I have many rubber stamps for use in making cards. But it never occurred to me they might have another use until I recently saw an article in Stitch It magazine. Instead of stamping on paper, the article suggested, stamp on cloth, then embroider over the lines. The magazine article gave a list of materials needed for a successful project.

I gave it a go, but I used the supplies I had on hand rather than use what was recommended. That decision impeded my progress somewhat, but it wasn’t a total disaster.

The first thing I discovered was that only one of my stamp pads, a blue ink pad of the type found in office supply stores, supplied enough pigment, though somewhat thinly, to transfer the design stamp to the fabric. Clearly, I will have to invest in one of the ink pads the article suggests.

I also found out that not all stamps serve equally well as as tools for embroidery designs. The ones I like best are simple line drawings carved into the rubber. I’ll want to look for a few more stamps that fit that description.

Putting a magazine under the fabric to be stamped provides a less rigid surface that allows the ink to transfer more readily.

I tried stamping on several kinds of fabric — white cotton, muslin and off-white linen. Of the three, the muslin worked best. But, no doubt, after I upgrade the quality of my stamp pad, the linen and white cotton also will take the pigment more readily.

On the muslin, I stamped a quarter-moon design in a row of three. Now I have something to play with. The lines are simple, so I can experiment with colors and stitches. Since the muslin is quite fine, I’m leaning toward mixing cotton embroidery floss with vintage silk thread. I might toss in a bead or two to suggest stars twinkling in the heavens behind the moon.

When the piece is finished, I will have the option of framing it, incorporating it into a fabric postcard or sewing it to the front of a homemade card. Or I might make three versions of the design to accommodate all the options I find appealing.

By using the stamps I can create my own arrangement of images on the fabric. I like how quickly and easily it is to fix an image to fabric without resorting to a lightbox and tracing the outlines of the design to the fabric. However, the drawback is, I would need a roomful of stamps to have a wide enough range of designs to choose from. Yet, the stamping method is perfect for preparing multiple pieces of fabric for embroidery — which might come in handy for groups or clubs that teach youngsters how to embroider.

Meanwhile, I plan to experiment with a new ink pad and several new stamps.


“Sallie Finlay: HIdden Stories” is on display through Aug. 31 at Maine Fiber Arts, 13 Main St., in Topsham. For information, call 721-0678, email fiberarts@gwi.net or go to mainefiberarts.org.

Call Ardeana Hamlin at 990-8153 or email ahamlin@bangordailynews.com. Visit her blog at byhand.bangordailynews.com.