Thursday, September 27, 2012

Upcycled Stuff Craft Challenge

It all started with a tweet. I logged onto Twitter late afternoon on September 14, and noticed that @Teamupcyclers had just posted an update asking if anyone was interested in a Craft Wars style challenge. I followed the link, and ended up on Tricia Kokoszka's Upcycled Stuff blog. She was holding a Sewing Month challenge in which participants had to create something crafty from "trash" that she would send them.

I thought, 'why not?' There was only one problem, however. Despite the tweet from Team Upcyclers, and even though there were still available spots left, the deadline had already passed. Not sure of the status of the challenge, I posted a message to Tricia that if it wasn't too late, I'd be interested and sent her an email with my mailing address. A couple tweets between me and Team Upcyclers and emails with Tricia, and there was a second chance challenge underway.

Three days later, on Monday, September 17, I went out to check the mail and there was my little box of goodies. I had no idea what would be inside, and in her initial blog post, Tricia had warned she might not send even one stitch of fabric in the box. I was definitely relieved to find several squares of stretch denim  along with the items I was to upcycle, which included five black plastic spools, and an empty cardboard tube from a roll of packaging tape.

Once I laid everything out, my first thought was "wind chime. I just had to figure out how configure everything and incorporate sewing somehow, and since I'd never actually made a wind chime, I decided that wasn't going to work out, especially since I only had until  Saturday, September 22 to get my project completed, photographed, and emailed to Tricia.

Time for another idea. I played around with arranging the materials for a day or so, trying to come up with a neat idea that would turn out something interesting, but that I would still have time to make before the deadline. So then I thought maybe I would make a doll. 

The only question I had was how I would connect the tubes together to form the body in a way that would still be considered sewing. I also didn't want to hide the tubes inside of the doll's body, because then it wouldn't be obvious that I had used them. The next idea was to use the denim to make roses and have the tubes as their stems.

However, I couldn't think of how to use the empty tape spool, and you had to use everything. Also I wanted to make one complete item, not several little ones. I went back to the doll idea for a while, but time was ticking away and I would have to dig up a bunch of other supplies to first create the doll and then make clothes for it, and I just didn't feel I had enough time.

So then I experimented with wrapping the cloth around the plastic spools (which it turns out were register tape cores), but I still needed away to connect them all together, and I still hadn't figured out how to incorporated the cardboard tube. Once again I laid it all out...

...I decided I would use three swatches to make a strip to mount the other fabric pieces to. First, I hand-sewed the pieces together using backstitch.

Then I folded the edges up and slipstitched them together to complete the strip.

One the foundation strip was done, it was time to add each tab. Because I wanted them to fit snugly, I wrapped the folded fabric around the tubes to sew them.

Last but not least, I wrapped the white cardboard tube with reclaimed scraps of variegated yarn and attached it to the bottom of the piece. I fold the top down to create a tab for hanging, but it seemed too plain. I attached a purple polymer clay bead (also made by me) at the top and voila, I had a denim plastic hanging thing.

Somehow it still seemed as if it needed more color, so I dug out a paint brush and delved into the acrylic craft paints. Even with the flash the photo is kind of dark. I guess I need to spend a little more time figuring out the new camera and learning how to edit photos on the new computer.

When I went back to Tricia's earlier email with the challenge instructions, I realized that I had only needed to use some of each item for the challenge, but I managed to figure out a way to use them all. I found out today that there is a story around the black register tape spools. after reading it, I was glad I had come up with something that used all of them.

Tricia emailed earlier today to say that the photo and story is live on her blog and to let everyone know. So to go to Upcycled Stuff to check out the post (and a lighter picture) and read the story of the tape spools click here. Don't forget to vote!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Color Creations

After a year of doing nothing due to a couple of moves (home renovations) and everything being in storage, I am finally starting to get back on track to creating again. Unfortunately, my forays into shibori have been rather disappointing. Not ready to give up, going back to the proverbial drawing board started a search through books and online reources to figure out how I had done what I did in the past to be able to get the same results as before.

For some reason, I was not getting the saturation I wanted with the folded pieces, even without a clamp. The end result was either not enough color or too much as with the dinner napkins and T-shirt below.

Of course, there are always those times when even though you don't get the result you expected, the outcome is still attractive. Such was the case with the dinner napkins below.

Even though I still haven't reproduced anything that looks like what I did before, I am starting to do more with clamping as a resist. It's a lot less labor intensive than stitched resists (haven't graduated to starch yet) and fairly easy to do with single color dyeing. I am having success with small pieces of fabric and excited to try and replicate that success on a larger scale.

The three brown pieces were done in a bucket with Dylon. I used less water than what the directions said because the full four cups had produced a much lighter brown with a greenish tinge previously. (Still trying to figure out how to fix that piece.)

I also tried using liquid RIT in the washing machine for the first time, and just like with everything, some stuff came out well and some stuff didn't. One thing I've found with the RIT so far, at least in the washer, is that I can't really get the true color I am going for since I can't control the amount of water. On two different attempts, the color came out way lighter than it was supposed to except for the light blue denim which came out darker because it was already a light shade.

For single color dyeing, I am still getting the best results with Dylon, though for multicolored fabrics, I still use cold water fiber reactive dyes. Even though they take a little more time and effort, there is a definite advantage to being able to apply multiple colors at once.