Mila bought a black and white art corset the previous summer and wore it tramping around Europe, falling into pools and gutters… wore it till the fabric disintegrated! She said people were always asking her where she got it, and she wanted another one to wear on her next European vacation.
She liked blue, and I had a DSP print with blue on a thicker canvas with some circle shapes… yay bubbles!
I found this fabric in a fripperie in Pointe St Charles neighbourhood of Montreal called “Madame Prend Conge” which translates to “Lady takes leave”. It sounds very old. Something a Victorian lady might say… but being an organization for helping women, in the middle of a rather poor neighbourhood… I guess it is supposed to be an encouraging statement similar to “you go girl!”.
Anyhow, it seemed to me like a lady had donated her entire fabric stash which included a bunch of antique cushions, drapery, and even couches that were torn apart. I took a bunch of it with the intention of making romantic ruffle skirts and corsets… maybe I had been watching too much Game of Thrones?
So this corset, which I started and then stopped… went to work at an upholstery studio for 6 months… and when I came out of there felt I could do a better job of matching up the pattern of the fabric. I ripped the whole thing apart and re-cut it, and did it again. Considering it is very old and brocade likes to move around a lot, and I didn’t back the fabric with any stabilizer or anything, it turned out pretty nice.
I posted photos on facebook and it was sold almost immediately.
I found a great tutorial on Instructables for “true DIY guide to screen printing” that included instructions on making photo emulsion using a chemical called Potassium Dichromate (which I found at Kama Pigment in Montreal).
WARNING: Potassium Dichromate can kill you ‘n shit.
This is the cheapest photo emulsion you will ever find… and it works for fine detail artwork and on any screen mesh. But only with water based inks.
**this post gets so many visitors! it’s crazy!!**
Definitely look at the tutorial on Instructables first, that guy offers lots of important information!! Read the comments there too…
This is my “converted to baking measurements” recipe. If you need help with conversions from oz to ml to cups, I use this conversion site.
1/2 cup of PVA white craft or carpenters glue (water soluble)
1/2 teaspoon of potassium dichromate
3 teaspoons of warm water
White craft or carpenters PVA glue, I buy it at the dollar store or craft store. Any cheap water soluble glue will work. Carpenters glue has a slightly better bond, but it’s a little more expensive. 120ml of glue makes just enough to cover three medium/large size screens.
Potassium Dichromate can be purchased at speciality arts stores that carry supplies for wood staining, leather tanning, custom pigment paints, etc. I found mine at Kama Pigments in Montreal.
First of all, work in a dimly lit room (obviously not totally dark or you can’t see what you are doing, just don’t use an overhead light and not in direct sunlight you should be fine)
Wear gloves… try not to get this stuff on you, it is toxic as hell.
In a small plastic or glass container, put 3 teaspoons of warm water.
Add 1/2 teaspoon of Potassium Dichromate and stir until dissolved. (do not use these measuring utensils or containers for food or anything else afterwards!)
The Potassium Dichromate is sensitive to light only AFTER you add water, but I do keep mine in a airtight container that I covered with duct tape, just to keep it at max potency. The store where I bought it though just has it in clear plastic bags on a shelf. I bought a 1/4 pound bag of it for about 8 dollars over 5 years ago and it still hasn’t lost any strength that I can notice (and I’ve got enough left to last another few years!)
Add 1/2 cup of glue and stir well until consistent and no lumps etc…
Again, do this in a dimly lit room (no overhead light or sunlight)
Spread thin and even on your prepared screen with a squeegee, as you would regular photo emulsion, and allow to dry. The Instructable link has info for preparing screens and squeegees etc, and there is lots of other info out there for that so I won’t repeat it.
Depends on your bulb, distance, size of the screen, image opaqueness, etc. This is a trial and error process you will have to experiment with your timings to get it right.
In the photo below I think I was using a 100 w bulb, and it’s definitely too close. Since then I’ve got a 250 w bulb suspended at least 2 feet above the screen and expose for about 12-14 minutes.
OMG I made a video tutorial! Enjoy!
Cheerz and happy printing!
So I have to wait for more pieces from Kyla for the leather patchworking, but I wanted to keep the “just sew stuff together” momentum going… so I dug out a handful of scraps and pieces of deconstructed print fabrics and started piecing them together…
It may or may not look like a gift for my sister, so if she reads this, she will not be surprised.
My neighbour Graziella gave me a bunch of pieces of leather out of her treasure storage… they were so soft and beautiful! Purple, teal, coral pink… she used to make patchwork leather jackets back in the 80’s and was excited to share her stash with me.
I made some bracelets and traded a couple pieces with my friend Karen for other leather… she used it to make super bow tie necklaces. Then I started patchworking some little scraps using the flatlock stitch and coloured thread on my overlock machine. That was at least a year ago… recently I showed it to my sister and she was absolutely crazy about it.
I made her a bralette and skirt a couple years ago with the same blue snake print leather… and so I started adding more scraps to this little patchwork with the intention of adding it to the bottom of her bralette.
This is as far as I’ve got so far… need her to bring me the bralette and skirt so I can use more pieces of the skirt. Still have some more purple and teal, and
Mike is going to Burning Man! Of course he is! And he brought me this nice black mechanics jumpsuit and asked me to “rape it” with patches… I tried my best! I didn’t have many patches in stock, so I had to print most of them, iron, edges, sew by hand! But 15 patches later, and he’s ready for the Black Rock City!
Been a few years since my sister and I celebrated PRIDE together in Toronto. Such a special PRIDE (in 2015 Gay marriage became legal in the USA!) and I also received my ruffler attachment finally from China… so I went to get some rainbow fabric to make my sister something special to wear (she is my biggest fan!) I wasn’t too impressed with the selection at Fabricville, but I did find a bunch of coloured tulle and figured a tutu would be a good test for this ruffler.
Unfortunately, the ruffler is a piece of junk and it damaged my brand new sewing machine 🙁 le boo!!
Anyhow… the tutu, which is actually shorts, turned out amazing! And Kyla rocked the shit out of it!
I don’t remember where I got this denim from, but it had a slight stretch to it… which is why when I tried to make a box cushion cover for my couch with it that it didn’t work at all. This was before I was working at the upholstery shop where I learned that upholstery fabric is stiff and not stretchy for very good reason. It looks like crap. SO… despite all of it being cut already for cushions, I managed to scrap it together to make this skirt. The patchwork style of the skirt inspired by “lagenlook” dresses I’ve been “studying” on pinterest. I finished it just in time for my sister to visit, and of course, I gave it to her… even though it fit me perfectly!
McKenzie asked me to change his Hockey Shirt (long sleeves) into a Basketball Jersey (tank top).
I spent a summer working on Queen St West with a little art collective store called Heartbeat 960 (located 960 Queen St. West). My friend Jodi invited me by saying “I print on used clothing and people buy it!” Sounded like fun to me! So I ditched my apt in Montreal and moved into Jodi’s spare room, and setup my sewing studio in the back of the Heartbeat shop. It was a lot of fun, met a lot of cool people, and yeh actually, people bought stuff!
Setting up window displays was my favourite… put something on a mannequin and for sure someone walking by would spot it and come in and buy it. Happened all the time. I really did not have any clue how to price things, and so really we did not make much money. But it was fun.
We had an open house for Nuit Blanche, and had various local artists and performers come in and do shows… we also hosted some workshops and had a basement with a blackroom setup for photography.
This was a custom creation for my sister’s BM 2011… it was an awesome find, real leather but printed to look like snake skin. I made a bustier with shoulder straps, added a LOT of eyelets (to attach a leather/chain trim that could be removed).
Wish I had better photos of this one… it is HOT!!
My friends Mike and Nico were going to BM 2014 with a theme camp, the “Dusty Beavers”. Mike wanted a full beaver suit, but the fabric he chose didn’t want to cooperate and so it ended up a beaver hooded vest. I also pirated a logo for them and made a silk screen and about 100 patches for them to give at the festival.
My friend Nicolas asked me to sew patches onto his playa jacket… here is a photo he sent me to show him riding his bike on the playa proudly showing the patches. He said people were constantly asking where he got it, and the following year asked me to make a bunch of patches for him to take there and gift to people.
My friend asked her to make gifts for her niece/nephews in France, something appropriate for young children that would make a good impression for “the cool aunt”. I made two stuffy animal bags… only have a photo of this one. The second one was a beaver (I think?) and was “creepy” so I don’t know what happened to it.
I don’t think making children’s toys is my calling.
Halloween 2013 I was taking care of Naira (my dog’s momma dog) and watching them chase each other around the back yard I was inspired to dress them up as the clearly obvious characters they are, Peter Pan and his Shadow.
I had a neighbour, she was an erotic dancer aka stripper. She saw this green plaid fabric I had and asked for a dance outfit, with snaps closures…
I made some aviator hats, back in 2010? I don’t remember exactly, but I found some photos! So here they are…
Been developing this idea in various forms, made from leather, upcycled brocade, sparkles, neon… basically really short, with pockets, some ruffles or pleats, grommets for laced size adjustment (butts get smaller after a night of dancing, and you maybe need to tighten up a bit so your skirt doesn’t fall down and pull your tights down with them! true story), and snaps. sometimes buttons…
I made one for myself out of denim, and it is hella short, but I love wearing it in the summer over some tights to go shake booty. Some girls though would prefer them to be a little longer… I still make them really short. Oh well!
My lovely sister and her friends went for their second year on the playa and asked me to help with their wardrobes. Two outfits per day, for a week, for 3 girls? plus a tutu and leather vest for her boyfriend? no problem! Unfortunately I was in such a rush that many of the outfits did not get photographed 🙁
I did a couple bloomers with wrap crop top hoodies… and a couple corsets, some wrap skirts, some fun fur (of course)… my favourite piece was a snake fringe collar and leather belt skirt with more snake fringe… it was spectacular! still hoping someday to get a photo of it.
I found some sample prints in the basement of La Galliards, and made a couple corsets with it…
Last summer I made a bunch of bloomers out of some vintage satin/polyester fabrics I had… they were very popular with the ladies!
I ordered this zebra printed leather online and I managed to get three corsets and a bonnet hat out of it! and some bracelets out of the scraps too.
Using scraps left over from my Peach Berzerker Pillows I made this corset:
Few sarouels I made last summer…
In May 2010 I stumbled upon Kerr Grabowsky‘s Deconstructed Screen Printing and absolutely fell in love with the creative process she demonstrated in her video. She is a great teacher and really inspiring artist! Having done traditional screen printing for years, I was excited to learn and try this experimental printing technique, using dyes instead of ink. I ordered her DVD (which I’ve enthusiastically shared with friends many times over the years) and set out to find the necessary materials. The cold water fiber reactive dyes and chemicals she uses I couldn’t find in Montreal, so I ordered from J&S Dye in Toronto. I had a pile of white cotton fabric I recovered from a couch slip-cover project.
dsp test print 1
November 13, 2010 – Tried the deconstructed process with wood stain, not dye. So the prints were not washable. But was fun and messy. I gave away many of the prints to friends and family as wall hangings.
dsp print 2
January 31, 2011 – Finally got some MX dyes!
All pieces prewashed, soda soaked, and hung to dry. Then printed with strong dye mixtures, double the dye required for fabric painting, with urea (wetting agent) and alginate (thickener). Hand washed *vigorously* in cold water, warm water with detergent, and hot water with detergent. Hung to dry…
dsp print 3
Now that I tested the process, got some new texture items to play with… here I tried using a piece of lace detail (which turned out to look a lot like a cow skull I thought) and a string of sequins (which turned out to look like intestines). I also tried printing on a white tank top.
dsp print 4
I tried using vinyl cutout shapes… and tried different colour combinations…
There are a few print sessions I didn’t photograph, but by now I had a huge stack of prints and needed to figure out what to do with them. I liked them on their own, as wall art, but then the purpose of it being fiber dyed and washable is lost. I wanted to make clothing with it… I had made corsets before and thought that these crazy abstract prints would make interesting wearable art corsets. The pieces are pretty small and I could mix and match through the panels.
This fabric was a scrap that I salvaged from the upholstery shop I was working in last winter. I love the colour! And it isn’t too thick (considering it is upholstery fabric). I wanted to test out this sailor shorts pattern and had just enough of this fabric to do it…
My sister Kyla is going to Burning Man 2012, her second “burn”, and asked me to help her make a colour coordinated collection of pieces she can mix and match. This is what we came up with this weekend…
- pink and orange spike faux fur lined bolero with long bell sleeves and orange grommets for attaching satchels and tie-up
- lavender faux snake skin PVC apron with front pouch and orange grommets, with matching satchel and tie-ups
- orange satin with geometric embossed design and pink elastic mini bloomers
- black satin with flower embossed design and green iridescent accented lace mini bloomers (to be worn with green faux fur halter top made last year)
- orange yoga shorts with extra tall waistband (matching jacket lining, can be worn up to keep tummy warm at night, or folded down like mini skirt in day) including matching orange arm bands and sleeveless mini shrug with pink edges
- mint green lace short sarouel onesie
How could anyone NOT have fun wearing these!
Using fabric that I printed with fiber reactive dye and the Deconstructed Screen Printing process, I cut the prints up and made these corsets… one of a kind wearable art!
Anna chose some pink fabric I had, and wanted a sarouel that she could wear as a jumpsuit. I added a bunch of grommets with a strap that can be worn around the neck or waist. Together we did some screen printed flying pigs and WOW… is it not the cutest little thing EVER!!??!
The photos could be a lot better, with different light, and the neck strap further apart in the front… and needs a photo of her wearing it at the waist. But I think it’s super cute!
I can make one for you too…
I feel like a whore, working on the floor, all day… pads.
My friend Piotr asked me to help him develop a “new” knee pad for construction workers. The standard strap design he doesn’t like, and the pants with the built in knee pad pockets are expensive, and are not positioned properly for guys who like to wear their pants lower on the hip.
We took some foam knee pads, created a leather and canvas case holder with snap application strips on the side. The top snap has an elastic so that when kneeling there is some pressure ease for the pants.
These are pants I made for friends and family, a few were gifts and the others were sold. I make them using a traditional sarouel pattern that is very easy to do and does not waste any fabric. I will do a tutorial here soon…
Inspired by the book “From The Head Up” hat making and millinery… I had some nice soft leather scraps and decided to make some bonnets.
Found an absolutely amazing resource of info for dying fabric… explains EVERYTHING you need to know, including all the different brand names and technical-chemical stuff. Really easy to understand, however lacking in photos.
Matt walks into the house with a Door and says “I want you to put patches on it… and make one side puffy.”
For the Toronto Pride Parade I printed a bunch of rainbow coloured patches and went out with my new little puppy Chorizzo (isn’t he precious!) to the parade hoping to sell a few… instead I was practically mobbed by people falling in love with him. There was even boys trying to buy him drinks!
Inspired by my friend Erin May’s bracelet cuffs, I gathered some scraps and leather pieces…
Spring time in Toronto… printing patches to sell or trade at festivals and outdoor parties.
There are a couple left, if you are interested in a printed patch I can look for the design you want or print a custom one for you. I keep my screens and always have scrap fabric and inks.
I thought I’d try making some stuffed animals with scraps… this was an experiment that turned out really great. When I went to New York City with Cat and Lysandra we stayed at Eeah’s loft in Brooklyn, so I gave it to her for hosting us.
This corset top was made with a sample of fabric I picked up in Toronto. It is a printed faux fur… not really sure what it’s called. But I took all the guy had and have not seen anything like it since.
I made this reversible corset and a matching aviator hat, and one other cropped corset (no photo), and some bracelets. Wish I could find more of this fabric!
The grommets in the back were replaced and I added grommets on the top/front to attach the hat. I gave it to my sister Kyla for her birthday to wear to Burning Man 2011. She has worn it every summer since.
Using the same process as the Berzerker Pillows, I patchworked some scrap silk pieces from Peach Berzerk into these cute bags. I sold both of them… Julia has the purple one, and Raphaelle has the pink one.
In November I interviewed with Peach Berserk, legendary Toronto screen printed punk-rock frock shop on Queen West, for a sewing position (“Head Sewer” sounds like a horror movie right?)… anyhow, after two awkward interviews I didn’t get the job, but they put me “on the list of super star sewers” for future projects.
It’s now February and I saw another post on Craigslist from Kingi asking for a Creative Accessories Designer. I wrote to her with some photos of my new bustiers saying “Hey! Remember me?” and she invited me down to discuss.
So… I go down Saturday afternoon, with somewhat lower expectations, she shows me some pillows and a bag in the showroom, tells me what she likes and doesn’t like about them, and tells me to pick out some scraps from two overflowing bins in the back room for a “sample” pillow. I grab a few pieces, trying to get some in colours I liked, with decent prints, and of decent size… show them to her, and OOOPs! I’d picked up some satin, polyester, and a couple bits of raw silk. My bad. Mixing fabrics is apparently not ok… and the pieces are too big! Okie dokie… so I go back and quickly pick out as many small or odd shaped pieces of raw silk I can find without much attention to the prints. With a mitt full of edges, misprints, and dirty scraps I tell Kingi I’ll be back Wednesday with some pillows.
Back at home I’m questioning my mission, purpose, etc… is this a cruel joke or a job? I sketch some ideas, do a bit of research on sewing with raw silk, find some funky quilting and patchwork inspiration and remembering Lada’s alteration insanity (she was a designer in September @ heartbeat960 who liked to sew out front on the sidewalk) decided to try a patchwork collage. Took me a while to get into cutting up the fabric… not sure why exactly. Maybe worried I’d waste the bigger piece. But when I realized I didn’t actually have to quilt it, and I could use iron-on interfacing as a sticky foundation, I knew I was going to nail it!
She warned me about using “patches” of incomplete prints, messy prints, or no print. And when I asked about unfinished edges, it was alright as long as it was done nice. She also told me never to throw anything out, and she wanted “more” funky than the other pillows she had already. So, I took some of this, some of that… and baby this is how you turn shit into gold.
Upcycled… Raw Silk… Patchwork… Collage… Berserker Pillows!!
In January I decided to jump on the bandwagon and cash in on people’s insecurities… did you stick to your new year’s resolution to get skeletal? on the no-sugar diet with Ellen? if you did, or didn’t… here’s something to highlight your mid section (over or under other wares). Warning! May get you a TV appearance on “What Not to Wear”.
Materials donated by the Toronto Cat Rescue…
During my first month working at Heart Beat with Jodie, we experimented with bleach and spray bottles on various pieces of used and vintage clothing. Sadly, the best pieces were sold before I could get some photos!
Here are a couple of my sweater remixes (deconstruction/reconstruction)
the mannequin is too damn skinny to wear them right!
After the photos were taken I put a couple red buttons on the red hood one… before the lady walked out the store with it!
ok so I’ve been “working” on this bag idea for ages now, well ok a month. I acquired a bunch of old vinyl beanbag chair covers (dollar-bag sale score again) and cut them up saving the zippers and as much area fabric as possible.
the colours are not too terrible, muted red, blue, and orange with some cool fading and discoloured spots. personally I love blue and orange together, don’t know why, I never wear it, but I like looking at it.
I started out just sewing random bits together. that was great fun but ended up with a big patchwork thing with no specific shape or idea what it had become.
the plan was a hip bag pattern from scratch… so at least I tried. after pages and pages of sketches, tests with pieces of newspaper, pattern paper pieces, and a pile of failed attempts at gusseted pockets… I got almost half-way with this one:
…but my sewing machine couldn’t handle 6 layers of vinyl to finish it.
So feeling a little discouraged, I figured I’d make a couple bags using a pattern to strengthen my skills and feel like I accomplished something.
not that pretty… I used fabric I didn’t want to save for something else… well except for the multicolour one, that’s from an old tshirt and a pair of stretch denim short shorts that I’m sure the world can do without. but I made three in two days and now feel a little more productive. and, the hip bag pattern has a fresh start.
I picked up some snaps, buckles, and eyelets today with money from selling some other junk, so I’ve got everything to make 10 or more belts next week.
I love tents. I love looking at them in the Canadian Tire sales flyer. I even love pitching them in the dark for outdoor festivals… but busted zippers are as common as black flies and often turn a great tent into a frustrating mosquito trap.
As much as I’m totally for reusing stuff till it disintegrates completely, if someone even suggests I replace a tent zipper again I’m gonna kick their ass.
Seems like it should be pretty simple right? I’ve done a lot of zippers, but this one changed my life forever… I will never look at a tent the same again.
My neighbour brought me her dad’s small tent that needed the entry zipper replaced. It had duct tape holding half of it together, the rest of the zipper was badly damaged. No problem, or so I thought…
I went to one of the local fabric and trim shops for “zipper by the yard”. Unfortunately he didn’t have the same type of zipper so I could reuse the sliders, but they could have been the source of the damage in the first place. So he hooked me up with a double sided slider from a jacket zipper, cut that zipper to get the slider off (which itself is worth a couple dollars), spent 15 min or so putting on the new slider and a stopper – all for only $5! Sweet! I tried to give him $10 (considering the time he spent helping me and the other zipper) but he refused. I thought “wow, what a super guy and he must really want my business” but, he must have known how difficult this was going to be.
So off I go… spent an hour ripping the old one out, removing duct tape, and trying to remove some of duct tape sticky shit left behind, good times. Then I make new casings for the ends, wicked. I attach one side of the zipper, happy to find out it is exactly the right length. Everything looks good. Start with the other side and get about 3/4 of the way and realize something is not right. This side is shorter than the other by about 5 inches. wtf? riiiiight… it’s a CURVED seam. Means one side is longer than the other. Awesome.
So I rip out the longer side, read on the internet about fixing tent zippers (should have done that first right? shut-up) and sure enough, you have to “ease” the longer side in. Let me tell you, there’s absolutely nothing “ease”y about easing nylon. Second try, bunch of little mini pleats and looks like hell. Third try, still some pleats, looks a little better but now it’s too short. Fourth try, whooooo I think I got it. Still has little pleats in it, but fuck it. I’m not ripping it out again.
$40, minus $5 for the zipper… and a lot of stitch ripping.
Alright, so if you need a tent zipper fixed, don’t ask me. Take your broken-ass hippie crap somewhere else! Or screw the environment and anti-consumerism, throw that shit in the garbage, and buy a new one.
Tents are on sale at Canadian Tire.
p.s. if you have to sew something with duct tape goo on it, try rubbing some flour into it. yes I said flour.
Malorie brought in a cute black halter top that she didn’t really like that much, but wanted to print something on it to make it something she would wear… here is what we did:
Sometime ago, in my grandma raver era, I developed an affinity for aprons. Handy pockets to put stuff in, a touch of femininity with back bows and that skirt-over-pants look, and some protection from the elements… what’s not to like?
So I started a collection of standard kitchen aprons, house-cleaner-granny aprons, and some kitchy sweet designer aprons. Then I found some patterns and started making my own.
Although some may disapprove of the integration of service industry uniform into high fashion… I hope eventually to make the apron a staple in every wardrobe.