Tag Archives: Fabric Art

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Calling all Plush Fans and Crafters: Plush Show at Schmancy in Seattle

A few years ago, my family and I found ourselves in Seattle and at a wonderful, whimsical store called Schmancy, in the Belltown district, that specializes in all things plush, most of which are hand-made. Shelves were lined with plush cupcakes, benign monsters, felt woodland mushrooms, large-eyed sandwiches, and storybook elves, many of which took their fun sensibility from Japanese art and design.

My daughter has always loved to sew and to make whimsical plush objects (in addition to her own eco-friendly totebags.) She struck up a conversation with Schmancy owner and artist, Kristen Rask, and she ended up having this abstract applique- designed piece in the store’s annual Plush Show.

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The Plush Show is happening again, with receptions and activities¬† this weekend and displays throughout the month. In addition, the Northwest Film Forum will be screening Faythe Levine’s film, Handmade Nation. This documentary about the D.I.Y. craft movement will be appearing in other cities; check the film’s website for details.

If you’re crafting at home, there’s plenty of inspiration and instruction available. Kristen Rask’s own book is called Plush You! Loveable Misfit Toys to Sew and Stuff. Another book my daughter Anna has really enjoyed is Softies: Simple Instructions for 25 Plush Pals by Therese Laskey. A bonus of plush-toy crafting is that it can often be done with felt. Felt is so tactile and pleasing to work with. Handmade felt is great but, for children and others wishing to experiment, bright squares and pieces of felt are relatively inexpensive, as well as easy to use.

Another cute fabric-crafting book I recently came across is Betz White’s Sewing Green: 25 Projects Made with Repurposed & Organic Materials. Not strictly oriented to plush, this book has lots of cute ideas for easy, green D.I.Y. sewing projects like sweet pillowcase dresses, mans-shirt aprons, screen printing, a fall-leaf felt scarf, and more.

Be warned: a visit to Schmancy or a poke into one of these books will make you want to start crafting every cute thing inside.

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Top Photo by Susan Sachs Lipman

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. Bandannas are great to dye, as their small surface allows you to experiment. 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

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