Talking Fabrics Midterm Sight Project // Hoiyan Guo

Goal: Making a series of baby t-shirts

Materials: 7 baby t-shirts, other fabrics, threads

Tools: laser cutter, Adobe Illustrator, double side fusible interfacing, needles, scissors

Person involved: Antonius, Avan, Marcela

I spent a long time thinking about what to make for my first project in class. At the very beginning I had a few ideas, but the one which stood out was the idea of making a series of t-shirts, where they could tell a story and can only reach a certain effect when they are put together. For me, we don’t have to depend on the clothes we wore yesterday to decide what to wear today, they are to some extent disconnected. However, there should be a strong connection between yesterday and today! That’s the idea I wanted to convey with the project.

To make the project take less space and easier to demonstrate, also to make the patterns on it more concentrated, I decided to base the idea on baby t-shirts. Then I felt interested to show a theme of growing up naturally. I was suggested by my class professor, Antonius that I could very possibly make a one-second animation based on 12 t-shirts. That’s a brilliant idea, but eventually I didn’t make it happen because I also wanted to show the time distance between the t-shirts. And I’d love to make the t-shirts part of the idea, instead of making them just the media or platform of it. Lastly I chose to make 7 t-shirts. The reason behind is that I thought 7 is the number of the days a week has. Days are only counted by 7 within a week, and after the last day of the week, it returns to the start. I felt very fascinated by this concept of the circle of life.

I found one picture of a growing baby online, downloaded it and transferred it into a black and white image on Illustrator with a method I learned recently from my professor Antonius. I planed to etch each infant onto a piece of fabric and stick the fabrics on the t-shirts.

Below are the original image and the processed version.



The first time I went to the laser cutter was with the help of Avan. I etched one infant, and laser cut one as well. Unfortunately the piece of fabric was too fragile to etch on, it broke immediately when taken out of the laser cuter. Because of the complexity of the image, the effect of the laser cut infant was not satisfying either. After the first try I felt a very strong need to change some other patterns which are more easy to tell.

I was looking at every image I was offered online with the key word “growing”. A light bulb suddenly jumped out in my mind when I saw this image of a growing panda.


It worths much attention that pandas can be easily depicted in just two colours- black and white. If I cut through the black part of the panda and put it on a piece of black fabric, a panda would emerge! I did the same thing with the pandas as with the infants, and it looked like it.

panda-1-2 panda2-2

The second time of laster cutting went very well with Marcela. Here is a picture of a panda that was just taken out of the laster cuter.


Black fabrics are not hard to find. I found some in the material box in the lab and cut them in squares. Very carefully I took out the parts that were cut-



I decided to hand sew the panda piece and the background piece together instead of using the sewing machine, because I didn’t have confidence in sewing along the curve with it. Right before I got started, it suddenly came to me that 7 is also the number of the colours a rainbow has! So I used threads that are of the rainbow’s 7 colours, and arranged them in the order from red to purple, in compared to each growing stage. I think this very small detail adds much more fun to the project. After sewing them together on the edge, I hide some small pieces of double side fusible interfacings behind the body of the panda and ironed on it.

img_0473 img_0474


Lastly, I used double side fusible interfacings again to stick the whole pattern to the t-shirts.


So it was done!


After my presentation in class I got some useful suggestions including sewing the edges of the black fabric to prevent fraying, and also I could have made the t-shirts in colours.

The project is a very simple one, but I do hope it conveys something. And I really enjoyed working on it. Halfway of the making process I actually decided to make it a present for my niece LaLa (her nickname), but since she won’t join us in this lovely world until December, I hung the project in my room as decorations. My roommate and I love it.


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