Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Rainy Day Art Making How-to

It all started here, when I saw this shirt on the Mini Boden website.  Oh, cement mixers, how children across the land do love you.

So I decided to make one. It's raining like crazy, and is clearly not going to be a hiking or beach day. Commence sketching.
Not too fancy.  Easy to sew lines.

 First time at this? Give yourself two or three hours and a cup of tea to see you through.

If you decide to get into applique sewing, there are really not a lot of materials you need. The two main things are a basic sewing machine (zig zag stitch throughout) and fusible interfacing called WunderUnder, available at fabric stores like JoAnn's.
Fabric collection ready with interfacing
Because I love to sew, I have a lot of extra little pieces of fabric around. I iron these to the WunderUnder and stash them in the bag you see above until I am ready to use them. When you want to make an applique, just draw on the back of the fused fabric+WunderUnder.  Because it has a paper backing, this is really easy.  Then cut out your pieces with sharp scissors.
The pieces to make the mixer.
This is a red long-sleeve tee I found at Old Navy for 0.99, but you could do it on any blank or striped tee, or even on tie-dye.
Peel off the paper backing from the pieces you just cut out, and arrange them on the shirt.
Peeling the paper backing.
Arrange, and iron the pieces on with an iron that is hot and without water.
And here I assume that you own an iron.  But you may not. Or you may be like me, and yours rarely sees the light of day, so when you pull it out your two-year-old gets wide-eyed and asks, What's that?!

Keep the iron moving slowly.  The glue needs heat on it for around fifteen seconds to adhere properly, but I usually go double on each area to be sure.
Keep ironing. 
Am I done?!  Nope.  Well, maybe for a last-minute Halloween costume, but not for a washable garment you want to see worn dozens of times.  At RES I did have fourth graders in 2012 make an awesome quilt using this exact technique, and they did not do the stitching on top and it has held up well. Here is a snapshot of it:

Species of Vermont quilt, by RES 4th graders
  It is in the RES art room, and is a species of Vermont quilt that hangs on the wall. Each child did a quilt block after researching, planning, and sketching their Vermont animal or plant, and then they used a sewing machine to stitch it all together.

Done ironing, now onward to sewing.
The sewing is not as intimidating as you might be thinking. All you have to do is set your sewing machine to a wide zig zag and a short stitch length, and voila! A satin stitch.

Pin computer paper to the inside of the shirt (or if you have some, wash-out fabric stabilizer, but I never buy that actually). The paper underneath will keep the fabric flat and smooth so you have no puckers.
Use a thread color that looks good with the fabric, but it doesn't have to match.
 Trace the edges all the way around.  If it has a cut edge, go over it.

All those extra threads will be trimmed later
On the wheels, I increased the stitch length so that it would look a little more rugged instead of smooth, being a cement mixer and all.

Here is what it looks like when you take it off the machine.
Yikes, what a mess.
Pull all of the paper out of the inside, like this.
It will come right out.

Trim off your extra threads.  If you want it to be super durable, pull the threads through to the back, tie them to a neighbor, and then trim.
After the haircut
Throw out those extra threads, and iron it once more with a little steam.
Beep, beep, beep!
And there it is!  A rain morning's craft, ready-to-wear.  It will look good for years to come.  Or, until the child spills ice cream down it.  Thankfully, you can throw it in the wash, no special care required.
Have fun!

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