Saturday, July 28, 2012

Recycled Zippered Pouch

Over the years I've seen lots of great recycled bags made from gum wrappers and chip bags. Some require folding modular units, which is more time than I'm willing to put in.  But now that I've learned to sew, I'm able to attempt ones that don't require much more than a zipper, thread and maybe some edging.

I've been practicing making easy center-zip pouches for the past month using this tutorial (minus the quilting). I have lots of pretty fabrics to play around with, but there's something very satisfying about making something out of well....trash. I was about to throw this rice bag out this morning, but realized it was a nice thick sturdy plastic, not too dirty and had no holes. I cut it into 2 sheets, making sure to include as much of the graphics as possible, washed them and started sewing it like any other pouch. Make sure you're using a strong enough needle. I used a 1/2" seam allowance all the way around.  Final dimensions are 7.5" x 6.75."

It's only slightly trickier to sew than regular fabric because it's very slick and might slip while you're sewing. I didn't want to use lots of pins or I'd make too many permanent holes. The other problem is your plastic becomes quite crinkled from having to turn it inside out. I may attempt to use a very cool iron with a piece of cloth on top to smooth it out, unless someone has any other suggestions. One benefit over fabric versions of this pouch is that it's rigid enough to have some dimension, even with nothing in it, instead of lying completely flat.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Inkodye test

Inkodye is a light sensitive dye which can be used on cotton, wood, suede, silk and other natural fibers. As of right now,  I think it only comes in blue, orange and red, but you can mix the colors. I first read about it on the blog How About Orange. The easiest method seems to be making stencils or using pre-existing objects to block the light (photograms). You can add water to adjust the concentration of the dye. For this first experiment I used about 2 fl oz of dye, approximately a 1/4 cup of water, light-weight white cotton fabric and card stock paper for the stencil. 

I laid out the fabric on a piece of board, brushed on the dye solution till the fabric was fairly saturated, placed the stencil on top, then left it out in direct sunlight for 10+ minutes. (Were I to do this again, I would cut the stencil out of a waterproof, opaque material, lay it on the fabric and then brush on the solution).

 Then I rinsed the fabric and hung it up to dry. 

Some things I learned during this process, which may help you if you try it:

1. Being a photosensitive dye, I was worried that working under fluorescent lights would cause the solution to develop before I could use it, so I kept covering up the unused solution and only taking it out as needed. But as I kept working, I realized that the solution seemed unchanged and I was able to leave it exposed to the artificial light without any problems. The instructions on the bottle say "sunlight" but I've seen videos where it developed under artificial light, so maybe it depends on the concentration of the dye, or the type of artificial light you are using. 

2. Wash your fabric thoroughly with soap after the developing process. I only rinsed mine with water and while it was hanging up to dry, the white areas kept slowly developing and turned a light blue (they were hanging in the sun to dry, like the above photo). And even after a week, I left the pieces near a window and they continued to change color. So lesson learned, wash thoroughly, or make sure the area under your stencil doesn't get any dye. 

3. I wanted to see if I could get negatives to develop (see below), so I laid them on a transparent sheet of plastic (to protect the negatives from the dye) and then covered that with saran wrap. I also taped the corners down so it would lie flat. As you can see, even though it was clear plastic, it didn't fully develop. So you might need an undiluted dye concentration  if you plan to do something like this. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Hamster Plush

Another plush toy based on a pattern from the book "Palm Sized Softies"

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Meet Fido, the bizarre dog-mouse looking creature. He's what happens when I try following instructions for a three dimensional plush toy. The original instructions were for a pug, but I found myself having to unpick, cut and add bits and pieces because of mistakes along the way. I'd say it all went towards building Fido some character, because I find the result pretty entertaining.  He's made of felt and measures about 4.5" high. The instructions I didn't-quite-follow are from the book Palm-Size Softies which has lots of great illustrated instructions and templates. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July!

Hoping the clouds blow over so we can watch the fireworks tonight. 

It's been in the 90's all week, but the plants are loving it. Both the blackberries and cherry tomatoes were already starting to fruit when I bought them, so I can't take credit for those. I may need to help pollinate all my seed-grown plants with a Q-tip since we don't have any bees up on this netted balcony.