Packing Tape Transfers with Original Images

I am in the process of working on a project, in that time when I have some general ideas but don’t know quite where it is going to go yet.  Yesterday it occurred to me that packing tape transfers might be a good addition to this project. (I posted the how-to’s of packing tape transfers awhile ago, and one way I used them.) In the past, I have used found images from magazines but for this project, I wanted to use my own.  I ‘m not sure why I haven’t thought about doing that before.  

I started with an image I had of doily I had recently crocheted:

I knew I wanted to manipulate it, but my computer is a chromebook and I don’t have access to any sort of fancy software.  I usually just use free programs and generally don’t do much more than crop images, so that works fine.  For this image, I used picmonkey and basically just clicked around on different effects until I got to this:

This was interesting, but still not quite what I wanted.  I really wanted the reverse of this.  It’s possible that picmonkey can do that, but I wasn’t able to figure out how.  I did a search for programs that would allow me to create a negative image and found the free program lunapic.  It had an option for making a negative, but I found it also had an option to create a coloring book image.  I had pretty much what I was looking for and was able to use the eraser tool to clean up some random smudges I didn’t want.  My final image looked like this:

I was able to take this image and made a sheet of doily images of different sizes.  I printed off my sheet of images on a black and white laser printer and then used them just like I used the images found in magazine pages.  Here are some of the transfers decorating the back of my chromebook:

And this is one of the images over some of my hand-dyed fabric, which is the way I ultimately want to use this technique:

I really love that this image was created from my original handwork, but is used in a completely different way. Now that I know that my little idea from yesterday works,  I’m looking forward to trying this with lots of other images to combine into some of my current projects.  So many possibilities are floating around in my head.  


Snow Dyeing- In Memory of My Sister

Yesterday, I woke up to a world that looked like this:

This was significant to me for a few reasons.  It was late March, and we’ve had a very mild winter.  The only other frozen precipitation we have had this winter was some freezing fog and one wet snow followed very quickly the next morning by several inches of freezing rain, creating sheets of ice.

I have seen blog posts about snow dyeing for the past few years and have wanted very much to try it.  Last winter, our only snow came around Thanksgiving, when I was busy with family plans and the holiday.  I assumed there would be more snow later for snow dyeing if we were already getting it so early, so I didn’t take the time then to try it.  We had no more snow last winter.  We’ve had no more this winter, either- sheets of ice just wouldn’t work.  I had decided that it probably wasn’t going to happen this year, and I could just push it once again to the back of mind and hope for snow next year.

Also, another part of this story is that my youngest sister, just 37 years old, passed away very unexpectedly this past Saturday.  Karissa adored snow and was as excited as a young child whenever there was any.

When I saw the snow this morning, it felt like it was connected to Karissa somehow- a gift from her.  I realized immediately that it looked like snow that would work well for snow dyeing, although I also knew that it was going to be warming up quickly, so I would need to get started right away.  It seemed like a lesson about that, too:  don’t put off anything meaningful that you can do today.  I have some regrets about things I’d put off with Karissa.  She had asked me to knit her a pink hat and we’d chosen a pattern and yarn and I hadn’t gotten to it yet.  I thought there would be more time, but there wasn’t.  I felt like the unexpected snow this morning was her saying that it was okay, that she understood, and she was giving me a gift of something she loved that she also knew somehow I had been wanting.  She gave me a beautiful scene to wake up to and  an opportunity, but I had to take it right now, so a reminder to try to do that, too.

So- I worked quickly.  I took the dog out and then started soaking some fabric in soda ash solution while I grabbed a quick bite to eat.  I then mixed up some dye, using Fuchsia, Golden Yellow, and Strong Navy (all from  Dharma Trading).

I didn’t bother with folding any patterns, but just sort of scrunched the fabric up on screens suspended over basins to catch the drips.  Everything was starting to drip outside, so I knew I didn’t have much time and just kept everything simple:

I then filled up a bowl with snow and piled it on top of the fabric:

When there seemed to be enough, I poured on the dye colors randomly.  It sort of looked like a giant snow cone pile to me:

I let it sit outside for a couple of hours, and as the temperature rose, the snow started to melt and drip through.  I brought it inside to let it finish melting.  When the snow had all melted, I wrapped it in plastic and let it batch on top of my warm clothes dryer.  I don’t know if I needed to do that, since I have seen instructions where there doesn’t seem to be a warm batching time, but I decided to do it anyway since I knew it couldn’t hurt anything.  I then left it overnight. This morning, I rinsed it and ran it through the wash with synthropol as I usually do.  This is my final result, which I love:

Here are some closeups of a few of the sections which show a little more of the detail:

I loved getting to try this and I will always think that this opportunity was a gift from sister.

Packing Tape Transfers

I recently heard someone mention “Packing Tape Transfers” in passing on an internet list.  It seemed assumed that everyone knew what that was, but I had never heard of it.  After some googling, I figured out the basic principle (which is very simple!) and began experimenting.  This is the sort of craft I love because it’s easy, I already had all of the materials needed, and the result can be used in many different ways.

The materials:

Packing tape and magazines

I read in a few places that you should use pages from good quality magazines, but I’m not really sure what that means.  Some that were very glossy that I would have thought were high quality didn’t do as well as some that were more matte made out of recycled paper. I also successfully made one out of a cartoon on very low quality newsprint and another from an image on my power bill.  All I can really recommend is to experiment and see what happens.  You really won’t be out much if an image fails.

First, find an image you like and cover it with packing tape.  This image is from an ad in Mary Jane’s Farm magazine, which happens to make very nice transfers.  The packing tape is just regular old packing tape available everywhere.  I’ve used two different brands and both worked fine.

Next, trim the paper to match the tape and smooth down really well.  I use a combination of pressing with my fingers and also passing over it a couple of times with my grocery store club card:

Next, put the images in a dish of water.  I read all different lengths of time, from 15 minutes to an hour.  I usually leave them soaking for half  an hour or so.

The next step is my favorite part.  Gently rub off the paper from the back.  I usually do this one time and then soak it in fresh water and go over it one more time.  Some papers almost dissolve and others take a bit more work.

And finished- You can see how translucent the finished image is.

I usually give them one final rinse and then allow them to dry spread out on a dish towel.  Sometimes when they are dry there may still be little bits of paper and sometimes I re-soak them and other times I leave it as it doesn’t seem to make that much difference.  Sometimes there is still just a bit of stickiness on the transfers, so I store them in a single layer and then roll them up in wax paper.

Here is a recent batch:

These can now be used in a variety of ways- glue them to paper, use them in scrapbooks, cover a journal with them, or as my current plan is, sew them to something else.  I’m participating in a postcard exchange and plan to layer these with some of my hand-dyed fabrics and stitch them all together.  I made a sample out of a transfer I didn’t particularly love to make sure it would work.  In this sample, I sewed the transfer to a piece of muslin that I’d bonded to a piece of heavy interfacing (Peltex).

If I like my final results and end up going with this for the postcard exchange (organized by ihanna’s lovely blog), I’ll post them here.  And if I go a completely different way for my postcards, I’ll post that here, too :).

Making an Elphaba Costume

My 15-year-old daughter saw the musical, Wicked, last spring and decided a couple of months ago that she wanted to dress up as the character Elphaba this year for Halloween.  Although she’s mostly too old for trick-or-treating at this point, she did have a couple of parties to attend and so needed a costume.

It is true that not that many people even know who Elphaba is, and even fewer probably know the details of what an outfit of  hers might look like.  This is a long-running theme with my children.  Over the years, they have frequently chosen to dress up as obscure characters from books, super heroes of their own making, etc.  I enjoy doing my best to help them bring their visions to life as much as is possible, and being costumes, it really doesn’t matter if the sewing is perfect.

This year, Anna and I started designing her costume by looking carefully at the pictures in the program that she brought home from Wicked.  The main points:  a blue jumper with diagonal pin-tucks on the front panel and an asymmetrical  hemline, a blue school uniform type jacket with brown trim, and a blue crocheted hat.  We were able to find two Simplicity patterns (hooray for $1 pattern sales!) to use as a starting place.

This one  had the right general shape for the jumper with a few modifications:

This one was nearly perfect for the shape of the jacket:

We found some fabrics in the inexpensive wall bins at the back of JoAnn’s that were the right color and more importantly,  price,  for  costume fabric.

For the center panel of the dress, I took a piece of the fabric and drew diagonal lines about 2.5 inches apart.  I folded these lines and sewed them with  a  1/2 inch seam.  This became the back side of the fabric.  After pressing, I top-stitched the front side of the fabric.  I then added a straight piece of fabric at the top and for the lower skirt and cut out the front panel piece from this piece of fabric.

Here is a picture, which for some reason is very washed-out, but it sort of shows this panel:

I sewed the rest of the jumper pretty much as the pattern was written.

When it was finished, I cut the bottom of the skirt on the diagonal and hemmed it:

The jacket was sewn almost exactly as pictured on the pattern envelope with a few things added at the end.  I did slightly round the front edges to match  Elphaba’s  jacket picture.  The last step was to add pockets and brown trim, which weren’t part of the pattern.  The trim I used was brown cotton ribbing that for some reason I already had.  I cut it 1-1/4 inches wide and wrapped it around the edges of the finished jacket, sewing it with a zig-zag stitch which finished both the front and back side all at once.  Here is a picture of it as finished:

It does have only two brass buttons, and the one in the picture had three, but I could only come up with two and no one is going to be comparing it that closely to the pictures anyway ;).

I also crocheted a very simple hat.  I’m sort of  a new crocheter, so I used a pattern from the book, 24 Hour Crochet Projects by Rita Weiss.  I think more experienced crochet people could probably do it without a pattern, but I’m not there yet.  It’s here:

And the final result:  my daughter as Elphaba, all green-skinned for her party.  Our pictures didn’t turn out well, but you can sort of get the idea.  The glasses are from the dollar store.  We never found any boots that looked like the pictures, so she went with shoes  from her Converse collection, pretty much her fall-back shoes for all occasions:

And a picture her friend took at the party:

Shibori Stitching Experiments

Yesterday was “Black Friday” when everyone is supposed to go shopping.  Since I’ve been one of those “buy nothing” people on that day for many years, for me it was a wonderful day off.  Instead of shopping, I decided to do some experimenting with Shibori stitched resist.  I keep a stash of white dish towels that are good for dyeing to use as last minute gifts and/or gift wrapping.  They aren’t of a super high quality, but since I’ve never really done much shibori stitched resist, I figured they would work as a beginning place and I wouldn’t ruin any “good” fabric if it didn’t work out.    


My husband told me I should have taken some pictures of the stitching before I dyed the dish towel, but I didn’t.  I think in my mind it wasn’t going to work out very well, so I figured it would just be more wasted pictures and I didn’t feel like the taking the time.  I just wanted to get on with the project.  Here are my results (and I do wish now I’d listened and taken a few pictures of the stitiching, but I’ll try to remember to do that next time :)) :


In the picture above, the color is a little washed out. I used Dharma trading’s blue-violet dye, as I like the way it often seperates into different colors and was happy that it worked out that way this time, too.  These detail pictures are a little closer to the actual color:



  I’m thinking more stitching is on the agenda for today.

In Memory of Grandma Letha

My Grandma Letha was a special woman that I did not get to know well until she was in her 70’s. She was my grandfather’s 3rd wife. My grandfather had been widowed twice before. Letha had previously been married to my grandfather’s brother, and I met her a couple of times as a young child. She lived very far away, though, so even though at that point she was my great aunt, I didn’t really know her at all.

That all changed when after several years of being alone after the deaths of their loved ones, love blossomed for Letha and my grandfather and they decided to marry. At that point they moved to the town where my parents lived and also where I lived, newly married with a young child. I had the wonderful opportunity to get to know Letha at that time. I have many wonderful memories of her. She was an oil painter and I loved looking at her paintings and hearing her talk about them. She was wonderful about sharing recipes with me when my husband or I would comment that we liked them, written on recipe cards in her neat handwriting. She also always had treats for my young son. She kept a glass pig up on top of a cabinet filled with small candies that my son liked, that he came to call “pig candy.”

Soon after their move to our town, my grandfather was diagnosed with cancer. I helped with some of the care that he needed, and we all grew closer to Letha during those very regular visits to their home. Her marriage to my grandfather was to be a short one as the cancer took him too soon. We continued our regular visits with Letha until she decided to move to her daughter’s town in a far away state. I only saw her one time after that, at a family reunion. At that time, her memory was beginning to fail and she no longer remembered me.

I heard the news that she died yesterday. I am so glad for the time I had to get to know the beautiful woman that she was, and to have some wonderful memories of her. My son was just two at the time she moved away, but I asked him today (he’s now 17) and he still remembers pig candy:).

I pulled out one of her handwritten recipe cards today.



Just looking at her handwriting brings back many memories for me of those short years that I now treasure. I’m rejoicing today that her mind and her body are whole once again and she is now reunited with those she loved that died before her.

I decided to make one of her recipes today in her honor, the one pictured in the card above. Here are the ingredients and method exactly as she wrote them:


In large bowl dissolve 1 pkg yeast and ½ cup sugar in 1 cup water.


3 T. melted oleo

1 t. salt

½ cup dry milk

1 cup pumpkin

1-1/2 t. cinnamon

¾ t. cloves

¾ t. nutmeg

¾ t. ginger

Beat well to blend, then add 4 cups flour to make a stiff dough. Knead until smooth (15-20 minutes) adding flour as needed. Cover and let rise until doubled, 1-1/2 to 2 hours). Punch down and knead briefly to release air. Divide dough into 32 equal pieces. Shape each into smooth balls. Place balls in greased baking pans. Cover and let rise until almost doubled ( about 1 hour). Bake in 375 degree oven for 25 minutes or until browned.

Here is my variation:


Replace oleo with butter. Melt in a small pan. Add 1 cup milk to pan and heat just until lukewarm (takes less than a minute). Pour into mixer bowl (I have a heavy duty Kitchenaid). Sprinkle on yeast. Add sugar, 2 cups flour, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger and pumpkin (dry milk is omitted). Mix until smooth and then add remaining 2 cups flour. (For two cups of the flour, I used fresh ground soft white whole wheat- basically whole wheat pastry flour.) Add a bit more flour as needed to make a smooth, not sticky dough. I needed to add an additional half cup of flour, but this varies depending upon humidity and other mysterious kitchen forces :).


Let rise as directed. Form all of it into rolls, or as I did today, divide dough in half. Roll out half into a rectangle for cinnamon rolls. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle on brown sugar and cinnamon (sorry- no amounts- I just do what looks right to me). Roll up and cut into slices. Form other half into 16 rolls as in original recipe. Allow all rolls to rise and bake as in original recipe. Cinnamon rolls can be frosted with a mixture of powdered sugar and a bit of milk that is drizzled on while still hot. And a note- the clove taste is pretty strong, so reduce it if you are not a big fan of cloves.

We will be eating these tonight in honor and memory of my Grandma Letha.





First Eggs

This morning, our chickens were making a bunch of noise and my daughter went out to check on them.  She found these:


We are all excited about our very first fresh eggs!

Our New Puppy

Today, we brought home a new puppy.  His name is Felix, which means “happiness.”  He’s a standard poodle and at 3-1/2 months old, he already weighs 25 pounds.  He’s very sweet and fun so far- we’ll see how our first night goes!


Hello world!

This site may be used in many ways. I plan to share knitting and other creative projects, family life events and whatever else strikes me. I’m sure I’ll figure it out as I go along!