Part Two: Playing with Surface Design

2015 was the Summer of playing with stuff, and that included some “low impact” surface design. Because of travel and other things that were going on, I did just enough of my dyeing and surface design stuff to be happy.  The goal was to be cheerful, and come up with something “delicious”.  I’m pretty sure this is the textile equivalent to cooking with chocolate. It’s good to start with, so you just try not to mess it up.

Which makes this the cookbook I should have been following:


And this is a sample mixing bowl:


I kept a bucket of soda ash solution sitting by my work sink most of the Summer, so I got to dye fabric a few times without much fuss. These are the pieces that came out of the “mixing bowl” above:

I got to dump and combine leftover dye solutions, and dye some nice, light and bright fabrics to use in piecing, and for making many, many, more Kanzashi blossoms:

    IMG_3691        IMG_3700

I also got to tie-dye with crafty girls, even though I had to borrow the girls. They made tee-shirts, their mom did amazing pieces that looked like indigo work (I’ll look for pictures. The only sample I have from that day is:


A cotton + spandex bookcover made with an inexpensive white “blank” from Dharma Trading. Yes, I still love Dharma. The tie-dye part worked really poorly… too much white space, colors that looked like old bruises and dried blood… so after it was dry I re-soaked it in the soda ash solution, and dyed it robin’s egg blue. Delightful way to deal with failure.

Since we talked about sun-prints before, I offer these without further comment, but with great joy….

IMG_2812               IMG_2813

…the last technique for now is one you can read about all over the Internet. If you have white fabric, or a tee-shirt, or white sneakers… and Sharpies, and some rubbing alcohol and an eye dropper, you have the ability to play with color and fabric in very portable way. We tried this at family camp, and then I did some at home later on, when I just needed a quick shot of color. Google “Sharpie Tie-Dye” and commit to playing with markers and fabric for awhile, without worrying about how it comes out.

IMG_0358This sample started with designs in all the colors available in my multi-pack of fat tip Sharpies. Once I had a variety of shapes and colors, I dropped alcohol in the middle of the shapes, let it flow and dry, and then (in this case) went back and added the black lines. If you like to do fine line work, you have the option of stabilizing the fabric with freezer paper.

The entire process is to apply Sharpie to dry fabric, and than drip or spray rubbing alcohol (a solvent) on it and watch it flow. The only caveat is that you may want to open a window while you work. Once dry it should be fairly permanent. Again, this is your chance to experiment…  It’s JUST FUN!


About sewberkeley

I'm happiest making things.
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