Autumn Leaves Printed Blouse

on pátek 18. října 2013
Remember, when we were kids, how we used to collect fresh fallen leaves, painted them and then printed on paper? You could make a whole tree: it just required an adult, who drew a trunk with a few branches, and then you covered those branches with as many printed trees as the paper could accomodate.

Even if you're not a kid anymore, there's a lot of things you can do with leaves. Yes, even fashion things. This idea stemmed from my love for the classic black & white combination. It will never go out of fashion, I'm sure, only the cuts, details and accessories change.

I decided to make a blouse with black maple leaves. I had an 1,5 metre piece of white cotsilk fabric in my stash, which is perfect for a light blouse, and the length is perfect for a top with long sleeves. As for the pattern, I copied an old tunic blouse with princess seams that fits me well.

I cut the pieces. You can use white chalk on white cotsilk, because cotsilk is shiny and the chalk is not, so the lines are visible. I like to mark my seam allowances with this useful toy:

It has a small toothed wheel and a container with powdered chalk and a metal toothed wheel on the bottom. You trace the seamline with the first wheel and the second one draws a dotted chalk line 1.5, 2.5 or 4 centimeters from the seamline. Saves a lot of time.

First, I did a few test prints on paper and then scraps of the cotsilk fabric. I used Pebéo Setacolor Opaque, heat fixed fabric paint. I tried various methods (brush, foam brush) and coverages to find the right one.

The leaf needs to be almost completely covered with paint. Don't worry, it won't print as a leaf shaped block of black. The paint should not be too thick or too runny, the default thickness of the Setacolors is just fine. To get rid of excess paint I dabbed the leaf with a paper towel. The excess paint collects mainly around the three main veins and if left there, can make a blurred puddle on fabric.

Lay the painted leaf on the fabric. Once it touches the fabric, don't move it!

Carefully cover the leaf with a piece of paper and press. I tried laying a book on top and pressing it down, I tried the roller I use to roll out Fimo clay, but I found out fingers are just fine. Just press the covered leaf gently with your fingers or heel of hand. Again, don't move the leaf, you would smudge the print.

After I found the right procedure, I moved onto the blouse. I've sewn together the front and ironed it. I tried a few layouts with the maple leaves I was going to use. The leaves can be reused a few times, but I collected a big bunch, so I could select the ones that would work best and use a fresh leaf for each print.

I recommend collecting the leaves just before printing, because once you bring them home, they dry and shrivel quickly. If you need to store them overnight, leave them outside or in the fridge.

While working, keep everything clean! I used clean newspaper both under the fabric and for pressing for each new leaf, and threw the papers and the painted leaf away right after printing. I kept the dirty brush, the bottle of paint and the paper towels away from the fabric. Setacolors are washable until fixed, but I really did not want to have to try washing black paint from a delicate white fabric...

The printing did not take long. I then waited for the paint to dry and fixed it by ironing on the wrong side (the iron should not touch the paint). I also fixed the test print on fabric and kept it. I'm gonna try washing it to see if it's safe to wash the blouse (lukewarm water, by hand, no wringing, of course).

The weave structure of the fabric produced a very interesting effect: the prints look like newspaper photos!

Now the front was printed and the paint fixed, I've sewn the back and finished the seams on my overlock machine. Because the seams are visible through the delicate fabric, they need to look as neat as possible.

The blouse has flat cap sleeves, typically sewn in before sewing the side seams, so I've sewn the shoulder seams and then finished the neck with a facing. I'sewn it to the neckhole, folded under and stitched witch very little stitches, almost invisible on the right side.

Then I've set in the sleeves and finished the remaining hems. The blouse has two short side splits and is hemmed by simply turning the overlocked edges and stitching through.

And done! Gonna wear it with black pants. And I'm probably gonna make a t-shirt with leaves, because I love it... A black one with white leaves using the opaque paint, maybe?

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