Happy New Year – I am back! We were away for Christmas and New Year, without access to the internet.
What do you do when you can’t log in? It’s a challenge, I can tell you!
This is what I did
- read some books
- enjoyed our new home in the Cotswolds
- spent time with the family
- went to the gym/pool, often with the family
- did some knitting
- and painted a piece of silk for Brenda, which I will write about later.
Anyway since I showed a picture of what I made for Brenda on Instagram a few people asked how I did it, including Stitched Up Sam. I often use hot wax but this is not essential, and it involves a piece of equipment that not everyone has (or dangerously heating candles on the stove – not recommended). Below I explain how to do it with the minimum of special equipment.
I am absolutely not an expert but I have done a term of silk painting at the Mary Ward Centre, and I have made lots of painted silk linings. Two years ago one of my SWAP dresses was made from painted silk. If you search painting on silk images you will see lots of professional looking work and art. My way is the quick and dirty way.
As you can see from the photos above I am far from a proficient painter. I just choose some colours I like and sort of daub them on. I was thinking of peonies when I made my dress fabric, although Clarinda Kaleidoscope asked me if they were peaches. I didn’t even plan out the flowers on this one – you can see how they are sort of randomly spaced. I was very aware with the bodice that I didn’t want blossoms on my bosoms, so I avoided that – but the design is not well-balanced.
I have improved a bit since this effort and made a nice, small piece of painted silk on another occasion. I intended to use this for my SWAP last year, but that plan fell by the wayside.
You will need
- A piece of natural 100 per cent silk. Any silk will do – I have used habotai, crepe, satin and stretch silk with elastane. White or natural cream is the best colour but you could use a pastel shade if you want. Get at least one metre. You can cut out or draw out your pattern pieces first if you want to get the design to work perfectly (eg pattern matching or motif placement). But I will assume you are just painting the whole thing.
- Some silk paints eg Setasilk, Javana silk paints. You can make every colour from Red, Blue and Yellow. But I find black is useful for darkening. To make colours lighter don’t add white – just dilute them more. You can get these paints on-line or (in the UK) Cass Art shops stock them.
- At least one decent quality paint brush. I have two – a fat one and a thin one
- A paint mixing tray or just some little pots
- Some water
- Something to cover the table and an apron. It can get a bit messy, but the paint will wash off floors etc if you get to it quickly. When it dries it goes sort of rubbery, but can be rubbed off.
- You could work the design out first, but I can’t be bothered. I just choose the colours I like and then go on instinct. If you choose the colours you like to wear you are not likely to go wrong. You can always make a small handkerchief or headscarf practice first.
- You can mark your cloth with pins, washable fabric pens or tacking. This makes it easier to plan the pattern placement. I find getting the midline in (where you would normally fold the fabric for cutting on the fold) and then regular spaces is helpful. With Brenda’s fabric I just kept folding it in half to get the markings in a sensible place – that way there was no waste
- Some fabric may need washing first. I don’t normally bother.
- I start by putting one motif in a specific place eg midline at the markings. Then add a similar or different motif to its left or right or whatever to build up a balanced pattern.
- Start with the lighter colours, and let them dry before adding the next colour. Or not. If the colours are wet then they bleed into each other, which is a nice effect. Another thing you can do is wet the fabric (with a paintbrush) and paint onto this. This creates a sort of water-colour effect which is very pretty.
- If you are doing this on a table under lights it will dry fast so by the time you get to the end it will be dry enough for the next colour
- The proper way to use the paints is to dilute them. But I am lazy and I like strong colours so I often use it from the pot. This also ensures consistency of colour.
- If you mix colour you will get a more muted look. You can create greys and browns but if you want exactly the same shade throughout the piece you have mix it up in advance.
- When painting say purple, I start with blue with a dash of pink or red, paint with this colour, then add more red so the purple gets redder. This means I have several purples creating a nice, varied effect.
- That’s it. Just keep going until you like what you have created. I like to leave some white in a design, but you don’t have to. If you don’t like the effect you just keep adding more colour. For example with Brenda’s i messed around a lot with the brown/turquoise section to create a sort of malachite look.
- Once you are happy with the design you need to fix your paint by ironing with a hot iron, according to the instructions. I think it take maybe ten seconds? I just keep going over it for a while and it seems to fix just fine.
I hope this is helpful. Let me know if you have any good tips, or if you have a go.