The Cameloozy Blouse // A Hand Printing for Garment Construction Tutorial

I must have a thing for aired animals, because this makes two shirts now with a beast of burden showcased (remember my llama tee?)   Oh, this shirt. I’m so happy with how it turned out! There is something so satisfying and appealing about dying, printing and sewing a garment. It’s “I made this” on steroids. And there are no limits! You can literally create the garment of your dreams give or take an imperfection or two.  Well, actually my garments often turn out way different than I imagined, but it’s always so cool to discover how your design comes alive and translates from your head to your hand.

Materials you’ll need:

Begin by dying your fabric according to package instructions. I still refer to Dharma’s tub dying tutorial every time.

Draw your design onto your carving block. There are lots of ways to do this, but I’ll tell you how I skinned this cat. I found the image I wanted, and then placed a sheet of computer paper directly on my computer screen and traced it with a pencil. The light of the screen makes this super easy.

Then I placed my traced image (design down and centered) onto my carving block, and rubbed it firmly, being careful not to shift the paper at all.  The design will easily transfer, but trace over it if you need to make it a little darker. 

Now carefully carve around you design, always pushing the cutters away from you.  I usually use the medium pointed tip for this. Once you have the direct outline you can go nuts and carve down everything around your design.  

I found that once I carved down the rest of the block that my block was quite thin and flimsy, especially with my larger design. This is when a mounting block can be so useful! 

I busted out my cutter again and cut the design from the block at about a quarter inch around it.  *Note: If you have are planning on using the acrylic mounting block from the beginning (a good idea), you only need to shave down the carving block right around the design, and can skip carving down the whole block!
Then I simply glue the stamp to the acrylic block.  (I used hot glue because it’s easily applied and removed from both the carving and acrylic back, so I can reuse it again for different stamp projects.
My stamping techniques are pretty straightforward, but here are some of my tricks that help produce a really clean print.

  • Plastic lids from something like an oatmeal container makes a great place to work from because it doesn’t absorb the paint, and is easily cleaned.
  • ALWAYS use a brayer or roller. This makes the biggest difference in producing a clean print!
  • Roll the paint onto your stamp quickly and evenly
  • ALWAYS do a test print to check your stamp (you may need to carve down a few areas that are still too high) experiment with your design, and find out your fabric’s printing qualities. The tighter/finer the weave of the fabric, the cleaner your print will be. Finer weaves produce super clear prints whereas looser weaves like knits absorb a lot of the paint, and are less clear and neat.  Because of this it’s ideal to use very simple and larger designs for knits and larger weaves, and save the smaller more detailed designs for the tighter weaves.
  • When applying the stamp, press firmly and evenly and quickly. If you allow the stamp to be on the fabric for too long, the paint seems to adhere to the stamp and not the fabric and it results in a lighter print. You’re not in a rush per se, but don’t lollygag. The acrylic mounting block was so great for this, because the transparency of the block made it easy to position the stamp well.

  • I like to stamp my garment after I’ve cut it out, but before I’ve sewn it together so I’m just working with flat pieces. Have fun at this point customizing your printed design to the design of the garment.
  • Sometimes it can be helpful to use quilter’s tape or masking tape to help establish a grid when printing. (I didn’t do that with this design, because I was going for an imperfect repeat.

One of my favorite parts of this shirt is the layered print. This is so fun and easy to create, just wait til your base design is dry, and then layer it with another design.

Heat set your delicious printing by ironing on the appropriate setting for your fabric, and then construct as your pattern indicates! As you can see, I printed different designs on the front and back of the blouse. I did the same thing with my llama tee, and love the look.

Is your mind blowing up with hand printing + garment construction projects ideas? I hope so, because I-made-this-on-steroids projects are such a blast, and hopefully now you can see that they’re way less intimidating than you might think. And you can do as little or as much as you like! Maybe you just want to start with dying the fabric, maybe you’re ready to give hand-printing a whirl. Or maybe you’re thinking Dying, hand printing and sewing my clothes is not enough!! I’m gonna weave the fabric too!



  1. Posted October 29, 2012 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    This is a pretty inspiring and ambitious make. I’ve been thinking about hand dying some silk for a while but you’re really taking it over the top with the hand stamping! Thanks for the kick in the butt!

  2. heather e
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, pretty much going to go get a loom. That shirt is too sexy. It’s got it all going on! The color, the style, the fabric, the fun print. I’m itching to get my hands on that pattern soon. good job!

  3. Posted October 29, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    That is seriously so cool! I have Grainline’s pattern so might just start easy with dying fabric first…. which is fun. :)

  4. Posted October 29, 2012 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

    This is so insanely awesome, I can’t even believe you dyed and printed it!! Possibly the best thing I’ve seen in a while, and you’re wearing those green shoes. Boom!!

  5. Posted October 29, 2012 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

    Wow. This is so amazing!! Thanks!

  6. Posted October 29, 2012 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

    Wow that looks like it was a TON of work!!

  7. Posted October 30, 2012 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    This is just a great post. I do have some Dharma dye…..and I am on my way. Were did you get the pattern for the Tee Top?

  8. Posted October 30, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    Oh, that’s awesome! I really want to make my own stamps now.
    I’m glad that I’m not the only one who has traced over a computer screen. haha :)

    • Posted October 31, 2012 at 12:19 am | Permalink

      Hey Hey tracing over the computer screen forever!!:)

  9. Posted October 30, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    The shirt is amazing anyway, but the camels totally take it over the top. My sister and brother-in-law have a thing for camels, and I’m always delighted to find something new. Lovely!

    • Posted October 31, 2012 at 12:20 am | Permalink

      Thanks, Abbie! I’m loving all these animal silhouette prints that are trending, it works well with my love for aired animals!

  10. Posted October 30, 2012 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

    yep this is awesome. really awesome. i’m so glad my pal jessica told me to check your blog out – i love it!!!

    • Posted October 31, 2012 at 12:18 am | Permalink

      Really?! Thank you! I’m so flattered! Flattered that you like my blog, flattered that Jessica told you to check it out!!

  11. Posted October 31, 2012 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    really awesome. I loved seeing it in person too, amazing job! :)

    • Posted October 31, 2012 at 9:22 am | Permalink

      Thanks Anna! That means a lot coming from you!

  12. Posted October 31, 2012 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    What a great idea! I am going to try this.

  13. Posted November 2, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    Holy cow/camel woman! That is incredible. I LOVE the color and the print.

  14. Ashley
    Posted November 3, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    Love this! I went straight and downloaded the pattern, tis the perfect shirt shape. Did you lower the neckline on yours?

  15. Posted November 17, 2012 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

    I love the computer screen idea! Using that! I’ve been totally into making my own stamps the past few weeks, and you want to hear something funny? I just did a tutorial too on my blog and right now I’m just catching up on some blogs and as I was reading your post it dawned on me that I have a linoleum cutter in my desk that I’ve completely forgotten about. Ummmm oops? That would have been great to use with my tutorial and the 10 stamps I’ve made recently. Haha! Anyway, I love your top! Now I’m going to go dig out that cutter….

  16. Posted November 30, 2012 at 5:37 am | Permalink

    Wow this is amazing!

  17. Posted November 30, 2012 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    oh, this is just awesome! love the colors and details you added…must get that pattern :)

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