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Monday, February 25, 2013

Heart Pillow and Sachets

As a beginning seamstress, I am still in a very early stage of knowing what I am doing.  ( I do know not to call myself a "sewer.")   I have a vast amount that I need to learn to sew "correctly." Right now, I just want to sew even if I am getting things more wrong than right.  However, one easy simple project that I can make are sachets.  I love scented things.  Think pens, pencils, stickers, bookmarks, and of course flowers and herbs.  During the summer, I grow every scented plant I can.  My favorite herbs is lavender. The Romans used it  I dry it and put in containers around my house.  I love to pinch off a flower and press it into a book or just keep it in my pocket for the day.  The history of lavender is a long one:


I decided that I wanted to use the scraps of the cotton heart fabric to make a bunch of sachets.  I decided to finally "cash in" some of my dried lavender and add it to the sachet.  All I did was rub off the purple flowers into a large bowl.  The smell is amazing and very relaxing.  I threw the stems in the fireplace. 


I am playing around with lace trying to hide some of the more "unseemly" seams.  I also used a ribbon in case these are to be hung in a closet.  In addition to the dried lavender, I added herbs like lemon basil from my Aerogarden.  The smell was amazing.  Sachets can be kept in drawers, closets, and other places to deter moths.  (Lavender repels moths.) If you have scraps and herbs, why not make a sachet.  I also used other scraps and cotton batting to fill the small pillows.  For a stronger smell, I drop some essential oils on the fabric. This could leave oil marks so use sparingly.


I also made a big heart pillow for my nephew for Valentine's Day.  I added lavender inside this also to calm and relax him around nap time.  I don't know if he likes it or not.  If not, I'm sure the dogs would love to rip these pillows apart.  Is that what they mean by upcycling?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Bibs for Baby

I bought another simple pattern for baby at Joanne's.  I ended up using the pattern only for the shape of the bib.  The rest of the directions were ridiculously hard to follow.  They could have been in Arabic (which I studied for a year with little result) for all I understood them.  So, on my own, I begin practicing how to make a simple bib.  I bought this baby fabric at Joanne's (not on sale) for about $7 a yard.  I know that this cotton will probably stain.  However, I looked into laminated cotton and oil cloth. I found both to be really expensive like $28 a yard.  I plan to keep looking online for better prices. Until then, I am going to keep practicing with regular cotton.

The bib pattern called for rick-rack.  Luckily, my mom had several colors in her sewing bin. (There are a ton of mysterious sewing tools in it. I can't figure out what half of them are yet.)   It's probably at least 25 years old but still held it's color and shape.

Here is the basic shape of the bib I choose. I thought at first it was huge. However, it fit my 20 month old nephew perfectly.  I did have a problem with the bottom hem.  I sewed the bib inside out and then sewed the bottom.  Later, this frayed a bit. 

I wasn't sure how to sew on the rick-rack. So I did what I do best-just jumped in and sewed it on.  You can see the white thread but I like to see the thread. I didn't pin it on and it shows because it is a little off.

Bib #2 I left the top open after sewing this inside out. You can see a little fraying on the upper top...I needed to figure out a way to fix this.  I slept on it.

I like sewing on the rick-rack.  However, I think I went a little overboard on this one!

I decided to "hem" the bottoms of both pieces of fabric first. Then, I turned the bibs inside out and sewed. I turned the fabric to the right side and sewed the bottom shut. This was the best method but I should have pinned the bottom because I didn't exactly line up the bottom.  I then sewed on rick-rack to the bottom.
I also used sticky Velcro as a fastener. I stick it on the back and then sewed a square around it. This was a very easy project. I am disappointed that I am having so much trouble with the mumbo-jumbo of the patterns. However, it is nice to figure things out for myself. It is a slow process but maybe it will pay off more in the end. Time will time!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Infinity Scarf

Infinity Scarf Template
I used some of the fabric that I cut, stamped, and dyed to make a quick infinity scarf template.  The girls at school have been wearing a lot of these scarves.  I thought I would give it a try.  I wasn't crazy with the color scheme of this piece so why not?  As you can probably see, the ends were different sizes so they didn't quite "match up."

Basically, I sewed the scarf into a tube after finishing the ends.  I flipped the edges to make the "infinity" symbol.  The fabric was just off-white cotton.  I think a lighter material would make a better scarf.

I gave the scarf to my mom to try out.  She really liked the random stamped pattern that I made using the bunta stamps. 
I've always loved scarves, wraps, and shawls.  I remember the first shawl I ever got was from a Native American store.  It was purple with colored stripes.  It was a rougher heavy wool.  Then, I don't think I wore or bought another scarf until I moved to Dhaka, Bangladesh in 2002.  Wow! I remember first seeing all the silk dupattas and more expensive natural dyed shawls...The embroidery was unbelievable.  It was all done was hand and absolutely beautiful.  We even took a trip to a silk village and saw how silk was made.  I'll never forget how the little tuffs of colored silks blew around the dirt road.  I bought myself a more expensive ($80) wool embroidered shawl that I still wear in Calcutta.  Then, I think of the beach wraps I bought in Thailand and the batik purchased in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. How could I forget about all those yak's wool scarves from Katmandu? Why didn't I buy more? Even in Egypt, I bought some fantastic beaded scarves.  I guess I've always been obsessed with beading, printing, and beautiful fabric.  It wasn't until I spent time in Europe that I really noticed how many French women wore scarves so easily.  I have to admit that I've never been one to really been able to tie this stylishly.  I did buy a lot of cheap scarves in France from street vendors. Hmm, where are they now? I think I gave most away for gifts.  Well, now, I will keep trying to make my own.  I think my favorite type of scarf is embroidered wool paisley. 
Really, $99? Will you take $10? No, okay, $15, final offer...
Here are some much better directions and information:

Sunday, February 17, 2013

9 Months for Girl Baby Sprinkle

We just found out Friday that my sister is having a girl.  Well, now it is time for a sprinkle. Baby is due in July so we are thinking June when I am out of school.  I've already started planning.  The theme is going to be pink and gray elephants. Luckily, I already had the Cricut 9 Months cart.  I got it to scrap my sister's first baby shower (the big one) but I still am working on that one. Let's face it-once my beautiful nephew was here all we wanted to scrap were baby pictures! 
I used the Cricut Craft Room to size some elephants to make samples.  I used DCWV "The Chalkboard Stack" for the gray. 
I cut the pink using my favorite $5 Colorblok from Walmart.  Sadly, my sister hates the hot pink so I will have to find a paler shade.
I ended up using some scraps to cut on the triangle tails.
I got a $10 bag of various eyes.  I cut the feet on the elephant just to see what it looked like. My sister hates the glitter. This is my favorite part so we will have to work something out.
Still working this but I am thinking that it would be cute to do something with the "sprinkle" aspect hence the umbrella.  I love this elephant because it is so easy.  There are two large pieces for the elephant and the triangle tail.  There is an eye but I am partial to the googly eyes.

Here's the message on the inside (as of now):

Pins, diapers, bottles galore,

Sarah and John are having one more.

Big Brother Jackson has plenty to share

It’s only a “sprinkle” to show that we care!

Join us as we sprinkle
Sydney Elisabeth

Saturday, June 8, 2013 at 2 pm

{House address}

[City], PA [zip]

Hosted by Barbara and Liz
                                                  Regrets to [insert email/cell]
Here is my niece and future namesake. 
Ah, what a cute big brother and loyal dog!
 I love his bed head.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Time to Tye-Dye

It's been a few years since I've done any dyeing.  Luckily, I did not forget how messy this can be.  I had a tie-dyeing kit that I got for $10 at Marshall's years ago.  (Of course I wish I would have gotten more because now the same kit is $25 at Joanne's.)

One reason I still use a kit is for the soda ash.  I believe that you can use salt with RIT dyes.  There are also other things such as alum that can "set" the dye.  Always wear gloves when working with soda ash and any dye of dye.

I started out by hand coloring the bunta block designs that I stamped last week.  These markers were $9.99 at Joanne's and easy to use. However, the process was fairly painstaking.  I did it as I was watching t.v.

You need to soak the your fabric for 20 minutes in the soda ash.  (Mix the soda ash with two gallons of warm water.) I used rubber bands but of course I ran out.

The fabric with hand-colored paint.  I wasn't sure if I would "lose" the color in the tie-dyeing process so I didn't overdo it.
Detail of the hand-colored bunta stamp. Would it survive the process? Read on to find out!

My set up aka my full bathroom.  Sadly, I also got Gorilla glue on the sink several years ago. I covered surfaces with cotton nightgown that I use for oil painting.  However, plastic sheet would be better if you don't use your bathtub/buckets.
Just mixing the dye with warm water was incredibly messy.  Just one speck of dye exploded into color. As I was dyeing I was thinking that next time I am dyeing OUTSIDE!   Dye got all over my counter no matter how careful it was.  I also mixed up a gallon of purple RIT dye from the grocery store.  This was the only dye that stained. Luckily, I had a magic eraser handy.

To start dyeing, I put a plastic bag into a bucket.  Then, I put in my fabric. I squirted the dye in. Then, I transferred the bag into my bathtub.

My bathtub is pretty old.  I wasn't too worried about the dye staining until I saw what the purple dye did to my counter.  I deciding to load up all the plastic bags into my two buckets and transfer them down to my laundry room. Did I mention that I have white rugs?  Luckily, I didn't drip dye all over them.  You are supposed to let the fabric sit for 24 hours. No way.  The Walking Dead is on tonight.  Plus, I have tests to grade.  So I ended up washing my fabric 12 hours later. 

Before washing, I cut off most of the rubber bands. I missed a few.  Also, put on gloves.  Dye was splashing all over the place.  If it wasn't for the snow, I would have done this outside.

I put on gloves and started cutting off the rubber bands.  Dye was splashing everywhere.

I loved the look before washing. 

Here is a shirt for my nephew. 

Future scarves.  I wish that I would have washed cloth with the RIT purple dye separately as it overpowered the other dye.

I set the washer on a regular hot setting with a little detergent.  This was a fabric that I bought yesterday at Joanne's.  It has small Swiss dots. It was discounted and very cheap.  I didn't get a chance to use the bunta stamps on it.  I am thinking of a simple dress that I can wear around the house?

Final results after washing and drying.

Not crazy about the purple. I think next time I will use yellow RIT dye.

You can still see the bunta fabric stamps but most of the hand coloring was washed out.

A little color left over.
Final result:  This was a lot of work!  I am going to save anymore dyeing for the summer. I do have a spigot in my backyard.  I really didn't like how the purple got over everything in the wash.  Then again, purpose is not my favorite color.  Next time I am going to stamp on already dyed fabrics.  Or maybe sew first, then dye, then stamp?  The pieces I was going to sew together for scarves and pillows just don't match anymore. Also, I learned not to mix RIT dye with the tie-dye kit.  I also need to plan better (around my tv schedule). I think that I would have kept more of the greens and oranges if I let the dye set longer.  I do like the tie-dye shirt for my nephew. 
 Next step: sew these fabrics into scarves, dresses, and pillows!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Bunta Block Printing

 Today while most people are probably getting ready for Super Bowl parties, I was stamping on fabric.
When I lived in Dhaka, Bangladesh, this bunta block printing was a major art.  I remember how my cousin's wife hired a local woman to use this stamps cut out of mango wood to create a detailed border.  It was painstaking work because she had to hand paint the sections that didn't paint.  All this on a ladder!

Then, I recall, we had a party for people from the embassy at our house when the artist showed everyone how to stamp.  The blocks were for sale and of course I bought a ton.  It was only later that we realized that we had pretty much overpaid!  Later, I bought more (and cheaper) stamps on the local marker. All of the stamps are hand-carved.  I stamped on paper a couple of times but was less than thrilled with the effects. Today, I decided to try to use these stamps as they were intended: on fabric. 

I bought fabric paint a Michaels. I bought an off-white cotton at Joanne's.  I think it was four yards. I cut it up to make several scarves and pillows.
Some of the stamps are for layers. I think you would have to stamp one layer, let it dry.  Then, stamp over it in a contrasting color.

Some of the stamps have a handle but most do not.

I tried to blot the first print on a dishtowel.

 The fabric paint I used.  The 5 oz. container was $7.99.  I then bought a kit that was $9.99 of neutral colors.  It went quickly.  I now have a small tube of black and silver.  About half of the 5 oz. black is left.


Some stamps work better than others.  I think this is a bird.  I do have another layer for this one but I don't really care for the design.


I layered some scrap cloth and cardboard on my iron.  You need to put the cloth over the cardboard because some paint will seep through. Also, it prints better.

This has some text in Bengali.  I don't know what it means.

Here I am just practicing.

I always keep plastic containers for painting or anything else.  I would suggest using one for paint and another to blot the stamps.

It was nice to use the ironing board to stamp so the fabric could drape down.

This pie shaped stamp is meant to be formed into a circle.


Again, more Bengali writing in the middle of a flower.

I used a combination of brown, black, and gold paint for variation.

This paisley stamp is my favorite.  I have a beautiful embroidered shawl from Calcutta, India, that is all paisley.  I wonder if I could either hand embroider or use fabric markers to "color" in these designs?

First efforts are rarely the best!  I did get some "stray" ink marks on the fabric. I tried to remove these but they had already set. 

I'm not 100% thrilled with the final product  I feel like these fabrics need some color.  You are supposed to wash after four hours.  I didn't wait that long because I was sort of hoping these would wash clean. They didn't.  I think my next step is that I'm going to dye the fabric with a brown or red dye.  The natural dye they use in Bangladesh is beautiful.  For my purposes, I will probably use Ritt from the grocery store.  After dyeing, I plan to make a few scarves and pillows.  I also want to experiment with sewing beads onto fabric. 

The dried on paint is acrylic from a few years ago.  The mango wood is really absorbent.

This is a messy project.  I did rinse the stamps though in the future I would probably just blot clean.  Keep a magic eraser handy to clean the sink.
Here are some links of where you can learn more about India block printing: