fabric designing June 18, 2012 – Posted in: Tutorials

My favorite challenge on Project Runway is usually the episode when the designers get to create their own fabrics. I think most of us who sew dream of being a glamorous fabric designer, surrounded by bolts of gorgeousness we get to use endlessly. I know there are sites like Spoonflower, but that’s just not in my budget (I used to balk at their $16+ per yard prices, but my favorite local quilt store had bolts for $12.50 2 weeks ago. I nearly vomited!)! So when I came across this post on Pinafores and Pinwheels last week I felt like I’d hit the jackpot!

My oldest niece came to stay with us last weekend and she’s extremely interested in fashion design. At nearly 9, she spends hours in her room, doodling in a book and creating garments on her Harumika dress forms. So when I told her I wanted to try this project with her, she was more than thrilled to participate!

I read the tutorial on P&P several times to make sure I got it all right. We decided to use plain white fabric so we could wear plain white shirts with our creations. Katie and I both opted for skirts and she designed her own while I created one for Sofie. We practiced with the glue on scrap fabric before we dug in and got to work.

My brilliant sister also had an idea to do a shirt in the same style. So I quickly freehanded this little number for Chloe. Just make sure you put a piece of cardboard between the layers of your shirt!

The glue takes FOREVER to dry. The tutorial said she let it dry overnight and that’s spot on. I figured a few hours and we’d be good to go but it took many, many, MANY hours to dry completely.

Then we moved on to the dye bath. I did Katie’s skirt and Chloe’s shirt in red. I used about a gallon and a half of water and half a bottle of red liquid Rit dye. I should have used two full bottles of dye! My glue started coming off pretty immediately and they each stayed in the dye maybe 5 minutes. So when I moved on to Sofie’s fuchsia I dumped in the whole bottle and it’s still fairly light. They both love the final color, so it doesn’t really matter, but if I’d wanted deep, rich colors, it would take a LOT more dye! I used a knife to scrape off the glue when I rinsed the fabrics, then I tossed them into the washer together. After an hour on air dry in the dryer my fabric was ready to sew! Chloe’s shirt was still wet for a few more hours, but was dry by the time I needed her to model it for me.

Overall, I really loved this project! I think it’s something wonderfully fun to do to incorporate your kids in the process. If you’re not up for a whole outfit, the shirts are faster and easier and just as much fun. I’ve got many more ideas swirling around in my head and I can’t wait for my next chance to grab a bottle of Elmer’s and go to town!