Tessuti are one of my favourite pattern makers, and I don’t mind shouting it from the roof tops in the hope that it will encourage them to make more and more fabulous patterns. A pattern maker whose taste aligns with mine is a gift from heaven.  The other company that comes up with patterns I love is StyleArc, and both these companies offer PDF downloads, which is great. These days to go to a shop to look through the pattern drawers to find the one I want, which is often sold out, is something I avoid like the plague. A bonus is that the patterns printed at home use up the pile of misprints that collect around the printers in the office, something which appeals to my frugal self that doesn’t like waste.

But let’s get back to my topic today, the Mandy.

The Mandy is an oversized tee, clearly designed for striped jerseys, and I do like that look. However, to try the pattern I repurposed a wadder I had made a couple of years ago, a very voluminous tunic that looked pretty disastrous when it was finished. The jersey was to plain, to beefy to drape nicely and too yuk on its own for the wide expanse of the style. It would have needed a fabric that did all the talking to look good, and this one wasn’t it. I kept it because I thought there was enough fabric to make something else, and I am so glad I did.

Talk about ugly duckling to swan! The beefy fabric suited the Mandy so much better, the inky blue I disliked on its own looked transformed combined with the black print, and the result is now a firm favourite in my wardrobe.

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The low contrast between the dark blue and the black is ideal for block printing, because it hides the fact that this technique can look a bit scrappy. The rubber block does not deposit as much ink on the fabric as one would like, leaving a few specks of some motifs uncovered or transparent, and a high contrast colour combination can really highlight this unfavourably. Block printing also tends to produce a few ‘oopsies’, where a bit of ink is deposited where it should not be. This of course depends on the skill and concentration of the operator, and I don’t know what this says about me, but I find that there are always a couple of spots somewhere. Dark-on-dark or light-on-light makes these shortcomings far less noticeable. It is also better if your design does not have too many big, solid areas where a nice even coating of colour is desirable. A design with thin-ish lines close together seems to be better suited to block printing.

The only mistake I made was that I cut this Mandy too long, as I realised later when I was forced into a shorter version due to lack of fabric. Fortunately this is easily fixed.

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Here is the shorter version, 55cm long on my 161cm frame.

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This time the print is stencilled on, the first time I have done large scale stencilling with a design covering the entire garment. I am still experimenting with stencil mediums, this time I used clear plastic meant for covering textbooks. I thought the adhesive side would help making sure there would be no bleeding outside the stencil lines, and the grid on the backing paper helped with even placement of the motifs.

The adhesive proved to be a disappointment, as it did not stick to the fabric very well, but being careful to apply the ink with the foam roller from the edge of each motif to the middle produced nice clean edges anyway. I might try another stencil medium next time. The freezer paper I have is in sheets and too small for a whole garment, but you can buy large sheets of stencil plastic. This is not sticky, but it’s stiffness will hopefully mean that loose edges in the design, such as the small strips separating the ‘fish bones’, do not stick to the roller and flip up as the roller is moved back and forth. I will report back after I have tried it, being designed for the express purpose of stencilling might just mean it will work better than the random stuff I grab and press into service, haha.

More pics below. Excuse the odd blurring on my face on the first one, my camera does this sometimes, it is not intended. It’s a good shot of the top, so I will use it anyway.

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Details about the sewing process are on PatternReview.

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