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Fabric Making
There are many ways to liven up and embellish plain fabrics. With some creativity and a little effort, you can create your own personalized stylish textures and designs.
Tie Dye: Using fabric dyes, this age-old technique isn't just for the 60s anymore. Using fabric dye and rubber bands will create distinctive designs. Fold or twist various areas of fabric, then rubber band it tightly. Prepare dye according to package directions. Be sure to wear rubber gloves to protect your hands!

Dye can be just as damaging as bleach to your unprotected skin. Please take the proper safety precautions recommended.
Once your garment is ready, place in the dye for at least 15-20 minutes. The longer the garment remains in the dye, the darker and deeper the color will become. Remove from the dye and rinse according to package directions, usually in cold running water. Ring out garment until water runs clear. Carefully remove bands and dry.

Couching: Add texture to plain fabrics by sewing down cording, braids, or twists. Trace the edges of a brocade design with narrow rope
Screen Printing:  Apply a variety of designs to liven up fabric. Practice makes perfect with this technique. Ink is forced through a fine screen that has a vinyl stencil affixed, using water-based textile inks.

Quilt blocks: Create personalized designs by piecing coordinating or contrasting colors together in many different shapes.

Applique: Using a satin stitch, by hand or machine, sew around the edges of cut out shapes. Stabilize the back of your design with interfacing.

Weaving: The oldest technique for making fabric. If you have access to a loom, you can weave special designs and textures out of simple yarns. You may be limited by the loom's width, but color combinations and textures are unlimited.
Crochet or knitting: By crocheting or knitting your fabrics, you are making a wearable garment from 1 long string. Texture can be added by using simple stitches. You can also introduce multiple colors into a design, as well as embellish your finished work with cross stitch, embroidery, or ribbonwork.

Fabric painting: Using textile paints and inks allows for maximum creativity. Remove any sizing or special treatments before beginning. Use brushes, old kitchen utensils, or objects such as spools to imprint designs.

Place plastic under your work to prevent bleed through. Heat set according to the paint or ink directions.
 
Felting: Washing 100% wool results in a thick, soft fabric. Washing wool changes its characteristics (as would washing any dry-clean-only fabric). Be prepared for up to 50% shrinkage, and make sure to finish the raw edges of the fabric before washing. Some wool blends will not felt and will pucker. Experiment with swatches to see what the fabric will do when washed.
Beadwork, sequins, embroidery, ribbonwork: By adding these fine touches to your fabric, you can improve the overall design. Just about any fabric can be embellished.

Acid washing:  100% silk can be turned into a matte-finish suede-like fabric just by washing in a simple acidic solution. Finish the raw edges of the fabric and soak in warm water. Squeeze out the excess. Fill the washing machine to a low level and add 2 cups of white vinegar. Agitate to mix. Add the silk and agitate for 12 minutes, the full rinse and spin cycle. Dry fabric on a delicate cycle. Repeat until the desired hand is achieved. Press with a pressing cloth.
Discharge dying:  This is the process of removing dye from fabrics with bleach. This works well on rayon, cotton or linen. Don't try this on wool or silk as they will degrade. Fabric blends usually won't cooperate either. Use caution when working with chlorine bleach; wear gloves and in a well-ventilated area.

Bundle fabric up (similar to tie dye) with rubber bands or dental floss. Experiment with different twists and folds. You can also use dental floss to stitch in a design. Pre-wash bundle and leave damp, but squeeze out excess. Submerge bundle in 1 part bleach solution to 5 parts water. Agitate and leave in for about 30 minutes. Time will vary depending on how much dye you want to remove. Rinse with cold water, handling gently. Squeeze out excess and remove bands or stitches. Put fabric in neutralizing solution of 1 part white vinegar to 2 parts water. Then wash with detergent (without bleach) and dry.

Fabric twisting: Works best with light weight silk. Fabric will keep its shape if stored in a twisted ball. Soak silk in warm water, squeeze out excess. Fold lengthwise in half, then again in half. You'll need 2 people for this.
Each person gather an end and twist in opposite directions. Squeeze out any bubbles that form. Twist as tightly as possible, until it starts to curl. Then fold in half and repeat the twisting until you form a ball. Secure the ball with white cotton thread, then place in the tow of a stocking and tie off. Dry in your dryer with towels (to keep the noise down and absorb moisture). 2-3 yards will take about 3 hours to dry depending on your dryer. Test the center of the ball with your finger for dampness. When it's thoroughly dry, untwist. If it's still damp, the fabric won't hold its crinkly shape.

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