Read my full post here
I have a weakness. I’m heartily tempted by price points when purchasing fabrics. Fabricmart does this to me on a regular basis. The real downside to this weakness is not that my fabric shelves are continually overflowing, but that I end up with fabrics I would not have purchased could I have seen the whole fabric and not a swatch or picture of a swatch. Take this first swatch. When Fabricmart tempted me it was with a cotton silk in coral, aqua and mint, for a more than reasonable price and swatch similar to this:
Not my best colors. This is more of a summer color grouping. But it would be OK with my spring coloring. What arrived in the mail stunned me:
I didn’t think this was the fabric I ordered. That “coral” is more like a fuchsia in my mind and the masses of green were hardly mentioned in the description. I considered sending in back. But truth is, I love the cotton/silk blend. It is the most comfortable fabric to wear (IMO), very easy to sew with and easy to launder. It’s only downside is that I love it so much that these fabrics barely survive a year in my wardrobe. I keep buying them because I know that I wear them to death. So I kept this fabric hoping I could do something with it.
Another fabric I purchased was described as bright pink. It was 100% silk again at a price I could hardly pass up. It was also another fabric I considered sending back because bright pink was really blinding pink:
and what you are seeing is not the fabric as it came into my house. You are seeing it after I ran it and a package of Rit Dye Remover through a sanitary wash. (That’s the wash where the washer heats the water to boiling and is generally best for removing color). I wet this fabric before putting it into the washer. Dye and remover works more evenly if applied to evenly wet fabric. There’s about 12 feet between the sink and the washer. If I’m not careful, I can make a dangerously large puddle on the floor. So after wetting I lifted the fabric and put it into a colander to allow some of the water to drain. I watched in fascinated horror as a bloody red discharge accumulated in my sink. This fabric was not dye fast and would have ruined other fabrics. (I wash my silks. Usually on a delicate wash and cool water. I’m deliberately being tough on this one because of its objectionable color.)
I didn’t want to send either of these fabrics back. I like cotton/silk and I like these rougher silks like matka. So I asked myself, what can I do with them?
I was hoping that the Dye Remover would greatly lighten the blinding pink fabric. I think it just removed the excess dye. To be honest, I’m not sure why I bothered with Rit Dye Remover or even why I have it in the house. I have never been satisfied with my Rit dyeing experiences. I used to think it was something I wasn’t doing right. After all my aunts all had wonderful experiences and regularly dyed things. I assumed they left out a step that I needed to find on my own. Like maybe I wasn’t getting the water hot enough. Or maybe I need to add salt, vinegar or some other setting product. But nothing I ever did worked. On the Dharma site I learned that most people feel the same as I do i.e. most people are not satisfied with their Rit Dyeing experience. I decided to try Jacquards Discharge Paste.
Psst I tried a laundry bleach pen. You know how people are always displaying wonderful projects that were completed with a simple, stain-removing pen? Not happening at my house. The pen had no effect on either fabric.
I used a sponge brush to apply about 1/2″ tsp of paste to my 3″x3″ swatches and left them to dry. I checked back several times but the swatches were not completely dry. Apparently using a sponge brush did not result in an evenly applied layer of product. I ended up waiting over night for the swatches to completely dry. Then I fired up my Reliable iron and steamed away. The blinding pink is now tamed:
I could use this tamed pink, except I can’t see myself applying the product and then steaming 4 YARDS of 56″ wide fabric. Just not sure that’s going to happen.
The green fabric was equally surprising:
Hardly any color remained in the area treated with Jacquard discharge Paste. I’ve got 3 yards, 52″ wide. Fortunately I don’t want to remove all the color. For sure I want to get rid of that pink. Green isn’t really my color but I don’t need to remove it completely. It is conceivable, for me anyway, to apply the color remover on all the coral flowers — all 3 yards. But I’m not sure I want to do that either.
I’m seriously considering buying enough Dyehouse Color Remover to tame all 4 yards of bright pink fabric. I dislike handling things that need me to “mask up”. I dislike breathing through a mask and feel like if something needs that much care in handling, maybe I should leave it to the experts. The Remover would also require an additional purchase of soda ash. A second choice could be Idye Color Remover. This one is actually much more in line with my skills. I can throw a little packet into the washing machine and run a load. However it’s got an average rating of 3 stars. Dyehouse Color Remover has a 5 star rating despite some negative comments.
Some of you may remember my experiments with Decolourant. That’s another option except that Decolourant comes in a limited number of colors. I’ve also found it to be, well you need to be open to results. The color I saw on the screen was not the color in the bottle (although clearly labeled the same) and not the color which developed on my fabric. But if I could find the color I want, I would consider buying enough to fix the coral flowers on the green fabrics –except I’m not sure I want to leave all that green in that fabric.
I am simply undecided as to what I want to do next. I need to think. It could be days, weeks, months and even years before I decide what to do. These are “Future Projects”
I’m still working through my issues with this project.
I’m not entirely satisifed by merely removing the color and I have those spots to address.
maybe some additional paint
maybe clusters of spots.
I ended up loving the effect of SoSoft fabric paint in the Renaissance Brown much more than gold.
Most of the spots disappeared after allowing the fabric to dry 24 hours. But some remained and I preferred adding circles to adding ferns. But once again this project has bitten me. After carefully stenciling perfect circles in 2 sizes and allowing the paint to thoroughly cure, I found this:
I’m stuck again. I don’t like one wobbly circle. I don’t want to add more circles. I think I have the perfect amount to compliment the design without detracting from it. I don’t want to try to make the other circles wobbly. What do I do……………………..
I like how the fabric drapes on the dressform. I pinned to the shoulders and the side seams but didn’t form a bust dart. Already I’m thinking that like most Big 4 patterns, this is way to wide across the top. The shoulders of the blouse extend past my own shoulders 1.5″ and that’s after I did the 1″ NSA. Sigh, I’ll be hacking this fabric trying to get the shoulders to fit correctly. I’m also thinking this might be too long–an easier fix than the shoulders. But fitting issues can’t effectively be addressed now. I have to wait for the first try-on and I’m not anywhere near that.
I do like the placement of the ferns. The bleach produced a soft edge even though the pattern is very distinctive. I also like the gradation of color removal. I didn’t plan it. It was accidental resulting from my desire not to remove all color in the design areas and I had squirted the hydrogen peroxide not in a timed manner, but by guess.
This closer view shows the gradation of color much better. Also shows that I didn’t quite keep my designs separate from each other or there is the possibility that the bleach gel smeared when I lifted the stencil. Whatever happened, I like it.
But my fabric has picked up spots (yellow triangles). I can’t be sure these are permanent until I launder. I don’t want to launder until the garment is finished (reveling fears). I could ignore them. Or I could do something about them. I’m thinking perhaps applying circle stencils in shades of gold, sprinkled around the designs and in particular on the spots.
I’m also wondering, is it done? I like the botanical, sun-print effect, but am I satisfied? I could crisp up those edges by laying the stencil back down and adding a little paint. Or I could leave as is and add some FME tracings of the stencil or FME meandering in and around the design. I’m not sure. I’m just not sure. It’s time to follow my art teacher’s advice and think a little more.
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
I’m playing again–not that I ever really quit. I reach a point of needing to think and take a break. Then I start playing again. I’m still not certain what to do with my other fabrics but I was sufficiently pleased with bleaching that I decided to collect a few more products and try again.
My fabric is a teal-green cotton/poly cut into 6×6″ squares. Or at least I think it’s cotton/poly. As you view the loss of color process, you’ll understand my reluctance to be positive. As with many of my fabrics, it’s been in the stash for several years. It’s also a Walmart fabric which means that it could be crap but it also could be excellent. I didn’t do the burn test. I assumed cotton/poly because it came through the wash with minimal wrinkling. Rayon feels like wood. Acetate is always slick and noisy. Cotton is always wrinkled. That’s my experience, YMMV.
I’m mostly intrigued by the use of common products in fabric manipulations. So while I know that Dharma and several art supply houses have specially formulated products, I prefer to find something on the grocery shelf. This time it was Clorox Toilet Bowl Cleaner and Clorox Bleach Pen
I opened the window in my Stash room (where I planned to work) and then covered my cutting table with a large plastic tarp. I know you can use garbage bags but I like the stiffness of the tarp and besides I found it on sale for less than a box of garbage bags.
My first sample used the Clorox Toilet Bowl Cleaner (with Bleach).
I taped one edge of the stencil to the fabric and poured a line of Toilet Bowl Cleaner. The bottle has a nice nozzle which makes pouring quite ease and controllable. I tried to “pull” the Clorox with my squeegee. I say tried because the toilet bowl cleaner (TBC) is only very slightly thickened. I mean you can tell it’s not the straight bleach in the big bottle but it’s very runny. It absorbed into the fabric before I was half-way across the stencil. I laid another line of TBC on the other end and pulled from that end. I lifted the stencil and waited for the bleach to work. I kept checking every few minutes to see how it was coming along. After about 20 minutes, I decided it was enough.
I’ve learned, with surprise, that bleach does not stop it’s bleaching action just because it’s rinsed out of the fabric article. My research indicated I would need a bleach stop of some kind. My research also told me it was to be commonly and cheaply found amongst the pool supplies. Maybe it is, but it is not listed as “bleach stop”. Since I wasn’t sure what those chemicals were, I decided upon Hydrogen Peroxide which I have and use in multiple ways at home. I opened a fresh bottle of Hydrogen Peroxide and put a pin hole in the center of the foil sealer. Then I squirted the sample. I could have filled the basin or a bowl and dunked the small sample. But squirting through a pin hole is very economical and doesn’t take but a few seconds. I let the Hydrogen Peroxide bubble for about a minute and then rinsed the sample under running water.
The result (above) was most of the color under the stencil was removed. The sample does have a streaked appearance. The bleach spread in the fabric and bleached areas I didn’t intended to be bleached. It’s difficult to even tell that I used a stencil.
I made a second try with the TBC. This time I sprayed the stencil with temporary adhesive before placing it on the fabric. I squeeged from one edge but used a foam dauber from the other. I left the stencil in place until I was ready to stop the process (about 15 minutes). I repeated the same process of squirting hydrogen peroxide and then rinsing with water. The result:
Is slightly more controlled. In the pic the top half is TBC applied with a dauber, the bottom half is TBC applied with squeegee. I’m not going to say any one of these is better than the other. I’ve learned when it comes to fabric manipulation that a certain amount of spontaniety is desirable. The point here is to discover what these products will do and remember it so that in the future I know what product and what method to use to produce a specific result.
.But I wasn’t done playing. I still had the gel pen to play with.
One more sample was laid out. I sprayed the stencil with temporary adhesive again and using the fine-point end of the gel pen, I applied the gel within the stencil cut out. The gel tended to stay where put i.e. it didn’t spread rapidly or very far. I did not use any other implement (squeegee, paint brush etc) to spread the gel. I removed the stencil immediately after applying the gel. I did not leave this sample for nearly as long. I think I left it about 5-7 minutes. The TBC foamed while at it’s most active giving me some kind of indication that bleaching was taking place. The gel just sat there giving me no indication that it was doing anything.
Assuming some bleaching had actually happened,I used hydrogen peroxide and then rinsed with water just as I did with the TBC samples.
I like the results of the gel sample best. It was the fastest (I tend to be impatient). I stopped the action early enough to have a lighter teal color instead of the yellow and white hues achieved with the longer time frames. The gel produced a soft edge. I’m inclined to believe that a stiffer gel solution (i.e. another product) would be required if I wanted crisp hard edges.
I will repeat myself here to say I’ve learned not to call any of the samples “bad”. That I liked one better than another is because I want to produce a more controlled result. In future projects I might prefer the wider spread of the TBC and the development of the yellow and white hues by leaving the product in place for longer periods of time. IOW, each project will require it’s own set of standards to produce the desired result.
One last note, it did seem to be enough just having the window open. I didn’t need to run the fan. I could smell bleach, but did not suffer any irritation like I would have, had I been using the big bottle of bleach. Cleanup was a matter of a quick squirt of hydrogen peroxide on the tarp before wiping it down and then rinsing my tools with a drop or two of hydrogen peroxide. I do like easy cleanup.