Friday, February 29, 2008

Tie Dye - a first!

Yes, it had to happen. At some point in a crafter's life, one has to give in to the impulse to use cold water dyes. I've done silk painting and dye work in the past, but that was different. There, you just pour premixed dye, heat set the fabric in a steamer and rinse. Done!
With fiber reactive dyes, there is chemistry involved!

That chemistry, though not really difficult, had put me off for quite some time. Some of the reason is that in every book or article I've read about how to mix up the chemicals and dye, the proportions for each ingredient were different. If no two authors agreed, how was I to choose what to do???

In doing my research using 6 different tie dye books, or booklets, and a two CD instruction models, not one of the authors agreed on how much dye should be used to make the stock dye solution. Nor did they agree on how much Urea should be added.

I kept reading, taking notes, comparing and so on for quite a while. Eventually, after buying all my supplies at , I just found a Saturday when I was completely alone with nothing to do and I set about this task.

I only used a few rubber bands on each article of clothing to keep things simple and decided to just do an ombre effect with one color of dye, going dark to light on the fabric.

This little set is a size 6 Toddler, 100% cotton, lettuce edge top and pants. It was easy to lay each piece down and dab the dye on with a sponge brush. I wrapped everything up in big plastic bags and waited, impatiently, for 24 hours before the big rinse in hot, hot water.

As it turned out, I really liked the process and the results! It was a lot of work, but it was also fun!

This tee for our newborn grandson shows a close up of the ragged heart applique that I sewed onto three of the outfits I dyed.

I made these by digitizing the design on my Janome embroidery software and then machine embroidered them out on my Janome 10000 as free standing appliques.

Hand sewing them onto the soft dyed cotton was very satisfying.

I did three colors that day. This is peacock blue. It truly is a beautiful color.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Yellow Linen Butterfly Applique Skirt

This is the time of year when linen can be found in bright colors and I have been going to the Joann's Fabric and Crafts store near the office and getting their beautiful linen/rayon blends with a 40% off coupon! This color is too bright for me to wear near my face, but it's great for a skirt.

This is the front.

As you can see, I filled the skirt up with really big and simple appliques of butterflies. I have lots of butterfly attracting plants in my very messy garden and the milk weed pods have been exploding with seedlings this week. I've collected a few pods and am going to plant them in pots to replant them in different parts of the garden so I have a view of butterfly activities no matter what window I am near. They are so delightful in their dance upon the air.

This is the back.

In order to figure out the placement of these really big appliques, I layed the skirt out on my big table in the garage/studio to see how it would look. It turned out that what I had planned for the back became the front of the skirt. Somehow I just didnt' want that big butterfly that is so high to be winging its' way so near my old bottom.

Fortunately, this bias skirt is a one piece pattern. The front and back are cut out from the same pattern piece, so all I had to do was switch out the label that I sew to the inner waistband to the opposite side.

I embroider the pattern number onto the label so I know what I used later on. Three years from now I may not remember which pattern I used and that can be frustrating if I want to start up a new project using a pattern that still fits.

Although I liked the way it looked, I felt the skirt design was too empty. I took a lunch break and leafed through a couple of my painting on fabric books. One of them reminded me that I could stamp on fabric!

Now, I have never, ever stamped on a finished project. Been to intimidated I guess. What if I screw it up??? OH WELL! What do I have to lose? $10.00 and two days of fooling around? That's not going to change my universe by much, so I went back into the garage.

After looking over my carving supplies and previously made stamps, I decided simpler is better.

I ended up using two left over rectangles of carving block and mixed up some black acrylic paint with fabric medium.

Fantastic! So easy and so satisfying. All I wanted to do was add movement, a suggestion of movement, and in art one doesn't have to be specific.
The minds' eye finishes the idea that is started with just a stroke or a mark.

And, the linen took the paint up well. I liked the unevenness of it and was happy just using two sizes of stamps.

I think this is why I keep on trying stuff out. I never, ever know where a project is going to take me. It seems to develop as I go along. I have tried to plan things out, but that never works. For me, the ideas fill in as the images show up on the fabric. I have to learn to trust myself more and I think that is what I am learning. Take the inspiration, do the work and see what happens.