As expected, I've been super busy having fun times with Niecy-two. But here and there, I've started working on a new project.
Next month I'll be taking her home to Turkey. I always take a project to work on when I travel, and usually it's knitting. But knitting in Turkey in August is not a fun activity. There's no AC where we go, so even knitting with cotton and bamboo needles is unpleasant in the 95 - 100 degree heat.
This year I decided to take along some hand sewing. I've been wanting to make an Alabama Chanin project for a couple years, and this presents the perfect opportunity! So earlier in the month, I ordered Natalie Chanin's latest book, Alabama Studio Sewing + Design. The book is beautifully done, chock full of information and inspiration, and even includes traceable patterns in the back to make the exact garments shown in the book!
Over the couple days it took me to read the book, I thought about how I'd like to design my project. I finally decided on using my already-traced Grainline Scout pattern to save time and because I was sure of the fit. I ordered some organic cotton jersey from Fabric.com (not linked because the colors I ordered are not in stock at the moment, but this fabric is easy to find from a variety of e-tailers).
The next step was to get some mylar film and start cutting my stencil. After some online searching, I found the perfect product: Grafix Edge Stencil Film, which I purchased from my local Dick Blick. The film is 40" wide and comes on a roll 12 feet long, so it's very easy to cut a large stencil all in one piece. It's easy enough to cut but sturdy enough to make a durable stencil, even one with lots of detail work.
The book recommends applying your stencil pattern to the top of the mylar with spray adhesive, but I have a love/hate relationship with that stuff, so I only use it when absolutely necessary. Instead, I taped my pattern under the mylar and it was fine - there was some static from the film that helped keep the paper in place, so I didn't get any shifting.
I've cut stencils before, and if you're doing anything with curves, the task is vastly easier using a swivel knife (shown at right, below) rather than a normal X-acto knife. Cutting this huge stencil probably took me a total of an hour and a half, done over a couple of days.
Once I had my stencil ready, I cut out my tee pattern. The inner layer of my top will be white, and the outer layer cream, so I cut two tees.
And then it was finally time to get out my paint and apply my stencil to the fabric. So exciting! While I was at Dick Blick, I picked up some Jacquard Textile Color in black and white, to mix grey. I watered down my paint quite a bit, because I wanted to try out the spray-on method from the book.
Now, as I said, I've done stenciling on fabric before. In the past I always applied the paint with a foam brush. But the spray-on method sounded like it might be faster, and might give a more air-brushed look. (I do actually have an airbrush and compressor, but didn't feel like digging it out.)
However, despite trying three different spray bottles, I just couldn't get it to work for me. I wasn't able to spray lightly with the spray bottles the way I would be able to with an airbrush. The excess paint pooled on top of the stencil, so I felt that if I tried to remove the fabric, I'd get drips.
So I left it to dry for a while. And that ended up causing problems too: the very liquid paint was absorbed by the fabric and gave me fuzzy edges.
So I cut two new sleeves and tried it again, this time using the foam brush. MUCH better! In the photo below, you can see the difference: nice crisp images on the top, and fuzzy bleeding on the bottom.
I was encouraged enough that I went ahead and stenciled the front tee piece with Niecy-two's help. I found that what worked best for me was to lightly spray adhesive on the back of the stencil, then place my fabric face down on top of that. After pressing it down smoothly, I flipped it over and made sure all the little pointy bits were firmly pressed onto the fabric, then sponged on the paint. Because I was working on my floor, I cut a large piece of film to use as underlayment, and the stencil stuck to it! So it was really great to have Niecy-two's extra pair of hands to hold the backing down while I lifted it all up after painting, and while I removed the stenciled fabric from the film. And here is the result of our work:
I had to stop here because I only have drying space for the front and two sleeves! Once those are dry, I can set them aside and go ahead and stencil the back. Then I'll be ready to heat-set the paint and baste the pieces together. It's going to be hard not to start working on this immediately!