I’ve been making examples of how block prints can be used and enhanced. Not wanting to just stamp shapes onto a purchased calico bag or a ready-made scarf I’ve used my own ideas and designs. I have a lovely selection of these wooden blocks and I like to extend their use and benefits by encouraging others to use them. So I’m preparing for a workshop in November with Wye Valley Stitchers, a group of Stitchers from Ross-on-Wye and the Royal Forest of Dean. My block prints are enhanced by adding machine or hand embroidery to the designs and shapes and recently I’ve tried the addition of beads as well.

It’s necessary to use a quality textile paint if you plan to print onto fabric and if you want to be able to launder the items you make. All it takes is a hot iron on the reverse of the printed design to set the paint. The cloth I use is mainly pre-washed quilting cotton as this takes the print well and can be ironed to set the design, then later there will be no problem with washing the finished item. But I do use linen as well although the print doesn’t show up quite so bright. I like using linen for the handbags that I make.

And yes, I’m getting really hooked on this print block activity as the designs I’ve bought are so pretty and too good to languish in a box. As I’ve been planning the latest workshop more and more ideas have materialised, tempting me towards different ways that the designs can be used. For instance an apron for an adult or a child. The one shown here has flowers and dragonfly as a decoration but names or slogans can be added too. I do have a set of alphabet letters but currently haven’t used them apart from a little practice and experiment.

Bags always attract me and I make many of them. There are so many different types of decoration and embellishment which can be used on something as useful as a bag. So for this exercise I’ve planned the type of bags I’ll make and prepared the printed motifs which will be hand embroidered before I sew them up. Bag patterns created for patchwork designs work well because you can use the wood block patterns instead of offcuts of fabric prints.

But wall art is something that can be embellished with wooden printing blocks too. I have many print blocks of different tree shapes and tree types which blend well with painted landscape scenes or created from offcuts of quilting fabrics. These designs form an attractive base for free machine embroidery. And because the shape is already printed on the fabric it doesn’t matter if your machined lines are a bit wobbly, adding a few branches and twigs to the tree shape as you go.

Recently I’ve used beads and sequins to add to the printed shapes. I made a brightly coloured bag as a background for some Shisha mirrors (which we were demonstrating in another workshop for Wye Valley Stitchers). As an addition to the gaudy colours I decided to print some of my unusual shapes and sew beads and sequins on part of those rounded shapes as well as a little hand embroidery here and there. It worked well and gave me an excuse to dig into my stash of lovely shiny things which I’d been saving for some kind of inspiration – and there it was!

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