How designers manage to put a collection together twice a year with entirely new ideas beats me. I must be a very boring person because once I have hit on a style that works for me I do it to death. The last couple of years have been Lagenlook tunics with harem pants of all descriptions, and now I am onto boxy tops with culottes or Oska-type bubble pants. The Tessuti Mandy with cuffs instead of sleeves looks like it will go the way of the Tessuti Fave Top, being made over and over. I just love the silhouette and it’s such a terrific backdrop for my fabric printing.

Which brings me to Matisse. I don’t know what his contemporaries made of him at the end of the 19th and early 20th century, he is so radically modern. His cut-outs seem childishly simple but are at the same time such supremely pleasing shapes. I have quite a few earmarked for my fabric printing, and here is the first one.

My interpretation is monochrome, I don’t think I quite have his skill with colours. I started with blue on cheap white cotton, as a muslin, to try out my new stencilling method before risking more expensive fabric.

I used a large sheet of stencil plastic bought in an art supply store and cut my stencil out with a knife. To get the outline from my laptop onto the stencil I enlarged it to the size I needed, printed it out in sections, assembled it, then cut it out with scissors and placed it on the plastic sheet so i could trace around the outline with a pen. The cutting out was painful, literally, as you have to press quite hard to cut. Or maybe my blade was just blunt. In any case, I plain to use a hotknife to cut my stencils in future, which is a sort of soldering iron with a fine tip. It melts the plastic and makes cutting much easier.

I also had a few issues rolling on the paint. I used a foam roller and it took a lot of applications to get good cover. Everyone recommends to apply the paint thinly or it will bleed, but I got frustrated and slapped it on quite thickly in the end. No bleeding, so there. The thick paint is a bit rubbery and stiffens the fabric, but I can live with that until I find a better way.

My other issue was that my blue screen printing ink was old and had partially dried out, and so didn’t blend well with the white to make a light blue. I had dark blue lumps in the paint which eventually dissolved into dark blue blotches. Fortunately it didn’t seem to matter, a bit of colour variation actually looks quite good. I like the top and will definitely enjoy wearing it.

Fired with zeal I used a beautiful black linen next, with a grey print. The linen is from the same piece of fabric as the culottes and so makes a nice set.

This time I applied the paint quite thinly, again no bleeding thank goodness, but no matter how many coats I applied, the texture of the linen came through. It is quite smooth, so I don’t understand why, especially since a stencil I did before on a much rougher fabric did not have this problem. Not the end of the world, I love the resulting top, it just didn’t quite turn out as I had imagined. I am thinking that perhaps this was because I used the foam roller dry, while before I wet it and squeezed it out before rolling on the paint. But live and learn, and it is still a nice top.