Thursday, July 28, 2011

Life, and all it's Diversions (Interfering with My Sewing Time)

Every time I get over a hurtle, whether it be a deadline, or finishing my thesis, or getting back home after bouncing around a province visiting friends and family, I keep telling myself, 'now I'll have more time to sew and blog!'. And then I find out there's something else in the way.

I suppose that's life, and there's no point in resenting it.

What's the point of this slightly negative babbling? I guess it's a lead into my latest excuse for not posting as much as I promised.

I'm in the middle of job hunting, and considering that I've just finished 9 years straight of schooling, I sort of need to find employment asap, or else I fear the creditors will hunt me down and string me up by my toes.

Does this mean I'm not sewing? ABSOLUTELY NOT. It just means it's not anywhere near a priority. In addition, I'm considering relocating across the country (in the other direction this time). All in all, that means that for at least the next few months, my future is incredibly uncertain and pretty dynamic. Exciting? YES! Conducive to sewing and blogging? NOT SO MUCH.

I'm still going to blog, but please forgive me if it's not that frequent.

Also, boring post is boring.

I do have a bit of exciting news. Look what I finally picked up from my Mom's place! The wrist pin cushion from Patty's giveaway, and the zig zag quilt topper kit from Nikols giveaway!

I'm excited to try my hand at quilting again, and I think it may be a great project to work on gradually while pulling out my hair job hunting. I just need to figure out how to make those triangles...

Friday, July 22, 2011

Tea-Dyed Lace Winner

Alright, so I had meant to make a post yesterday reminding people about this giveaway, but I'll admit, I was a little swamped with job applications and dealing with other employment (or lack thereof) woes, and I completely forgot. Darn life, getting in the way of my sewing and blogging time!

I considered waiting another day to allow others to sign up for the Tea-Dyed Lace Giveaway, but that's not very fair to the people who signed up already, so I'll just have to be more proactive next time!

SO, the winner of this lovely length of tea-rific lace is...

Joyce in NC! Congratulations! Joyce, I can't seem to find an email address in your profile, so if you could send me an email (sewingonpins at gmail dot com) with an address that I can ship the lace to, I'd appreciate it.

Also, some good news to all of you tea-dyers. I washed my Navy Rose dress (in cold water, normal cycle, regular detergent - even threw it in the dryer), and the lace came out with little to no fading. Was a little wrinkly, though. I'm vastly relieved, because I feared it would come out a dingy white. PHEW!

Original white on bottom left, after tea-dying and ironing on bottom right, after a wash cycle at top.

Happy sewing, everyone!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Tutorial: Tea-Dying Lace (+ Giveaway)

I mentioned in yesterdays Navy Rose Dress post that I'd tea-dyed the lace at the bottom of the skirt. It was so much fun, I keep looking around for more things to dye! I thought I'd share the (extremely simple) process here, not because there's no other tutorials out there (there are tonnes), but because I really hope it inspires some of you to try your hand at it!

As you can see above, it will turn white cotton to a slightly rusty light brown colour. Of course, material type, tea strength, and length of steeping will effect what colour your material will dye to, and some experimentation may be needed to get the colour you want. Keep in mind that tea-dyed material could fade with time, exposure to sunlight, or repeated washings. In fact, some detergents could take out the dye entirely, so be aware of that. In addition, bleach should remove the tea-staining completely, which is useful if you're not happy with the resulting colour!

Stuff You Need:

Material to dye. Some lace, fabric, thread, string, etc. Keep in mind that only natural fibres can be tea dyed (cotton, silk, maybe wool, etc.), as synthetic material will not hold the dye.

Tea. So far as I know, any kind will work. I used just regular old orange pekoe that we've had kicking around for a while, but any black tea should work. I hear that coffee also works well, but is more aromatic than tea. I'm excited to try out coffee and different tea types, just to see what happens. YAY EXPERIMENTS!

Water. I boiled mine in a pot on the stove. I believe that the water should be hot to get the most colour out of the tea bags. As an added bonus, it helps pre-shrink your lace (or whatever you're dying)!

Container to dye material in. You'll need a container large enough so that the material you're dying can move freely in it. I used a small pot since I was only dying a small amount of material, but sadly it's formally white interior is now tea-dyed. LUCKILY, a bit of bleach should take out the stain. (I hope, because it's my Grandma's pot.)


Bring your water to a boil and add the tea. Allow it to steep for about 5 minutes (or maybe longer if you're using a lot of water). I used 2-3 cups of water, and 3 bags of tea. For the lace shown at the top of this post, I used about 4 cups of water and 6 tea bags. It didn't turn out much darker than the lace I dyed for this post, so I don't think as many tea bags were needed. Once again, trial and error will be your friend here.

Add your material to the dye. Stir it around occasionally to, and make sure that the material all remains submerged.

Allow to sit for a while. I left this batch in for about 10 minutes, but I have read about some leaving it for an hour, a couple hours, and even over-night. I didn't want this lace to get too dark, so I only left it for about 10 minutes. The colour of the material will be much darker when wet than it will be when dry. Keep this in mind during steeping.

The initial tea-staining occurs very rapidly, but I'm curious about the longevity of the dye with different lengths of steeping time. I fully plan to experiment in the coming weeks, and will let you know what I find out.

Pull out your material and rinse out the excess tea. You may notice that it already lightens up a bit. I've seen people recommend machine washing the material at this stage. Depending on your material type and what you intend to use it for, that may be the best option. I chose to simply hand-wash the material with a small amount of detergent. This step will also lighten up the dye a bit.

Dry your material. I chose to dry it using an hot iron, which allowed me to press it flat at the same time. You can see how much lighter in colour the dried lace is than when it is wet.

Et voilĂ ! A lovely tea-dyed bit of lace (or whatever you chose to dye) to add a bit of vintage charm to your project. It may be difficult to see in these pictures, but the original lace here had two colours in it, with the centre scoop shape in white and the rest of it in cream. I loath white and cream together (hence choosing it to dye). If you look closely at the dyed lace, the centre scoops are a lighter shade than the rest of the lace. I much prefer the two tone effect in the dyed lace!

Another thing to keep in mind is that tea-dying will not generally produce a uniform dye. There may be dark spots and light spots in it. I adore the effect on the lace, but it may not be as charming on a larger piece of material.

Now for the giveaway!

Would anyone be interested in this tea-dyed bit of lace? It's a cotton crocheted lace, approximately 1.85 m long. If so, comment below before Friday morning (July 22), and I'll choose a winner using an online random number generator at about noon, central standard time (Manitoba, Canada - if that helps for my international readers).

And yes, this is open to everyone living on Earth. Sorry to any readers on the Moon or Mars, the shipping rates to you is just way too expensive! D:

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Finished Object: Navy Rose Dress

I'm back in Manitoba, and nearly all my sewing stuff is in one place! YES!! \o/

So of course I started sewing immediately. Actually, I bought the dress below on sale for $20. I adored it, but it was just too short on me. I considered trying to do something to lengthen it, but looking closer at the dress, I figured I could probably make it myself. I got a few quick measurements of the bodice and looked at how they did the back detail (elastic along the upper back to keep it in place. Neat!), returned the dress, and tried my hand at it.

Isn't the lace beautiful? Oh, I wish I could've made it work just for the lace!

Look at how it turned out! I'm pretty proud of myself, recreating a dress (sort of) I liked with only a few measurements and my own sketches. I've never done this (successfully) before! I used the floral cotton voile I rewarded myself with after my thesis defense, and blogged about here.

Oh, there's a few problems with it. The shirring turned out to be way too tight. It's wearable, but only just. I suspect that I wound the elastic thread on the bobbin too tight. Oops. The bodice has no structuring besides gathering along the bottom where it joins with the shirred skirt. There was a bit of gaping along the armhole, but taking in the sides 1 inch helped immensely.

I'm not a big fan of how the bottom ruffles turned out. I may yet tear it out and try something else, since it's borderline Little House on the Prairie.

I suspect that the lace I used on the bottom ruffles are too heavy or something. But I'm pleased with the colour of the lace, since I tea dyed it from blinding white to this beige-y brown. It picks up the subtle colour in the small background flowers nicely.

But overall, I really like how the dress turned out. I couldn't find a lace anywhere near as lovely as the one on the original dress (not a surprise with the limited selection at Fabricland), but I'm pleased with the one I used. I even cut out around the flowers to make it a little bit more interesting.

One of my favourite parts of this dress is the back. It's lower cut than the front, and the elastic along the top makes the fit snug without being too tight (or needing a zipper). The spaghetti straps look cute, and were made by making my own 1/4 inch non-bias tape (made the same way as bias tape, but cut on grain to prevent stretching).

Anyways, thanks again to you all for being patient and not abandoning me! I'm in the middle of job hunting right now, but I will be posting more often, and this time I mean it!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Quick Apology, Update, and a Sad Send Off

Hi everyone! I'm sorry I've been mia of late, I've been visiting friends and family here in Ontario before heading back to Manitoba, and while I've been babbling sewing with my quilting Memere (who also used to sew all her own clothes), shopping for fabric in Toronto, and even hand-sewing a small bag for my brush and deoderant, I haven't had much time online.

I don't even have much time tonight, and I'm on my Grandparents computer, so no photos.

I do have some sad news to report. I managed to tear a hole in my very first me-made shirt. It's funny, because right before I did it, I was just thinking, 'I wonder how much longer I'm going to be able to wear this top, and when will I finally be willing to toss it out'. *rrrriiiiiippppppp* D:

Anyways, I'm headed back home tomorrow, so look out for more updates!
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