Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Hasty crafting, or how not to do things


Ugh, it's been forever, I know.  I thought I'd update you on my progress on the, um, MARCH stitchalong for Feeling Stitchy. Yes I am unrepentantly slow on my progress. :)

I thought I'd share my progress as it was a total learning experience for me and might be helpful to any of you hasty crafters out there. Are you a hasty crafter? I'm a total hasty crafter. Meaning, I want results NOW, have no intention of waiting until I have the proper supplies, the right floss color, the right material, etc. As a result, I frequently have these hilarious "argh" moments in crafting. :)

Case in point - this t-shirt embroidery idea:

Getting that octopus traced and transferred onto a t-shirt was a mother of a process. Let's just get this straight, friends, because this is probably the #1 question I get on my blog and on Flickr - embroidering on a t-shirt - not a good idea. Yes, it is possible, but it is also frustrating and painful. So when asking yourself whether or not you should try embroidery on a t-shirt, just take my advice and don't do it. But, I am stubborn, so I did it.

For my first try, I behaved very well and pulled out my red transfer pencil. Hey, it worked in the past? Why shouldn't it work now? Well, my mom had this odd tracing paper that was much thicker and more paper-like than what I normally use. But I'm the hasty crafter, right? So instead of run out and purchase the right tracing paper, I just used the one I had. And you know what? It didn't work. Not one line transferred, no matter how hard I ironed. :(

At this point I was a bit cranky. So I tried method #2 and slipped my t-shirt over my computer screen to trace with a charcoal pencil. It worked on my pillowcase project, right? You know what? T-shirt fabric is very stretchy. Drawing clean lines on stretchy fabric? Not exactly an option here. At this point I had a few smudged lines on my t-shirt and a very cranky disposition.

On to method #3 - transfer paper. Here I made another bad choice - I assumed that since the shirt was a medium gray, the regular transfer paper (like carbon paper) would show up fine. Wrong again. It was really hard to see, which meant I had to keep lifting the paper to check, and losing my place. I ended up with a sad, lopsided, barely visible octopus. At this point I was all kinds of pissed, and it was all my fault. So I threw the shirt in the washing machine in utter disgust. You know, I probably should have washed the shirt first to begin with? But I am the hasty crafter, remember?

So finally, the method that did work!

After testing on a small part of the inside of the t-shirt I discovered that transfer paper for dark fabrics (transfers white) worked like a charm. (Sublime Stitching sells this.)
white transfer paper

The key to using transfer paper on a stretchy t-shirt fabric is to have a nice firm surface underneath - the back of a sketchpad is perfect:

So finally, after about a thousand "argh" moments, I had an octopus on a t-shirt to stitch:
ready to stitch...

Now here's the other #1 question I get - do I use a t-shirt stabilizer? What's a good t-shirt stabilizer? Nope, I don't, so I can't really suggest one. Yes, I realize in theory this would make stitching easier. But I'm a hasty crafter, right? So I've never bothered. :)

Stitching on a t-shirt? It's just always laborious and tricky, but I like the added challenge. Pull a stitch too tight and you've got a horrible mess. Use too much thread and you'll poke a big, unfixable hole in your shirt. But I kind of like teetering on the edge of disaster. :)

There is pretty much no "easy" stitch on knit fabric. I used a combination of chain stitch, stem stitch, and back stitch for my octo:

For the lettering, I'm using a combination of stem stitch and back stitch (only stem stitch is pictured here):
starting on the letters

So, to summarize: I don't use t-shirt stabilizer (maybe you guys can suggest a good one?), I am a hasty crafter, no, I do not recommend stitching on a t-shirt, and don't be a hasty crafter like me. :) How are you guys? Promise I'll have a finished t-shirt to show you soon! :)


Hypothetical Woman said...

Ooh, yeah, you've bitten off rather more than I would be able to chew there. I think if I wanted to put something on a T-shirt I'd embroider it on cotton first and THEN sew it onto the T-shirt, which would of course make the shirt heavy, and... yeah, probably that's why BondaWeb was invented.

Vanessa said...

No suggestions on the t-shirt stabilizer but I did want to say that I'm now coveting that shirt.