Monday, April 22, 2013

Create Your Own Lace Fabric!

This is a super easy, inexpensive and quick craft project that can be adapted to a variety of fabric projects.  I found it in a great source called the Crafter's Project Book by Mary Ann Hall & Sandra Salamony.  This book is a wonderful resource for projects that range from simple to involved.  It is divided into four categories: Paper, Fabric, Ceramic/Glass and Metal/Wire/Wood.  The authors offer tips and variations on many of the projects and the instructions are clear and concise, although no extra photos or illustrations are included beyond the final project.
You will need: a spray bottle that produces a fine mist but doesn't drip, chlorine bleach, a large bucket filled with a mixture of cold water and white distilled vinegar (I used about 2 cups of vinegar), dark colored fabric or a garment (made from natural fibers such as cotton, linen or rayon), lace, rubber or latex gloves, glasses or safety goggles, and some type of protective drop cloth or newspaper.
1.  If your fabric or garment is new, wash and dry it to remove sizing and preshrink it.
2.  Work outdoors (but not on a windy day) and put down a drop cloth or newspaper.  Carefully lay out your fabric or garment, smoothing it flat.  If you have a shirt or tee, protect the back by inserting cardboard or foil into the center so the bleach doesn't reach the bottom layer of the garment.  See picture below.

3. Carefully lay down your lace.  Try to select lace that has some weight to it and a bold or distinctive pattern.  I purchased a very small amount (2/3 of a yard) and cut it in half.  Then I carefully placed the pieces side by side to get the width I needed.  You can reuse the lace many times, just make sure you wash out the bleach so it doesn't destroy the fibers.  Alternatively you could use other items for a stencil, such as a fern frond or leaf, a doily or lace tablecloth.
4.  Put on your gloves and glasses to protect yourself. Using your spray bottle lightly mist bleach over the lace and fabric.  If you want the bleach to work more slowly, dilute the bleach with water rather than using it full strength. 
5.  Carefully lift off the lace and place it in the solution of vinegar and water to neutralize the action of the bleach.  Now watch the fabric; when the lace pattern has emerged enough to suit you, place the fabric in the bucket of vinegar and water solution and gently swish it around.   After a minute or so wash out your fabric or garment and lace with soap either by hand or in a washing machine.  For shirts with sleeves- repeat the whole process on the back of the shirt after you have washed and dried the garment. Don't forget to protect the front of the garment from the bleach.
Keep in mind that not all colors bleach the same.  Black can become brown, or gray or a purple pink.  If you have extra fabric you can do a test swatch to see how it will turn out.  Remember the darker the color of the fabric the more dramatic your results will be. 

On this piece you can see my spray bottle started dripping and left splotches on the fabric.

The dark denim bleached to a worn looking lighter blue color and because of the texture of the fabric the lace pattern was less crisp then the smoother fabrics.
Have fun experimenting!