Sunday, July 31, 2016

Breaking Wilton's Violet Food Coloring on Crocheted Roving

Breaking Wilton's Violet food coloring is one of my favorite dyeing activities.  I know I claim to have many favorites, but my youtube channel fans really seem to like the dye breaking videos.  Whenever I want to play with a new dyeing technique, I come back to breaking Wilton's Violet food coloring.

How does the violet breaking work?  Well Wilton's violet is composed of two different food coloring colors, Red #2 and Blue #1.  The red dye absorbs to the fiber fast while the blue takes more time to bind.  This means that the fiber to touch the dyebath first absorbs the red dye while the blue time has more time to diffuse and travel through the fiber - resulting in the colors breaking into fuchsia, blue and purple.

Breaking Wilton's Violet Food Coloring on a Braided Crochet Chain

Video Contents
  • [0:00] Introduction
  • [0:17] Crocheting the roving braid
  • [1:26] Setting up the dyebath
  • [3:57] Adding the dry braid to the dyebath
  • [5:46] 10 minutes later
  • [6:10] removing the roving from the pot
  • [6:37] washing the fiber
  • [7:38] unravelling the dyed chain of roving and final conclusions

I was feeling very optimistic about this crochet braid.  I figured that when I added the dry yarn not only would I get some breaking on the outside of the braid, but I might also see some pale blue on the less exposed sections of roving.

Before even unbraiding the roving I knew this was a success.  Immediately I saw sections of pink and blue on the yarn.  I was delighted!

I love this braid so much that I almost didn't want to unravel it.  I wanted to hang it on my wall and see the ombre effect that had overtaken my fiber.

However, since I was making a video I needed to unbraid it.  I'm so glad I did!  The transitions of color are stunning and it couldn't have worked out any better.  

This fiber demanded to be spun really quickly.  This pull was so strong that I decided to have a little extra fun with the spinning.  Stay tuned for tomorrow and you'll hear some more about it!  

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Reverse Engineering a Fleece Boppy Cover

Time to reverse engineer a boppy cover!

The finished fleece boppy cover I made.

I have two different kinds of boppy covers in my personal collection.  The first are the Boppy Brand zipper covers that have an inset piece on the center of the U shape.  The second is a flat boppy cover that I ordered from Etsy when pregnant with Lucky and has an overlapped pocket to insert the pillow.

Both of these boppy covers fit the exact same pillows... but the commercial boppy cover is a little bigger than the Etsy one.  (The etsy shop has closed so I can't link to the origional seller.)   Although the commercial boppy cover has this inset piece I will us the inside out cover to determine the shape to cut and then make a fold over pocket to keep it inside the pillow.   Ready, set, go!

I traced the boppy cover onto some "pattern paper" (i.e. packing paper that I ironed smooth).  I cut the shape out, folding it in half after to amke sure it was symmetrical.  If I were working with a fabric that was stiffer, like cotton, I would make the whole pattern on the fold but you can't really press fleece fabric.

This pattern piece was cut with 1/2" seem allowance as was present on the commercial boppy cover.  This doesn't quite fit on the fabric that I need to cut but it will be close enough I think.

I pinned the paper to the fabric and then cut around it to create the main body shape.

I used the same pattern piece for the back pieces but created some folds in the fabric to cut the lengths I wanted.  The long back piece will go to the bottom fold, and the short back piece will go to the top fold.

I'm not going to worry about having the angle of the polka dots just right so the fabric lines up on the back.  That is too much effort for this quickie little project.

Large back piece pinned.
Small back piece pinned.
Phew!  There is a good amount of overlap on the fabrics.

I folded the edge of the fleece over and stitched it closed with a straight stitch.  I might have done a double hem but it laid flat okay and I didn't want to make the overlap too small.

I pinned the pieces together with right sides facing.  First the front piece face up, then the big back piece face down followed by the small back piece face down.

I planned to sew a half inch seem around the edge.  I found it difficult to feed the fabric through without it stretching so I settled for what I could get with the straight seem.  Next I strengthened the edge with a zigzag seem.

This fabric was pretty hard to sew, for a novice like me at least.  it was a bit stretchy and slippery so it didn't go through the machine easily.

But hey, what I have hear looks like a boppy cover at the very least.

When I put the boppy cover on the pillow it was a little hard to squeeze it in.  Not becuase the fabric was too tight, but just because you have to feed it around like a stocking.  Once the cover was on you can see that it is a bit too long at the eneds.  This is very fixable by just taking it in a bit, but I don't think I'm going to bother.  I think this can be explained that the fabric needs to stretch more around the pillow width wise than lengthwise giving some extra give towards the ends.  The pocket also contributes to the extra length.

The cover is soft and cozy and I know that Rowdy will enjoy it.  Does it matter to me that it isn't perfect?  Not one bit. I'm going to use this for myself and Rowdy, not as a gift or something I plan to sell.

Plus this cover matches the blanket I made Rowdy perfectly!  I'm so glad that the fabric store overcut the fabric when they mailed it to me!  

I am currently using this cover for my nightly nursing sessions.  I love how soft the fabric is against my legs.

More experienced sewers out there - do you have any recommendations how I could have improved this project?  I'm still very much a novice sewer so I have a lot to learn!

Project started and completed 5/5/2016

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Handprint Sunflowers

I really enjoy having hand print crafts hanging in my front hallway for different seasons. For Halloween we did "Trick or Treat; Smell My Feet" and then I did a Valentine's Day/Spring Love Handprint collection to celebrate the birth of my second child.  It is time for the next craft to make some imprints of my little boys.

When I was working to decorate Rowdy's room, I ordered a stunning dinosaur print that was supposed to be 16x20".  I purchased a white 16x20 frame and waited for the print to arrive... and alas the print actually measured 16x21".  Not only does this mean I need a custom frame for Rowdy's room, but I have an extra WHITE frame that I have no use for.  What can I do with it?  Re-purpose it for handprint art!

I'm taking the cardboard back and I'll turn it into a summery sunflower field... at least this is the plan.  I envision handprint petals and thumb print centers... but we'll see how much I'll be able to do with the boys.

To start, I don't want a boring brown background.  I think it should be blue and white like a clowdy sky.  This is where 2.5 year old Lucky comes in.  One afternoon I set us up with a bunch of blue and white paints and had him help me paint the back.

I did a light coat on the back of the paper so that most of the brown will be covered.  I can't expect a 2 year old to cover the entire background so why not give a rough abstract gradient to start with?  I just put some paint in 3 shades of blue and 1 white and brushed them out.

Next, I set up Lucky with some paint in the blues, white and gray and let him go to down with a sponge brush.

Lucky's painting is BEAUTIFUL!  I had to rotate the canvas so he could reach it all from his high chair but he covered the majority of the background up.  It was hard to wait for this to dry before we started doing the handprints.

Lucky and I practiced the handprint sunflowers on some construction paper (Mother's Day presents for Mimi and Grandmama!) before making the one on our "canvas."  We did at least 6 hand prints in a circle, rotating the work of art to get the petals to fan out.  It is REALLY USEFUL to have another adult on hand so one adult can help with the hand placement while the other keeps the canvas from falling to the ground.

Once the sunflower was dry, we then added the next layer of paint:  Thumbprint "seeds" and some hand print grass along the bottom.  I helped Lucky with the thumbprint placement since it was hard for him to reach across the table.  He really understood what we were trying to do and could do this on his own if I were willing to let go some control of this project.  When we finished the thumbprints he was playing painting his hand and making prints on scrap paper.  Super cute!

Rowdy's handprints were much harder to do.  How do you get a 3 month old to hold his hand open?  Keith held up Rowdy's body while I used both of my hands to paint and then hold them open on the paper.  It didn't matter if I couldn't get a good hand impression since the sunflower is the sum of many fingers going in a circle.  In the end I even did just some finger prints to even out his sunflower where needed.  

I struggled with how to do the stems on this project.  I knew I wanted to do footprint feet on the bottom but the stem should really be drawn first.  In the first try I used a really dark green for the stem but it looked too stark on the dimensional background.  I lightly painted a paler green on top and was much happier with the mix.  I considered curving the stems but I didn't want to take away from the footprint leaves.  

Rowdy's thumbprints were NOT EASY to do.  We couldn't get a good angle and then we tried a toe print and he started freaking out. He made (well, it wasn't his fault, really) some smudges so I did my own pinky prints. I could have had lucky do them but he had already been cleaned up from paint and I didn't want to start all over again!

We tried to do Lucky's footprints a little differently than usually and smudged it a bit, but it is still fantastic.  WE LOVE IT!  Smudges and all it is a fun project from my baby boys.

Finally, all I needed to do was put this print in the frame and admire the adorable picture I created with my boys.  

Some people think that handprint art isn't beneficial to preschoolers because they are following a prescribed path versus doing creative art exploration.  Rowdy is too young to understand any of this, but Lucky has so much fun seeing what we can turn his handprints into and looks at them with pride.  I love these projects because I look back on creating them with my boys, but I am not delusional enough to think that THEY made these for me.  I made them for me, with their help.  I proudly hang Lucky's scribbles on my walls, too. I cannot wait to see what both boys will grow to create!