Tag Archives: Fabric

Make a Fall Leaf Placemat

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This is a fun, easy, rewarding project for those who still have leaves falling, or on the ground. Or perhaps you’ve collected some and you’re not sure what to do with them. Making a placemat will allow you to enjoy them for years to come. Even small children can be involved in this project by gathering leaves and helping with the design. You’ll need:

Iron-on flexible vinyl, available in fabric stores by the roll. It is made by Heat’n Bond or Therm O Web.

Medium-weight white cotton fabric, about 3/4 yard per placemat.

Your favorite Fall leaves.

A phone directory or other heavy book.

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1. Gather some wonderful, colorful leaves that have fallen.

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2. Place them in a phone directory, or other thick book to flatten them. Put them toward the back of the book, so there will be enough pages over them to press them. Make sure you leave space between the leaves, and space between leaves and the book’s fold. Leaves will be flat in a couple of days.

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3. Cut fabric rectangles, 2 inches larger all around than you want your final placemat to be. I cut my fabric into 20″x 13″ pieces, to make 18″ x 11″ placemats. For the exact shape, I traced the outline of an existing placemat, which had rounded edges. Turn the fabric pieces over and make occasional guide marks 2″ around from the outside edges, lightly with a pencil.

4. Turn the fabric right-side-up again and play with the placement of the leaves. When you are happy with the way they look, you will be ready to iron the vinyl down. Don’t forget to leave more than a 2″ space all around your design.

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5. Heat your iron. Peel the backing off the vinyl and place it sticky-side-down onto the leaves. Smooth the vinyl with your hands, then iron it onto the fabric, following package directions.

6. When the fabric is cool, turn over and cut according to your guidelines. For further sturdiness, you can iron vinyl onto the back of the placemat as well. Admire and use your placemats for years to come.

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Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

Jo Meesters’ Sustainable Furniture

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I did a doubletake when I first saw a picture of Jo Meesters’ adorable furniture for his Netherlands design studio, TESTLAB. Yes, it did — It looked just like the potholders I made as a kid, using cotton loops strung and woven on a small square loom. I loved the potholders’ colors and patterns, and made oodles of them. Nothing else seemed to have quite the same appearance of weave and texture. Until now.

Meesters’ furniture collection, “Odds & Ends, Bits & Pieces”, uses only recycled material — 34 discarded wooden beams and 16 leftover blankets goes into each four-piece set.

This stool looks so soft and appealing.

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The studio explores the intersection of craftsmanship and mass production. Many of the forms are elemental. Sustainability, innovation and good design are guiding principles, as is the transformation that is possible when one considers or uses something in a new way.

The “My Secret Garden” carpet, which was done in 2005 in collaboration with Marije van der Park for Meesters & Van der Park, is made from discarded woolen blankets. Traditional needlework and floral patterns lend it extra charm.

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This woodwork-inspired table, “Reshaping Wood”, was also created in 2005 in collaboration with Marije van der Park for Meesters & Van der Park. The project explored the intersection of traditional woodwork and cutting-edge water jet technology in its fabrication.

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I find Meesters’ work incredibly inspiring, for its beauty and obvious love of craftsmanship and for its care and creativity in regards to re-use of everyday materials. Indeed, one of Meesters’ stated goals is to create a bond between object and user, to imbue his projects with an emotional value. If all that weren’t enough, Testlab and Meesters’ creations are just plain fun.

Photos by Marielle Leenders for Jo Meesters (Collection, Stool)

Photos by Jo Meesters (Carpet, Table)

Make this Easy Tie Dye Project

Before Anna left for camp, she wanted to dye some solid shirts for “color wars” and she wanted to do some tie dying. What to dye? A plain laundry bag, from San Rafael, CA’s Dharma Trading Company — a great resource for all things fabric, dye and yarn that also does mail order — was just the thing. The all-natural bag was inexpensive and fun to dye and, as a bonus, we knew it wouldn’t get confused with others in the camp cabin.

After getting our supplies together — buckets of water for each dye color, rubber gloves, rubber bands, trash bags to line our deck, dye packets and sticks to stir the dye — we began by folding the laundry bag accordion-style.

To do that: Make a narrow fold from the bottom of your item up. Turn the item completely over so the fold is now at the top, facing down. Make another narrow fold the other way. Continue until your item is completely folded.

Once we did that, we tied rubber bands in the places where we didn’t want the dye to come through.

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We began to create our dyes. We used the pure colors from Jacquard, called iDye. They’re wonderfully bright and extremely easy to use. We’ve dyed solid items in the washing machine, with great results. It was nice to find that it works equally well in buckets for tie-dying. You just drop the dye packet in the water (the hotter the better), add salt, and stir well.

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Anna started dipping the various segments of the laundry bag into the different dyes. She tried to hold each there a long time to get the richest possible colors.

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We were really pleased with the way the colors were coming out.

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This is the finished laundry bag. Anna really liked it. If you find that you want more color and less white space, experiment with the accordion folds on a small piece of fabric. Making the folds narrower and looser will allow more dye to get in.

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There are a lot more projects on the Jacquard site, so you can start having fun dyeing. As long as we had our buckets of color, we dyed some shirts and even underwear. We left the fabric in the dye a full day and got great, saturated colors. (Anna reported back from camp that her color war color was yellow, so she was all set.)

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

Eco Fashion Show Part Two: The Screen Printing

Screen printing was another very exciting part of the day I spent helping girls get ready for the Fairfax Festival Eco Fashion Show, which takes place Saturday, June 13. We ended Part One of the prep with Annabel and her wonderful altered shirt overlaid with a screen print of a cactus.

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The cactus was photographed and then traced.

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A neighbor of Molly’s had helped her repair her old screen printing machine, so the girls could make prints for the show. As Molly noted, we see screen printed T shirts all the time, but we are removed from the process of making them by hand. To do so, both screen and drawing get run through a machine that looks a bit like an old copier. This creates a kind of stencil of the artwork on the screen.

This is a print Jessie made using the cactus screen.

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This is a screen of the “Youth Making a Difference” logo. The girls are going to wear Youth Making a Difference shirts in a parade before the fashion show.

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Molly helps Amanda make her screen print.

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Anna applies paint to the back side of the screen.

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It gets spread with this wonderful tool.

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The finished shirt came out fantastic.

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.. As did a print on this handmade hemp shoulder bag.

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Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

Young Crafters Prepare for Eco Fashion Show

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About a dozen wonderful teens and younger girls have been busy for months preparing for an Eco Fashion Show that is slated to be part of the annual Fairfax Festival in Fairfax, CA, this Saturday. More details about the show are here. I had the good fortune to spend time with them last weekend and watch their creations and creativity bloom, as they transitioned recycled and vintage clothes to new uses and made beautiful items, while having fun, all under the auspices of Sustainable Fabric Guru Molly de Vries.

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My daughter Anna opted to repurpose an old nightgown of mine that I wasn’t wearing.

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As soon as she altered it, she had made it her own and was happy thinking about how she would embellish it.

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She pinned this beautiful lace to the hem, and then sewed it by machine.

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Meanwhile, Hannah was hand-sewing a lovely shirt made from a variety of vintage clothing and fabrics.

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Jessie further embellished a beautiful pleated silk skirt that she had made. (This picture does not do it justice.)

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Amanda continued adding to her own lovely brown sundress.

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Annabel tried on different outfits for the show, also thinking about what to alter further.

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The screen print on Annabel’s shirt was made using a tracing of a photo of this cactus:

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See Part Two of this story to learn more about our screen printing fun.

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman