Sashiko stitching, and I shall let my mind wander into the possibilities of what I can make with the sampler, once complete.