Saturday, July 20, 2013

Renaissance Fair time again

Yep.  Its that time of the year again.  I LOVE me some grown-up dress-up.  So what if I never outgrew being 5 and pretending I was a princess?

Years past I have posted random stuff really.  This year is no different.  I am making a peasant/middle class outfit for a friend's girlfriend (she is a friend too so I am not sure why I said it that way, but whatever.  My brain is worthless today).  I had a lot of fun picking out design ideas for her.  Here are the sketches of my initial designs:
This one was my fav, but it was too "upper class."  Darn. I really wanted to make it, too.

Don't know why my scanner beheaded these ones.  Guess my drawing leaves something to be desired.

She liked something along the lines of the drawing on the right from the second set of sketches.  So I am partway through the costume now.  I made the top (from a commercial pattern [Butterick 6196] with some tweaks, of course) and I made all but the clasp on the underskirt, although I made a mistake in my pattern and it will be a bit shorter than I wanted.  I made an 8 gore circle skirt out of triangles but forgot I had to remove some from the top for the waistband.  Oops.  So now its 5" shorter.  Still looks great. Next time I will use trapezoids.  Or make the triangles longer.

Pretty standard, really.
I have the design done for the overskirt, but haven't drafted the pattern yet.  All it will really involve is taking measurements and doing math.  Gross.  Since math went SO well for me on the underskirt.  Its a different style though, so it should be okay.  For this one I am doing a new (to me) technique that takes the waistband out of the center.  I have a skirt that does it.  Basically, you cut two huge semicircles (I'll be doing it with triangles to get the handkerchief hem) and stitch them together except for like 25" or whatever in the very center, and sew the waistband to the middle bit and put your elastic in there and BAM.  You have a SUPER easy skirt.

I will also be making a boned bodice.  That should be pretty straightforward and I plan to use the aforementioned Butterick pattern as my base.  I may make some modifications to the shoulders to add a little flair.  Not sure.  I also (time permitting) want to make a pouch and hairnet for her.  I saw a REALLY neat tutorial on Pinterest on how to make a hairnet, but its in German, so wish me luck.

Also, I made this last year and forgot to post photos.  I have NO idea how I made it anymore since, as with most things, I planned to write down the instructions later since I was too busy to do it as I was working, and now a year has gone by and I have completely forgotten.  I don't even have the finished piece anymore as it was commissioned and is now with its new owner (not that I can't call him up and ask for it back for a day, but still).  When will I ever learn?

An awesome cotton cross body pouch with adjustable strap.  YEAH!  And yes, that is a recycled belt buckle.
Other than a few repairs to my court dress after some abuse it took last year (mostly eyelets coming out... I need to get a proper riveting set) and maybe getting around to a pair of proper breeches for the hubs, I think that is it for this year.  I have not been sewing as much lately since my wedding veils have taken off, and it feels REALLY good to flex that creative muscle again.  Its funny how I binge and then hate sewing, then when I go back I can't remember why I got sick of it!  I'm slowly adding some stuff to my Etsy shop so maybe I can make sewing more a part of my everyday again.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Bleach pen shirt for the cotton anniversary

This is another t shirt craft that I made with a ruined shirt.  Somehow it managed to get some bleach speckles on it - nothing huge mind you, but ugly nonetheless.  Hubs wears these as undershirts anyway, so it stayed in rotation for a good long time, but I finally got tired of seeing him wear it NOT as an undershirt and cringing at the orangey-brown bleach marks.  So I on-purpose bleached the heck out of it!  Stylishly of course...

Stupid bleach spots... I'm gonna cover you!

I made this do double duty as an anniversary gift for Hubs.  I am trying to do a handmade gift every year that corresponds with the traditional list of anniversary gifts (year one is paper, year two is cotton, year three is... well we haven't gotten to 3 years so I don't know yet haha).  Last year I made him a photo book on that was a fairytale starting with how and where we met all the way through our son's birth and so on.  It spanned about 6 years, so there were lots of great pictures and it was both sweet and funny.  This year, I took his shirt and wrote the lyrics to "Lucky" by Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat.  Bleach pen shirts are all over the interwebz, so I wont go over board on the instructions, but I will share some of my experience with you.

You will need:
a Clorox bleach pen (don't get the color safe one!)
a dark colored t-shirt, preferably a ruined one :-)
several pieces of cardboard that fit in the sleeves and across the whole center of the shirt
latex/rubber gloves
a printed out sheet of your lyrics, poem, whatever
a large work area (I used my floor, but the kitchen table would have been easier)
A full bottle of hydrogen peroxide
A sink or tub for rinsing
a load of whites in the washing machine

Step 1: Arrange your cardboard inside your shirt under the area you want to write on first.  Make sure you slip it between the front and back unless you want bleach bleed through.  I guess that is a look if you want to go for it, but the bleach will soak through unevenly, so beware.  Figure out how you want your writing to look.  If you want, start below the collar to write straight, or you can write on a diagonal across the whole shirt, or you can do a spiral or something else cool - use your imagination.  The song I liked has an interlude by both singers, so I wrote one on each side of the collar then the chorus started across the whole middle.

Step 2: Put on your gloves and begin writing.  Use the narrow tip end of the bleach pen and GENTLY squeeze as you write.  To get it started you may want to dab at a piece of scrap something to get the tip of the pen wet with bleach gel.  You don't need a lot of bleach to make it work, and the less you get out the less it will run and get "blobby" so a thin layer is best.  Just make sure it looks a little wet.  Don't worry overmuch about your penmanship as it will look cool and stylized and nothing like your actual writing, but do leave a little extra space between letters so they don't run together.  Mine is only barely legible, but I like it that way.  Make your letters as big as you want to fit your words well in the pattern you have chosen.  I did a mix of cursive and all caps to lend emphasis and style.  If you want, you can write in chalk first and then trace your letters with the bleach, but I am not that patient, so I went for the big time right away.

Step 3: Write fast.  No, seriously.  You can really damage your shirt if you go too slowly because just like when you get highlights, the bleach is blowing out proteins in the fiber of the shirt which removes the color, but can create holes if you leave it too long.  As you move down the shirt you can skooch the cardboard down with you if you don't have a piece big enough to cover the whole thing, so you aren't bleeding through.  You run less risk of bleed through once you are done writing on the section unless you have saturated the fibers with bleach, which I already told you not to... just sayin.

Step 4: If you are concerned about taking too long to do the whole shirt, take the shirt to the sink and wash out the excess bleach.  Leaving your gloves on, run some water over the shirt and quickly rub out the bleach under the stream.  Work from the top to bottom (or from the words you wrote first to the ones you wrote last).  If you work reasonably quickly and rinse well you wont bleach out the background by rubbing the gel over it.  Squeeze out the excess water.  Pour a little hydrogen peroxide over the lettering until the shirt is saturated, let it sit for a minute or so, then rinse it out.  This will counteract the action of the bleach so you don't continue the chemical reaction blah blah blah.  I used vinegar for mine, but apparently that is super dangerous as the leftover bleach and vinegar can create an INCREDIBLY dangerous gas, so don't do that.  I read up on it since and supposedly peroxide is much safer.  I'm no chemist, so if you injure yourself, please don't sue.  I'm just doin my best here folks :-)  I think I rinsed mine well enough to not run any risk of the chemical reaction, but please be safe.  The gas is so dangerous we are talking one good whiff and you are DEAD.  Double Plus Ungood.

The downside to all this is that you will want to let your shirt at least mostly dry out if not totally before you go back to working on it.  Remember how impatient I am?  But the upside is that you will end up with a much more consistent text color rather than having super light at the top and super dark at the bottom, and the top will be less likely to develop holes over time as you wear the garment.  Again, that whole less damage to the fibers thing.

Step 5: When you are totally done, rinse out the bleach as described in step 4, peroxide it and let it soak for a few, then rinse thoroughly.  Toss in the washer with whites that can handle the bleach (no silk undies) or in an empty washer but shame on you for wasting water, and run a full cycle on hot with two rinses.  I added vinegar to my fabric softener container so it would rinse with vinegar and stop that chemical reaction some more, but again, its up to you to determine the safety factors.  Dry as usual.  For the next few washes you may want to avoid washing with darks that may be damaged by bleach, but by this point with all the chemical neutralizing we have done, you are probably pretty safe.

Bottom Line:
shirt: free for me, but a new one runs maybe $5
peroxide: $1 from the dollar store, maybe less.
Bleach pen: about $3

Total - for me, $3.  Not bad for an anniversary gift!
If you have to buy everything, $9 (depending on how much writing you do, you may have enough bleach pen to do more shirts, too!)

Time: with no stops for rinsing, about 30 minutes plus washing and drying.  With stops for rinsing, about 2:30, maybe more if its a humid day.

I plan to play with this for more shirts that have been ruined by stains, bleach, etc, to give them a cool new life.  I also want to try the spray bottle bleach with a stencil method as that seems like it would go faster and has different options for graphics and large images.  I'm pretty happy with how it turned out and the hubs says he will totally wear it, so hooray!  Happy anniversary baby!