It’s not always easy…

I’ve spent all morning trying to think of something to share with you all today. I’ve even spent the last few days trying to come up with something.

You see, what I’m working on at the moment is a little bit experimental (for me at least). And I think it has potential. But I also think it just isn’t there yet either.

But I have decided to share it with you anyways. Because, I think it’s important to give yourself the space to experiment, to test ideas, to develop your skill set. And I think we are so used to seeing polished work, that we forget that to get there, there were many hours of experimentation, tears, frustration and things that didn’t work out so good.

So this is my process so far…

I had a pile of black denim. Much of it had bleach marks. In its past life it was worn to work in a night club, and apparently they used a lot of bleach to clean stuff (which makes sense, cos those places are filthy!)

I started with a pile of black jeans with bleach marks

I had a vision. I wanted to make a bomber jacket with some extra bleached detailing. I sourced a pattern – McCall’s M7637. Heck I would love LOVE to be able to draft my own patterns. But I haven’t made many clothes in the past, so working with patterns will hopefully enable me to understand how clothing goes together a bit better before I go down that path!

McCall’s M7637 was the pattern I settled on to experiment sewing a bomber jacket.

I cut up all the jeans. I cut each leg off just below the crutch, then i cut up the inner leg seam, this then opened out into a nice big flat piece of fabric. I stitched these together as required to make pieces of fabric big enough to cut each pattern piece out of.

Once I had cut a back piece out, I jumped right into the bleaching process. I did minimal experiments on a small piece first, the went straight for the jacket piece. I used a white pencil to draw out a design. I filled a small bottle with a pointy bit with bleach gel, and used that to draw on top of the outlines.

This is the entirety of my testing things out before I jumped straight in. This whole process in one big experiment
I used a white pencil to draw out a pattern on the jacket piece before I used the bleach
I used gel bleach which I put in a small bottle with a fine nozzle. I also used hydrogen peroxide to neutralize the bleach was I was happy enough with the results
After bleaching, use a solution of hydrogen peroxide to neutralize the bleach. Any leftover white pencil markings will wash off too.

It’s not that I don’t like how it worked or even the design I did. It’s just that I’m not feeling it. I can’t see it all coming together in a cohesive piece. This is the point I sit on it for a few weeks. Often I have an “AHA!” moment and figure out a way to finish it, others I just knuckle down and get it done to get it off my plate and move on to something else. And there is always the pieces I still have in the cupboard 10 (20?) years later that never came together but I can’t bare to start over with.

The first jacket in pieces
The second jacket pieces. This one the denim has more inherent bleached areas. I’m still brainstorming how to work with these and the best patterns to add. I’ve started cutting out the lining for this one too. I am using an old bed sheet which I will dye after I have semi constructed it.

Some thoughts I’m having at the moment –

Would embroidery add a needed element?

Would applique give it some depth?

Does it just need more bleached patterning?

Am I game to touch the second jacket I have cut out?

Would adding more bleached areas and then dyeing back into it with colours work?

What am I actually going to do with these pieces once I finish them?

Some discharge and re-dyeing experiments. Holds potential.

Anyways, I have a lot to think about. And I’m going to give myself a week to work through those questions before I start more experiments. For the rest of this week I think I will be dyeing. I have a lot of white jeans and fabric to work through. Although, I think that will be another task that will raise more questions than answers! Wish me luck!

Have a Creative week

<3 Cate

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