Monday, May 29, 2017

Coloring fabric with permanent markers and alcohol

For my last few posts, I thought I would give you a glimpse of some fabrics I have colored using a technique that has been around for a long time – but one I struggled with when I first started experimenting with it.  Basically, it is using permanent marking pens and high grade Isoprophyl alcohol. 

Here are a few examples of my earliest experiments on cotton:

These were fun, but I did not know they needed to be heat set before washing, and they ended up fading quite a bit.  So I put the technique aside, even though I was still very interested in learning how to use it.  Happily, I have since revisited this technique on muslin, rayon and cotton jersey and silk, and I found that heat setting will keep the colors from fading when I wash them out!

Some time ago, I found a couple of tutorials by Carol R Eaton. Carol is a great dyer and she shares many of her techniques on her blog  I visit her blog regularly, and was intrigued by her tutorials on using permanent markers and alcohol on silk.  Here is one I decided to try:  This one caught my interest because she used empty containers to stretch the silk over, banding it in place, before she applied the markers and alcohol. But I just wasn’t ready yet to try this technique, so I filed it in the back of my mind for future reference.

That all came back this past month – I joined a group on Facebook that discusses painting with alcohol inks… close to the same thing, although I didn’t see any references to the markers, and I also did not see any examples of using the inks on silk.  So I did some searching on-line, viewed a couple of videos, then I went back to Carol’s tutorial.  Here are some of the results:

The scarf above was my first – I drew lines across the scarf, and large dots.  I tried doing it with the scarf folded in fourths, hoping the marker would go through the layers, but ended up having to go over the lines when I unfolded the scarf.  Then I used a pipette to drizzle the alcohol over the markings.  Smelly!  Best to have your work area well-ventilated.  Once the alcohol dried, I used my iron set to about a polyester setting to heat-set the ink, then washed the next day to remove the alcohol residue.  It came out far better than I thought it would!  It looked pretty crummy with just the marks on it, but totally transformed with the alcohol… magic!
I decided to try Carol’s method for the next scarf.  I have a large number of empty dye containers in a couple of sizes, so I placed several under the scarf, and secured with rubber bands:

Then I drew dots on the scarf with Deep blue, turquoise and lime green.  Next I applied the alcohol, and waited until the alcohol dried.  Then I removed the bands, heat set the ink, repositioned the containers, re-banded them, and drew some more dots.  This was repeated several times until the scarf was fairly well covered, leaving some white for contrast.
I really love how this one turned out, so on to the next one!  I did try an experiment with one of my Habotai silk scarves, but the colors I used were not great, so I rinsed the marks out as much as I could – more about Habotai a little later.
So, back to the blues & green, and I added purple on the next one.  I started out using the same process as the one above, but then added some free form markings too.

Well, I’m totally hooked on these for sure! 
So I went back to the Habotai scarf, just to play around and see how it compares with chiffon:

First experiment – I drew dots across the scarf which was stretched and banded over an empty container, then drizzled with alcohol.  I realized I didn’t need nearly as much alcohol as I had used, so on to the next experiment:

Here, I drew dots on one portion and a squiggle on another portion;

Still too much alcohol – pretty much obliterated the pattern.

Another “drawing”, but this time I used a q-tip to apply alcohol:

I think I’m gaining on it here!  Less is better with Habotai!

So what I am learning is to experiment, try different methods, and don’t give up!
I have ordered some Alcohol Inks, but just received them, so that will have to wait for another time.  But I am very pleased I overcame some of my earlier struggles with the markers and alcohol, and hope you try this… the colors you will get are fantastic!  By the way, if you want to give this a try, you can buy the scarves at Dharma Trading Co.  I get the alcohol (usually 91% or higher) at my local pharmacy, and the markers are at craft stores, office supply stores, or online.  Let me know if you give this a try!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Thread Bowls

So… after learning how to make my Shabby Chic Scarves, then moving on to create several Fabric Collages using the Sulky Solvy technique, I came across these instructions for thread bowls by Wendy Hill, author and Textile Artist.  I’ve been collecting thread ends and other fibers for quite a while, not knowing what I would use them for, but knowing that some day the right project would come along!  The rest is history.  These bowls are not super sturdy, but they are real eye-catchers, and I think they are just the beginning for me.
After trying out Wendy’s instructions, I also bought her book

I feel I could have stopped at her tutorial, but the book does add a few ideas to the mix, for future inspiration.  Bottom line, here are 2 more great ways to use up some of your scraps (in this case thread), and create some lovely fiber art pieces! 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Fabric Collage

"Study in Contrast"
After I had been making my “Shabby  Chic” scarves for awhile, I decided to try using the technique to create a fabric collage.  I love mixing textures and fabrics and layering them, as I did to make the scarves, so why not use the same technique to create a wall hanging?  I could see that there would be some slight modifications needed.  For instance, instead of sandwiching the fibers between layers of Sulky solvy, I started by using fabric for the bottom layer, and then I placed other fabrics, yarns and ribbons on top.  Then I pinned a piece of Sulky solvy on top.  Then I grid stitched the layers together, rinsed out the Sulky solvy, and dried the collage.  Once it was dry, I pressed it with a pressing cloth (didn’t want the metallic fibers to melt!), then I fused it to a heavy weight stabilizer, bound it and suspended by yarn loops on a piece of Juniper wood from the wood pile.
I have done a couple other pieces using this technique:
This one is very similar to the first.

"Study in Copper"

This one is larger, and I suspended it on a Café rod.

I really love this technique, and I’m sure there are many ways to use it for other fun projects.  I have one more to show you, so be sure to check my next post!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Shabby Chic Scarves

One of my favorite ways to use silky fabric scraps, yarn, dyed cheese cloth and other fun fibers is to make what I call a “Shabby Chic” scarf.  As usual, I found a wonderful tutorial on-line written by Sherrie Spangler, a fiber artist who has become a friend first on-line, then in person over the past 5 years.  Sherrie takes wonderful pictures, and is a talented fiber artist who is very generous about sharing what she makes on her blog  If you are not familiar with Sherrie’s blog, be sure to check it out for lots of inspiration and ideas!
So I am going to start this post with a link to Sherrie’s Scarf Tutorial – she has written about her process several times on her blog, but this one was the post that got me started. You will notice that Sherrie’s scarves look different than mine. I tend to load my scarves with a lot of different snippets, but Sherrie prefers to leave hers lighter and airier - two different versions using the same process.  That’s the beauty of leaving the process loose to allow for individual interpretations!

Above is a picture taken while I am stitching the scarf together.  All the fabrics, yarns, ribbons, etc. are sandwiched between 2 layers of Sulky Solvy water soluble stabilizer.  When I have finished grid stitching (rows of stitching across, then down the length of the scarf) I will rinse the scarf to dissolve the stabilizer, leaving a light airy piece of wearable art!

My next 2 posts will show other things you can use this process to create, so stay tuned!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Covered Journals

I don’t remember where I found instructions for constructing composition book covers – there are so many great tutorials on the internet, not to mention the great blogs written by fellow fabric lovers!  Eventually I compiled instructions and modified them to create a Crazy Quilt version such as the one shown here.
Here are the basic instructions for making the cover (not including the modification to create a Crazy Quilt pattern):
Composition Book Cover

Materials needed
2 Pieces of fabric 16” x 10 ¾” – Outer cover and lining
2 pieces of fabric 10 ¾ x 13 ½” – cover flaps
14” ribbon – book mark
For each side, fold fabric in half, wrong sides together; press and pin along the fold. 
Assembling the cover
Place outside piece, face up, on mat.  Find the center, then pin the ribbon to the center.  Put Flap pieces down on each side of outside piece, matching raw edges together; pin in place.  Place lining piece, right side down, on top; pin.  Mark the curved corners using the composition book corners, to create the stitching line.  Start sewing 3-4” from the bottom edge of one side, using a ¼” seam allowance.  Leave a gap for turning.  Remove pins as you sew, but be careful of pin holding the ribbon – if removed too soon, the ribbon might shift and not be sewn down.  Press seams, trim corners, then turn right side out.  Use a turner to poke corners out.  Press seams, turning the raw edges of the turning gap in.  Pin all outside edges, then edge-stitch 1/8” from the edge.  Press.  Insert composition book.
For you quilters, I know you can imagine how to create a quilted piece to serve as your outer piece.  You can also make this with a solid piece of fabric, but it will look better if you do some decorative quilting on it before sewing the cover.  I did some with just solid pieces of fabric, and they are not as attractive – see below:
However, if you are just looking for a quick cover idea, this will work and takes less time!
By the way, a quick tip on inserting the composition book:  slide one side into the flap, then bend the other side back a little before sliding into the other flap.  Once in straight, then gradually bring the covers together and the book will slide into place.  Another fun way to use up that fabric, and a great gift item for anyone who journals or for a student taking notes in class!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Covered Notepads

I consider these notepad covers a stash buster, but they are also a great item for gift giving, or selling at craft shows... they don't cost a lot to make and they are really attractive and very handy as well!

I found a really great tutorial on line several years ago for making these.  Here’s the link for instructions to make this great gift item!  You will note that the author shows how to use an altered photo technique to create your own unique fabric, but any beautiful fabric will do!  Above is an example of several I have made using fabrics I hand dyed.  The bright orange one is the result of a surface design round robin I participated in several years ago.  So use your imagination, and show off your great fabric stash!  

Monday, May 15, 2017

Stash Buster: Grocery Totes

I love making grocery totes, especially since I also love using them!  I made my first batch from some purchased fabric about 8 years ago, and once I got used to keeping them handy in my car, I use them weekly when I do my marketing.  Benefits?  No plastic bags to return to the store to recycle!  Plus they are portable, reusable, washable (a really big plus in my book!), and they help me keep my fabric stash from taking over the studio!  And of course, since I love to dye fabric, it gives me an incentive to dye more, and I sell them at the local gallery and craft shows.
If you sew much, you have probably made a tote or two in your time, so maybe these instructions are not going to get you too excited.  But I am going to share my method just in case there is someone reading this who wants to give it a try.  Again, I found instructions somewhere on the internet, but have made some modifications over time that I think have improved on the original.

How to make a grocery tote bag
1 piece of fabric, 40” long by 16” wide
2 pieces of ribbon, 19” long by 1 ½” wide
Thread, notions
1) Fold fabric in half, lengthwise to create a piece 20” long, matching raw edges.
2) Stitch sides, using ½” seam allowance.

3) Finish raw edges (I used a serger to finish, but you can zigzag or fold under and use a straight stitch if you prefer).  Fold edges down 1 ½” and press.  Stitch down.

4) At the bottom edge, measuring from the side edge in, then up from the folded edge, draw lines to form a 4” square on each side (I use a template).  Cut out square and discard.

5) Fold upper side opening to bottom opening.  Pin in place, then stitch.  Repeat on the other side.  This creates a flat bottom.

6) Finish raw edges of ribbon strips by folding under ¼” and stitching in place.  Measure in about 2 ½” from the side seam and mark – this will be where you align the outer edge of your ribbon.  Repeat on the opposite side of the front of the bag then repeat on the back side of the bag.  Pin one ribbon strip to the front, both edges. Stitch each edge down securely.  I stitched in a square, then I crisscrossed to add strength.  Repeat for the second ribbon.

Enjoy your tote, and get ready to make more!