Chlorox & thiox & dye – oh my!

Chlorox & thiox & dye – oh my!

Remember Carol Soderlund’s “dyeing to discharge” class that I went to a couple of weeks ago?  You must be “dyeing” to learn more!  We took color out, put color in, then took more out, then maybe put more in. We worked 9 -10 hours a day. As I learned how to add depth and interest to my humble cotton cloth my classmates were creating many beautiful pieces in cotton, rayon, silk & even silk/cotton blend. Gradually complex cloth began to come to life in our hands.

clamping & tying black fabric in preparation for a bleach solutions bath
Post bleach - most of the blacks have turned to rust colors. Mine is the one with the big washer.

following processing, washing & drying the fabric is reclamped or tied
these samples are now headed to a thiox solution bath

Further work included experimenting with thickened bleach solution and thickened thiox (not shown here I was way too engrossed in my work to remember to take photos) using theromfax screens, paint brushes, rollers & rubber stamps.

Lunch - char grilled spinach & meat pies - delish!  Even though I was famished it was difficult to stop & eat. Good thing Prochem brought lunch in for us -  

A gallery of results will be shown in my next post. So stay tuned!

Why am I wearing a half mask respirator on vacation?

Why am I wearing a half mask respirator on vacation?

While most people are headed to the beach, or out or even chasing butterflies in the backyard, this summer I’m spending 5 days in a classroom experimenting with dye and discharge agents! Yay!  The  instructor is well known fiber artist and author Carol Soderland.  It promises to be an interesting (and fun) week.

Mx dye concentrate

dyed cotton & silk
Our first attempts at dye discharge

And about that respirator…  while the dye process is fairly safe, the chemicals used for discharge are rather nasty. The respirator is a wise choice when you have your head hanging over a pail of bleach mixture. Carol spends a lot of time in class discussing hazards and proper safety precautions for this kind of work.  I appreciate her cautious approach.

The Stanley Cup in the New England Aquarium: Stitchwitch goes to CloudForce Boston

The Stanley Cup in the New England Aquarium: Stitchwitch goes to CloudForce Boston

Even the fish were celebrating

Last Thursday was a great day to be in Boston!

Some people actually spend their spare time making replicas of the Stanley Cup out of aluminum foil. Who knew?

Here are some photos that my husband took on his iPhone. The Bruins are actually arriving in the photo taken through the gate. (I am someplace else finishing a nice bowl of oatmeal with fresh berries.) Not only were people wearing all their Bruins gear, they also brought along their homemade Stanley Cup replicas.  Sorry, I just don’t get it.

Windsor Button

All our trips these days seem to require a sewing related component. Fortunately I have an understanding husband (after he deserted me at breakfast to go see the Bruins bus arrive how could he say no?)

Because it was conveniently on our way to Cloudforce of course we had to stop at Windsor Button. Both the Park Street and Downtown Crossing T-stops will bring you within a block of the store. Ah, this is the way notion shops used to look. If you need a special button or fastening and are in the neighborhood Windsor Button is worth a look.

Assorted button $5 a box
my selections of the day

Finally I arrive at CloudForce 2011

Marc Benioff was busy but the Salesforce.com mascot was available for a photo

Even after all the distractions I was there on time for registration at 11:30 am, ready & waiting for the 12:30 keynote speaker, Marc Benioff, Salesforce.com Chairman, CEO & cloud computing visionary.  His 2-hour presentation on Salesforce.com & social enterprise just flew by – I never even thought about sewing for one minute of it!

The python sheds her skin – the video

The python sheds her skin – the video

The carpet python wiggles her way into a fresh new look.

What do you do with a shed snakeskin?  (aka snake shed)

If you’re me you would want to print with it!  But first it had to be unrolled, cut open, and spread out to dry.

8 foot long snake shed
Freshly shed skin - translucent & shimmering

This was her head piece. Look at the eyecoverings - just like little goggles
Pinned out to dry

Watch future posts for adventures in snake skin printing!

The Snake and the Singer (sewing machine)

The Snake and the Singer (sewing machine)

Snakes Alive!!

Just to keep things interesting at our home is now serving as a temporary holding place for rescue snakes – i.e. pet snakes that people don’t want anymore. We already have tree frogs, anoles, and some fish of our own, plus a few caterpillars that we are watching turn into butterflies in a container.  Two eight foot long snakes – a boa and a carpet python  –  are living in our den temporarily.  My husband, an amateur herpetologist and member of the Maine Herpetological Society, is now a snake rescuer.  I guess that makes me the den mother.  This guy posing on my sewing machine is a carpet python.

What do snakes have to do with sewing?  About an hour after our photo shoot this one shed his skin – amazing to watch. The shed skin is now drying in our dining room mounted on to cardboard with straight pins. Every nature printer’s dream – an 8 foot long shed snake skin!  Just imagine all the fabric that I can print with that!

I never had a sewing machine for a friend
His tail only needed a little mending
As a "carpet" python he has always been interested in fabric
snake with mouth open
Hey! I think I'll hang here for awhile
Bias Tape Makers starting at $6.50 – How to make your own bias tape

Bias Tape Makers starting at $6.50 – How to make your own bias tape

Sometimes I feel like I have been in a sewing time warp.

While I see those jazzy (and expensive) electric bias tape makers everywhere, I didn’t realize that handy little manual tape makers also existed. Why didn’t I know about these things? These gadgets go by the name of  “bias tape makers.”   I always appreciate a product that is named for what it is or what it does.

Recently, as I was rummaging through my yard sale loot box looking for a zipper I discovered that I actually own one of these bias tape makers. There it was NIB (new in box) just waiting to be opened. I  immediately had to try it out – without reading the directions of course – and was thrilled with the ease of making 1/4″ bias tape, not noticing that according to the package it was a 1/2″ bias tape maker. When I learned to follow the correct process I was even happier with the results.

Watch for future posts which will reveal where this bias tape was used!

This is a very easy and inexpensive solution for anyone who wants to make custom bias tape in short lengths.  Here is how it works:  cut your fabric 4 times the desired width of your finished tape.  If you want 1/2″ tape, then cut 2″ width.  Cutting on the bias (diagonal), of course. Thread the strip of fabric through the bias tape maker and then iron it as it comes out the other end. There is a little coordination factor involved requiring pulling the gadget along in one hand while ironing with the other. I managed to succeed without burning myself with the iron so most anybody could probably master this technique.

Googling “bias tape maker”  shows that Clover USA is a lead player in the sewing gadget world. Clover products include not only manual bias tape maker in five different sizes, but also a fusible bias tape maker (even more important to read the instructions), and a plethora of other sewing tools, gadgets, and hardware.  Clover’s  blog offers useful sewing tips and information of interest to sewists, knitters and quilters, in addition to the usual informercial aspect. Worth a look. (I’m not being compensated in any way to promote Clover – unfortunately.) Guess what Annie’s getting for her birthday from me?