Saturday, June 9, 2012

Fabric Paint and Rhinestones with my Silhouette Cameo

My Silhouette Cameo and I have had a wonderful week of bonding. There's just nothing like the rush of discovering a new crafty thing to obsess about! First up: fabric ink.

I've used fabric ink in the past, of course. I've done a few freezer paper stencils, which I painstakingly hand-cut. I loved how they turned out, but oh, how time consuming to cut the stencils by hand! I knew the Silhouette could do it for me much faster, so I finally decided to experiment a little.

First up were these shirts for my oldest boy. The background templates are from Silhouette; the Godzilla and basketball player are random silhouettes I found on the internet. I used the trace and cut feature in Silhouette Design Studio to cut them, which is really easy for simple designs like these. 

I first did the background stencils (the checkerboard and sunburst), cutting them out on freezer paper, ironing them onto the shirt fronts and then applying the fabric ink with a sponge brush. After the paint dried (4-5 hours), I peeled off the freezer paper and repeated the process for Godzilla and Mr. Basketball Player. I did run into some problems with this step: the freezer paper does not adhere nicely to the paint layer. The black paint bled through and left unsightly globs on the silver checkerboard and orange sunburst. This was not a total disaster, as I just touched up the areas that bled through with some more silver or orange paint. But it made me think that perhaps freezer paper is not the best thing for layered images such as these - next time I will try vinyl. The final step is to heat set the ink with an iron and a press cloth.

Pattern: Farbenmix Quiara
Fabric: Cotton lycra
Background images: Irregular Checkerboard and Sunburst from Silhouette Online Store

I also did these shirts for my littlest guy, who just turned four. He is such a little charmer that one! I asked him if he would like a smiley robot shirt, and his heart-warming response was, "NO! I do NOT want a smiley robot shirt. If you make me a smiley robot shirt, I'm going to be SO mad!"

Tough cookies, my friend. You are getting a smiley robot shirt whether you like it or not. Once he saw the end product, he was delighted. I guess he's still working on his creative vision.

Somehow, I managed to get a smudge of red ink on the side of the shirt. I was not about to re-do the whole thing (life is way too short for such perfectionism), so I just covered it up with some grosgrain ribbon. Decided I kind of liked the look, so added more grosgrain ribbon. Voila! Mistake covered up and "design elements" added. Just as before, I experienced some bleeding of the red paint underneath the freezer paper onto the first layer of paint, but again, I just touched it up without too much difficulty.

Pattern: Farbenmix Quiara
Fabric: Cotton rib knit
Images: Smiling Robot and Nesting Zig Zag Rings from Silhouette Online Store

I do own the Fabric Ink Starter Kit sold by Silhouette which uses vinyl for the stencil medium. I held off using the vinyl since a) it is WAY more expensive and harder to come by than freezer paper and  b) you can't just iron it on - you have to use transfer tape to get the stencil applied to your fabric. 

However, vinyl has one significant advantage over freezer paper: the Cameo cuts it MUCH more cleanly. I originally tried to cut Go Kart image below (which I found on the internet) using freezer paper but it just wouldn't cut cleanly. Too many little details for the thin freezer paper. Now, this could very well be that I need to change my blade (which I have not done since I first bought the machine months ago) or that my mat is a wreck (if you saw it, you'd vote for that possibility). Not having either a new blade nor mat handy, I decided to give the vinyl a whirl.

Unfortunately, the instructions that come with the fabric ink starter kit are ....sparse, and that is putting it generously. I had never cut this type of vinyl before, and from the picture in the instruction booklet, it looked like they were loading it in without a mat. Really? No mat? I'd never done such a thing. My first few attempts were a disaster: the vinyl got all crinkled up in the machine upon loading. I eventually found a blog post (sorry, I don't recall which) that explained that you have to uncheck the "Cutting Mat" box in the Cut Settings window of Silhouette Design Studio. Well, that may have been a nice piece of information to include in the instructions and the DVD! You also need to adjust your rollers for the size vinyl that comes with the starter kit. I had to look that up too.

Once I finally got the vinyl loaded properly, the Silhouette cut the image out like a dream. Yay! The next step was to apply the transfer tape and "burnish" the design. I am embarrassed to say I had no idea what that meant. The booklet does not explain, nor provide a picture of said "burnishing" but luckily I deduced from the video that it means to rub transfer tape onto vinyl with a credit card like object. 

I removed the vinyl liner and applied the stencil to the fabric and burnished once again. Then I tried to peel off the transfer tape. Well, this did not go all that smoothly. All those little lines of vinyl that provide the detail of this image wanted to stay stuck to the transfer tape, not the fabric. Making this more difficult was the fact that the transfer tape and the vinyl were basically the same color. Next time, I will get magenta colored vinyl so I can see what I'm doing!

Finally, the stencil was applied and I was ready to paint. I used the sea sponge that came with the kit for this one, as I wanted a more distressed look. I absolutely adore the end result of this shirt. So cool! My little guy is happy too.

 Pattern: Farbenmix Quiara
Fabric: Cotton lycra

In the spirit of being thorough, I should say that I have not washed any of these shirts yet, so can't comment on how well they go through the laundry. However, as noted above, I've used fabric ink on several occasions before, and haven't had any problems with fading or peeling or anything after multiple washes. I throw everything in the dryer too. No problem.

OK, enough fabric ink! On to rhinestones! 

I also got the rhinestone starter kit (can you tell I took advantage of Silhouette's Mother's Day sale?). My daughter was thrilled with this concept, as she loves all things blingy. The rhinestone process is much more straight forward than the vinyl fabric ink, so I had no difficulty whatsoever with the instructions contained in the kit. I did have some problems getting the rhinestones in the proper place  on the template - it is much trickier than the video would suggest to just "brush" them into place. Rhinestones do have a tendency to flip over. I finally got one of these handy tools, and the process became infinitely easier.

 Pattern: KleinVlieland
Fabric: Cotton knit
Rhinestone template: Rhinestone Flower from Silhouette Online Store

I also made this butterfly shirt, which has become my daughter's favorite! This shirt I HAVE washed and, several times now in fact, and the rhinestones have come through perfectly.

Pattern: Farbenmix Gitta
Fabric: Black bamboo jersey from Bamblue Fabrics
and butterfly cotton knit 
Rhinestone template: The butterfly image that comes with the kit

So anyway, I had a ton of fun making these, and see many more inky and rhinestone-ish crafty endeavors in my future. Fun fun fun!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Sewing with Tribal Prints

They are all the rage right now, those tribal prints. I'd been looking for some great ones to stock in Bamblue for awhile, and finally came across these amazing ITYs that make a serious statement. As I'm an absolute sucker for vibrant, eye-catching prints, I had to sew these up immediately.

To me, these prints have "maxi-dress" written all over them, so I pulled out my tried and true Simplicity 3503. This is such a quick and easy dress to whip together on a Saturday morning. Comfy too; I've been wearing it all day, although I'm sure my fellow library patrons thought I was a tad overdressed for the occasion. The ITY is fabulous, as you don't need to worry about how it will wash and it doesn't wrinkle. This is very nice quality too: not too heavy, nor too light, with wonderful draping properties.

Pattern: Simplicity 3503
Fabric: Ikat Print ITY from Bamblue Fabrics

I also wanted to do a tribal-ly McCall's 6109 (sadly, OOP now) with some contrast fabric for the bodice. I've done this one a couple of times, and have found that the view with the tank-style bodice runs a little short. I added about 2 inches, and I think I prefer the fit this way (although I am very long-torso-ed, so that probably has something to do with it).

 Pattern: McCall's 6109
Skirt Fabric: Tribal Print ITY from Bamblue Fabrics
Bodice Fabric: Black Bamboo Jersey from Bamblue Fabrics 

Moving right along in my tribal print love affair is New Look 6648, one of's best patterns of 2012. I could not agree more with that assessment. Such an easy, comfortable and stylish pattern! The only thing I don't understand at all is why the pattern calls for cutting out the hem band with the grain rather than against it. I was very troubled by this, particularly with this striped print - the stripes go the wrong way! I decided to leave it as is, thinking that perhaps the band is meant to be very tight across the hips? I'm still not sure. My hubby, who usually tells me when I've made something that looks ridiculous, assured me that it looks fine, so I'm leaving it.

Pattern: New Look 6648
Fabric: Chevron Snakeskin ITY Print from Bamblue Fabrics

Oddly cut hem band aside, I loved the pattern so much that I wanted to make the sleeveless cowl neck version too. I decided to use my orange honeycomb ITY for this one. I love the top and the end result, but I have to say, hemming the armholes on this thing gave me fits! The shape of the armhole is fairly steep, then takes a precipitous curve, making hemming a nightmare. Next time, I'll just do facings.

Pattern: New Look 6648
Fabric: Orange Honeycomb ITY from Bamblue Fabrics

And now we come to something that I've been trying to make for two years and have just not gotten around to it. This winter, I swear to you, not a day went by that I did not wish for a basic black, drapey, sweater knit cardigan. I had the patterns. I had the fabric. The time? Not so much. I almost, almost broke down and - gasp! - bought a RTW model. But I couldn't bring myself to do it. So, I didn't get around to making this until May when it was 85 degrees. I'm telling myself that I'm just very on top of things concerning my winter 2013 sewing progress.

I used McCalls 6084, which ended up being not as drapey as I was hoping. It also has a dart by the shoulder that I don't understand in the least. I'm sure it is meant to add to the drapi-ness, or the fit, or something, but frankly, I'm not seeing it. Also, trying to transfer the dart markings onto this type of sweater knit was just not happening for me, so there is a very good chance that my darts are in the wrong place. Well, who cares. I like the end result, and it certainly fills the bill.

Nice fabric, no? I wish I had some to sell, but sadly, I do not.
 Pattern: McCall's 6084
Fabric: A divinely soft sweater knit from Fabric Outlet in SF

This next one has nothing to do with tribal prints, or ITY, or seasonally inappropriate sewing, or anything like that. But with this one, I took the wildly unusual step (for me) of using a woven to make myself a dress. It's got a zipper in the back and everything! This is New Look 6557, a pattern that I'm sure every other seamstress in the world (except me) has sewn a million times. It's a really easy pattern, so I can see why it is so popular. I used a rather transparent cotton lawn for this dress, so I lined the whole thing, but otherwise I made no other modifications.

Pattern: New Look 6557
Fabric: Cotton lawn

That's all I have to show you today. But now that I've gotten tribal prints out of my system, I cannot wait to get the new supima cotton floral knits that I"ve got coming in the next week or two. Stay tuned for my next obsessive sewing chapter!