October 31, 2011

iron-on frames: a tutorial

This weekend we were hoping to head down to Virginia for a little small town Halloween fun. Alas class schedules got in the way and we had to cancel at the very last minute which meant that we a) had no food in the house when it started snowing on Saturday morning and b) we had a long (cold outside) weekend to fill with fun to make up for the fact that we were not back in Charlottesville with friends. So we baked, and we cooked. And I did a lot of dishes from the baking and the cooking. And we played games and watched movies and got some crafting time in. Among our projects was this one.
A year or so ago I framed two of our favorite picture book dust jackets for the kids room and I've been meaning to add to the collection ever since. It's not super easy to find el cheapo frames in the city to paint, however, so I've been holding off. Recently we purchased both Fireboat and Wildwood, both of which we are loving, and they seemed like they would be good additions, so I've had their dust jackets tucked away in my craft stash awaiting frames.

Back up to this past summer. While I was visiting my parents I went a little crazy at having a Hobby Lobby (and a car to get me there and back with many, many bags) so close at hand and brought back almost a full suitcase full of supplies. One of these being a bottle of spray called "Stiffin Stuff" which I had been wanting to experiment with. I'd heard you could use it to make iron on wall decals and I wanted to try making some big fabric words for the kids room. (I also bought polka dot fabric for the project at the wonderfulness that is Hobby Lobby) But when I was heading through the security line at the airport, a grumpy TSA guy pulled out my bottle of Stiffin Stuff and lectured me about tying to sneak liquids on board. Frankly, I hadn't really thought of the stuff as liquid, I though it was more gel like, similar to Modge Podge, but whatever. I handed it off to my dad on the other side of the scanner and went home without my Stiffin Stuff where my fabric languished in the cupboard. And I forgot totally about the project.

Until my parents came for a visit and brought the bottle with them (in checked luggage, smart folk those parents of mine) So this weekend I pulled out the bottle and scanned the web for some details about making iron-ons and came across this tutorial. Perfect! I could use my Stiffin Stuff and frame those dust jackets at the same time. In the end I altered the process a little, so I'll run through what I did.

First, lay out some freezer paper on your work surface. You really have to soak the fabric with this stuff and it's not really something you want all over your table. The Freezer paper keeps it from soaking though. For what it's worth, I found that shiny side up was better, the fabric seemed to dry faster. Lay out a chuck of fabric larger than you need for your frame and spray all over with Stiffin Stuff, making sure it is fairly damp. I actually sprayed one side, let it dry and then flipped it and sprayed the other. But I'm not sure that was necessary. Let the fabric dry completely. I left mine overnight.
Trim the dust jacket down so that only the front cover is left and the edges are nice and neat. Lay this out on the (dry) fabric to get an idea of how big your frame will need to be. Err on the side of too big, it's easier to cut it down than to start all over.
Fold the fabric in half and then in half again and cut a piece of paper down to match this size. Either freehand sketch or use an existing frame to sketch the outer edge of the frame. remember your folded edges so that the pattern repeats nicely. Lay your template onto your fabric and trace with a piece of chalk or a sewing pencil.
Cut out the outer edge of the frame and unfold the fabric.

Flip the fabric so the right side is down and center the dust jacket on it, tracing around the edge with the chalk. Trim about 1/4 inch in from the line (so the square is smaller than the dust jacket by a bit)
Now, time to hang the art.

I found it was easier to use very small pieces of painters tape to hang the art in place and then use larger pieces to center the frames over it. Using a hot but dry iron and moving all the time, I pressed the fabric from the bottom up, removing the tape as I came to it (the small pieces underneath stay put, but they didn't show)
The kids were tickled to have the new book covers on the wall, I think we'll have more to add in the next few weeks as well. Tomorrow we are going to hear Tommie de Paola read his new book and I really want to get this new edition of Pippi Longstocking for them since they both love Lauren Child. I also still plan to hang some words, I'm thinking of spelling out READ in the center there, or maybe just doing a great big E and B over their beds. We'll see. For now I'm just enjoying the fact that the iron on frame thing worked so well.