Monday, August 30, 2010

Monday Project: The Butterfly Project

Instead of finishing up our month long series on dying-stamping-stenciling-embellishing shirts today, I decided postpone it for one week so I can show you one more fabric technique and tell you about a worthy project that needs your help.

The Holocaust Museum in Houston, Texas is gathering handmade butterflies to use in an exhibit remembering the 1.5 million children who died in the Holocaust.  The scheduled opening is for Spring 2013 - they need 1.5 million butterflies and so far have received 400,000.  Requirements for the butterflies are:
- 8 x 10 inches or smaller.
- No glitter or foodstuffs as materials.
- 2-D (flat) butterflies preferred.
Full instructions and mailing information can be found at the Museum's Butterfly Project page.  For any of you who work with children, there is also a set of lesson plans based on the book of poems and drawings by children in the Terezin Concentration Camp, I Never Saw Another Butterfly.

I've put together patterns and instructions for two butterflies that can be used as is or modified however you wish.  The butterfly on page one is the template for today's two projects.  The butterfly on page two would make a good stencil or stamp.

Denim Butterfly

This butterfly uses a fabric technique that is lots of fun to use on denim and other dark(ish) fabrics.  In the laundry aisle of the grocery store, look for a Clorox bleach pen.  This pen contains a thickened bleach gel solution that whitens whatever it is put on.  Since it's in a pen form, you can draw with it!  I love using recycled denim in projects - I used part of one leg from a half-price pair of Goodwill jeans.

1.  Cut two pieces of denim fabric big enough to fit the provided pattern or your own.  I just cut off the bottom of one leg.

2.  Slit open the leg and lay flat.  Put something protective underneath the fabric, such as waxed paper.  With the lid on, shake the bleach pen well.  Unscrew the fine tip cap (one side is a fine tip, the other is a wider scrubber), gently squeeze, and trace around the outside of the pattern, except for the antennae.

3.  Remove the pattern (throw away - it'll have bleach gel on it), add the antennae, and make sure all of the outline has a thick layer of gel.  Draw designs inside - I just doodled.

4.  Let set for 30 minutes.  If you are using this technique on fabric that is thinner than denim, 20 minutes will probably be fine.  Rinse in the sink and scrub the dried gel off.  With smaller pieces such as this, I then hand wash the fabric.  Larger pieces, like clothing, should be washed now.

5.  With the two layers together, sew along the bleached lines by hand or machine.  I'm using white thread on the machine to keep the delicate look, but I could see different colors of thread and different embroidery stitches looking great on this.

6.  Cut butterfly out along the outside of bleached lines.  I used pinking shears.

Layered Felt Butterfly

If you have not made layered felt ornaments before, first look at this past blog entry.
1.  Cut out two pieces of felt using the whole pattern.  Cut inside pieces of pattern from one side and cut two pieces of each.  It's hard to see with the black felt, but I also cut a circle and a body piece to sew on the butterfly's middle.

2.  Attach pieces to one piece of the body using a blanket stitch and starting with the bottom layer and working up.  I wanted a dramatic look for this piece, so I used the full 6 strands of embroidery thread.  Felt stretches a bit when you sew it on, so you might have to trim some of the pieces to get them to fit.  I had to cut the smaler pink ovals down to small circles.  When all your pieces are sewn on, attach to the back using a blanket stitch.

I thought it would be fun to see other types of butterflies we come up with, so I set up a Flickr group you can upload photos of your creations to.  I'm mailing my two off this week, but hope to make more from your ideas!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday Inspiration - Jackets

Jae Jarrell, Urban Wall Suit, 1969

Earlier this week, while surfing quilt designs of all things, I found this piece on Black Threads' blog.  Jae Jarrell is a fashion designer and one of the founding members of the artist group AfriCOBRA.  She created this "Urban Wall Suit" in 1969.

I love it! This jacket/skirt combo was a "uniform" of the older mom set in the 1960's.  My friends' mothers all wore them with sensible low heels to meetings at school, Girl Scouts, all those 60's mom things ... My mom was younger, cooler, and wore mini-skirts, but she still owned at least one that I  remember.

Jarrell took this stereotyped uniform of the respectable establishment, quilted it (a very respectable past time), and then gave it a new life by turning it into a street graffiti-ed brick wall, adding 60's messages.  Some of my favorite art works play themes off each other in this way.

Another interesting jacket I've found lately, from Highsnobiety News, is a collaboration by fashion designer Roland Berry and artist Shepard Fairey.  Both artists' websites are worth a look.  Fairey is a former graffiti artist, sometimes guerilla artist, now most famous for his Obama Hope poster.

Roland Berry & Shepard Fairey, Wearable Art Collection

So .... after admiring these several (okay, many) times, I decided to get going on my Ai Kijima inspired jacket.  I got most of the back cut out and ironed on and then decided I needed more interesting fabric before continuing.  I think I know where I'm going with this, but won't say yet in case I change my mind!

And remember the mini jean jacket I fabric collaged and embroidered for little c?  She had her 6 month pictures taken in it.  Isn't she too cute!  I'm definitely a smitten grandma!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wednesday Sewing: One Yard Apron

I'm not extremely domestic - anyone who comes to my house knows that by the clutter - but I do love to cook and hate to keep getting grease stains out of my shirts.  I'm a messy cook!  So ... I've been looking for an apron pattern for awhile.  Something short, ties in the back but not at the neck, has a big pocket but not so big it flops over, and pretty but not ruffly or lacy.  I tried an apron like my Nana wore (she always had one on!), but didn't like the zipper.  After looking at countless patterns, I realized I could make my own with all the features I liked.  So here it is - my perfect apron.  Feel free to change anything that doesn't make it your perfect apron!

Materials List:
*1 yard 42 - 45 inch cotton/cotton blend fabric, washed and dried
*approximately 3 3/4 yards of double fold bias tape
*machine thread - matching or contrasting
*pattern (click here)

Oh boy, did I ever learn a lot about printer registration figuring out how to make a PDF of this pattern!  You will get 14 sheets of paper - cut them out on the dotted lines and tape them together in the order shown on the first page.  You don't have to tape the first page with the rest!

When you have all the papers taped together, cut the two pattern pieces out - the apron and the pocket.

Fold your fabric along the bias as shown below.  Because your fabric is not a yard square, you will have a single layer strip that will be used for the apron ties.

Lay out your pattern pieces on the fabric, following the diagram on the first page.

Cut out the apron body and pocket pieces, being sure to leave the single layer strip (where my pins are sitting) for the ties.  Cut this piece into two rectangles of 25 x 3 inches each.  If for some reason you don't end up with a strip that's 6 inches wide, just make your ties as wide as you can.  They'll turn out a little narrower, but will work just fine.  This happened with me with the bat fabric.

The apron body has dots to help with positioning the pocket.  When we had dots on a previous pattern, we just clipped the seam to mark them.  That won't work with positioning dots - we need to mark them with either thread or chalk/disappearing fabric ink.  To mark with thread, use a thread color that will show up well against the fabric.  Put the needle down through the dot and the fabric and then bring it back up again close to where you went down, leaving a tail.

Put the needle down again, leaving a large loop and bring the needle up one final time.

Cut the loop at the top and pull the pattern off.

Pull the top layer of fabric up, making sure to not pull it free of the threads.  Cut the thread so that each layer of fabric has thread markers.

You'll use these marks later to help you place the pocket.

Next, pin the bias tape to the apron edges, beginning at the top of the neck.  Put the shorter edge in front and the longer in back - this makes it easier to make sure you catch the back when you sew it on.  Bias tape is cut on the bias so it is stretchy - use this stretchiness to pull the bias tape smoothly around the corners.

When you get back to where you started pinning the bias tape on, you can either turn the ends under or make a more elegant joining.  Overlap the two ends of the bias tape two inches (we are using two inch bias tape - if using a different size, overlap it by the size of the tape).

Open up both sides of bias tape.

Overlap the two ends at a right angle, right sides together and sew diagonally.  Trim the seam to about 1/4 inch.

Refold and pin in place.

Pin bias tape around the neckhole.

 Pin bias tape around curved edge of the pocket.

Pin bias tape across the top of the pocket, overlapping on each end by about 1/2 inch.

Turn ends under and pin.

Sew top of pocket binding close to bottom edge.

Lay apron body flat.  Place pocket by matching edges and corners of pockets to dots.  Pin in place.  Okay - here's a disclaimer/warning!  These dots keep migrating every time I adjust the pattern - so, come close!  It may not fit exactly.  Sew pocket close to inside edge of bias tape. 

To attach the pocket on more securely, I make a figure like this at each corner

If you want a pocket that does not flop open, sew down the middle.  To do this, fold pocket in half and mark top and bottom. 

Draw a line between the marks.  Sew on both sides of the line.

Fold apron tie in half.  Sew across one short end and along the long side.  Trim corner as shown.

Turn right side out and press.  I find a long, thin object (like a pencil) makes turning easier.  Turn edges of opening under about 1/2 inch.

Pin open edge of apron tie up to side of apron as shown, overlapping about 1/2 inch.  Sew in place.

Iron and you're ready to cook!  Tonight's menu is artichoke heart/red pepper pizza ... Yumm!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Monday, August 23, 2010

Monday Project: Stamping on Fabric

Today we're continuing with ways to use fabric paint after last Monday's post on stenciling.  Above is a table cloth I'm working on, stenciled and using barkcloth as inspiration.  The sunflowers and leaves are stamped on - I'll show you how further down!

Materials List:
*100% natural piece of fabric or clothing (see this blog post for explanation and exceptions)
*fabric paint (see last week's post for choices)
*stamp pad
*carving material, such as Safety-Kut
This is like a giant eraser and made to be carved with linoleum carving tools.
*linoleum carving tool
*brayer - for rolling ink onto your carved stamps, they come in soft rubber and hard.  I like the soft.
*printing plate - a piece of flat acrylic works well (that's what mine is, so it seems to have turned invisible in the photo).  Anything that is smooth and can be washed off works.
*stamps - made or bought
*misc. - craft sticks, toothpicks, paint brushes, scissors, pencil

Printing materials can be found at art stores or several on-line companies.  I've had good luck with Nasco and Dick Blick.  The links will take you to their soft carving blocks.

Making a Stamp and Printing With It:
1.  I made a sugar skull inspired stamp to print on one of the shirts I stenciled last week.  You can get the pattern and a couple others here.  First draw your design.  If you are using a printed design, trace over all the lines in pencil.  We're going to use an easy transfer method!

2.  Lay the drawing upside down on top of a printing block.  Rub hard on all areas of the paper with something like scissors handles.

3.  This should transfer the pencil lines on the drawing to your block.  Carefully lift up a corner of the paper and see if this happened.  If there are gaps, put the paper back down and rub some more.  When the design is transferred, I like to go over the parts I want to print with a black Sharpie.  These will be the parts I do not carve away - they will stick up and collect the fabric paint.

4.  Keeping your steadying hand and fingers behind the carving tool, carve away all of the white parts, going down about 1/4 inch.  You can make life easier by just cutting off the large blank corners with scissors - save these parts for other stamps!  When you think you have carved all white away, make a print with a stamp pad.  You'll see black lines that you probably don't want on your final print!  Carve these away (it's easy now because they got inked) and test again until it looks how you want it to.

5.  Put a line of fabric paint on your printing plate - mine's clear acrylic, so it looks like I'm printing right on the counter.  I'm not!!  Roll the brayer back and forth in several directions to get the entire brayer covered.  Don't roll it all over the printing plate though - your purpose here is to cover the brayer.

6.  Roll the inked brayer over your stamp until all areas that remained sticking up are covered in fabric paint.

7.  If this is the first time you've printed this way, it'd be a good idea to make a few prints on paper until you feel like you've got the hang of it.  When ready with an inked stamp, place it down on the fabric - go straight down and don't let the stamp wiggle or move in any way.  Press down on the stamp in every area a couple of times.  Lift the stamp straight off the fabric in one motion.

8.  I often use very small stamps, such as this flower.  Don't try to use the brayer to ink small stamps.  Just press the stamp into the fabric paint and print.  Sometimes I do use the brayer to mix, especially if I want to have a multi-colored paint to stamp with.

On my turquoise shirt, I've used stamps I carved and pieces of stamp material that I just cut into small shapes.

You can also use purchased stamps.  The stamps sold for using with stamp pads and ink sometimes work and sometimes don't.  If they have tiny little lines, they probably won't work - the thick fabric paint clogs them up.  The larger foam stamps work well.  I usually paint the colors onto them, though, instead of putting it on with the brayer.

Troubleshooting:  If paint gets down in the stamp, use a toothpick to remove it.  If you don't end up getting everything printed, just use a paintbrush to fill in the missing areas.

Stamping With Other Things:
Be creative!  Look around and see what else you can stamp designs onto your fabric with.  One of my favorites is bubblewrap.

I like to mix different colors of paint on a printing plate, fill the brayer, and roll it onto the bubblewrap.

Press it onto the fabric, re-ink, repeat until your fabric is filled.

To add a deeper pattern, use another size of bubble wrap in another color and print over the top of what you've already done.

This is a piece of cotton I'll stamp over and use in a quilted project.

Alright!  Week three is done - we've dyed our fabric and stenciled and printed on it.  Next week, we'll wrap it up with a couple of techniques that pull everything I've been doing on my T-shirts together.  Here's what they look like now:

Happy Creating!  Deborah