Creating my own textiles is something I have always loved doing. You can always find interesting prints when you go fabric shopping, but there’s something truly joyful about being able to make that print with your own two hands. And then if you can extended that into sewing with your own handprinted fabrics it’s a double win. Make fabric that you love, and then make it into something that you want to wear. Recently, I did just that with some plain linen, and by the end of this, I hope I will have convinced you to print all the things.
Creating handprinted fabrics
Obviously the first step in sewing with your own handprinted fabric is to print up some yardage. If printing a couple of yards of fabric sounds daunting, you can always print directly onto a finished project. I’ve done this before, and it works like a charm. You can experiment with fabrics of all types, though you’ll get the best results with plain woven fabrics in natural fibers. Linen and cotton are ideal.
In this video, I walk you through carving your own block, what supplies you need, setting up your workspace, and printing your own yardage with a simple pattern repeat.
5 ideas for using your handprinted fabrics
This is the fun part. You’ve used your muscle to print up some yardage, now what? The sky is the limit, but here are some ideas for things to create with your yardage:
Pick a pattern with simple lines
There’s times when a design in the star, but with handprinted fabrics, the fabric is the queen. Choose a pattern that isn’t broken up by a lot of tucks and gathers or otherwise complicated design lines. Sometimes less is more.
Add a little drama
I couldn’t resist adding a little interest to this sundress with the asymmetrical skirt. The bodice is from my fringed linen sundress, and I made a little cutout at CF and changed up the straps. But for the drama, I added a little drape on the right side of the dress. It’s cut-on so I didn’t have to match the pattern or waste any yardage.
Piece the leftovers
There’s a basic Ottobre dress I’ve been making all summer for my daughter. There wasn’t enough to make the dress plain, so I cut it a couple inches below the waist and added a ruffle to finish off the length. The ruffle itself had to be pieced, but the seams are hidden within the folds for the most part. I love how limited yardage makes you think about how to fully use a piece of fabric!
Use the opportunity to practice your hand embroidery with any scraps. I made these in the car on our family road trip this summer. The embroidery can really add a new dimension to your print.
Make a bag
Little zippered bags can be a great way to use up last little wonky pieces of your fabric. Zigzag them together, fuse them with some interfacing, and make sew up an easy lined bag.
Love what you make, make what you love
I hope I’ve got your brain working thinking about all the things you can do with your handmade fabric.
At the end of the day, making handprinted fabrics is a labor of love. Your sweat and hardwork is in it a little more than all the times you buy the newest fabric–not that that’s bad, but the making experience is just different. To me it’s really exciting watching a blank canvas become something you want to wear all the time.
This dress has been carrying me through the summer. My husband and I had fun taking these pictures at Myrtle Beach (I NEED the turquoise wall in my backyard!!!!!), and the linen has been a luxury to wear in the swampy heat.
So what about you? Have you created your own fabric? Did sewing it up feel different for you than when you buy fabric off the bolt?
Elizabeth Farr is the writer behind the Elizabeth Made This blog where she shares helpful sewing tips, step by step sewing tutorials and videos to help you explore your creativity through sewing. She has written sewing Eguides and patterns, been a featured teacher at Rebecca Page’s Sewing Summit and Jennifer Maker’s Holiday Maker Fest and her work has appeared in Seamwork and Altered Couture magazines. She also created a line of refashioned garments for SEWN Denver. When her sewing machine isn’t humming, she’s playing and teaching violin, and hanging around a good strategic board game with her husband and 4 kids.