Tuesday, September 24

Hand-Stamped T-shirt Totebag II (The Sequel: with Veggies!)

When you're talking fruit and vegetable stamping, a change of seasonal harvest can herald a whole new palette of patterns and textures to print with. And with them, a whole new no-sew T-shirt totebag tutorial -- this time, with fringe! Before the summer fruits and veggies officially relinquish their harvest reign to the autumn root vegetables (reminder: potato printing=boring!), see what you can scavenge from the last of the September haul to make some colorful T-shirt prints -- and a sturdy T-shirt tote to bring to next weekend's farmers market! Behold, this fall's hottest accessory (see this summer's no-sew tote here)....
What you need:
-Plain old T-shirt (I used an adult size M for this particular one)
-Tulip Dimensional Paint or Tulip Soft Fabric Paint Tubes
-Plastic lid(s) to use as a paint palette
-Half of two bell peppers, corn on the cob, lime, and the end of a celery stalk (to use as stamps)
-Ruler or straightedge
-Scrap paper
-Plastic garbage bag or table cloth to protect your work surface
-Mixing bowl or other round item to use as a cutting guide
Part 1: Making the Veggie Prints
Insert sheets of scrap paper between the layers of the T-shirt so the colors won't bleed through. Squeeze a fairly generous amount of fabric paint onto your paint palette. Place the pepper flat side down, into the paint to smear it around to make sure your stamp is fully (but not overly) covered. Try making a test print on the sleeve of the T-shirt (which will eventually be cut off) before printing on your shirt.
Experiment with the different vegetables and with different color fabric paints to create a layered pattern (keep plenty of paper towels handy for wiping your stamps in between colors).
Continue layering your prints (the paint dries fairly quickly), and lay down a plastic layer under the T-shirt before you flip the shirt and print on the opposite side.
Print more T-shirts while you wait for the first one to dry! The end of a celery talk looks like a rose; a lime or other citrus makes a rough-hewn wheel.
Once I got on a roll, I couldn't stop. Of course, you can stop there, and have a collection of one-of-a-kind printed T-shirts. (Set aside any shirts that you'd like to remain wearable, and proceed with the others to transform them into totebags!) Make sure you let the shirt dry fully before you cut it.
Part 2: Making the Totebag
Cut off the sleeves, just inside the seams. Cut off the bottom of the shirt, just above the hem. Use the edge of the mixing bowl as a cutting guide to cut out the neckband, completing the bag handles.
Cut thin fringe (about 1/2" apart) from the bottom of the shirt, using the straightedge to keep the length consistent. (My fringe is about 5"-6" long.)
Tie each top fringe piece with its corresponding bottom fringe piece in a square knot. Stretch out the cut fringe so it curls slightly onto itself. Now fill 'er up.

The ties to the farmers market run deep for this totebag, but don't limit its use to produce! I had a student make one of these totes during my artist-in-residency at her school, and she quickly transferred all of her textbooks into it before heading off to her next class. If you tie your knots tightly, this bag will definitely hold up to any combination of weighty tomes, making it a great (if a little late) back to school project. Or...with Halloween around the corner, how about using it as a creative vessel for that delicious candy haul...?


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