Sunday, April 25, 2010

Handpainted, multi-tiered skirt: ta-dah!

Skirt front or back depending on what color top I wear.

This little skirt took about three weeks of little bits of time to put together.
The fabric painting was spread out over my lunch times at home. I could easily spread out a damp piece of fabric, open the slightly watered down paints and paint lines before having tea and a grilled cheese sandwich.

Or, if I was in the mood, I'd iron a panel or two to set the paint.

I made several panels and suddenly found myself impatient to begin putting the skirt together.

Skirt back? It's nice to have options...

First, a bias cut yoke for the top tier makes the skirt very comfortable to wear and it drapes nicely over round hips.

Next. Cut lots of six inch strips. I'm never sure how many I will use, so I cut at least 24. These were all 36 inches across.

Sew a few strips together and then begin the gathering. I have a gathering foot for my Janome machine and have learned that though it is the absolute easiest way to gather fabric, it is somewhat of a guessing game.

It works according to the stitch length and stitch tension settings. Big stitches and tight tension equals lots of gathers. However, the weight of the fabric is the one factor
that is the mysterious variable. You'd think that the heavier the fabric the more difficult it would be to gather under the foot.
Yes and no. I've made a few skirts of batik cotton and with each one, the machine settings were different for the amount of gathering that would be created.

Since this hand painted fabric was a very light muslin, I figured I'd have to go with less tension.
Not sew!

This fabric just didn't want to gather easily!!!
And it wasn't that the paint was in the way. This fabric paint is virtually unnoticeable on the fabric. I just does not change the "hand" of it at all. I'm sorry now that I was too tentative with my settings. I was afraid I would run out of fabric before getting to the last tier and so I ended up with a skirt that is not as "swingy" as I'd like.
My impatient self was very glad to finish with the elastic waist.
My perfectionistic self was unhappy with the final product.
Next: Fuchsia circles.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Painting yardage for skirts

Lately I've been using up my really old bottles of Pebeo Setacolor transparent fabric paints. This stuff is at least 8 years old. They've been in a box in my garage/studio waiting patiently, as all my art supplies do, for me to get back to using them.
I have a love/hate relationship with them.
I started out coloring fabric using Dupont Silk dyes when I had my prayer shawl business back in the 90's. That meant I had to stretch silk on big home made wood frames, paint the silk, steam it, rinse it out hoping there would be no back staining, and go from there.
The results of dye on silk were always, always beautiful, but I found, after hanging up some marriage canopies on my wall, the colors began to fade all too quickly.
Annoying after all the work done. And stretching silk by putting pins into the wood frame really, really hurt my fingers. I grew to hate it.
I was tempted by silk paint (paint not dye) because all one had to do to set the color was iron your fabric. However, there was always the matter of "hand". The "hand" of the fabric changed and became a little stiff. I didn't like it. At all.

I put all of those things away when I went to work as the office manager for my husband.
And, now I am back.
This time I am using bleached muslin on a plastic bag surface and am letting the paint, which had to be mixed with a lot of water because it had thickened out so much, just do its' thing. This is a lot of fun! I am using slightly damp fabric, a foam brush and five colors. I like fabric with a lot of white in the background. Being summer 10 months of the year here makes wearing all kinds of white things OK everyday.
Fixing the color is just a matter of 20 minutes in a hot dryer and my iron. One thing I've noticed though. The fumes from the heated paint make me a little nauseous. I moved a big fan to the left of my ironing board, so now that isn't such a problem.
This stack of fabrics with lines, flowers, stripes, drips, splotches and journaling with a black fabric marker, will make a wonderful multi-tiered skirt.
So now I love the paint and don't hate the "hand". This stuff just doesn't make any difference at all on how the muslin feels.
Hey, does anybody know where I can find out how to post using more photos? Maybe it's this version of Blogger, but it won't let me put in more than five photos per post. Time to learn more. Time for an upgrade.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Pentel Dye Sticks

This morning I got an e-mail from with the usual funny note about all the amazing stuff they have to color fabric. They sell everything you could possibly need to change plain fabric or clothing into something amazing.
One of the links led me to a video previously shown on You Tube about using Pentel dye sticks.
I was inspired!
I've had the dye sticks in my box of fabric paints, but have not done much with them.

I'm one of those people who order stuff on the net because I'm excited to try something and by the time it gets delivered, I've already moved onto something else.
Not a good trait.
However, it is so nice to have supplies right there when the urge to play comes back!
Today I took a pillow case right out of the linen closet and set to work.
Yeah, yeah, I know the fabric is supposed to be "scoured" and not a bit of fabric softener or other fragrant things are "allowed".

All the books say any softening agent will prevent color from sticking. But have you noticed how when you are painting and get some on your clothes, NONE of it comes OFF.
So, back from my morning walk, still seeing that little three minute video in front of my frontal cortex eyes, I find a small padded quilting thingy and stretch the pillow case over it so the fabric will stay in place as I work.

I must say I had a fine 30 minutes making these flowers. The dye sticks are so creamy! The red, pink, yellow and orange for the flower just glided onto the cotton. Two greens made a nice stem and leaf and I was ready to repeat.
The only problem I had was that since I work in my garage/studio, it tends to be the same temperature as outside. This morning it is about 76 degrees and the dye sticks are very soft. They got on my fingers and I had to be careful about leaving smudges.

However, smudges and imperfections are part of the beauty of anything that is handmade, so I didn't stress about it.
And, seeing a small crumb loose on the pillow case just lead to another flower near the top.
I'm going to let this this sit for a day and then heat set it.
This is going to look very pretty on our bed.
More! More! I HAVE to make more! This is really fun. Thanks Dharmatrading, for setting my soul alight.