I’ve been wanting to do something linked to Terry Pratchett’s Night Watch for a while, and my first attempt was an embroidered piece (see below) that I was happy with in terms of the text, but really not happy with my poor ability to embroider a lilac blossom.
I went back to the drawing board and decided to try using a photograph as the background, which gave me the opportunity to try image transfer onto fabric for the first time. I found a royalty free image that I liked, then I tweaked it digitally to achieve the effect I wanted. I then obtained a laser print out of the image; this is important as this image transfer method doesn’t work with inkjet print outs.
If you want to try this yourself then you need to coat the image with gel medium and then press it down onto the fabric of your choice. Work all the air bubbles out and then leave it to dry. Once it’s thoroughly dry you wet the paper (with a spray bottle or a sponge) and then rub your finger over the paper to ease it gently off the fabric.
My first attempt wasn’t entirely successful. I don’t think I applied enough gel medium, and I also suspect I didn’t leave it to dry long enough. I started to remove the paper and you can see that the image came off in places, so I abandoned this first attempt and started again. I was a lot more thorough with the second one, and I let it dry overnight (rather than just for a few hours).
It went much better! It did take ages to remove all the paper. I kept damping it down and rubbing until I thought I’d got it all off, but once the fabric had dried there was still a thin layer of paper left to come off, so I moistened it again and persevered until it had all come off. It was a very tedious process because I was afraid that the image might come off if I rubbed too hard or vigorously, so it was softly softly and took what felt like forever. Still, it was well worth the effort because the image looked great when I had finally got the paper residue cleaned off properly!
The embroidery was the final stage, and that was quite time consuming too. I wanted an ever-so-slightly weathered look for the text, to be reminiscent of the font used on the front of Night Watch, so I had chosen a finer fabric than I use for my circus letter embroidery and this allowed me to be more precise than usual with the satin stitch…but of course the trade off for precision is that it takes time. It also gave me strained eyes. We all suffer for our art.
I love the finished piece, it turned out beautifully and I’m very proud of it. It’s now available in my Etsy shop, and 10% of the sale price will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Society.