Thursday, January 27, 2011

Step 2: Dye

Update on how the fabric dyeing is going...
1st run- bag o' onion skins. 

The recipe:
Well Water
Stainless steel pot to boil and enameled to treat
 A decent amount of onion skins. You might read you need 2 lbs, but do you realize how light onion skins are? I defiantly did not have 2lbs worth, so I just suggest going to the grocery store and picking up as many as you can and have people save them for you and you'll be fine. 
Rinse with vinegar

Fun onion fact: did you know that if you peel an onion naked, it's okay because the outer layer will just dry out and create itself a new crunchy skin? Yep.

Anyways, onion skins make for a beautiful golden color. If fact thus far, this has been my happiest turnout yet! 

Later we added a little bit of sassafras, it also dyes yellow.
Wrap it up in some cheese cloth, or old panty hoes, and let it simmer for about an hour or until you see a concentrate you like. Remember, you should always go darker because it will dilute probably more than half, in most cases, once you dump it into your big pot.
This was an off white seersucker with a small tan check. I used alum as a mordant and we probably let this simmer for a little over an hour. 
Ok, this is two Ziploc bags of frozen beet juice and one can of cherries. 

It didn't work. In fact I think my fabric came out even whiter than what it went in as after we rinsed! I should clarify. I used two fabrics in here

-long underwear, cotton. No mordant
-Soy Organic Cotton Jersey. Now, how this fabric has a stretch and is organic is beyond me. But I'm just going with what it says. None the less the synthetic in it is probably what caused the color to not take. It might have turned it a shade gray from is neutral color. 

As for the cotton (the one that came back brighter) I would imagine that it has been bleached before and chemically treated. 

Didn't even look nice so I decided not to even put fabric in it.
However, I did a test piece and it confirmed my decision. This is just some muslin that does not have a mordant, but I would image pretreated fabric wouldn't have done much more. It kinda stunk too. 
Alright so this is the jersey I said possibly went a shade gray from the beet juice and cherries. Well I tried for red again and ended up with purple. 

This Recipe:
city tap water
stainless steel pot to boil and enameled to treat
dyed in cherries and beet juice
rinse with vinegar
2 bags of blackberries, 1 bag blue berries
rinse with vinegar again

I got really, really excited when I saw the blackberries boiling. It was the most beautiful red and I dipped a test piece of the jersey in it and it was so red! I was so excited, but once I diluted it, it was barely pink, So I added blueberries, because they were giving me a reddish purple, and I ended up with a light lavender. I love lavender, but I didn't need it.. looks like I'll be adding the color to the collection.

Finished fabrics so far. The one in the middle is a twill I had in the same bath as the lavender, it has been mordanted with alum but was not an organic fabric so it probably had some chemical treatment prior. 

Since I was found out, twice, how hard red is, I just went ahead and ordered some madder root. Should have it by Friday. I am a little discouraged that I'm not going to be able to achieve green or gray. It's rough trying to do this in the winter with no flowers, roots, or leaves to work with. 

wait wait!
Ok I wrote all that last night, but today I found out my teacher has some Iris roots she's going to bring for me. So hopefully I can make a beautiful green with that! I'll let you know later this week! 
hmm.. trying to decide if I should dye over this lavender once I receive the madder root. It's a beautiful color, but I really don't need it. I do have an extra 2 1/2 yards, but I would like to save just in case I have a cutting error in the future. 

Lots to do!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Step 1: Mordant

Ok, so I've mentioned before that I'm doing some natural dyeing for my senior collection. Well I finally got it all sorted out and I'm starting tonight. It's quite a process so I'll be showing this in steps throughout the next week or maybe more. 

Mordant: Basically a mordant is a pre-treatment to your fabric, or yarns, to help your dyes adhere to your fibers. If you've ever used vinegar to set your colors after dyeing, it's the same concept, but it's a pre-treatment. Different mordants will give different results and due to the nature of natural dyes, being lighter and sometimes harder to achieve than chemical dyes, most processes need a mordant. An exception to this rule are walnuts. Walnut hulls, juglone being the active dye, are so potent that they will stain basically anything it touches.

Alum, Copper, Tartic acid, Chrome, and Iron are just some of the mordants you can use, and depending on the certain color your trying to achieve, you might chose one of over the other. I'm using Alum.

Alum is the least toxic compared to other metal mordants and seems to have the least negative effects considering my fabric (some will make your fabric brittle and what not). Christiano's momma just happened to give me a chunk of this stuff the other week because it works great as a natural deodorant. Looks like I'll have to stick to my old spice for a few more days until I can make it to the store for another chunk. 

Alright, so I started by boiling down the alum. Now, ideally you would stick your fabric in the pot and let it simmer for an hour or more, but I have too much fabric for that so I'm using the tub. 

Situation #1: How do I keep a tub full of water hot enough, long enough to make this work. 
My solution: I boiled an extra pot of water and dumped it in with my alum solution and I plan to just keep adding two pots every hour or so until I go to sleep. hmm that's just going to have to be good enough.

So here's my tub full of fabric. Oh yea, there is a ratio of the amount of alum to fabric you should use. And probably alum to water... well I didn't listen to that because it's 2:30am and I don't have anymore alum and my fabric is just going to have to soak up all it can. I spoke to it earlier and coaxed it into absorbing as much as it can and assured them (my yards...and myself) that they will give me beautiful colors. 
steamin' up my camera and errthang!

Situation #2: Hey what's that green thing sticking out of the drain of your tub? Well, I'm so glad you asked. We've been having a real problem with our drain clogging around here and I finally cleaned the darn thing out... Gross! (I should give some credit to Christiano, he helped, that sweet thing) But it's great because now when I shower, like magic the water just goes straight down. But now... it won't plug. I mean if it's not one thing, it's another you know? 

Well that became a problem as soon as I needed to fill the tub and keep it filled. 
My solution: A mason jar flipped upside down with ticky-tack lining the rim of it, stuck to the bottom of the tub with a huge antique glass jar full of water to hold it down just in case the pressure of the water makes that empty mason jar want to pop up. It seemed to be holding alright as I was filling, but you just can't assume right? All I could think of as I was doing it was.. Gaaa-Het-Tow. Gotta do what ya gotta do, I guess. 

**Oh yea, you should also be aware of the pots you use, that is, if you're letting the fabric or yarn simmer in it. Different pots will cause a different chemical reaction, but if you're doing this, you'll read up on that. I used a steel pot to boil my alum in and just a metal pan to boil more water in. I figure boiling just the water won't hurt anything. 

Situation #3: Where in the world am I going to hang dry all 21 yards of this fabric?!
My solution: unknown

Next I'll be cutting the fabric (once it's shrunk down) to the pieces I need and getting into the good stuff... color. 

My ingredients:
Espresso & coffee grounds- light brown/tan
Blueberries-light blue 
Blackberries- grey
Onion skins- yellow
Ground mustard- brighter yellow
Red onion skins- who knows
Beets- red, even though they say it probably won't I have 
Cherries-might mix 'em in with the beets for higher probability
Walnuts- brown
Pomegranate- possibly another yellow

All of these colors are with fingers crossed!

A lot of foods produce colors your wouldn't expect.. and I think that's kind of exciting. Not great to plan around, but I guess that's what I get. Also, a lot of them are reactive to light.. the more light they see the lighter they get. These fabrics are just going to be unpredictable! 
this fun picture came from here

My friend Kate from Sorella's told me her mom used to tell her and her sister that, "What can be painted, can be painted over" when I told her I was nervous to mess all this fabric up. I'm keeping her words in mind and goin' for it. 

These are some of my favorite images I took from this summer in NY...wait, who am I kidding, they're all my favorite! These were at the Union Square Market and they stopped... me... in... my... tracks. This whole collection is really inspired by the things I saw and learned this summer and these I guess subconsciously these images have influenced me and what I'm pursuing. 

 Here and here are some of the websites I've been pulling from, and if you're really interested there's some great blogs and youtube videos of this stuff.

Want to know more about all this? I've gathered quite a bit of info, just shoot me an email. I'm also pretty interested in organic and natural fabrics, if that isn't already evident, so if you just want to have a conversation about it.. well I'd love that! 

Have you done this before? Got any tips for me before I start the color? Leave a comment below.

Gotta work at 11 and I'm still wired, but while I wait on two more pots I'm going to try and settle down. Have a delicious Saturday!


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Beautiful Things

Just received my W magazine and I thought I'd share a few things with you that took me to a different place.

Beautiful Photographs

Beautiful make up

Beautiful Fabrics

Tonight I'm just working on my collection and trying to stay warm. I'm resketching most of the collection and planning my attack on natural fabric dyeing. Went out and bought all the ingredients yesterday. So nervous I'm going to mess up yards and yards of beautiful organic fabric, but something tells me my fabric will take to my fruits and vegetables and give me delicious colors. Feeling like I'm a little behind, but I'm still getting quality work done, so... so be it. Have a great night. Careful in the snow if you're gettin' in on it.

Your Doll,

...ok that was last night. The post looked fine on my end, but I guess it was jumbled on other's. Fixed. Today I'm going to go play with my film camera in the snow for my first photography assignment. 

Have a great day!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Ripping pages... and getting organized!

the ability to change everything 

So, one of my favorite things to do is go through my magazines and rip pages. I used to have a real problem with this because I had this feeling of, “I just don’t want to split this issue up, I just don’t want to split this spread up.” It’s like being a vintage store owner and acquiring a three piece suit with a magical cape and a matching hat. You just don’t want to sell them separately and split them up. (what’s that about anyways?)

But then I realized, if I don’t tear these pages out, they’re going to sit on the book shelf and rarely be opened. They’re not going to live the life that they were intended to, and that’s to inspire you and give you beautiful visuals and, well, be looked at.
(One of my favorite rips... it resides in the front cover of my binder. I just love this woman's spirit)

So, then I have no problem ripping. I rip away, you know?

I start flipping, I find the ones that I want, I find the ones that make me stop. Even if you think you might not use it at that time, rip. Also, you might not realize you’re finding inspiration in it, so, you have to be conscious of your reaction, because if it makes you stop and just look and stare, you should just rip it.

With that being said, you might rip a lot of things. And how do you remember what you liked about that? How do you keep it in a place so when you do need inspiration for a project you are able to find it? It can easily become unorganized and next thing you know, you have all these random pages and that’s not going to do you any good.

So, I’m going to share with you a few things over the past few years I have come up with and perfected in my own little way to be very organized in this activity.

I first started out with these little embroidery storage rings. 

They’re amazing and I know they’re used for other things, but they embroidery ones are especially fabulous because they’re huge. Not saying that you need to hang all your magazine clippings on them because after you have so many and you flip through so many times the hole punch will rip, so you’ll also need hole reinforcers, but you probably won’t run out of room anytime soon.

Strive for zero miscellaneous categories

 Even if it's something that’s weird, like you find a spatula you really adore, and you might be thinking, “I don’t really like spatulas that much, but this one’s awesome,” just label it spatulas because you never know, you might find another spatula you like and then it might turn into you’re the latest and greatest in spatula designer… I mean you never know. Just label em. So you can have anything, it doesn’t have to be the regular categories, (skirts, pants, jackets) I have lingerie, hair, make up, shoes, color (probably one of my favorite categories).

This is not just for fashion designers, this is for anyone who creates anything that ever needs inspiration, because it's hard to just turn it on and off. You see so many great inspiring things in your day, your week, your month, your year, and you can't remember them all, I mean I can’t, maybe you can, but you don't have to … and that’s what great about getting organized.

If, for instance, you are at Barnes and Nobel looking through a magazine and you find something you want but you cant because the magazine costs 20.00, Well be resourceful and copy down the publication, year and title (of spread, items etc) find it later and print. Which brings me to my next idea.

If you don’t want to print because printing is expensive, it wastes paper or maybe you just don’t have access to print whatever you want, save it.

Save it to a USB.

I cannot tell you how many folders I have of things I have found online. Don't let your inspiration folder be a dumping ground. Make an inspiration folder and then make specific folders inside of it.

Since you don't have a hard copy, you might even make an album and set it as your screen saver.. woo hoo now we're really getting wild. 

Just two beautiful images for you to look at, thats all.

Next keep it in a binder. Usually what I’ll do if it’s and inspiration I don’t necessarily know what I’ll use it for, but I do like it and it does strike me as beautiful or interesting, I’ll keep those in a binder in some plastics sleeves. I love plastic sleeves, they go a long way. And you don’t even have to spend a lot of money, buy cheap sleeves and then make your own dividers with post-its. 

I love them also because they’re literally like a layer in Photoshop, you can write all of them with a marker and then erase it without damaging the image below it.

The ring I keep for my most current projects, because I can hang it right in my workspace I can see it, its easily accessible

The binder, I do keep close by, and every once in a while I’ll go through and look at things and if you don’t like em anymore, take em out. You can put those in a “old news” folder if you don’t want to throw them away, but its completely normal for your taste to change. That really great blown out gingham check bag you once drooled over may seem quite hideous now, that’s ok.

If you really just have a problem ripping out pages I completely understand, but let it be known, once you do start ripping pages, you wont be able to stop.

but you can just dog tag everything!

Downside: You can't categorize.

And these things just seem very basic, and I might be wasting your time, but this is just what I do and I find it really important to track your inspiration, to keep it organized and keep it easily accessible because when it does come time to create something, it’s a shame if you don’t have things right there so easy for you to see.

 It only increases speed in getting things done, increases the quality of your work, it suddenly becomes easier, and better productivity is better creations, better designs, better art, better things to look at, and that is really what this is about. To make this world a more beautiful place and you know, it starts with us.

I just have this overwhelming feeling recently, getting ready to graduate, with my high school graduating class getting ready to go out into the work force, I want to help us, because we are about to be in a place to change everything. And I see that I have good habits, and bad, of course, but if we all just help each other and we share each other’s good habits and strengths, we can be better. Being organized does not come naturally to everybody and things like grammar don’t come naturally to me (if you haven’t noticed). Someone will tell me something that might be the simplest thing of his or her day and it’s the most profound thought of mine.

Like I said, this might be a waste of your time, but I feel like I could be helping you and that’s all I want to do. Creative people have creative ideas and these probably aren’t that creative, but they help, they work and if you have any other ideas because I know there’s 50,000 other ways to organize creative inspiration please do, share.

Happy ripping,

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Fashion-Pieces of Excitement!

Ok, sorry I've been away. But, I'm back today with tons of stuff!
First let me just get these out of my system, so beautiful!

Like whoa..

To see more designs by Nikki Salk and Amy Flurry go here

 Pre-Fall 2011 Loves

Emilio Pucci
I just think these colors are just so stunning and the pants.. perfect. 
Some more truly wonderful pants...
and I just thought this was beautiful.
Carolina Herrera
oh, stop it!
great jacket
all these images via

Ok good, now I feel better.
 I'll be back later with some thoughts that have been running viciously around my head about 
-ways to keep an organized girl happy in an unorganized activity, and also some 
-knowledge about organic cotton.

Hope your having a great hair day!
Your doll,

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Let the Application Begin!

Today, I went and got my fingerprints taken for my Teach Abroad application. yay! The people at the police station were so fun to talk to!

 Next step: Obtain my FBI Background check!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Been wearin' knits since 256 AD

Recently my interest has been sparked by knit garments. Sure, it's nothing new, and it's really no surprise because wasn’t it only this fall we saw girls dressed from head to toe in chunky knits?

We love knits! I wear knits daily. And so do you, you sock lover!

I guess I also have been curious about knits because I’m about to embark on a knit adventure with my senior collection.

It might have been a bad idea to design a whole collection with 75% of it being knit without ever really working with it (I’m definably a woven girl, but what do you expect? I worked in draperies for a bit; the woven cupid got to me first.) but, I’m going to give it a try. Ooohh, my own personal challenge: To conquer knits.

So this is what I’ll be doing for a while.. just giving you updates on first, what my questions are, and then what I’m learning. Hey got any pointers/answers for me, feel free to shout em out in a comment box whenever you want. Or email me. I love help and people who can teach me a thing or two.

1st question?

How is my favorite knit sweater mass produced? I guess I see knit work as something so out of my realm because I don’t know how to knit. I’ve never knitted a sweater, mittens or even a scarf!  So how does this …

Go to this….

by a machine? The only thing I can think of was that this was hand-knitted. But then I highly doubt this industry takes the time to pay someone to hand knit, they cant really be paying someone so cheaply that they can afford to do that..right?
I think I bought this sweater for 35.00 on sale?

Hmm don’t take my word for that, but I can at least say it wasn’t more than that.  (how do I know, well my mom, who bought it for me, nor would I, have spent more than that. May be sad to some, but what ev er.. haha I’m feeling saucy. Did I just give you guys a whatever?) ok

Back to topic

Here’s what I found after two hours of YouTube… I love YouTube, such a great tool for visual learners!

First, I couldn’t get past a ton of information on sweatshops.. but as I started to narrow in my search words, I did catch on to the name of a machine they were using in a factory (I believe in Sri Lanka) called Matsuya and this led me to better finds.

A quick note on sweatshops: I did watch those videos and I found something that has never occurred to me. There are workers called “guest workers” and they come to countries that have a high employment rate in the garment industry. Many of them come, working with people of different languages, different religions, all for one reason, to make money to send back to their families. 
This puts them at a very vulnerable position to work long hours doing whatever is asked of them, for next to nothing. Sometimes, being unaware of the situation we ask, Why do they deal with those wages? Because we, as Americans wouldn’t. But have we ever realized those tiny wages to us, are actually the highest wages that are available to them? (What they don't realize is the power they actually have. Without them... ) It also shows where their values are, and what they do to sacrifice for them. 
We can claim that we are helping their country, and sure, we are, we buy a lot from countries, such as Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India, China, Japan, Korea, but we are also profiting sick amounts. Wow….this was not intended to be a rant about sweatshops.  So sorry.

Shima Seiki Knitting Machine

(see the knit as it comes out of the machine)

The easiest way to explain is for me to show you this video if found during my YouTube train ride. 

Now, this next one is only for the real textile enthusiast, but really shows what's going on inside and brings the whole concept full circle once she takes the knit off.

 I happen to love this woman and am now following her blog. This is the best video I found in learning how to understand the original questions.. except for the fact that it is not commercially done. But I can gather that the way this machine works… plus an industrial machine, sprinkle in a production line and there ya go. 
Cool huh?, not really? haha I like it!

SO, I guess it should have been obvious that we wouldn't have handmade knits mass produced..Duh! That would just take wayyy too long, But sometimes you just gotta double check on these things, you know? I'm not condoning to the fact that factory work is the best thing in the world, nor that the wages are fair... just answering a question, yea? Please read about Fair Trade here and here.

Anyways, I guess I’ll double check/confirm this with my textiles teacher this week.

Hope your week is filled with curiosity!

Your Doll,

50.00/mo=A 50 year old woman’s salary in Bangladesh