We hope you’re enjoying our daily Handmade Holidays series, all November long! Pretty soon you’ll need to wrap up all of those handcrafted gifts… We asked expert Krista Fleckenstein, author of the new book Beyond Cotton: Making by Hand, to show us how to block print holiday gift wrap. These same techniques and designs could be easily applied to fabric too, with your own, custom designs.
Krista Fleckenstein blogs at Spotted Stones. Her first book, Beyond Cotton: Making by Hand: Stamp, Print, Dye & Paint 18 Modern Mixed Media Sewing Projects, was just released with Lucky Spool. Beyond Cotton is a mixed media sewing resource with 19 projects that teaches block printing, painting, dyeing and screen printing on fabric, along with techniques for working with leather and bias tape.
Best Friends Stuffies from Beyond Cotton.
From the publisher:
Mixed media goes graphic, minimal and sophisticated. Go beyond commercially available fabrics and get your hands dirty! Create your own modern substrates through Krista’s interactive project-based sewing workshops. Readers will stitch up 19 designer projects while experimenting with ways to stamp, print, paint, dye, and embellish fabrics to use for unique projects to gift and keep.
- Beyond Cotton
will take modern makers beyond the world of commercially available fabrics by encouraging readers to work with different, but readily available materials like leather, rivets, and industrial-grade felt. Create a Leather Cuff in three ways: stitched, carved or stamped; learn to create design repeats; set up a home printing table and experiment with dyeing fabrics. Krista encourages beginners and more experienced sewist alike to break out of using only someone else’s fabrics and to take ownership of the look of their work from start to finish. This book is packed with skill-building techniques, new and fun ways to create your own fabric based on projects you will want to use everyday and lots of inspiration!
Freckles Painted Tote Bag from Beyond Cotton.
There is a nice selection of photos from many of the book projects at Lucky Spool, including the Freckles Painted Tote Bag and Best Friends Stuffies pictured here. Take a look at Lucky Spool, and have fun learning how to print your own gift wrap here with Krista at Sew Mama Sew!
Printing your own gift wrap is a fun and easy way to personalize your gifts this season! These methods will take you through carving a block and printing in three different repeat patterns. You can find all the materials in your local craft store or online.
- Roll of Kraft Paper
- Block Carving Material (like Speedball Speedy-Cut or Blick E-Z-Cut)
- Lino Cutter
- X-Acto Knife
- Pigment Ink Pads
- Clear Quilting Ruler
- Block Printed Gift Wrap Artwork PDF (optional)
Let’s start by carving your blocks!
Print the Block Printed Gift Wrap Artwork PDF or draw your own design. Begin by tracing over the lines of your chosen piece of artwork with a pencil.
Flip the paper over onto your carving block, and rub the paper with your thumbnail or the back of a spoon, transferring the pencil marks to your block.
Using a #2 blade in your lino cutter, carve the inside lines of your block.
Cut away the excess on the outside of your block with an X-acto knife.
Rinse off your block in cool water to remove any leftover pieces of rubber.
Print Your Gift Wrap
Cut a piece of kraft praper large enough to wrap your gift and lay it on a flat, even surface. If the corners try to curl up, tape them down with masking tape.
Try to visualize how you want your design to be printed. I’m going to show you three easy ways to repeat the pattern across your paper!
Note: Some inks dry very slowly. Test your ink pad on a scrap piece of kraft paper BEFORE you print your gift wrap to note the correct drying time. You’ll want to give the ink time to dry before you use it!
In a half drop repeat pattern, the columns are staggered a half step vertically as you move across the background. In this case, the tree is 4″ tall. We’ll leave a space of 1″ between each tree.
Starting on the right side of the paper, line up the quilting ruler along the bottom edge. Load the block with ink on the ink pad and place it face down so that the bottom of the tree is at the 1″ mark.
Combining the height of the tree plus the 1″ separation, you will continue to line the tree up so the bottom rests at 5″ increments up the ruler. (6″, 11″, 16″, etc.)
When you’ve completed printing the first column, place the ruler so the bottom edge is even with the bottom of tree and there is 1″ of space between the first column of trees and the edge of the ruler.
To measure the half-drop, divide the distance of the repeat (5″) by two to get 2.5″. Make your first print so that the bottom edge of the block is at the 2.5″ mark and lined up along the left edge of the ruler.
Continue to print up the column at 5″ increments up the ruler (7.5″, 12.5″, 17.5″, etc.)
Repeat these two columns across the paper.
In a brick repeat pattern, the rows are staggered a half step horizontally, like a brick wall. Line the quilting ruler along the bottom edge of the paper and ink up your block.
When your ink pad is smaller than your block, it can be easier to rest the block on the table and dab the ink pad on top of it until the surface is covered with ink.
Tip: Mark two small lines across the back of the block that mimic the direction of the carved lines to make it easier to keep them consistently horizontal as you print.
Print your first ornament. Leaving a space of 1″ between prints, continue across the paper.
When you’ve completed printing the first row, place the ruler so the ½” mark lines up across the top of the ornaments and there is a clear 1″ marking between them.
Print the brick repeat by placing the block so that the bottom edge touches the ruler and is centered over the 1″ space below. Repeat across the row.
Repeat these two rows across the paper.
Using white ink, print an ornament stem above each circle shape.
With more organic shapes that use multiple colors and different blocks, it can be more fun to just go random!
Print the larger leaf using a moss green ink across the paper, trying to keep the design balanced.
Print the smaller leaf using a light green ink next to each large leaf.
Using the circle block, print three white berries next to each leaf grouping.
If necessary, let your ink dry and wrap your gifts! Don’t forget to wash your blocks in cool, soapy water to remove any excess ink. You may need to wash your quilting ruler too before you use it again with fabric.