I Can Sew, But Painting? I Don’t Know

I Sew, But Painting? I Don’t Know….

I want to share with you a recent project that pushed my scaredy button.  Part of stretching a creative practice is to jump into new techniques without knowing how it will turn out.  This is where my procrastination will kick in.  –kind of like when I’m playing with a new idea to write about. I am still a newbie at this blogging thing, so I also want to mention that process and congratulate you as a charter reader. Thanks for checking in! Blogging is a great new thing for me that I see will help me reflect on my own process. –like an online journal of sorts.

To Live Lane, of Choosing Beauty: FLOWERS, KUDOS, ACCOLADES, HIGH FIVES… You get the picture. She is my teacher in the Extra Valuable class, How to Build a Blog You Truly Love.

Trying new things jazzes me. I struggle with the idea of wasting time on something that might turn out to be a mess. But hey, it’s important to take risks. I couldn’t get this project out of my head. It repeatedly said, Hallooooo! You gotta do this!

                                                                                                                                           ImageStencil mess.

I had some dusty lilac colored cotton knit on my shelf that was begging me to become an easy summer skirt. A little at a time, I have played with painting on fabrics. I am into the alchemy of upcycled clothing and think this can be a fun part of it.  Natalie Chanin’s book, Alabama Studio Sewing+Design  gave me a kick in the pants and a pattern to start with.  Her work shows GENIUS interpretations of rustic southern  fancy. I was so excited to find this book and get the go-ahead to use some of her great knit designs as a springboard for my own.

The skirt is a simple A line with a flowered elastic waist detail. I sewed the side seams and left the back seam open until after I painted. I serged the seams so they would show on the outside, using gold, fuchsia and burgundy thread, It was an unlikely combo, but seemed to work. I pressed the seams flat and sewed them down with a dark green zigzag. It all works with the flowered elastic which went on last.

Image           In real life, the red looks more subtle, like plum.

I enlarged the paint design I liked on my printer/copier. Then I traced it onto clear contact paper. Using a fine blade exacto knife, I cut out the areas to be painted. It was easier than I thought, to peel the backing off the contact paper, considering the fairly intricate pattern. I just tried to be careful. Chanin paints dyes onto their fabrics by spraying. Since I don’t have an airbrush (might have to check into that) I bought some spray fabric paints at Joann’s and Wally World. THAT would have been a disaster, had I not practiced on a scrap first. The spray is drippy and has drops that are waaay too big. So I sprayed the paint onto my palette of choice (a paper plate).  I used a foam paintbrush to tap the paint onto the stencil. Black went first. After letting that dry, I offset the stencil a bit, then used a combination of lilac and cranberry color which was a little more transparent than the black. I went back in after that dried and added highlights of silver acrylic. The silver is my least favorite part. I’ll get to play with that another time; maybe using a different paint or permanent marker. For definition, I added a few sketchy outlines with a black permanent marker. A dry iron fixes the paint so it should be washable.

                                                                                                             Image Do ya like my little tramp stamp on the back?

The next step in expanding my repertoire of skills will be to do this process over a few times to get more comfortable and adept at it. So many times, I have tried something new and gone into Klutch mode so I only do part of it or have a creativity freeze. Then I avoid addressing it again out of fear. The critical voice in my head says, “see, you are no good at this.” I will get chance to practice as I get ready for a class I’m teaching at a local kid’s art camp done by The Space. We will be dyeing, painting, and remaking white Tshirts into something new and fun. Use paints and dyes with a group of 24 kids? Am I crazy? No, diabolical. I want to plant or nurture the seed of appreciation for working with fabrics in the minds of impressionable youngsters. 😀

As always, If you have any specific questions or tip requests related to any of my projects [maybe you want to try it out for yourself] please ask in the comments section. Other readers may get something good from this too!  


3 responses

  1. Carol, I am so impressed! I love that you did that magical process with contact paper! Do you think you can re-use the contact paper stencil or is that a one-time-only? I can’t make out what the “tramp stamp” is . . . I think you are good at this blogging thing. And those kids are so lucky to have this diabolical opportunity!

  2. Hi Janet! Thanks for reading and commenting. Yes, I saved the stencil in case it might be usable again. I adhered it to a piece of plastic packing foam and could roll it up for storage. It had just enough sticky left, but not so much that it will be on the packing foam for good.
    Tramp Stamp: My daughters’ term for a tattoo a woman gets on her lower back. The intent might be that it will only show when she leans over and her shirt pulls up and jeans pull down a little. Some girls show it more often in very low rise pants. The design on the back of the skirt is MY version:D

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