Finally - the last CHRISTmas present I've sewn this year is finally DONE, but only after MANY necessary changes! Even my hubby said that I was very persistent with this gift project. Sew...feeling others can learn from the failures I experienced, AND have answers as to how to avoid them in the future, I'm sharing this experience.
As a soft, cozy 'Memory Throw', my concept was to do photo transfer (something I'd never done before) using photos from the extended time our teenage grandson spent with us earlier this year. He's really into 'soft' so I knew this would be something he may well treasure. While with us, he participated in a huge youth musical at our church, and I had kept a couple of the T-shirts and program from it. These are what you see in the middle, in color. We have a black & white HP laser jet printer here at home, and finding that commercial printing places didn't want to even try feeding through the freezer paper-backed white cotton fabric, I edited all of my photos to black & white - a look that I actually liked. I worked VERY hard coming up with placement and the specific photos I wanted to use.
The Photo Transfer Process
A dear friend was kind enough to try the picture of my grandson and the play poster on her colored printer. THOSE worked out just perfectly (aside from a few wrinkles in my grandson's hair). However, when her printer started to jam, I panicked and definitely decided to stop with the 2 copies we'd made and go with my black & white plan for the remainder of the photos. These color transfer photos held their color beautifully throughout the construction - so they remain.
Before ever starting, I searched for and watched several YouTube videos on the process, and even tested one. The freezer paper method seemed to be pretty fool-proof, so that's what I went with. Freezer paper has a plastic backing that somewhat melts, adhering to the fabric (which I had preshrunk to remove any fabric finish). Per one of the videos, I cut and fused the fabric to freezer paper in larger pieces, then very accurately cut the pieces to 8.5x11" paper size. It beats me how I did it, but somehow the rotary cutter slipped up over the ruler and gouged a healthy piece off the side of my finger. OUCH! (One week later, it still hurts, but it's also amazing to watch God's healing process). I may always have a reminder of this project!
Setting the Transferred Photos
I noticed a bit of residue from the printing coming off at this point, so back to YouTube I went regarding 'fixing'. First, I let them all sit a good 24 hours. Then, I heat-set with pressing with a hot, dry iron. There still seemed to be some residue, so I tested other 'prescriptions' I had seen on YouTube. I was glad I had made some extra transfer copies for testing at this point! One video said to set the ink with full-strength white vinegar. THAT did NOT work - the photo disappeared altogether. Another video said to set photo transfers with Retayne dissolved in water, 1 capful per pan of water and soaking for 20'. Testing seemed to show that this worked - so that is how I proceeded. These air-dried
overnight, and then I pressed them again.
Feeling things were going along fine (except my finger), the next decision was how to attach to the fuzzy Minky-type striped fabric (double layer).
Attaching Photos to the Throw
The fabric definitely had nap, so I cut it in half, and turned one side so that the 'nap' went was going down on both the front and back of the throw. The backside of the fabric is a slick knit (100% polyester), so I knew that to keep it all together when attaching the photo fabric pieces, I needed to baste it together. I did that, by hand, with 6 lines of hand basting, top to bottom. My plan was to permanently attach the 2 layers together AS I stitched on the photos.
I also went ahead and bound the edges of the double layer throw at this point. I used 1.75" wide cross-shirt cut pieces of the orange T-Shirts from the play. I stitched the right side of the strips to the wrong side of the throw. Mitering the corners, I turned under the remaining edge and zigzagged on the 'right' side of the throw - the side to which the photos would be attached. If I were to do this again - I would cut the strips 2" wide. I'm finding how VERY much I utilize my left 'tall man' finger as I feed fabric into the sewing machine.