Monday, April 25, 2011

Monday Project - New Shirt from Old

To remodel clothes, you really don't have to do any heavy duty cutting and sewing.  Sometimes a little dye and embroidery thread can completely change the style!  I like to look for white shirts at thrift stores and then change them into new shirts by using surface design treatments.  In this post I'll show you how I did a recent one.

*white shirt
*Procion dye - medium blue
*soda ash
*large plastic discs
*large clamps
*face mask
*plastic gloves
*embroidery thread

If you haven't used fiber reactive dyes before, take a look at this post for a more thorough explanation.  I decided to use a form of shibori called itajime - this calls for folding the fabric, sandwiching it in between wood or plastic, and clamping it all tightly together.

1.  Soak your shirt in 1/2 cup of soda ash dissolved in 1 gallon of water for about 15 to 20 minutes.

2.  Squeeze the extra water out and air dry the shirt.  There are many different ways to fold and pleat fabric using itajime techniques.  I used a form of triangle folding.  Starting at the sleeve, I first folded the shirt "fan" style - this is just like the fans you might have made as a kid, where you fold the fabric the opposite way each time you make a new pleat as opposed to doing more of a rolling fold where you keep folding in the same direction.

3.  Fold one end of the folded shirt up into a triangle.  Continue folding into triangle shapes, folding the fabric the opposite way each time.

4.  Sandwich the folded shirt between two plastic discs or pieces of wood.  I got these in a hardware store plumbing department.  Clamp everything together so the shirt is squished together as tightly as it can be.  You'll be counting on the shirt being pressed together so tightly that the dye doesn't reach all areas under the discs.

5.  With your face mask on, mix 1 tsp. of powdered dye in about 1 cup of warm water.  Spoon the dye over the exposed areas of the shirt.  You don't really want to use a lot of the dye.  I save the leftover dye in glass jars for later use.  As long as there's no soda ash in it, it'll last a couple of weeks.

6.  Put in a plastic bag overnight - garbage bags work well!

7.  Take off the clamps and rinse the shirt until the extra dye is rinsed out.  Okay - this is the point where I tell you that for some reason, my shirt did not turn out in a good itajime pattern.  In fact, it didn't really have a pattern at all.  The most probable reason is I must not have had the fabric clamped together tight enough.

8.  I wasn't happy with it at first!  When this happens, I put whatever it is I dyed away where I won't be picking it up 20 times a day and getting disappointed all over again.  Sometimes overnight is all it takes, sometimes longer, but eventually I look at it again, decide it's not so bad after all, and come up with an idea to make it better.  For this shirt, I decided to "doodle embroider" around some of the interesting shapes using a running stitch.  Doodle embroidery is just sewing in a non-planned pattern - like doodling on paper.  This is what it ended up looking like ....

... and here are four of the doodle embroideries up close:

I'm thinking it'll make a good swimsuit cover up this summer!

Happy Creating!  Deborah


  1. Just a quick note to let you know that a link to this post will be placed on CraftCrave today [26 Apr 01:00am GMT]. Thanks, Maria