Saturday, October 8, 2011

Halloween Tee Jewelry Tutorial

One of the things I love about Halloween is that it gets so many people involved in making. With a little help, they can get totally hooked, sort of like a human drinking V on True Blood. So here's a quick, easy project you can share with friends or family members who might be candidates for textile addiction.

The basic design can be used to make bracelets, chokers, and stocking or sleeve garters.This project uses recycled T-shirt fabric and inkjet heat transfer paper. For the transfer, I used a silent film still. You could use your own photos (fang close-ups, candy bait trail, ghosts of past pumpkin carvings...), text (blood type, zombie hunter ID...), or something from this free PDF.

  • Inkjet heat transfer paper (almost any brand* should do)
  • Inkjet printer
  • Optional: crayons or pastels
  • Scissors
  • Iron
  • Baking parchment paper
  • Optional: foil-covered hardcover book
  • Recycled T-shirt fabrics -- light-colored for transfer layer, any color for other layers
  • Sewing machine or needle for hand-sewing
  • Thread
Print The Transfer. Follow the package instructions for printing your image onto inkjet heat transfer paper. Be sure to select the Mirror Image setting in your Print Properties, especially if your design uses text. (The image will reverse when you transfer it to fabric.) Let the printed transfer paper dry before you proceed.

Add Color. If you've printed text or a black-and-white image, add color if you like using crayons or pastels on the printed inkjet heat transfer paper.

Trim The Transfer. Cut away any borders around the image area.

Transfer To Fabric. Transfers need a hot, dry iron (no steam) and a hard surface (your ironing board is too soft). I use a recycled hardcover book covered with aluminum foil for transfers. Place the trimmed transfer face-down on white or light-colored T-shirt fabric on the foiled book. Cover the fabric and transfer paper with baking parchment. Apply the hot iron, repositioning it to make sure heat is applied to all parts of the transfer (even where the steam vents are in the iron's sole plate). With a preheated iron and a foil book to reflect heat, two verses of the "Happy Birthday" song should be long enough for a transfer this size.

Cool. Yes, it it, but what I mean is "let it cool." Move the fabric off the foil book to cool faster.

Peel & Polish. Peel off the release paper to reveal the image transferred to the fabric. To take down the shine, reposition the baking parchment over the transfer and apply heat for one verse of "Happy Birthday." Let cool before peeling off the parchment.

Trim. Trim, leaving a margin of fabric around the transferred image.

Layer. Cut two more layers of T-shirt fabric, each slightly larger than the image piece. The total length should be slightly less than what you need to stretch around your wrist, arm, ankle or thigh.

Stitch. Use your machine's zigzag setting or stitch by hand with a doubled thread to secure the three layers together.

Simple Cuff Finish. For a pull-on cuff, seam with wrong sides together, trim excess fabric, and you're done.

Variations. To make the piece more adjustable, instead of seaming the cuff do this: Cut off two hem pieces from the T-shirts you got your fabric from. Stitch one on each end of the fabric sandwich, taking care to leave the hem "tube" open. Cut narrow strips of fabric from those recycled tees and stretch them to make a cord. Thread the cord through the hem tubes and tie in a knot (for a semi-stretchy pull-on fit) or a bow (for a choker).

Distress. Give the finished piece a bit of texture by stretching the fabric to distress the transfer. (*Note that you won't get the distressed finish if you're using Dharma's SuperSoft Inkjet Transfer Paper, which is designed to stretch.)

I put up a free PDF with a few phrases you can use to make this project. Remember to use the Mirror Image print property when printing text to inkjet heat transfer paper. It will look backwards when you print it, but read correctly when transferred to fabric.

I'd love to see what you make for Halloween. Post pics at my Facebook page so we can all ooh and ah!

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