How to Make Your Own Inexpensive Contractor Stamps

By Paul A. Boccadoro

 

For those of us who enjoy making our own uniforms, you know it might not be cost effective to have a contractor, inspector, or sizing stamp made just for one project. Thus I'm sharing how to do this ink-transfer technique that I used in Architecture school where we'd routinely transfer computer printed titles onto building models.

MATERIALS:

  • Recreated mirrored design (printed in TONER from a laser printer or copied on a photocopier. Ink-jet prints won't work.)
  • Your cut-out pattern piece (sleeve lining, waistband, etc.)
  • Masking tape
  • Chartpak blender marker, found at an art or craft store, or from Amazon.com
  • An eraser to rub the print (for best results).

 

STEP 1: RECREATE THE STAMP DESIGN

Recreate the stamp design in software like Photoshop or InDesign, and I highly recommend using accurate Civil War fonts from the New Blazing Star Press. It's best to have a straight-on photo of the original stamp with measurements to copy it as closely as possible. Or, email me photos and measurements and I'll make it for you, if in exchange I can post it below for others to use.

STEP 2: PRINT OR PHOTOCOPY THE MIRRORED DESIGN

Print a MIRRORED version of your design – it MUST be printed in TONER from a laser printer or copied on a photocopier. This process will NOT work with prints from an ink-jet printer. Make several prints so you can practice on scraps before doing your final one.

STEP 3: PREPARE TO TRANSFER THE DESIGN

You'll need a Chartpak blender marker, which can be found at an arts and crafts store or from Amazon.com. Cut out your print, allowing a decent margin to tape it down.

STEP 4: WET THE TRANSFER

Place your fabric on a hard flat surface like a kitchen counter top. Tape the print face-down onto your fabric with masking tape. Hold it firmly in place and run the blender marker generously over it.  (The chemical dries quickly, so you can do the entire print at once if it's small, or do a little bit at a time if it's larger.)

STEP 5: APPLY THE TRANSFER

For best results, use an eraser to rub the print onto the fabric.  You can also use a hard edge like the marker cap which will make a darker transfer, or use your finger to make a lighter transfer. Be careful not to move the fabric or paper otherwise it'll smudge.

STEP 6: FINISHED

Let the ink dry for a minute, then remove the paper and now you should have a nice "stamp." Since toner isn't water soluable, the stamp won't bleed when exposed to water or perspiration. Experiment with different pressures and tools for rubbing to achieve your desired "stamped" effect.

CONSIDERATIONS

It's best to do the stamp on your cut pattern piece before sewing your garment together since you need a hard backing, and practice on scraps before doing it on your final pattern piece. Also, each print can only be used once, so make several copies to practice. Some original stamps were red, and making your print in color should work, too. Good Luck!

PRE-MADE STAMPS

IMPORTANT! When printing these, make sure your printer's Page Scaling is set to "None" or "100%".  Use the graphic scale on the page to verify it printed at the right size.

All stamp designs © 2012-2017 Paul Boccadoro. For personal use only. These may not be used or reproduced for any commercial purposes.

 

W. Blake and Wm. Phillips Stamps taken from a US Dismounted Overcoat

E. Tracy variation taken from a US dismounted overcoat

E. Tracy variation taken from two US mounted overcoats

Schuylkill Arsenal variation taken from a US dismounted overcoat

Peter Tait & Co. variation taken from a jacket worn by Lt. M. Glennan*

*Peter Tait & Co. used the regulation British Scale of Sizes for their jackets. The top number is the height of the man the jacket was made for (6'–0"), followed by the chest size (41") and waist size (36"). Jackets were made for heights ranging from 5'–5" to 6'–0", chest sizes 36" to 41", and waist sizes 31" to 37", which were combined in specific configurations. The numerals reproduced here were designed from the stamp inside the Lt. M. Glennan jacket, which was placed 2 3/8" down from the collar seam and 1" to the right of center. Photos of additional stamps were also referenced in "Imported Confederate Uniforms of Peter Tait & Co., Limerick, Ireland" by Frederick R. Adolphus, which also provided the Scale of Sizes.