Thursday, November 8, 2012

Fall Wardrobe Revamp: Embellish your tees and tops with vinyl

Here is the second tutorial in the Fall Wardrobe Revamp Series going on this month. Check out the part 1 - Sweater to top refashion.

how to embellish with vinyl
Tshirts and knit tops are a big part of our clothing here. Many of us practically live in them day in and day out. Ever wondered how to customize them to suit your tastes? Or how to make a design that you once saw somewhere but couldn’t get it ( maybe because someone else was already wearing it) but can’t shake it off your mind either. Some of you may have tried painting, appliques etc to customize your tees.
Both great techniques and things that I frequently use, but today I’m sharing a technique that has been widely used by Tshirt manufacturers for a long time, but has only recently became available to individual
crafters – Iron on Vinyl or Heat Transfer Vinyl.

These are Vinyl Sheets covered with a plastic film, which when ironed on the fabric, get fused to it and look just like the motifs etc you would see on Tshirt fronts.
Since last summer ( 2011), I have seen a lot of tutorials in the blogosphere for things made with iron-on vinyl. However there was a catch – most of them were using sophisticated mahinery like Silhouette, Cricut etc. These machines run in the range of $100-$400 plus cost of various accessories.  They do have some nifty features
that maybe very useful for avid crafters. But I thought that it couldn’t be the only way to use this cool media. With that in mind I got some iron-on vinyl samples and set to work. Here are some of the things I made while playing around with this special Vinyl. 
Today I’m going to share a tutorial to make this tribal print tank top with heat transfer vinyl. 
Estimated Time: 20 minutes 
Complexity: Beginner
  • Plain Tank Top ( Washed and dried well) 
  • Iron on Vinyl Silver 
  • Scissor 
  • Iron 
  • Cotton fabric scrap ( or a cotton scarf or handkerchief) 
fusible iron on vinyl sheet
Cut a 1 inch strip from the vinyl

cut the vinyl design
Cut a triangle out of the strip by cutting a 45 degree slash at one end. Now cut another slash in the opposite direction to make another triangle. Since we are doing a tribal pattern, we don’t need to be too precise here. In fact a little bit of difference in shapes and placement gives it that handmade tribal vibe. Just eyeball and keep
cutting so you get about 20 triangles. 

arrange the vinyl pieces
Now place these triangles around the neckline, with their shiny sides up. It is very important to keep the shiny sides up or they will stick to your covering material instead of tank-top 

iron on high with steam turned off
Cover the vinyl gently with the fabric scrap, be careful that you don’t displace any of the vinyl pieces while you are covering them. 
Now heat your iron on cotton with steam turned off. Now gently place the iron on the tank top let it sit in place for half minute. Lift. Place again for half minute. 
peel off the protetctive film
Once it is cool to touch, try to pick out a corner of the triangle, if it is fused to the fabric only the transparent plastic covering will come out, leaving the silver triangle on the fabric. However if the vinyl is not fused properly the whole piece will seem like coming out. In that case just cover it again with the fabric and iron again by placing the iron for half minute more.

how to design with vinyl
Place four triangles right below the center of the neck to form this tribal motif and cut and place a square in the center. (shiny side up). Iron without steam to fuse. Peel off the plastic covering. 

Tank top embellished with vinyl
And Voila! Vinyl printed Tribal Tank! Wear it with pride.
I’ll be back with another vinyl tutorial time I’ll show you how to make a vinyl design on your tee in multiple colors.

Notes on Choosing design:
While you can make a lot of custom designs without any sophisticated machinery, there are a few designs that would be too difficult or tedious to hand-make with Vinyl. Here are some of the things I keep in mind while choosing a design:
1. The big bold shapes work better than small intricate pieces. So I am more likely to choose a square or a rectangle over a damask or a paisley pattern.
2. Its difficult to get precision on symmetrical things when cutting by hand. The more free-form your design is, the less error prone it is. Meaning bird, flowers, tree shapes all good, making a ruler, clock, bridge not so much.
3. You can cut in between a shape, but it is difficult to do it with precision, so make most of your designs on the basic shape of the object and keep the cut-work to a minimum.

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