Monday, May 27, 2013

June's Asian Archer

I know, I know...I'm a little early but I thought I would get June's Archer shirt off my plate. I spied this Robert Kaufman panel print cotton at High Fashion a few weeks ago and couldn't get it off my mind... envisioning, of course, some kind of Archer for the 12 month Archer sew-along. I've not worked with a panel print before and didn't really know what I was doing. (I find I'm at my most creative when I'm flying by the seat of my Each panel was about 24" long and I bought 4 of them which was a little over 2.5 yards.
I also bought 1 yard of a another Robert Kaufman Asian inspired print, and while it was not technically a companion fabric, the selvedge color dots had a lot of common colors:
I decided to cut the back, front and sleeves from the panel print and then work on where to cut the other pieces after that. Originally, I cut the long sleeves as per the pattern but I felt there was too much going on "fish-wise" and I opted to cut them off. I really like it with short sleeves. I then decided to cut the yoke, front button band and collar from the companion fabric.
During one of my fittings in front of the mirror it occurred to me that if I left off the collar and put on only the band, it would enhance the Asian look by creating a mandarin collar.
Back yoke:

Front band:

Mandarin collar:
The only other changes I made were to leave off the pockets and take the sides in a bit to give a little definition to the waist area.
Experimenting with the panel print was great fun! The possibilities could have been endless for placing the smaller pieces around and fussy cutting on the panels but I decided to keep it simple and use the other fabric for those.
Who knows what creative juices next month's Archer will stir up? I'm finding this 12 month sew-along to be a really fun challenge to see how many looks I can get from this pattern.
Happy sewing...

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Me and May Archer

Well, I'm pretty much lovin' my first Grainline Studios Archer Shirt. I'm not really a button-up shirt wearing sort of girl but this one has my vote. And while the jury is still out on this decision, I may even sew along with the 12 Months of Grainline Studio Archer Shirts  that  the beautiful and talented JStarr4250 has started.
Heck, it's 100% cotton. I may even enter it in the Natural Fibers contest on Pattern Review. Who wouldn't love a chance to win $100 from Schmetz!
This pattern is drafted beautifully and came together like clockwork. The fun part was picking the fabrics. Here are a few close ups:
Inside yoke:
Collar band:

And a view of the back:
This is a downloadable pattern so you get instant gratification when you plunk down your money. I was reminded what a joy it is to sew on cotton. I was also reminded I need to brush up my topstitching skills! Love my new shirt. Download this pattern and join in on the fun!
See my complete review of this on
Have a happy and safe Memorial Day and God bless America and the folks in Oklahoma.

Friday, May 10, 2013

I'm Dyein' Over Here! A Mini Tutorial


It's no secret that I'm crazy about Fehr Trade's FREE Lacey Thong pattern, so what more appropriate project to use to perfect some dyeing techniques for lingerie delicacies?
After researching several different dye products online, I learned that JACQUARD dyes fit the bill for what I want to accomplish. Lingerie in general, and bras and panties specifically, are constructed with a myriad of different fabrics and components which run the gamut of fiber content and each individual fiber can require a different dye. Here are the 3 products I will talk about:

The little jars on top contain Acid Dye and the pouches across the bottom are i-Dye and i-Dye Poly. These two products come in dissolvable packets meant to throw in the washing matching to dye a large load but I just used tiny bits of each and the stove-top method.
Here are the fibers the different Jacquard dyes will color:
Jacquard's i-Dye: dyes natural fabrics including cotton, silk, wool, linen and rayon
Jacquard's i-Dye Poly: polyester and nylon
Jacquard's Acid Dye: dyes protein fibers including wool, cashmere, alpaca, feathers, silk and some nylons. It also dyes the white rings and slip rings used in bramaking. Don't be afraid of the acid, it is simply vinegar.
I did all of my dyeing prior to constructing the panties. On this project, this is what I started with, color-wise:

The lace and fold-over elastic on all of them was white. I dyed this first in Acid Dye to use for my color match for the fabric:

The panty fabric for the violet and teal were poly/cotton blends but neither color was the exact match I wanted. The violet fabric was too blue and the teal fabric was too turquoise. Since the content on both fabrics was mostly cotton I used Acid Dye on them and I liked the results. 
The panty fabric for the Aztec gold was white cotton knit from a 6-pack of men's Hanes t-shirts. Soft and lightweight and perfect for this project. I used Acid Dye on it, as well.
Here are the final dyed pieces ready for the cutting table:

All of these dyes are made to be used with hot water, either in your washer for a large item or on the stovetop for smaller pieces. The Acid Dye and i-Dye require that fixatives be used along with them. Acid Dye uses vinegar and i-Dye uses non-iodized salt.
Here are the basic tools you'll need for stovetop dyeing:

 A large stainless steel pot. (No affects the dye) I had an old pot with a steamer insert that worked great and made rinsing and washing out much easier.
Utensils such as tongs and a spoon or spatula to stir with.
An old cup or jar.
An old towel you don't mind staining, used for blotting after the rinse.
Vinegar, used to intensify and set Acid Dye.
Salt, used to intensify and set i-Dye.
Dedicate any tools you use for dyeing strictly for that use, don't use anything you plan to cook with in the future.
I also found this tiny little spoon to be invaluable for adding the dye powder. A little bit of dye goes a long way:

I wasn't able to take any pictures of the actual stovetop process since it was time sensitive and I was dealing with a pot of boiling dye but I can report that it is actually a simple process. My results were excellent!
Prior to starting this whole process I mixed up a pot of Acid Dye and added snippets of all kinds of laces, fabric and elastics to see what all it worked on. It was fascinating to see which fibers grabbed the dye and which didn't:

While I was at it I threw in the first bra I made thinking that it might come out with over-all coverage of some sort. NOT! It didn't budge the satin bow at the center bridge, the cups of polyester Tricot or one of the elastics on the straps:

I will even this up using i-Dye Poly at some point.
I plan to do a lot more dyeing and can't wait to do some bra and panty sets. I drool over the kits on Merckwaerdigh's Etsy site and now I can make my own!
Bottom line...don't be afraid of dyeing!