Filed under: Fabric Arts
I bought a little white Mossimo skirt at Target not too long ago, wore it one time, and then my husband (trying to be helpful) hung it on a skirt hanger while it was still wet. Wet cotton + the metal part of the hanger didn’t mix and it left a big rust spot on the skirt that wouldn’t come out.
While Wal-Mart does carry Rit Dye, they have a more limited selection of colors than a craft store does, so I went to Michael’s in search of a dye color that would cover/blend in the rust and would look decent with the rest of my wardrobe. I found a Cocoa Brown that turned out really lovely.
Much of the stitching didn’t take the dye which gave it a bonus finished look that I really dig. I’m wearing the skirt today with a white tshirt and it looks adorable. The entire save cost me less than 2 dollars!
While Rit Dye suggests that when using darker colors such as this you use twice as much dye. I usually just use a cup of salt as a mordant and a dab of laundry detergent as they suggest. I’ve used several darker colors and one packet of dye has always been enough. However, I am not typically going for the darkest end of the spectrum and rarely leave my cloth in the dye pot for the full 30 minutes either. I think this skirt simmered for about 10 minutes before I got the shade I wanted!
Dye jobs are a good way to cover stains if you can use a dye that is a similar shade to the stain itself. I’ve tryed overdying stained items with a different color even though it was much darker and the stain remained as glaring as a flashlight even after the piece was dyed. I’ve had mixed results using their Uncolor product first, but that’s another pre-dying option.
I made Beryl Taylor’s paper fabric last night. My original plan was to cut it into ATC’s but it looks so pretty on a large scale. I may cut it into 8x10s and frame some squares of it for myself, my mom, etsy, whoever wants one instead.
Let me tell you how it’s done!
All apologies to Beryl for anything I did wrong based on her original instructions. (Buy her book. For serious, y’all.)
I took a large sheet of unbleached muslin and layed it over garbage bags on the table. (I actually trimmed it up after I finished the process, it was easier to get a clean cut then by laying it on my tile floor and cutting it using the grout line as a straight edge.)
I layered the whole piece of fabric with Mod-Podge (Beryl’s exact directions were PVA or thinned white glue) and while the Podge was still wet covered the fabric, with spaces in between with joss paper from the Hong Kong City Mall in Houston.
I added another layer of Podge then covered the whole piece with randomly ripped and crumpled white tissue paper. (Beryl didn’t specified ripped and crumpled, but I like lots of texture.) While everything was still wet, I brushed on a blue dye and water mixture over the whole thing. I had one long joss piece that didn’t blend as well as the others so I went heavier on the dye in that area to blend it in more. It looks better in person than it photographed.
Up until the mid 19th century, all fibers were dyed with natural sources. Although textiles decay very quickly, archeologists have found some textiles colored with natural dyes that are at least 6000 years old….many from sealed tombs and burial chambers.
The first synthetic dye (a purple color) was created in 1856, by chemist William Perkin who was experimenting with the hydrocarbons in coal tar. Synthetic dyes rapidly became popular because they were more cost effective to produce. But ironically, they never really did improve upon the color palette of the homemade dyes…they synthetic indigo developed in 1904 was no richer or more vibrant than the real thing!
While it makes sense to use synthetic dyes on a larger scale, for costuming purposes the natural dyes can be wonderfully fun to work with. The natural variations lend a wonderful authenticity to your work!
Wild Color by Jenny Dean is as about as complete a resource as you can get if you are interested in doing your own dying.
The first section covers all sorts of dying techniques and methods, preparing fibers (whether animal or vegetable), using and making mordants, and modifying colors. But don’t let all of these ideas and new terms scare you…it is all broken down in to easy steps and alternatives. Jenny Dean is definitely of the Don’t sweat it…just give it a try! school of thought. The wonderful chart that shows how 25 different shades can be made from just one dye bath…by applying different mordants and color modifiers. For those of us who are visual learners, this is a big help.
The second section covers different dye plants you can use for natural dying. Each plant has it’s own color chart, so you have a good idea of what colors you can get from the flower, the leaves, or the bark. The different shades crated with mordants and color modifiers are also listed. These color charts are also listed on the right edge of each page…you can literally flip through the book like it is a color chart until you find the shade you want…how easy is that?
Whether you want to dye cloth, yarns, or even buttons (mother of pearl takes dyes beautifully…who knew?) this book is a wonderful tool. Check it out!
Ok, I admit to a wee bit of the Imelda in me. I love me some shoes. Growing up with super wide feet before wide sized shoes were readily and cheaply available, my parents could only afford to buy me one ridiculously expensive pair that I would have to wear until I grew out of them. To this day, I am completely traumatized by black and white saddle shoes!
Now that wide sizes are available everywhere I can indulge in inexpensive shoes to my hearts content. I especially love flip-flops in the summer. But this poses another problem. Flip flops are not made to last, and I manage to wear them out even more quickly than the average person. The constant trips to the pool and the perpetual paint splatters probably don’t help any!
I love the look of funky beaded flip flops, but 15 to 20 dollars a pop adds up when you wear them through several pair a season. ! Then I found some plain black flip-flops at my local dollar store (that’s the 99 Cents Only store chain if you live in the Houston area) with sturdy cloth bands that just begged to be beaded!
The neat thing about this project is you can go as simple or as wild as you want! I beaded these with red and black seed beads with some simple ladybug buttons in the middle. I wanted something unique but not utterly outrageous (I’ll make that pair next!). The design is a perfect foil for my white summer jeans!
Nylon beading thread
Seed beads or delica beads in the color of your choice (I used red and black)
Buttons or other sew-able embellishments (I used ladybug buttons)
Scissors for cutting thread
All of these supplies can be found in the craft section of your local Wal-Mart. Beading needles will be with the beading supplies, not the sewing needles. The eye of the needle is no thicker than the rest of the needle so they can pass through even small beads. Seed beads work fine for this project although they are not all uniformly made, so even with a beading needle so of them will not be able to pass over the eye of the needle. Delicas are uniform and easier to use for needle weaving projects but are substationally more expensive and will have to be purchased at a specialty store or web site.
Cut a length of beading thread and double knot the end. You can add a dab of jewelry grade adhesive to the knot for extra security if you wish. Run the needle and thread through the flip flop at one end from back to front. To create the same look around the edges of the flip flop (as in the above picture), add four beads of one color to your thread and whipstitch the thread through the sandal one more time from back to front. Since your needle and thread are already running through to the front of the sandal, this will loop the thread with the beads around the edge of the sandal.
Repeat this stitch alternating colors of beads. You can bead over the whole sandal or just do the edges like I did.
In the middle of each flip-flop, I sewed on a ladybug button instead of beading the whole strap.
These sandals have been hugely popular among my friends and family ever since I finished them…my mom has been volunteering me to make them for everyone she knows! If you whip up a pair I would love to see a scan of your design!
I’m participating in a round robin fabric collage right now, which is really a stretch for me since fabric is not my medium of choice! I didn’t do the fabulous tree on this, that was the work of the person who came before me (Jill) but I did do the batik stars at the top of the sky (you can’t see the fabric really well in the picture, but it’s very pretty). I’m jealous of Tina’s fabric right now…I wish it were mine!
Embroidery is hip again! With artists such as Jenny Hart creating cool embroidery kits and patterns, I’m starting to see embroidery everywhere!
The sample flower I did for this piece is very simple…freehand petal pattern with an easy embroidered star in the middle. This project can be as simple or as intricate as you want to make it…you can use different colors of felt for each leaf layer, you can embellish with more embroidered designs or add beads and buttons…make it as wild and Carrie Bradshaw as you want!
Felt (pre-purchased or homemade)
Embroidery thread and needle
Jewelry grade adhesive to attach pin backing (unless you would rather just sew it on!)
First of all, felt is cheap. You can get a sheet of craft felt in just about any color under the rainbow for about 20 cents a sheet. However, felt making is an easy project and a great way to recycle old wool.
If you have any pieces of wool clothing that are beyond repair (scarves, coats, sweaters)…this is a perfect way to recycle them. Take out any linings and remove any buttons or embellishment, then drop the in the washing machine and set the cycle to HOT. If you have ever done this with a wool garment on accident you know what happens next…the whole piece shrinks down and becomes hopelessly matted. No longer wearable…but a great, thick piece of 100% wool felt!
Making The Flower Pin
I cut out simple ,five petal flowers free hand from my homemade felt. You can also use a pattern for a more controlled design. If you freehand, I suggest making the SMALLEST layer first. Then you can lay it down on the next piece and freehand the next biggest size around the parameters of the first piece. If you choose a pattern beforehand, the easiest way to make your three flower shapes is to start with the LARGEST layer first. Then shrink the pattern by 50%, save that size as your medium layer pattern, then shrink again by another 50% and use that for your smallest layer pattern.
You can, of course, make as many layers as you want…the sample pieces has only three.
Trace or sketch your flower directly on the felt using a fine tipped pencil or a seamstress marking pen (the kind that rinses off with wet water).
Cut out your shapes, and layer them one on top of the other. You can use more than one color felt for a vibrant effect. I turned the petals in each layer about 10 degrees from the first layer so the petals didn’t overlap each other…this is a good way to create a fuller look with less layers.
Starting from the back, pull your embroidery thread up through the top. Use you thread to create a star pattern (which also does double duty drawing the petals slightly inward to give it a more 3D look) or any other pattern you please. You can use the thread to embellish around the the petals themselves, add on small beads, a funky button, sequins…anything that catches your eye!
Glue a pin back to the back part of the flower and let dry completely. You can also use a pin back with holes that allow you to actually sew the pin back in place while doing the embroidery work.
Wear with flair!
I recently walked a friend through her first tea-staining project and she was impressed by how easy to create such a wonderful effect! Tea staining can be used on just about any kind of paper or fabric…it’s a wonderful way to create aged effect in all sorts of projects, including:
· Staining different fabrics to create a unifying theme for a fabric journal.
· Staining paper to create an aged journal feel.
· Staining backgrounds for vintage photos, letters, and ephemera.
· Staining journal add-in elements such as manilla tags, letters, pockets, and envelopes.
Add a black tea bag or two to the bottom of a small bowl or mug. Poor a small amount of boiling water over the bags (just to cover) and let steep. Use the bag itself to “paint” on your paper or fabric. The bag itself can be fragile and may break…which is ok for some projects. The tealeaf itself on the paper can lend a variegated color pattern (just brush off the bits of tea after it dries). For a more uniform look, and to keep the bag from breaking you can wrap it in old pantyhose, cheesecloth, or an old flour sack towel. For a more texture look with paper, crumple the paper while it is still damp. (Carefully! It can tear easily). For a longer lasting finish on fabric, you can heat set with a iron.
Other staining options include using coffee (for a darker brown stain) or green tea (for a soft sage colored stain).