Wednesday, October 03, 2012

When Life Gives You Tubes

After last week's T shirt scarf project, I was left with a bunch of non-loop tubes. And a few days later I received a big pile of men's thin white undershirts, the kind without side seams. There was no choice but to make more scarves. Hey look at me... I'm up cycling!

First off, I dealt with the left overs. The trouble with those non-loop tubes is that they were too short to use for a double wrap, and too long (and not enough of them) for a satisfying single wrap scarf. So I needed to find a way to add length.

The solution was to make a band to extend the length. This has worked out very well. The flat band is invisible once the scarf is double wrapped. It actually sits very comfortably at the back of the neck and reduces the bulk of the material when worn under a jacket or coat. The sample shown could certainly be sewn better… had a little trouble with my bobbin thread for some reason… but you can see the general approach.

Then it was time to deal with some of those white T shirts. Well white wasn't going to cut it for me, so I got out the dye again.
I went for 2 approaches to start. My goal was to create texture for the tubes via variations in colour and pattern.

1) Step dyed strips. 

Wow, this approach has real potential! The first sample was so successful, I can't wait to try more.

Here's what I did:
  • cut T Shirt into 2.5 cm strips (ended up with 16)
  • mixed up about 2 cups of fairly intense yellow-green dye (RIT Golden Yellow and Pearl Gray)
  • put in one third of the strips, for about 5-7 minutes, then removed and rinsed them.
  • added one cup of very hot water to the dye, added next 1/3 of the strips for about 5 minutes, then removed and rinsed these
  • added one more cup of water and repeated with the remaining strips.
After these where dry, I started to stretch them - and boy did they stretch! This had been a heavy Fruit of the Loom T - much thicker than the rest I was given. They almost doubled in length and got very fine and smooth. The best loops ever so far!

I didn't feel the need to do much to to this, other than a bit of binding to hold it all together. The colour variations are just great the way they are.

This makes image makes me hungry for some reason. Spinach linguine?

2) Solid dyed sections mixed in with tie-dyed sections.

I'm not sure that I have ever done tie dye before. Hard to believe that from a child of the 60's but it's true. I've done a bit of shibori (which I'll be trying with some of the other white shirts later) and the theory is the same.

I didn't worry too much about the tie dye patterns because all I was looking for here was pattern and texture. I hoped that combining solid colour and variegated colour tubes would add something to the scarf. Well, I was right about the effect, but wrong about the patterns… as you can see from the two samples below.

The tie dye effect in this mint green sample is mostly lost in the cutting and stretching process. I'm still achieving a variegated effect, but the detail is gone. This is due to two things: the tie dye pattern is too subtle (using pale dye colour) and the stretched tubes are too narrow to show any pattern.

So for the second sample, I cut the strips for the tubes twice as wide as before (now 5 cm). This results in a slightly shorter but much fatter tube that reveals the obvious the dye pattern better. The brighter yellow green colour helps show the pattern too.

The look of this scarf is quite different. It has quite a bit more visual bulk, but is still very soft and light.

You can see the marked difference between 2.5 and 5 cm strips in the comparison below.
Can't wait to do some more tie dye effects, with brighter and darker colours and bolder patterns, now that I know what works.