26 November 2012

Home Alone

As a kid, I always thought my mom was so funny when my dad left town.  She would take on huge projects like rebuilding the deck or painting the ceiling in the living room (it's a cathedral ceiling, this is not an easy task).

Well, I did something similar the other weekend.  I've lived with my boyfriend for a few months now and this was the first weekend where he was out of town and I was at the house.  What did I do?  Take on a bunch of projects and make a huge mess and then bust my butt trying to get everything done and cleaned up before he came home.  Yep, I'm turning into my mom.

Now, some of these projects were pretty boring and un-blogworthy...painting storage shelves, organizing my books.  But, one of them was not only fabric-y but also hilarious.

It started simply enough.  I had a half-yard set of the blue colorway of Bari J's Splendor 1920.  I had in my head a plan for using it that involved cutting the half-yards into fat quarters and then bleaching half of the fat quarters.

Bleaching fabric is a remarkably straightforward process. Technical term: discharging.  You mix water and Clorox, add the fabric.  You make a bath of Bleach Stop.  You watch your fabric change and when it is changed to your liking, you take it out of the bleach and put it in the Bleach Stop.  After 20 minutes of Bleach Stop soaking, you dump out your buckets, throw the fabric in the washer and you're done.  No fuss, no muss.

Sounds easy.  But sometimes the fabric doesn't change the way you expect.  In this case, the fabric didn't change at all.   Now, I have my guesses about this.  They are as follows (1) I grabbed a bottle of Clorox from the laundry room.  I didn't buy this Clorox.  I don't know who did or when, but knowing my boyfriend, it may have been a very long time ago.  Does bleach go bad?  (2) Blue doesn't bleach easily. In a mixed-color print, it's not usual to see the reds drop out completely while the blue only lightens a little.  I was expecting the fabric to need a long bath to get a slight change.  Instead, I did a long bath and got no change.  Maybe these are just really awesomely bleach-proof blues?

In any case, I had fabric that I wanted to alter and it hadn't altered, so I decided that I'd do the only logical thing:  dye it instead.

Also logical: if you're going to be dyeing, you should make some batik to dye, too.
Super logical:  set up the batik in the basement so you can catch up on The Voice while you stamp the wax on the fabric.
Next logical step:  without pausing to clean up your batik kit (the wax does have to cool after all),  set up dye baths in the bathroom. (You can find my tutorial on immersion dyeing here.)
dyeing

Next logical step:  without pausing to clean up the batik kit, and only minimally cleaning up the dye baths, start boiling off wax in the kitchen.  Also, while you're in there, make some banana bread.

See how that happened?  3 rooms full of craftastic mess.  Made me laugh. And then clean like the wind. I'm usually the tidy one.

In the end, the house was cleaner when Jon came home than when he left and I was pretty pleased with my fabric. This picture shows the Splendor 1920 originals on the right and the overdyed prints on the left.  Most were overdyed in shades of blue, but a one was in a bronze-colored dye.
Spendor 1920 dyed

 Here they are with some fabrics pulled from the stash and some of the batik fabrics I made.


Splendor 1920 and friends
I've already made some of the fabrics into half-square triangles. 

This isn't the way I'm going to use those HSTs, but I always get a kick out of  looking at manipulated fabric next to the original.
Now, who wants some banana bread?

18 comments:

  1. What a delightful mess indeed! It is the mess that scares me from doing things like this.

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    1. Life is messy! The trick is to do a dye day in a bathroom that needs cleaning anyway. :-)

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  2. That's exactly what I do when my husband goes out of town. I reorganize the house and then stay up super late at night sewing! The last two times he was gone I was foiled by a 4-day power outage and a very sick child though, and boy was I bummed that I couldn't be productive like I had planned. I think it's just easier to get things done when you can make a big mess or get completely out of routine when there isn't another adult to get in the way.

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    1. I'm sorry to hear your fun has been spoiled recently. Next time you'll get to make a truly spectacular mess!

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  3. Lucky girl! I wish my husband would get out of town for a bit. I would totally make an mess and then clean it up just before his arrival. :)

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  4. Bleach DOES diminsh in strength as it ages. Standard household bleach is at 5% and the strength will lessen the longer it sits. It diminishes faster if mixed with water and exposed to sunlight. I know this from the work I do.

    I wish I was brave enough to play with dye.


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    1. Good to know!

      You don't have to be too terribly brave to play with dye. Start with a little bit of fabric you don't care about too much and see how it goes!

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  5. Your dyed fabrics look awesome. I LOVE the idea of bleaching fabrics and then mixing them back in with the unbleached versions! Is it really as easy as you make it sound? Presumably the bleach doesn't wreck the integrity of the fabric if you don't leave it too long?

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    1. Using "Bleach Stop" or a similar product is crucial to keeping the integrity of the fabric. Do NOT use vinegar...the chemical reaction between bleach and vinegar puts out some toxic fumes and also doesn't get the bleach out of the fabric.

      I have not had any issues with fabric that has been discharged correctly! Super fun and easy!

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  6. Fantastic results! And you are not the only one who starts massive projects when you have the house to yourself… I think some folks are hard-wired to see opportunity when you don't have to 'expose' anyone else to your mess. Nice to know, too, that I'm not the only one who has multiple projects on the go in one giant day of craftiness. Those are wicked awesome days. :-)

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    1. They really are so much fun!

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  7. Rossie! This is amazing! I love the look of the fabrics next to each other!

    When my husband and daughter leave town, I take on big projects like going to bed early and cleaning everything instead of in spurts. Sigh.

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    1. Thanks Jemellia! I'm big on sleeping, too. Actually, when J is out of town and I have the dogs it is HARDER to sleep in...normally he has morning dog duty!

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  8. Really really fun. I am cracking up over here, thinking about your three rooms of mess. <3 The overdyed fabrics look fantastic!

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    1. Thanks Jacey! Oh my goodness, such a mess. It really was a sight.

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