Pattern make with your own stamps

Stamps are a great way to create a large format pattern - you just need one stamp, and you can use it again and again to make your full pattern.

To get started right away - you can use found objects (like corks) paired with fabric paint. However if you're keen to make your own stamps in unique shapes, this is also super easy to do. 

First, lets talk about using corks to make your own polka dotted fabric!

The easiest thing to do with a cork is use it as it is to make circular polka dots.  I also used a knife to carve the sides off one end of cork to make a simple triangular stamp.

I used white fabric paint and a navy linen.  If you don't have fabric paint at home, you can get away with acrylic paint or poster paint - the catch is because they aren't designed to flex along with fabric fibres they are likely to crack over time, and may run if they get wet.  But, if you're just using this to wrap gifts within your family, neither of these two would be a big deal if you don't want to invest in specialist paint.  If you want the middle ground - you can also buy fabric medium, a liquid you add to other paints like acrylic ones to make it work better with fabric.  Just check out your local art store!

Because I wanted a slightly fringed edge, I left the edges raw and just sewed a line 2cm in from the edge to stop excessive fringing.  If you want a neater finish, I recommend hemming before stamping.

When you start painting, place scrap paper under your fabric as the paint will likely go through it as your work.  Spread out your paint on a flat surface, and stamp the cork back and forth to get an even coating of paint, then stamp away.  Not every stamp will be 100% even, but that's the joy of handmade stamping!  



Now, let's make our own stamps!

First, we need to decide what our stamps will look like.  Pay around with sketching on paper until you're happy with them.  Now, you can either draw these shapes direct onto our stamping material, or if you use a heavy pencil like 2B or higher you can transfer it from your paper to the stamp.

I'm using a carve block from Speedball in these pictures, but you can also carve using erasers you may have at home, or even just cut out shapes from corrugated cardboard or dense foam.  If you really want to make sure of what you have at home, old vegetables like raw potatoes can also be used!

Now we need to cut out our stamps - please be careful here!  Move slowly, and only ever cut AWAY from your hands.  It's very easy to slip, so you need to make sure you are never moving towards yourself.  Trace around the edge of your shapes with a lino cutter, and then cut more deeply to remove until each shape is carved out.  Finally, cut each stamp out individually.


To make it easier to pick them up and use them, I recommend to back your stamps with something.  In the spirit of not wasting anything new, I cut scrap pieces off corrugated cardboard packaging - but I have to admit it doesn't look hugely attractive!  However, before you stick the stamps onto the backing - I recommend to stamp the pattern onto the cardboard.  This way, you'll know which is which without having to check the underneath.  Keep in mind unless you use a transparent background you won't be able to use this to position your stamp, it's just a way to differentiate your stamps once you get started.

Now prepare your fabric.  I used 100% cotton, pre-washed and hemmed.  Lay some scrap paper under the fabric before you start as the paint is likely to seep through.

Just like in the steps above, stamp several times on your palette before applying to the fabric to even out the paint.  If you're unhappy with any of the stamps, you can always use a small paintbrush to touch up.


You're done, leave it to dry!