Shibori Bag

the finished bag from my spoonflower shibori fabric


the finished bag from my spoonflower shibori fabric
Bag made out of shibori fabric

I finally used this piece of my shibori fabric!

You might remember I had a yard of this design printed on Spoonflower Eco Canvas fabric about a year ago.  Since then, I’ve been looking at it and wondering what would be best to make with it.

This is the original fabric piece


If you’ve been following me on social media, you may have guessed that I finally cut into it and made a bag.  I used a pdf pattern by Blue Calla Sewing Patterns called the Dahlia Drawstring Bag.  I wanted the patterned squares to be the focus so I had to plan the cutting carefully so that all the seams and lines would line up and not look out of place on the finished bag.  It used a surprising amount of fabric by the time the pieces were selected (and quite a lot of brain power in the process!).

spoonflower shibori fabric cut up ready to make bag
All cut up and ready to put together!


It is a bucket bag with side pockets.  Here is the exterior piece all stitched together.

side of shibori bag with end pockets
It has side pockets which I wanted to line up with the side panels


And a front view – the pattern suggested vinyl for the base and top front but I couldn’t find any that I liked so I cut up a Boden raincoat that I no longer wear. I like the fabric and want to refashion the top part of the coat into a kind of waistcoat so I thought I’d use the rest in my bag.

shibori bag
this is the front view


For the lining I used some pinky-red hand printed and discharged fabric that I had in my cupboard.  I think it would make a nice lampshade cover with the light shining through it!

pink discharged printed lining
The lining of the bag


Here it is all stitched together – the top has a drawstring closure which meant putting grommets in. That was a challenge all of its own.  Suffice to say that I’m not too good with a hammer.  Unfortunately they were too large for the Crop-a-dile which is what I usually use for smaller eyelets.

nearly completed indigo shibori bag
Those grommets were the bane of my life!!


And here it is all finished.

completed indigo shibori bag
All completed!

Free Graphics Resources – Tutorial

free graphics

Do you want to design your own cards or stationery but don’t know where to start? Here’s a tutorial using Photoshop!

Every week starting on Mondays, 6 shops on  Creative Market offer a free digital downloads of one of their products. Each 6 products are chosen by the Creative Market staff for that week only. So I thought I’d do a series of tutorials suggesting ways to use some of the resources. And best of all, if you download them in the week I write the blog post, they are totally free!

creative market homepage
The Creative Market homepage: I’ve marked the link for the free goods with a pink arrow.

You’ll have to register with Creative Market if you don’t already have an account but this doesn’t obliged you to buy anything.  Here are the free goods on offer in any particular week .

Here are the six products on offer this week: I’ll test out four of them.

free graphics
These are the free graphics offered this week. I’ll cover 4 of them in this tutorial.

{Marie} Business Card Template  by NovakLab

Spring is Coming/! Gentle Watercolours by Lembrik’s Artworks

90s Inspired Retro Shape Icons by JOLT

Risoless Script by Konstantine Studio

When you download them, save them somewhere you can find them again on your computer.  Then click on the zip file to unpack it – see graphic below for the Marie Business Card Template:

instructions for opening files for this tutorial

All downloaded, so here goes with the tutorial!

The Marie Business Card Template consists of 4 files for each horizontal and vertical layout – 2 jpgs showing examples of the completed business card (front and back) and 2 Photoshop files with a layered template.  I’m just going to show you ideas for editing the front.  When I opened mine I had a box pop up to say that I didn’t have the fonts  used installed on my computer.  Photoshop offers to find alternative fonts.  Click ‘resolve’ to find a suitable substitute or just click cancel – don’t worry too much about this as I’ll be showing you how to change the font later.

free business card template
Just click cancel when this pops up, I’ll show you how to change the font later

Click on the T (for text) on the tools menu (left hand side of the screen) and on the layer which says ‘MARIE GREEN’ and highlight the text you want to change by clicking and dragging your mouse over the text.  Change it to your own name.

instructions for changing text
I’ve already changed my name here

Click on the ‘move’ button on the toolbar on the left hand side.  You can see it highlighted in darker grey in the photo below.  Click on the character toolbar on the right and scroll through the different fonts.  You will see them change to each font in turn as you scroll down – pick one that you like.  Do the same to change the size, spacing etc.  Here is mine.  Repeat these steps for the rest of the text.

how to change fonts easily
Again if the ‘character’ toolbar isn’t open, click Window>character and it will appear

You can change the background colour by clicking on the layer called background color, double clicking in the colour box and picking a new colour from the color picker which pops up. Click OK to save.

showing how to change background colour
double click on the colour box in the layers panel to open the colour picker

You can turn the various leaves and effects on or off to change the background or you can bring in a completely new background.  For the purposes of this demo I’m going to show you how to change the background using some of the other free goods.

how to turn layers on and off in Photoshop

In this case I decided to add one of my turquoise watercolour ombre papers. Open the file, click ctrl a to select it all, and ctrl c to copy it to the clipboard.

my turquoise ombre background

Then click on the business card file, click on the layers panel just below the white rectangle and click ctrl v to paste it in.  It will add a new layer automatically.  The business card file is a very small one (3.75″ x 2.25″) so you will probably need to resize the background.

how to resize files in Photoshop
Click on one of the corners (where the little squares are) of that black box and drag them to resize the file, and then press the enter key to confirm it.

Click ctrl t (transform command), hover over the corner of the box that appears, and when the cursor turns into a double sided diagonal arrow, holding down the shift key to keep the same dimensions, resize it to fit.    To keep the ombre effect on this one I didn’t bother holding down the shift key and just clicked and dragged the 4 sides to fit the rectangle.  When you’re happy with the size, click enter and it will save it.

turquoise ombre watercolor background added
Resizing done!

I decided to add some of these jazzy 90s inspired retro shape icons to my ombre background so I opened the zip file as before, clicked on the png files (which have a transparent background) and clicked ctrl a and ctrl c again to copy, ctrl v to paste the shape into the business card on top of the new ombre background and the white rectangle but behind the text.  I resized and rotated them as necessary (for that you hover over the corners until the cursor turns into a double sided arrow that is bent – sorry, I tried to do a screenshot but it wouldn’t work!) and this was the result:

90s retro icons added
It gives a different feel to the image, don’t you think?

Next I installed the Risoless font: to do this, click on the downloaded file and click on either the OpenType or TrueType file, I’m not sure what the difference is between the two but they both seem to work on my computer.  Then click ‘install’ on the box that appears (see below).  You will now be able to use that font in any application that uses fonts.

the box to install a new font


adding Risoless font
Click on the character menu and scroll through as before – you’ll see that the Risoless font has appeared.

To give a very different feel to the business card I decided to use the fourth free product, gorgeous hand painted Spring is Coming! Gentle Watercolours.  I changed the background to this one from my Blue Shibori Paper Pack, again copying it, pasting it just below the white rectangle, and resizing it holding down the shift key to keep the proportions right.

shibori watercolour background

I added some of Lembrik’s Artworks’ flowers by using the rectangular marquee tool to isolate just part of the flowers, copying, pasting, resizing and rotating as shown above.

use the marquee tool to select just the part you want
use the marquee tool to select just the part you want

the finished design

What do you think of the results?  Grab your free files this week and show me what you make with them!

By the way, here is an FAQ about licenses for using Creative Market products.  If there was anything you don’t understand in this tutorial, do ask me in the comments and I’ll try and help.

*NB this post contains affiliate links to Creative Market


ceramic doorplates with images of beach huts, screwed to wooden batons

My trainticketart on ceramics – but first – New stickers for Autumn/Halloween!

I’ve just designed this set of bright but spooky watercolour Hallowe’en planner stickers. They are for sale over on Etsy.

Planner stickers for halloween
Lots of bats and black cats!

So far, I have only sold planner stickers in my Etsy shop but yesterday I grouped five of them (including the halloween ones) into one package and am selling it on Creative Market.

5 sets of planner stickers in contrasting colours
5 sets of planner stickers in contrasting colours


To reflect the trend for bigger, brighter photos in blogs, I have also rewritten my tutorial How To Make A Concertina Book and replaced the photos with better, larger and hopefully clearer ones.

And so to the ceramics…

If you’ve been following me on Facebook  or Instagram, you’ll know that I have some of my trainticketart in another Diverse Manners exhibition in the Riverfront Arts Centre in Newport for the next 3 weeks – but it is a bit different this time.  When we were in France (see previous post), we were staying near Limoges, a famous porcelain making area, so of course we had to visit one of the factory shops!

I bought ten white porcelain door plates which I thought would be great to put some of my train ticket art on to.  This was my process: 

  1. I scanned the artwork into my computer at a high resolution (1200dpi). I selected 10 of these, cropped to the correct size.  I then boosted the levels in Photoshop to enhance the colour saturation and placed them all together on one A3 sized document.  There was some space left so I added a tile sized piece and some strips to fill the sheet completely. You pay for a whole A3 sheet so you might as well get as many ceramics as possible!  
  2. I then uploaded it to Digital Ceramics in Stoke on Trent (my home town). They printed it on ceramic decals and sent it back to me within 3 days.  I was very impressed with their service!
  3. I took the sheet and the porcelain doorplates to my friend Fiona at Barefoot Ceramics. She is a fellow member of Diverse Manners.  She showed me how to float the decals off the backing paper and smooth them over the doorplates and tiles.  This done, she fired them for me.  They were a great success and I think look impressive as ceramics.
ceramic doorplates with images of beach huts, screwed to wooden batons
To exhibit them, I screwed them on to a wooden baton that I’ve painted to look like weather worn seaside fences.

Here are some photos of the results.  I used several train tickets which have a beach hut theme.  Screwing them to the batons was the hardest part!

chaotic table with a lot of mess
See the chaos on my work table? Screwing things isn’t my strong point! Blood, sweat and tears is more to the point.

The exhibition is on until 22 October.  We have an open afternoon this Saturday 8 October from 2pm to 4pm to meet the artists.  If you are in the area or fancy a trip to South Wales, do pop in and introduce yourself.  You can see some of the other artwork on the Diverse Manners Facebook page.

exhibition of trainticketart on door plates and tiles
Here they are hanging in the gallery in the Riverfront. To the left are the original train tickets (I had to rush home to get another to fill the gap!). To the right are the tiles in box frames.

Hope to see some of you there!


paper manipulated to look like a flower with lots of pleats

My husband and I had a holiday in Haute Vienne in France in early June.  One of the places we visited was a papermill and paper museum called the Moulin du Got which had an exhibition that reminded me of shibori and manipulated fabric.  Here are some of the exhibits – looking at the website I think these are all by the artist Fritz Jacquet.

"Starry" by Fritz Jacquet 2016 in exhibition at papermaking museum
“Starry” by Fritz Jacquet 2016 in exhibition at papermaking museum
Another creation of paper manipulation
Another creation of paper manipulation

The papermill was in an area famous for its tapestry – Aubusson and Felletin – and I had a fascinating tour around a museum of tapestry cartoons (the paintings which provide the guide for the tapestry weaver).

paper sculpture
I love the way these paper sculptures have been lit!

Do you remember the shibori fabric in the last post and that I thought of making a bag with it? Well, I bought a pdf pattern of this bag – the Zip-To-It from Cloudsplitter Bags – and decided to make a practice version first. Here it is!  I really enjoyed making it and can thoroughly recommend the pattern: it comes with lots of photos to walk you through the (quite complicated) process.  This practice session was useful because I came to the conclusion that Spoonflower’s ecocanvas would probably be too thick to use for it (this one has several layers of quilting fabric plus interfacing and zip and my sewing machine was protesting at certain points!).  So I will use a simpler pattern, and maybe make a tote or a bag for planner supplies (or both!).  I love this bag though, and can see myself making a few more.

flowery Zip-To-It bag
I enjoyed picking out the different fabrics for it from my stash.

I took it to my son Barney’s graduation from Trinity College, Cambridge last month.

Cambridge graduation photo
Posing for the obligatory graduation photo!

I have just started a Facebook group for customers and fans of my digital downloads and scrapbooking papers.  It is called Plummer Printables and I’m hoping that we will be able to discuss what we can do with the digital papers and planner stickers/clipart and share links to tutorials and ideas.  If you are interested in joining, please click the link and ask to be added to the group.