Karlene's Workshop

My sewing, refashioning and upcycling projects revealed
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Big news, I have a shop!

  • 26/09/2011 9:14 pm

I’m very excited to announce that my new online store is open for business, check it out

http://felt.co.nz/shop/karlene-c

Just a few things in there at the moment, more to come soon :)

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Painted flower dress

  • 28/08/2011 4:01 pm

This is the dress I made from the painted denim jeans panel.

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Alas, some of the detail in the top layers of paint have been lost in the wash, still looks OK though.

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Next time I try this I will know to do all the painting in one flat layer, like a picture in a colouring in book.

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Painted flowers

  • 04/08/2011 6:25 pm


I’ve been painting! Every now and then my friends and I get together for an arty/crafty painting session. Rather than doing the usual painting on canvases, this time we decided to try stenciling on T-shirts using freezer paper. I had never tried this before as we can’t get freezer paper in the shops here in NZ, but my friend Raewyn was able to get some from the US for us to experiment with.

We printed out some designs/motifs to use, then transferred them to the freezer paper by tracing over the top (dull side of freezer paper) in pencil. Next we used a craft knife and cutting mat to cut out the shape, then ironed the stencil onto our garment/fabric. Shiny side down so it sticks to the fabric not the iron! (whoops, sorry Rae) When using a T-shirt, another piece of freezer paper is also ironed to the back of the design to prevent the paint seeping through.

I’m still in my denim phase at the moment, old denim jeans are cheap and readily available from second hand shops and easy to work with, so I chose to do some painting on a jeans panel to be put in another garment rather than a T-shirt.

Supposedly you use textile paints, but this is all I had and didn’t want to buy more:

I did have some perfectly good ordinary acrylic paint, and had seen it used to dye lace etc so I wondered if it would work the same way as the textile paint.

I decided to experiment a little on fabric scraps. The swatches on the left are the “control” scraps, the ones on the right have been heat set with an iron and then washed to see if the colour stays put.

The top blobs (red and white) are the textile paints for comparison. I tried using white as a base layer on the denim to make the colour stand out, as it is harder to see on a dark background. I used the acrylic colours mixed with the white textile paint as well as straight from the bottle to see if it made any difference.

As you can tell, the textile ink by itself was fine, the acrylic by itself was fine, the textile/acrylic mix was also fine. The coloured paint on top of the white was not fine, it washed off; the paint needs to bond with the fabric to become permanent.

My conclusions, one, ordinary acrylic paint made for paper and canvas works just as well as textile paints, two, if painting on denim, it’s best to use a lighter coloured denim if you want the paint to stand out.

This is what my panel looked like after I painted it, with the stencils still on:

And here is a close up of flowers after the stencils came off:

I’ll be using the panel in a dress which should be finished soon, watch this space…

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Fairy style dress – Green

  • 23/06/2011 12:34 pm

Thanks to my husband Keith, I got some lovely shots of the finished fairy style dresses I made.

Green fairy dress

Green fairy dress

This one I am wearing is the one I wrote about in my last post , made from denim scrap from some jeans and other bits and pieces. It took me a long time to finish, as I got quite frustrated with the whole thing a few times, then it finally came together the way I wanted.

Front detail

Front detail

The skirt is made up of different layers using strips of tricot and tulle on the bottom, some tea dyed broderie anglaise cotton from an old skirt, strips of vintage spotted net and some ripped up pieces of an old blouse, and then the patchwork bustle layer on top. The bodice is cut from the bottom half of a pair of jeans (the top got made into a skirt) with patchy bits here and there, and mock lace-up inserts on the front.

Green dress, full length

I have more close-up pics of the details in my last post, and of the bodice and construction of the first layer here.

Coming soon, pictures of the other dress.

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Green denim dress, almost complete

  • 21/09/2010 1:53 pm

The dress, as is, on my dress stand.

A bit lopsided but there is a reason as you will see…

I’m pleased with how this is turning out, there is just one little thing I have to change, the top part of the “petticoat” lining layer is sitting too high. It’s kind of hard to tell on her, but on my body it looks a little weird and needs to be lowered a bit.

I’m either going to pull all the lace off the top and cut away the excess fabric, or pin and pinch it down like this and hand stitch the folds.

It was err, interesting sewing the bustle layer. When I first started I had a rough Idea of what I wanted it to look like but was getting very frustrated when it wasn’t happening. I spend a long time (and I mean LONG, like days and days) thinking about how all the edges were going to be finished, how it was all going to be joined together, and how I could get lots of random scrappy bits sewn on in the right place until I felt like pulling my hair out!
I cut out the rough shape in the same cotton as the skirt base and added the ruffle around the edge with the dark green rick-rack trim, then decided I was just over thinking the whole thing and needed to let go and just sew sew sew. So… I grabbed some fabric scrap I liked, plonked it on, grabbed a bit of ribbon, slid them all into the sewing machine in a haphazard fashion and stitched away, and hey presto it worked!

I continued in this way until the the bustle piece was covered and looking just how i wanted it.

The pieces that I melted were used here under the bustle layer to add more texture and ruffly bits to the skirt.

Finishing the back was also giving me a bit of headache, this is how it turned out,

I made the zip visible as a design feature and added some fancy machine stitching along the edge. Have decided that the uneven height on the bodice panels and lace at top is also a “design feature” :-)

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Melted

  • 09/09/2010 12:43 pm

Some fabrics fray nicely and look cool, like denim or cotton. Other fabrics just make a really big mess with lots of threads going all over the place.

I wanted to use some scrappy pieces in the skirt of the dress I am working on without all the mess, so I tried melting the edges with a candle.

Turned out OK, a bit blacker in places than I wanted but I can live with that. I also managed to get a few corners dipped in wax, (whoops) will add to the texture!

WARNING: Doing this with polyester and nylon makes nasty fumes, so do it outside or with lots of ventilation. Also be very careful with your fingers, candles burn and so can freshly melted fabric! Ouch!

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The tea dye experiment

  • 26/08/2010 2:35 pm

I’ve been wanting to have a go at dyeing with tea for a while now.

I had an old white cotton skirt with a broderie anglaise hem that I wanted to incorporate into my current project (using up the pant legs from the green jeans) and needed to be less, well, white!

I also wanted to try it on this cream rayon dress mum gave me with cool embroidery details

and a vintage (gulp) wool cardigan that had become yellow with age to see a) if it would work on rayon and wool, and b) what colour would cream go in a tea bath?

From 2010-06-11-teadye-experiment

I boiled a big pot of water and then added LOTS of old tea bags, most of which had been sitting around in the kitchen for years as we drink coffee!

I let the tea brew for an hour or so and then removed all the teabags – or so I thought!

The pot wasn’t big enough for all three garments at once so I soaked them one at a time. The cotton skirt was first, I left it in for about two hours giving a stir every now and then, and took it out for a rinse.

I left the rayon dress for a bit longer, as supposedly it it harder to dye. The great thing about a tea bath is that you can use the same liquid over again. I put the wool cardigan in last and left it over night (about ten hours) as I wanted to see how brown it would go.

Unfortunately, when I took it out the next morning it was very blotchy. It was a lovely caramel brown colour, but blotchy. I couldn’t understand how this happened when the other two were fine? Was it because it didn’t get stirred?

When I emptied the pot of tea I discovered the problem. Teabags still at the bottom of the pot! Arrrgg! If you want a nice even colour, take out ALL the teabags first! And give it a stir now and then.

I also gave the garments a spin in the dryer to “set” the dye, hence the slight shrinkage of the cardigan. I’m not too worried about it as I was planning to try and felt it anyway.

Here’s my after shots of the skirt and dress:

They came out a kind of pinky brown colour, they look a bit washed out in these photo’s, you can see a more true representation of the colour in this one:

Now it works better with the other fabrics I’m using.

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Green jeans to skirt

  • 23/08/2010 6:04 pm

I started with a pair of slightly faded green jeans, then made them into a skirt like this.

It was a bit plain so I decided to add some patchwork applique and lace

My favourite so far!
If you look at the back of the waistband you can see the original colour where I’ve pulled the tag off. It’s now more of a turquoise green.

I am using the cut off pieces from the legs for another project which will be revealed soon.

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Mum’s floral overnight bag

  • 07/08/2010 3:49 pm

I haven’t posted for a while so here’s some pics of this large bag I made ages ago for my mum.

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The bag base was originally cut smaller than this. I had a small scrap of floral fabric from Nana’s stash that I wanted to use for the flower shapes, utilizing as much of the piece as possible. After building up the layers underneath the flowers grew in size and I knew I would have to re-cut the bag to fit them on without looking all squashed up.

This one is a photo of mum wearing it so you can see the scale.

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I Confess…

  • 15/06/2010 2:02 pm

Well this is kind of embarrassing. Not only have I not posted anything in AGES, this post is to confess that I went shopping and purchased some new stuff. So for the first time, here is my get out of jail free card.

Get out of Jail

It is mid-winter here in NZ and I was feeling very cold, so I bought a couple of merino thermal shirts, (on sale!) a knit jumper/jersey and a fine knit cardi. In my defense, I did think about making some merino shirts but I knew that by the time I got around to finding the fabric and then making the things, winter would be almost over. And the fabric costs as much to buy as the shirts themselves did!

I have been refashioning a few things, mostly denim skirts and am waiting to get some nice model shots before I post pictures.

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