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.
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!
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.
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.
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!