Monday, November 8, 2010

Operation: Secret birthday present

I recently became quite good friends with a guy, "T" (a friend of a friend of mine), who has come over to Melbourne from the UK to do a year of his engineering course abroad.

When T found out about the laptop cases I've been making, and that I have some screen-printing capabilities, he got quite excited. T's girlfriend back home had her birthday coming up and had recently bought herself a new 13" Macbook.

T asked me if I could help him make a really special personalised birthday present for her. Awwww! How could I refuse a request like that? So of course I said I would help, and we started on the collaboration.

T was to come up with the design to screenprint, as well as decide on the materials and colours. I just helped out with a few design and sewing logistics. He decided on pale blue cotton duck-cloth for the front, and hessian for the back. We also decided that the laptop would be held in place with a flap, secured by elastic.

So T came round one night after soccer, cut out the stencil and we printed the fabric pieces. I have to admit I was pretty impressed with how the design printed on the blue duck-cloth came out.

I took over the process from there, working out which interfacing to use to achieve the desired stiffness, and how to go about putting it all together.

I ended up using Vilene S520 on the blue side and 2 layers of Vilene S320 on the hessian side, with a layer of medium-thickness wadding on both sides as well. I was generally pretty happy with the level of rigidity I got with using the S520, but it did cause a few problems with trying to get it nice and flat after it getting all crushed up in the 'turn it inside out and back again' process when the lining was sewn in.

It did take a hell of a lot of ironing to get it relatively flat again, so I'm not sure if the S520 would be a good choice for future use, or whether I just need to try different combos of interfacing in a different order to get it right.

Anyway, all in all, I think the special birthday present went down with the recipient rather well. I thought it was quite touching how thoughtful the gift was and how much effort had been put into it. It was quite nice to have been a part of it, really!


  1. That such a great present idea. Are you going to offer custom ones for the public? Love the tree and apple people sillouette

  2. Hi Kate, I'd love to make something like this available to everyone, but I think the time involved would make it prohibitively expensive for most people. At the moment each design would have to be printed onto paper, transferred to stencil paper, hand-cut and then screen-printed. Then the sewing alone can take up to 2-3hrs. Perhaps if I could get the printing done through Spoonflower it might be do-able, but not sure if it would economical enough.

  3. It's perfect and how lovely for his girlfriend to receive something so personal. Could you prehaps use the heavy vilene on the lining so that the cruch ability is not so obvious. I am going to make my friend a case and have been tossing around about how I could stiffen the lining, sew it up, turn over the top seam allownces on both lining and outer case and topstitch them together. I realise it involves a lot of work but it would stop the huge wrinkle problem. Cherrie

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