Removing Color: Simplicity 2599

25 maybe 30 years ago I took a watercolour class at the local community college.  I had no desire to be an artist.  What I had was very limited sewing time–maybe 2 hours a week.  It was very discouraging to work on a project for weeks only to dislike and discard the final result. I thought that a little art ability might help me work out the issues ahead of time and produce results I would at least wear.   I learned to draw by using a book and working through the exercises.  I took the watercolour courses to help me handle colour but I learned much, much more.  During one particularly difficult week I produced sheet after sheet of  mud. I took them to class but didn’t want to share.  When I explained my reluctance my teacher nodded knowingly and then explained:

This happens in every class. But she waits to talk about it until it occurs.  IT is overworking the art.  She said  the hardest skill for a new artist to acquire is knowing when to stop; and even the very talented and experienced will from time to time ruin the piece by overworking.  She said it’s even more frustrating when you are experienced, because you should know better.  Once the art is overworked, there’s not too much that can be done.  Many oil and acrylic artists scrape down to the canvas; the water colourist can scrub the paper and save it for overpainting. But the most satisfactory solution seems to be ritual burning. Very cathartic.

My question, was how to avoid turning my watercolor into mud. Her answer was to paint a little and think a little.  She said it’s not unusual for an artist to work on a painting for months because they are always weighing what to do next, if anything.  Paint a little; think a little.

And what has this to do with sewing? Well I’m at that place with removing color.  I tested. I journaled (blogged). I thought a little.  Then I started a project using a color remover.

I’m using the same fabric as with my testing

I like the color and fabric. I feel like I’m one step ahead as I’ve already tested this fabric, but I didn’t want to use the same stencil (design) as I was testing. I selected that stencil because it was the right size for testing. I’ve been amassing a small assortment of stencils ever since the first success back in April 2011. Wherever I go, if there are stencils, I stop and take a peak. If the design is something I like and the price cheap, I bring home another stencil. So I looked through my assortment and found a lovely fern:
I apologize that the fern is difficult to see. I took several scans with various backgrounds. Unfortunately, the stencil is transparent and was impossible to get a really nice shot of it.

Had my fabric. Had my stencil; and then stopped to think a bit.  Work a bit. Think a bit. Just like watercoloring. It’s hot.  Summer arrived suddenly and viciously.  The fabric is excellent for summer so a summer weather garment seems to be a natural choice.  My difficulty here is that none of my woven blouses, sewn last year, are comfortable to wear this summer. Yep that 5 pounds from last Christmas is just enough to make woven garments uncomfortable to wear.  My knits are all fine.  But each time I try another woven shirt or pants, I put another garment in the donation bag.  I can’t therefore pull-out and use a TNT pattern from last year.  I must refit. But at the same time, I don’t want to mess with a lot of fitting while I’m also investing a lot of effort in an embellishment.  I’ve done that in the past and been very disappointed. The most satisfactory embellishments, for me, are done using patterns that I’ve already made once or twice.  Sigh. I have no sleeveless patterns fitted for this weight.  I decided to use Simplicity 2599 anyway.
It’s a pattern that I’ve borrowed elements from in the recent past. But will need fitting for my current weight. I used the shell from My Hearts A Flutter (Louise Cutting 59269) to compare with pattern pieces and chose the size just larger then the MHAF. Simplicity 2599 has shaping on the sides and a bust dart so I applied my standard 1″ back waist length adjustment and 1″ narrow shoulder alteration. I pinned the tissue together and tried on Mimie (the dressform fitted when I was 20 pounds heavier). The pattern looked a little big but I proceeded to cut out the front, back and some binding strips. I placed the back and binding strips on a hanger and then prepped my cutting table for a little decolourant work.

I did a little experimenting with placement of the fern on the garment. It would have been easier if I had multiple copies — that’s what I do with machine embroidery. But I had only the stencil and so that’s what I worked with. I chalked a line down the center of the front; sprayed the stencil with temporary adhesive and placed it to one side of the chalked line. Then using the pointy-end of the Clorox gel pen I filled in the stencil. I didn’t use the squeegee. Just pressed on the pen’s sides and spread the gel with the pointy end. Once completed, I lifted the stencil, rinsed with water and wiped with hydrogen peroxide. I flipped the stencil over, sprayed the other side and placed the stencil back on the fabric but now on the other side of the center line. I filled in the stencil for a second repeat with the Clorox gel.

By now the gel applied first was working and lifting the color noticeably. Since my hydrogen peroxide is easy to control, I squirted it –lightly— on the first repeat. Then I started the process for the 3rd repeat. When the 3rd repeat was filled, the second repeated appeared to be very light so I squirted the 2nd repeat with hydrogen peroxide and allowed the 3rd repeat to “work”. The gel seemed to be working faster than it had during testing. Maybe it’s just that the stencil I was using took more time to fill with gel and I didn’t notice how much time was lapsing. Whatev’s, instead of doing something else, I waited and watched the gel working in the 3rd repeat. When I thought it was “good” I squirted the entire front with hydrogen peroxide. Then I rinsed and hung to dry overnight.

The next day, I pressed the front and pinned to Mimie. It was time to think.

To be continued


6 thoughts on “Removing Color: Simplicity 2599

  1. Beautiful project and nicely explained. However, please be advised that Decolourant is a registered trademark for a product line from Harbor Sales Inc. Decolourant is not a gel pen. Please respect our trademarks and keep up the beautiful work.

    1. Apoligies Dave. I didn’t realize decolourant was a trademark. It so elegantly describes the process and end result and I’m afraid I as well as many others are using it incorrectly. I will edit my posts since I morally support copyright and trademark owner’s rights.

    2. Dave
      I think I’ve got all my posts and links edited to remove your trademark. If you find I’ve missed a place, please let me know.

    3. Thank you
      Given your interest in the process, I took the liberty of adding our website. If you are interested i would be happy to send you a sample to experiment with


    4. Wow Dave. I can’t bypass your generous offer. What do you need from me? I’d like to make this less public. Please respond to my email merrowb at yahoo dot com

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