DIY Dye Jobs – Clothing or material

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Hello again, fellow Hackers of Crafts. Scribe Sarah here with some helpful tips I came across whilst attempting to fix a portion of a Renaissance-y cosplay I wear yearly. You’ll be seeing more of me as I will be posting every Monday here on the Craft Hackers blog.

We’ve all been there. You search and search and search for just the right article of clothing or a specific shade of fabric. But alas, your efforts are for naught. You have either too specific an idea in your head that you can’t find that perfect item to match or you run short of time and money and must make do with what you can get. The latter happened to me last year for the Bristol Renaissance Festival. I had spent months putting together the perfect cosplay and it came down to one last item. All I needed was a pair of leggings. I had put this off to the last thinking that finding a pair of either olive or chocolate leggings would be the easiest thing in the world. Leggings are all the rage right now, right? Well, apparently, I was wrong and the best I could find on short notice was tan leggings. They worked.  But I got multiple comments about how it looked like I wasn’t wearing any pants (which is true).

A friend first suggested, then my sister seconded that I just dye the pair I had to a darker brown. I had put it off, thinking that I had a whole year to try and find a better pair. Guess what? Life happened. I got busy, I forgot about it, I got even busier…you all know how this goes. We all experience it. So here we are, a year later and I’m going to Ren Faire next weekend. I never found a better pair of leggings. So I thought, “I’ll try this dying thing…”

I have never dyed cloth before. I have watched other people do it but I was nervous. What if I messed it up and ruined my one pair of leggings? Then I really WOULD have to go pantless! So I thought that I would document my little DIY journey for others, just in case you find yourself needing to break out the RIT.

The first thing you need to do is look at the type of material you want/need to dye. My leggings were a bit more difficult because they are 85% polyester. Most regular dyes don’t work as well on blends or synthetic fabrics. I went to Joann Fabrics and diligently perused the dye selection. There were the regular RIT dyes and then a couple specifically designed for synthetics and blends. I opted for the one to the right because the color was closest to what I had envisioned.

 

Now, the first hiccup I came across with this process is make sure that you read the packaging BEFORE you purchase the product and get it all the way home and start your dying process. This particular dye required boiling. That’s right, I basically had to boil my pants in dye. It was a learning experience. However, it ended up being a fun process and not nearly as difficult as I first anticipated.

Tip number two: Read ALL the instructions before you start. I was a tiny bit anal-retentive due to fear I’d ruin my clothing so I read them three times before starting and then also constantly referred to them as I proceeded. But I cannot stress enough how much easier everything was knowing what steps I had to take and when. Follow the directions and you’ll do just fine.

Tip number three: make sure you have rubber gloves to wear during this process. I used kitchen dish gloves because they come up the arm further and protect more of your skin. I also highly recommend either having an old apron to wear as you work or make sure the clothes you have on are ones you don’t care about. As I stirred and shifted the leggings around in the pot, sometimes they would slip off the spoon and *plop* back into the hot water, making little splashes of chocolate brown water.

The dishes you chose to use should be ones that you are never going to use with food again. My old spaghetti pot will never be the same, sadly. But it was the only thing I had that was big enough for the leggings. The spoon wasn’t as big a deal but truly, make sure the tools you have at your disposal match your needs. This was my second hiccup, sort of in correlation with my first (had I paid attention to the fact this needed to be boiled, I would have gotten the other dye that you can use in warm water in a stainless steel sink).

During disposal of the dye (which is septic and safe to pour down the drain), either pour it down the stainless steel sink (or a utility sink, should you have one) or resign yourself to immediately scrubbing your tub with Ajax or a bleach cleaner. My third mistake; I thought, “oh, I’ll dump it down the tub drain so I won’t splash up on the kitchen counter!” Not my best idea ever. Half the tub looked like I hadn’t ever cleaned it. So I had to immediately take care of that before the permanent dye set in. In related news, Ajax really is a great cleaner! Not as good as Francis, but….

All in all, the process wasn’t hard or time-consuming, as long as you prepare fully beforehand. It is possible to have that perfect colored fabric or clothing item and it won’t cost you a fortune! Now that I’ve done it once, I feel like it would be fun to experiment with designs and maybe even mixing my own custom colors. Uh oh, I think I have a new hobby….Couldn’t you just DYE?


A Cozy Needle is a Happy Needle

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Happy Sunday, all!

Today we are ensuring that we continue to take excellent care of the tool that arguably works the hardest for anyone that does any kind of sewing. Last time we covered needle cases which are great for trips and transporting odd sized or duller needles. This time we are going to give our needles a bit more care and store them in soft felted cloth, more specifically in a needle book. Most needle books are fairly simplistic: take several squares of felt and sew them together in the middle to form a spine, then fold in half. Some crafters and artisans have taken this to a whole new level. This first one from Mouse Garden uses the traditional and adds their own flair:

Simple, pretty, and ready to carry your needles!

Using all felt makes it easy to add simple embroidery or other designs. Like this second rather whimsical one from Crafty Cat Lady UK:

I love it’s cute whiskers!

Many of us that mix our different sewing projects can also relate to this third one  from Angelic Emporium that may help to clear up some of our quilting scraps to make something useful for hand sewing components:

Plus a skull and roses needle book is super cool!

Finally, if you want to be super fancy, I suggest treating yourself to one of these beautiful vegan leather needle books from Naeh St Design:

All the way from Germany, no less!

Keep your needles happy and they will always treat you right! The felt pages of needle books not only serve to prevent accidental stabbings while rummaging around in a project bag but also help absorb leftover oil from your skin! Next week we will look at a different type of needle case.

Stay crafty!

~Laura

 


Classes, classes, and more Classes!

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This past Tuesday I had an amazing time with the Youth Sewing class at the Family Centre.  We made some pretty cool hair ties (that also double as skinny neck ties).

I LOVE teaching classes.  It really energizes me and makes me love sewing even more (if you can believe that).  We have a really cool idea in store for the next two adult classes, so if you live in the London, Ontario area, keep an eye on my social media.

Speaking of classes, I still have some openings for the GenCon classes I am teaching.  They are selling out fast, so if you want to learn English Paper Piecing, sign up soon!

English Paper Piecing Quilt Technique

 

 

 

Description: Learn to English Paper Piece, or get help with an existing project you are working on. In this class we will start with the basic hexagon flower using scraps of colorful and character fabrics (like Dr Who or Comic Books).

Class Length: 2 hours

Date/ Time /Game ID:

  1. Thursday, August 17th/ 10:00am /SPA17103527
  2. Friday, August 18th/ 10:00am /SPA17103528
  3. Saturday, August 19th/ 9:00am /SPA17103529

Cost: $18

English Paper Piece a Catan Board Quilt

 

Description: Learn to English Paper Piece by creating a small version of the Catan board, 9″ wide to be exact. In this class we will start with the basic hexagon shape and add on triangles (for sand) around the edges.  Options for finishing your miniature quilt will be discussed.

Class Length: 2 hours

Date/ Time /Game ID:

  1. Friday, August 18th/ 7:00pm /SPA17103534
  2. Sunday, August 20th/ 12:00pm /SPA17103535

Cost: $34

Nicole’s Scarf classes are all sold out, but don’t despair!  If you bring generic tickets with you and someone doesn’t show up, you can have their spot!

Now to make all of those kits for the classes.


DIY Ring Bowls.

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Hey Thursday Readers!

Still being in the throws of wedding season, I thought another DIY gift would be in order. You can make something like this for a shower before the wedding so that the couple can use it on the day of their wedding, or it can be a gift for after that they can leave by the sink to put rings in while we wash dishes. This project was taken from Intimate Weddings, so feel free to check the full tutorial here.

For this beautiful and simple project, you’ll need:

  • 795 gram package of White Oven Bake Clay (which should be available at any local craft store.
  • Letter Stamps (also should be easy to find at a craft store)
  • Rolling Pin
  • Bamboo stock or chopstick for to use as an awl to poke holes.
  • Lid to cut out the shape (like a lid for a tub of ice cream)
  • Fine sandpaper
  • Parchment paper.
  • A smallish oven safe bowl (like Pyrex)
  • Spray sealant and paint for finishing if you would like it.
  • A fabric doily

Your first step is to form your dough into a ball and place it on the parchment or silicone liner. Roll your dough out with your rolling pin until it is about 1/4 inch thick.

Place your fabric doily where you would like it to appear (you can put it in the centre or off to the side and either way it would look fabulous). Roll your rolling pin over top of it to press the design into the clay.

Use your lid to establish how big your bowl will be and to use it as a centre point to choose where to put your letters. You can do initials, or names, you could even do a small poem if your letters are small.

When you’re ready to cut the shape, peel off your doily to reveal the beautiful imprint.

Use your lid to cut the clay and form your circle. Save any excess clay for future projects.

After you remove the clay and the lid, you’ll have a circle that’s ready to be moulded into a bowl.

Use your awl tools to poke two holes at the top of the plate if you’re thinking of giving this as a ring bearer bowl at a wedding. You can omit these if it’s to be used as a ring dish at the sink or elsewhere.

Next you need to form your birds (if you’re making birds) or any other accents that you would like. If you’re making something you’d like to have stand on the side of the dish, use an existing dish to form the clay underneath them so they will be easy to adhere to the bowl.

Place your soft clay plate into the bottom of your oven safe bowl. Remember, it should be big enough to create a bowl, but not so small that your bowl is a teacup.

Place oven-safe bowl (and birds) on a cookie sheet and put into the oven for approximately 30 minutes (use the baking directions on the package, please!). When it’s done, remove from oven and let cool inside bowl for 20 mins. When cool, turn bowl over. It should pop right out.

Sand down the edges of your bowl until they are nice and smooth, as well as your birds. A sandpaper sponge would be ideal for this as opposed to regular old sandpaper. Use a little superglue to adhere your birds to the dish.

And you’re done! Well. If you’re inclined to paint your project, now would be the time, or add accents in paint or gold leaf or anything fancy like that. If you’re adding extra touches at the end, or if you’re going to be having this dish be for ring removal when you’re washing, I would make sure to use a good spray sealant so that the paint is sealed on, and the water can’t get in.

and you’re done! A beautiful gift, that takes just a little creativity.

Happy crafting!

~Megan


Using Molds and Texture Sheets

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Its Wednesday again, and after constant storms and rain, the yard is starting to get green again. I am back home after three days at a local event, and working hard on new stock for my upcoming show.

When I am working with clay, two of the most invaluable tools at my disposal are molds and texture sheets. There are some things you simply can’t make on your own, or would take too long, and these are very handy for that. Texture sheets allow you to change the appearance of the polymer clay’s surface. The photos below are pieces I have made with the help of texture sheets and a pastry mold.

They can be plastic, silicone, metal or ceramic. The flexibility of silicone or plastic can be easier to work with, as the clay typically releases quickly from the imprint you make of it. You can buy pre-made sheets and molds, or create your own. I do both. There are some great two part silicone kits that will let you imprint texture or design into them. You can recreate the texture of leather, linen, scales, or even a raised pattern on a rock or a piece of pottery. GF Art Store has great sheets and cutters.

A mold good for polymer clay are mostly from silicone or a soft plastic. a hard mold will not release the clay. I have seen some instructions for baking in heat resistant molds, but I generally change up the piece I am molding enough that the flexible variety are best for my work. From molding pastry shells, dog bones, feathers, shells, or frames for a piece, and even molding doll parts, there are thousands of molds to inspire you. I have found several excellent shops on Etsy with great pre-made silicone molds. The Mold Studio is one.

Another is Sweet Treat Collections. They also carry baking supplies and cutters. If you make any projects with molds or texture sheets, please link to them. I would love to see what everyone comes up with!


Comparing Heights

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I’ve got a cool little reference tool for everyone today! Now I know this won’t be used for every medium out there, but if you draw or write about people with your art then continue on my friends.

This is a nifty little weblet made by Mr Initial Man called Comparing Heights, that lets you quickly get a visual on what the height differences should look like for characters. While you may have an idea for average heights (6′-5′ range) I find this to be incredibly helpful for fantasy art. Got a 60′ giant? Now you know just how large that would look next to you. Want to know if you fairy is too big? They got you covered. 🙂 I could see this being a fun tool for D&D GMs as well. If you are worried about group shots more, you can compared up to 6 people in this one right here instead. It’s really just a great simple (and free!) tool to help get everything into perspective. ;P


Tiny Houses

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So I got to see some friends of mine last night that I haven’t seen in months and they told me all about how their daughter has a ‘fairy door’. It’s a door you give your kid to attach to places that a ‘fairy’ comes to live in and be their sorta friend. It got me thinking about small things though and this artist I’d found recently.

Based in Spain, Marina Paredes of Prettymodels makes adorable tiny house slices. The detail that goes into these is just wonderful. I could easily see a fairy deciding to live in one. 😉

Though my goodness I can only imagine the tools used. My hand cramps thinking about it. D: Her work is just lovely though and is made in 2 different styles, mini house and mini doll house style. The doll house ones may be my favorites, but I had one as a kid so I’m likely biased, lol. Either way, I recommend giving her etsy store a look to see all the lovely tiny creations she’s put together. ^_^


Building the Monstrosity

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I have been asked many times how I build the large Grid Wall structure that holds the quilts and pillows behind us.  I decided to start filming the set up for conventions to show you exactly how it is done.

First, Nicole and I filmed the set up for Too Many Games in Oaks, Pa.  There is a parental warning on this one.  There is some language being used by those around us.

Then, two weeks later we filmed the set up for Heroes and Villains Nashville.  There is no parental warning on this one.

It is interesting how an inline set up with two people takes 2 1/2 hours but a corner set up with 5 people takes 50 minutes!  Please follow my You Tube or my Twitch page if you would like to see future convention set ups.

If you have ever wanted to use gridwall, here is a site that shows you a few ways you can use it to display your products.  And of course you can always ask me any questions you want!

-Toni


Schmetz Monthly Needle Fact

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That’s not just a little piece of steel making your machine stitches. German engineering designs, calculates, tests and inspects the SCHMETZneedle. Take for instance the eye, did you know that needles have different eye shapes?

The most popular needle, the Universal, has an eye that is 40% the width of the blade. Really! There are three other needles with larger eyes, the Embroidery and even more pronounced is the elongated eye of the Metallic and Topstitch needles.

Now what does a larger eye mean? There is less friction on the thread as it passes through the eye. Ever sew with a thread that breaks or tends to shred? Guess what, use a needle with a larger eye. If you have old thread or maybe a poor quality thread, use a needle with a larger eye. The thread and needle work hard and fast. Help them out when you can with a larger eye.

Remember . . .

Change YOUR Needle!

– The needle is meant to be changed –

– The needle gets dull from use –

– The needle is NOT a permanent machine part –

-Toni


Feather Cane Tutorial

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Happy Wednesday everyone! We are firmly in art show and ComicCon season and I’m spending every spare minute sculpting pieces for upcoming shows. This Saturday you can find me at a small local event in Shelby, NC. It’s a great little con with tons of dealers, a Pokémon tournament and a costume contest.

One of the things I like to make are flamingos. I found an excellent tutorial for feather canes by Donna Kato. It’s extremely time consuming, but the results are stunning. Plan to spend between 2-4 hours on this project. You can use any colors, but I went with the suggested pinky-peach blend for my flamingos. The results give you enough for several projects

You can find the tutorial here.