Friday, July 25, 2014

Something New

Hi all!

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 book includes photos of many of Alabama Chanin's stencil designs which you can enlarge and print out.  But I think the easiest way to get these images is to download them from the website, where many more designs than are included in this book are available as full-size PDFs.  I was able to choose the "poster" option on my printer to print out 9 tiled pages.  I trimmed the edges and taped them together just like you would a PDF pattern.  So easy!



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!


24 comments:

  1. Very cool! You'll be able to work on it and perhaps even wear it in Turkey. Thanks for the tutorial, Gail.
    -- stashdragon

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  2. I like your idea of having a hand-sewing project for travel. Good luck not starting your piece before the trip :)

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  3. That's so neat, stenciling your own top that's even made from scratch. Love the last pic of peeping tootsies.

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  4. I, for one, am pro-starting before you travel. I hate trying to figure something out while I'm on my way somewhere (or even casting on in public). I much prefer taking a little time at home to figure out the best way to do something and then stopping and saving the real work for travel.

    Whatever you do, this is going to be a gorgeous project! I can't wait to see it in progress/finished!

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    1. I agree, and I already worked around one motif as a test. The challenge will be not to finish half the project before I leave! It's so fun to do!

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  5. This is going to be so great. I must find some decent cotton jersey so I can make something from this book as well. I fancy dark blue with black as the under layer, I'll have to see what I can find.

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    1. I had a really hard time narrowing it down to one fabric selection! At one point I thought I'd just bring along two or three projects because I wanted to make ALL the color combos, LOL! I think this might become a new "thing" for me :-)

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  6. Oooh, can't wait to see how this goes!

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  7. Awesome! I love your tips, I've drooled over that book for months and have been too chicken to try, now maybe I will when the kiddos head back to school.

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    1. I was the same, Brittani. I admired these pieces from afar for a couple years but felt like I might not have the patience, and the style isn't quite "me." But all of a sudden, it's all I can think about!

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  8. This is so exciting. I can't wait to see more!

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  9. i'm loving this so far! can't wait to see how it all comes out.

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  10. What a cool project! Your posts are always so informative too :) i'll watch with interest to see the result!

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    1. Thanks, Jo! As much as I love the book, it's a little light on some details. I would have loved a list of exact resources like which film to use and how much to thin the paint. Since I had to figure these things out, I thought I would share to make it a bit easier for anyone else who wants to try this :-)

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  11. Looks like it will be gorgeous!

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  12. This is an exciting project! I actually like the fuzzy edged stencils but that's just my warped view! It's looking wonderful.

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  13. This looks like so much fun!! Love the yellow toes n the first stencil pic ;)

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  14. Are you going to be able to wait until your trip or will you need to get stared right away? I would be so tempted...

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    1. Of course not! I've already stitched around half the motifs on the first sleeve!! But I've got lots to do with all that beading.

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  15. I've seen some finished Alabama Chanin pieces around the web, but it's really nice to see your process here. It's a lot of work, but looks like fun!

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    1. It's quite mesmerizing! I haven't been able to keep my hands off it so far :-)

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  16. I'm so excited to see you work on this! I have the book and had hoped to get to it this summer, but other projects took priority (especially as I got overwhelmed with the number of supplies I would need - please send any tips my way about that . . .). I'll be living vicariously through your experience in preparation for my own!

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  17. I can't begin to tell you how much I appreciate you posting about this!!! I bought the latest AC book...love it. Then I bought organic cotton jersey in ice blue, medium blue and navy for a maxi skirt. Two yards each. Waaay too much, but I couldn't make up my mind what 2 colors I wanted to use. This week it has been about the stencil. After shopping unsuccessfully for something to make it out of...and not really knowing what to look for, I went to the AC web site to order a stencil even though it is spendy. I hadn't made up my mind which stencil to order when your blog post for today (9/27/14) arrived in my e-mail. YAY!!! I kept reading your previous posts until I came to this one. I can't possibly thank you enough for talking about the mylar film from Dick Blick...I'm ordering that today...AND for showing us the x-acto swivel knife.

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    1. Thank you for that lovely comment, Judi! I'm so glad this information was helpful for you! Good luck on your project! As you can see, I'm hooked!

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