Fun with BLEACH

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Well, that’s certainly a title that’ll get your attention, eh? This is a quick and easy way to personalize cotton t-shirts just the way you like them – it’s not screenprinting, but the results are just as satisfactory and the whole process is way faster. Plus it’s something that even kids can do (if you trust them to use bleach). And I’m going to show you two ways to do it.

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First, you need some spray bottles that produce a fine mist (the squirty ones won’t do you any good here), and some bleach. Make a solution of about half bleach and half water (or maybe 3/4 bleach and 1/4 water if you trust yourself) and pour that in the bottle.

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Now you need a cotton (or mostly cotton) t-shirt in a dark or bright, saturated colour (you can use pastel colours but the results won’t be as contrasty). Wash and dry the shirt to remove any sizing from the manufacturer that may interfere with the bleach.

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Grab yourself some adhesive vinyl or Con-Tact paper.

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Cut your vinyl into the desired shape you want. You can either use the shapes to mask off an area that you will bleach around, or the vinyl can act as a shield to the rest of the shirt and only your design will be bleachy – that’s up to you.

Make sure to press the vinyl firmly into the fabric of the shirt.

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Slide some waxed paper or plastic inside the shirt to prevent the bleach from leaking through to the other side.

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Spray your design lightly and evenly with bleach.

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Just a light misting.

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Use a rag to dab away any beads of bleach that might drip onto your shirt (unless you want them to drip).

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Wait a few minutes and then carefully peel off your vinyl.

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Watch as the design emerges. When you get the right level of bleachiness that you like, rinse the shirt under cold water to stop the bleach process. Then chuck the shirt in the wash and run it through a cycle with soap to get out all the bleach.

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When your shirt is dry, you will be the coolest person out there.

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Another method, if you don’t have adhesive vinyl on hand is to use paper stencils and a glue stick. So you just cut out your design and slather it with glue from the glue stick. Make sure to go right to the edge.

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Flatten it firmly on your shirt.

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Spritz on your bleach, dab, and remove the paper before it gets too saturated with liquid (because that will soak through). Don’t worry if there’s a bit of paper left – that will come off in the wash. On this design (Serenity!), we added a few extra drops of bleach here and there to make it look like the ship was traveling through a nebula in space.

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Tada.

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On this shirt we did a similar negative image with a Rebel Alliance symbol from Star Wars, and then on the back we did the Galactic Empire symbol, so good on the front and evil on the back!

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Here we did a positive image, where the paper served as a shield for the rest of the shirt. You may recognize the Autobots symbol from Transformers.

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Another positive image, this one of a stylized Joker’s face from the Dark Knight film series.

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Because the pupils were hard to glue in place I used a fabric marker to add them back in. The shininess will go away the first time the shirt is washed.

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On this design the stencil I used was too thin and the bleach soaked around the edges. Not to worry!

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I simply used some more fabric markers to trace the proper outline and I really like the finished result.

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Doodle’s Felted Wool Afghan

Doodle's Felted Wool Afghan - Part 1

I feel kind of bad.  Here I am, third-place winner for Best Blog About Crafting and I haven’t put up a crafting post in an age.  Sorry about that.  But rest assured I’m working hard on two major projects.  They’re just the sort of long-term ones that don’t make for exciting blogging.

Two people who are very dear to me are getting married this summer.  My eldest brother, Krystopf, ties the knot in early July, and my high school best friend, Doodle, gets hitched in mid-June.  I am making both of their wedding presents, and both of them are blankets.

Doodle and her soon-to-be husband, The Cyclist, live in Portland, Oregon, a place with weather very similar to what it is here in St. John’s.  By that I mean, windy and rainy.  So an ideal present would be one that encourages cuddling and coziness, right?  And we know from previous experience that felted wool is the coziest of them all.

When we were in Ottawa over Christmas, the Pie and I scoured the local second-hand stores to acquire as many genuine lambswool, merino, and cashmere sweaters as we could, in a specific range of colours.  Doodle and I agreed on red, white, blue, and black, as sort of a combination of Canadian and American colours (and black goes with everything).  I wanted to do something a bit different with this blanket, and have the colours sort of blend into each other, rather than have a pattern of alternating coloured squares.  So it’s going to be a bit trickier than normal.

Doodle's Felted Wool Afghan - Part 1

Here you can see our initial haul (and Gren).  This is the colour scheme I am going with.  You can see that the main colours are represented at the corners, and then they blend through the other colours in the middle.  Like a square colour wheel.

Doodle's Felted Wool Afghan - Part 1

Now, if you feel like undertaking a similar project, I just want to give you a heads-up first.  A lot of up-cycling and recycling projects are economical and a good way to save money.  This is not one of them.  A 100% wool or cashmere sweater, even second-hand, will run you between $9 and $14, depending on the quality and size, and for this project, we will be using approximately 25 sweaters.  So you can do the math there.

Doodle's Felted Wool Afghan - Part 1

I felted all the sweaters while at my parents’ house (to take advantage of the fact that they were footing the power bill), and we mailed the sweaters back to ourselves in St. John’s.

Doodle's Felted Wool Afghan - Part 1

Then I dismantled them.  I carefully cut out all the seams, so all the pieces of sweater lay flat.

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I’m saving the seams.  I think they would make good toy stuffing material.

Doodle's Felted Wool Afghan - Part 1

Here are all the sweaters, officially laid out in their colour wheel.

Doodle's Felted Wool Afghan - Part 1

The sweater in the middle will serve as my keystone, if you will, and then I’ll use the rest of it to construct some baby toys for some wee ones I get to meet this summer.

Doodle's Felted Wool Afghan - Part 1

Now I have to start cutting out the pieces.  I want to do it more as a puzzle or interlocking oblongs than as simple squares, so I’m going to have to work out some ratios so that all the pieces will fit together nicely.  I will keep you posted.

Doodle's Felted Wool Afghan - Part 1

Hole in the Wall

Hole in the Wall
Normally we have a little rack here where we hang the clothes that are not quite dirty enough to wash but worn enough that we can’t justify putting them back in our drawers.  One week we got a little lazy and overloaded the rack.  And it fell off the wall, taking the screws with it.  Leaving these holes.
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It’s strange how such a little thing can alter your whole life.  Because we don’t have the rack at present, the Pie and I are putting our clothes on the backs of chairs in our room.  This means that some of the things we normally keep on the chairs are now in our closet.  Which means that our closet is full, so some things that are normally in the closet are on top of Gren’s crate.  Which means that things that normally go on top of Gren’s crate end up on the floor.  Our room is a certified disaster zone, all because of a stupid $15 clothes rack.  It’s utter chaos.  CHAOS, I tell you.
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Gotta fix it to achieve equilibrium.

Patching small holes in gyp-rock or plaster walls is an easy process.
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First, take a box cutter or other sharp knife and cut off the bits of plaster that are sticking out from the wall.  Sand the rough edges so everything is flush and level.
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Use a filling putty like this Dry-Dex and a flexible putty knife to apply the compound to the holes.  Depending on the depth of your hole, you may need to add a little bit of compound at a time and allow it to dry between applications.
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I like this stuff because it goes on pink and you know it’s dry when it turns white.
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Lightly sand the dried compound, then wipe the dust off with a soft damp cloth.
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Prime it and paint it. We always save the dregs of our paint for just such an occasion.  You can just put it in a yogurt container and it will stay fresh, though you will probably have to stir it well.
Hole in the Wall

When you are putting up stuff that is going to hold other stuff, it helps if you can get your anchoring screws into a joist. If you use a stud-finder this is an easy task (the last time I put this up we didn’t have a stud-finder). And the bonus of this particular model is that it also tells me when I’m about to drill into a power line, saving me from auto-electrocution. Handy.
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And now our life is back to normal.  PHEW! Balance restored.
Hole in the Wall

MacGuyver Mittens

As you know, I have been making things out of felted sweaters.

And, if you don’t know, MacGuyver is a television character out of the eighties who could engineer an explosive device using only a paperclip and some pocket lint.  I tend to use MacGuyver as a verb when I’m describing how I successfully completed a task with my own ingenuity and a little bit of elbow grease.

Such was the case with these mittens.  I wanted to do a practice run with sewing together the felted wool, just to see how well it worked and how they felt to wear, before I made them for real.  So I thought, why not use the sleeves?  And the sleeves of this particular sweater had a beautiful row of buttons on them.  It would be a shame to waste them.

So I cut off the sleeves.

Measured them roughly to my hand.

Cut them out.

Flipped them inside out.  You can see that I was able to leave the original seams on the sides. 

Sewed them together.

And tada.

Not the best fit, I grant you, but a decent first effort, considering I didn’t use a pattern.  “Real” ones to follow.

Felting Old Wool Sweaters

As you may know, I’m doing a DIY Christmas this year.

Many of the projects that have come to my attention recently have involved re-using and re-purposing old things you don’t want anymore.

Some of those particular projects involve making items like mittens and hats out of felted wool, which is easy to make and fun.  When natural fibres such as wool are washed and rubbed against each other, the fibres shrink and separate, tangling with other fibres, creating the thick, durable material we know as felt.

Take yourself some old sweaters.  Sweaters that are 100% wool (or merino, angora, cashmere, etc., all the natural animal fibre ones) work the best, but I experimented with two orange sweaters which were 90% wool and 10% nylon.  I picked up most of these at Value Village.Chuck them into your washing machine and wash them in HOT water.  Just make sure you turn all the knobs back when you’re done so the next person doesn’t accidentally shrink all their clothes in the next load!

I managed to produce a large ball of wet sweater babies when I cleaned out the washing machine.Pop them in the dryer when you’re done and when they’re dry they should be felted.  You may have to do this more than once if your sweaters are loosely knit, just to get all the fibres tangled up with each other. If you can cut into the sweater without it unraveling or fraying then you have successfully felted your wool.

You can see how much smaller the sweaters are now.  This used to be a medium-sized adult man’s sweater, and now it would maybe fit a two-year-old.

I removed all the stuck-on sweater babies with a fuzz comb.

Stay tuned for all the fun things I plan to make out of these!