Super simple DIY Tea towels

Hey there! I’m super excited that my tea towel samples have arrived from Spoonflower. I thought I’d take the opportunity to show you all how dead simple it is to sew up a pretty tea towel to colour up your kitchen! And it only takes about one or two hours to complete.

Teatowel-with-banner

Teatowel-logo

All you need is an iron and a sewing machine that sews straight(ish) lines. They are great for presents with a personal touch – you can even do as the Japanese do and wrap gifts in small squares of material, which the receiver can then reuse however they wish!

You’ll need:
an iron
a ruler (preferably metal)
a sharp pair of scissors
a bolt of pretty cotton/linen material about 16″x24″ (41x61cm) with an extra 1.5cm on each side for seams
a sewing machine threaded up with some cotton in a complimentary colour

Let’s go!!

  1. Cut the fabric to size and trim off any fraying threads – generally you should prewash your fabric before sewing it as cotton and linen shrinks.

    TeatowelStep1

  2. Now we’re going to press the seams to make it easy to sew. Put the fabric print-side down on the ironing board and, using your ruler, fold one edge over 1.5cm (you can pin this in place if you like, I tend to fold as I go.)
  3. Press with a hot iron for a couple of seconds, mind your fingers! Do this for all sides so that there is a definite crease along each fold.

    TeatowelStp2

  4. Now to make those seams really neat and professional looking. Unfold the material you have just pressed. Fold the edge of the material over so that it sits on the line of the crease made by the iron. Then refold it over on itself at the original crease. You are basically folding the seam allowance in half so that all the raw edges will be hidden in the middle of the seam.

    TeatowelStp3

  5. Press again to hold the double fold and repeat the process on all sides of the tea towel.

    TeatowelStp4TeatowelStp5

  6. With all that folding the corners are going to be very bulky. Cut a small amount off the corner to get rid of the extra bulk – you could do this before pressing but I think it’s easier to gauge how much to cut off once you have those crease lines in place.

    TeatowelStp6

  7. Now, finally, you get to sew!! The pressing should hold the fabric in place but if you’re nervious you can pin the seams down. Choose a side and sew along the outside edge, using the foot as a guide to keep the seam straight.

    TeatowelStp7TeatowelStp8

  8. Now for the clever bit! Once you get to the bottom corner, slow down until your needle lines up with the seam running perpendicular to the one you’re sewing now – use the big knob on the side of your machine to get needle accuarately in place. Position the needle so that it’s piercing the fabric (have a look at the pic). Then, with the needle still in the material, lift the foot up, turn the fabric around so that now the new, unsewn seam is lined up for sewing, and place the foot down again. You can now continue sewing, and the seams will look really neat at the end! Keep going until each side is completed, release the machine foot and trim off the threads.

me-and-teatowel

Done! How easy was that? If you would like to make your own tea towel like mine, you can buy the fabric from my Spoonflower shop here (there are two other colourways as well). Or, if my design isn’t your style, there are plenty of tea towel designs to choose from on Spoonflower. You can even get a piece of cheap calico and go to town with stamps and fabric markers to make your own unique piece!

I’d love to see what you come up with so post pics and questions below! 🙂

Advertisements

Brush Lettering Workshop – London

I’m a few weeks late, but I really wanted to tell you all about the fantastic Brush Lettering workshop I did with Carla Hackett and Barbara Enright, the masters behind the Learn Brush Lettering online classes. (click on their names to see their websites and beautiful typographic eye candy!)

IMG_0899

Our pack of goodies for the workshop – including a folder hand-lettered by Barbara!

I feel really lucky to be able to actually learn from them in person. Don’t get me wrong I love a good online class, and have been known to binge on Skillshare classes! But inevitably online you miss that one-to-one instruction that you can only get in person, and I find it much more interesting to be able to see them mix paint and create brushstrokes in person, free from the cropping of a camera.

little-dog-brush-lettering

My apologies to all vegans/vegetarians out there for my cruel little ditty!

We were each given our own lettering brush to use for the weekend (and take home!). With this one tool we learned how to create chiseled, rounded and flowing scripts, just by mastering the manipulation and the different ways of loading the brush to gain each effect. Barbara and Carla were very encouraging and supportive of us newbies, and I certainly felt I came away with a marketable skill that, with practice, I can refine, personalise and use in my future designs.

no-doubt-brush-lettering.jpg

I’m so looking forward to doing more and making wonderful things using brush lettering – it’s strangely theraputic drawing up guidelines and just giving over an afternoon to a brush and some black paint. Give it a go!! 🙂

don't-worry-brush-lettering

Wraptious brief with Make it in Design

Hey two posts in one week! How organised am I!!!

I just wanted to share with you all that some of my designs are for sale on the wonderful Wraptious website! Wraptious create bespoke cushions, tshirts, homewares, art prints, etc. showcasing a range of work from up and coming designers. As part of the last module I did with the Make it in Design school, we were given a brief to submit to Wraptious as a final project, and now those designs are actually for sale! You can see my work along with work by all my fellow Make it in Design students on their website now.

Click on the pics below to take a look and support a blossoming new designer!! xxxx

ZOE_ALLEN_TROPICALFERN_1_Cushion_grande

 

Poppy Tea towel Designs

Hi everyone! I’ve been desperate to try out some new product ideas, but money is always a problem – investing some of my income into new products is always a risk, particularly when minimum spend is 100+ pieces! So I have been experimenting with some bold designs I can put on tea towels and perhaps other homewares, restricting myself to a monochromatic colour scheme as many places that print fabrics will charge you per colour. This poppy design is my first, and I’m pretty pleased with it! At the moment I’ve settled on three colourways: Mustard Yellow, Aqua and Flame Orange. Let me know what you think or if you have any other colour suggestions! 🙂

(Pssst, you can find these tea towel designs on the print-on-demand site, Spoonflower, here – available to buy soon! I had to change the aqua to a bright blue due to their print requirements but it’s still pretty!) xxx

poppies-mono-teatowel-mustard.jpgpoppies-mono-teatowel-aqua.jpgpoppies-mono-teatowel-flame.jpg

AOH and Illustrator Fair with House of Illustration

Hi all! Yeah I have been reaaaaallly bad with updating my blog – I am so sorry! The last few months work at Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft has been manic with our big summer exhibition, I’ve been completing a new Make it in Design course (Module 3, which has been fantastic but overwhelming!), and I have participated in the famous Brighton Artists Open House, which was an excellent experience. For those who aren’t familiar with it, basically every weekend in May artists open their houses to the public so people can visit artists’ houses, see how they work and, hopefully, buy stuff direct from the maker! It’s a really fantastic event that’s gathered so much momentum, it’s really popular now in Brighton and attracts a lot of locals and daytrippers. For the artists, it is also a valuable opportunity to gain exposure and instant feedback about your work from a huge range of people (although it feels a bit nerve-wracking to begin with!) I exhibited my work with the lovely Izzie Roffe-Silvester, a silversmith and jeweller, her artist mother Charlotte and talented Claire Cullen of Kitsch Religion. It was great to be involved with such a creative group of women.

IMG_0459

In more recent news, I found myself a fella who has been taking up a lot of my time and headspace (squeeeeeee!!) AND preparing for this Illustrator’s Fair with one of my favourite galleries in London, the House of Illustration.

I started volunteering with House of Illustration when I first arrived in London in 2014 and I’ve always loved it – they always have really interesting and diverse range of exhibitions, as well as a supportive network of creative volunteers, often jobbing illustrators or art studetns themselves, who love getting involved. I’ve gotten involved in their Christmas fair before and I thought this would be a brilliant way to keep up momentum from the Artist’s Open House in May.

IMG_0717

I loved being able to see other illustrators I knew through volunteering or through other fairs exhibiting their creations, finding creative ways to sell their art on a range of products, from cards to pins, tea towels to mini zines, candles to temporary tattoos. I also experimented with some new postcards featuring original watercolours and patterned pocket mirrors, which I think went well.

IMG_0719

Definitely planning to do some more craft fairs soon, I’ll keep you posted!! And hey if you think of any interesting new things I can make for the next one, please let me know!! I love suggestions xxx

Indigo Botanicals

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been about two months since I’ve written anything! The past few months have been pretty crazy actually and have simply flown by – most days I have no idea what week it is, whether I’m working tomorrow or sometimes where I am. But, through all that, I have actually managed to do a bit of creating in between the crazy!

chinoiserie-blue-logo

At the museum I work in, there has been a live Natural Dyeing project where people from all over the world have sent in skeins of yarn dyed using all kinds of plants, bark, roots, seeds, etc. Some of the results are truly spectacular and I have really enjoyed watching it grow. Have a look at their Instagram to see what incredible colours have been created!

ink floral pattern indigo logo

This exhibition really inspired me to try working with just Indigo as a starting point. I love blue and white – I wear a hella lot of navy and dark blues, so indigo had a natural pull for me. This also seemed like a really good way for me to experiment with using more wet, tangible mediums in my pattern design, as often I take my sketches straight to the computer for final artwork and colouring. I am really enjoying the process of using watercolour and inks to create motifs, and though it’s certainly far from perfect, I feel like this collection is definitely helping me expand my style and give me more confidence in using different media to design!

indigo leaf watercolour logo.jpg

Hope you enjoy the results so far!

Zoë xoxo

Paintly Patterns

Whew I’m glad February is over – although it went quickly this month felt like a slog. Getting sick with a horrible flu, super gloomy weather, work feeling like a grind…but I am determined that March is going to be full of bright and better things! Having spring flowers popping up all over the place is definitely helping my mood as well 🙂

So what have I been doing? Well I learnt to knit! So far I’ve completed one slightly wonky scarf and I’m halfway through creating some slightly wonkier fingerless gloves! Let the craft revolution commence!!

More importantly though, I’ve been thinking about how I can incorporate some more illustrative style into my pattern work. I really like drawing by hand, and although that’s how all of my patterns start, I feel like a lot of that unique, hand drawn style is lost once I put it into Illustrator. Not that there’s anything wrong with the patterns I’ve created, I still like them, but it would be nice to have a more painterly feel to my creations. So I challenged myself to create a complete pattern purely from hand-inked and/or watercoloured drawings alone.

I started with this pen drawing of bunches of hydrangeas using my navy Muji pen…

img_0345

I didn’t really have a clear direction of what I was going to do, I was kind of just trying things and seeing what happened. I decided to wash over the drawing with water and see if the pen would bleed a bit, adding some tone. TOTALLY WORKED!

img_0347

The lines stayed really clearly defined, but the water allowed just enough pigment to flow over the drawing and I was able to create some really nice highlights and shadows. WIN! Totally going and buying some more Muji pens next time I get the chance!

I then scanned my hydrangea doodles into Photoshop and started to play. Usually patterns are way easier to create in Illustrator as each motif is simpler to manipulate and move around inside a pattern block. However, I wanted to use my original line work and use some transperancy in order to build up my pattern, so Photoshop was my best option. For added texture and colour I also scanned in a watercolour wash of hydreagea-inspired colour which I could layer underneath some of the line-drawings.

And so…Voila!

hydrangea-pattern-branded

The finished pattern! I’m pretty pleased – it’s possibly not my most refined piece ever, but for a first experiment in Photoshop-created, hand-drawn-only, pattern creation, it’s not at all bad 😀

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Christmas Paper cuts

Life has been pretty full leading up to Christmas. I took part in the Brighton Etsy Made Local Christmas Market, which was a fantastic experience! As a last minute ploy to decorate my stand I started making little paper cut decorations. I hadn’t really done any papercutting since I made an anniversary present for my aunt and uncle, mainly because it takes soooooo loooooooooong. But I’ve been thinking for a while that it would be a create Christmas project.

img_0125

They turned out so beautiful, I HAD TO CONTINUE!! They were actually one of the most commented things on my stand. Suddenly all my various Secret Santas were getting paper cut decorations for their gifts.

img_0127

I see lots of paper cutting in my future. And possibly a die-cut machine, so that my hand doesn’t hurt so much.

img_0150