Thursday, December 15, 2016

A Recipe for Success

Sometimes a substitute turns out better than your first choice: this is a story where things turned out better than expected.

In Minnesota, we have a privately funded Textile Center that offers a wide array of classes, a local shop, and hosts the ever popular garage sale each spring. One of the classes offered in September was all about Etsy: how to make your Etsy shop really work for you. I got all signed up but as the day approached I could see that I wasn't going to make it as I got sick. Although I cancelled in advance, hoping they could fill my spot with someone from the waiting list, I heard nothing. Thinking this was going to be just a wasted fee, I bemoaned this to my friend, Ann, who suggested I get back in touch with them. Sure enough (Ann, you are so smart) they would let me substitute another class in the same semester. I got signed up with a class in learning to to take your photos and print them on fabric. I got my laptop all set up with the "PicMonkey" program as suggested. Parking is usually at a premium in their location so I was glad to have been there before and knowing where I could and couldn't park. There were about a dozen women ready to learn with either their own laptop of they could have reserved one from the Center.

We learned all about sizes of photos, pixels, how much we could enlarge something and how to get around things that looked impossible to print. Using the images we were given to work with on a flash drive, we could manipulate them to make a new photograph, sometimes a collage, and even give them special effects in PicMonkey. There were many examples of what we could do with photographs on fabric and then we were introduced to Spoonflower. This is a company that can print your image on various fabrics of your choosing, from cotton to knits, to upholstery. The project that really excited me was to make a tea towel with an image of a recipe card. Now that was something unique to our family yet practical to boot. I was game to try this!

I went home to choose and scan my recipe cards, trying to get those that were more colorful. There weren't any. But there were cards that had "From the kitchen of..." and printed with my Aunt Marcella's name. I was also looking for those with the originators handwriting, especially if they are no longer with us: that did make them precious. My recipe cards were scanned but I wanted them on a cuter background so I also scanned a section of dark blue gingham checks. Using that as the background and centering each card image on it, I then had four images to print on a yard of fabric, a linen canvas that was recommended. I couldn't figure out how to do that so I sent a question into Spoonflower. Although it took almost six emails to get all of the details straight (I'm a slow learner!), I finally had them as one big image to print. I hit "Order" and tried not to wince. What if the writing was too faint? Would they look straight enough? Did I just throw my money away?

The next day I went back in to look at what I ordered and was shocked to see that I missed one of the cards and replicated two. What? That's what happens when you do things in dim light late at night! Oh well, they were ordered and I would take what I would get. It only took about two weeks for my original creation to be printed and get delivered. I opened the package to find:
4 recipes on one yard of 54" wide fabric
They were wonderful, better than anything I could have hoped for! Alright, there were two of Aunt Marcella's but they were good ones. The print was bold and clear, transferring the few stains that were on the original recipe cards. Cute! I brought my yard of fabric to work and showed all of my co-workers what I had learned and how easy it was. There are many of them, maybe most, that have better technology skills than I do so I encouraged them to try this out, too. Now I have to cut them apart and hem to send off for Christmas.

Not perfectly straight with the background causes problems
Pressed and hemmed
As it turned out, I had difficulty getting a good stitch on my Viking +1 so I tried the Bernina 530 so get stitches that were passable. Next I might try different thread and needles because this should not be difficult. Maybe the Singer 201? No, I ended up using a White rotary that was recently rewired to get the best stitches. It just goes to show you that their is never just one sewing machine that is the best at everything.

My sister Sue was the first to get hers and was she ever excited. The first comment was "It's Marcella's handwriting!" This prompted a long phone call where we talked about the meaning behind all of this and how we shared recipes over the years and Aunt Marcella was such a good cook. Here's Sue with her tea towel:
and a day later Jane got hers:
It's such a little thing but a great outcome, so great that on Spoonflower they had a 48 hour offer of buy one fat quarter and get another one free so I ordered two more so my sister Mindy and I can each have one, too. If you are reading this, Mindy, just hold on and you will get yours in January! What about the other two recipe cards from my first yard of fabric? Those are going to each of my daughters so "sshh" to help keep it a secret until then. Next up for this same project will be my mother-in-law's recipes that we can scan for shower presents: there's a wedding in May and Mary is excited about this new idea, too.

Look what I've started...

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