Print ANYTHING on your Galaxy s8 or iPhone X phone case!!!

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Galaxy S8 phone case from Printful with my Pūkiawe (Styphelia tameiameiae) design on the back

There is an entire store dedicated to iPhone cases at the mall here. An ENTIRE STORE. Not so for Samsung users. If you really want a case for an S8 from the mall here, you’d probably have to rifle in vain through the aisles at CVS, although I do expect to see people capitalize on this market soon. There’s actually kind of a dearth of cases for Samsung users right now. Even Amazon doesn’t have a great selection, and all the retailers that carry cute, modern phone case designs pretty much seem to cater to iPhone users.

So it’s particularly great to see Printful, an online printing company with a spectacularly well designed website, offer phone cases for both Apple and Android users that one can print ANYTHING on.

The case is a clear plastic. Printful says the back is polycarbonate while the sides are polyurethane. Polycarbonate will offer better protection in impacts, while the polyurethane is flexible. The case snaps on to the phone and fits perfectly. Time will tell if it stretches out or not. It feels durable and like it will protect the phone (not sure to what degree, but certainly from smudges and scratches and perhaps light impacts) without feeling bulky. It has a slim enough profile to be considered minimalist in my opinion. Your print covers the back, while the sides remain clear. You can print your design on the back for under 11 USD.

They have cases for iPhone 5/5s/SE/6/6s/6 Plus/6s Plus/7/8/7 Plus/8 Plus/X and Samsung Galaxy S7/S7 Edge/S8/S8+.

The website is very easy to use. I particularly like their Mockup Generator which in my experience has accurately represented how your design will look on the final product.

The turnaround time is very fast, as is shipping, and they will put your logo or company name on the shipping materials!

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Block printing with foraged fern fronds

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I recently participated in an art making activity where we went on a nature walk through an urban forest to gather textured materials and then used those foraged finds to create interesting patterns on fabric with fabric paint.

We gathered mostly leaves, but I gathered a few small twigs and woody material as well and wasn’t too sure what I’d use and cast aside until I sat down and considered my options.

The best “stamps” were the objects with a fair amount of texture and interesting geometry. We painted a thin layer of fabric paint onto the surface of each item and then carefully pressed the “stamp” down onto the fabric, covered it with a paper towel, and applied an even pressure over the area. Too much paint muddles the pattern and creates harsh lines and dark blotches. It was possible to reuse leaves and twigs several times before they started wearing down so it was easy to create a pattern over a small area with very little “stamp” material.

I didn’t want my old shirt to take on too much of a crafty look so I opted for the black paint and stuck with just the one color. I used small sections of laua’e fern (Microsorum scolopendria) to print out the general pattern, then filled in some of the negative space with a group of woody flower stalks. On the sleeves, I used the end of a kukui (Aleurites moluccana) leaf to create a different but complementary pattern. The pattern extends to the back of the sleeves as well, which I thought would be an interesting detail.

I wish I knew what brand the paint was. After it dried, I set the paint by ironing over it and then laundering. I wasn’t sure how I’d like the painted fabric because paint can make fabric stiff and uncomfortable, but because the layer of paint we used was so thin (and maybe because the paint is just good?) you can barely tell there is paint on the fabric at all. It isn’t noticeable when wearing.

A fun project for all ages!

DIY Spoonflower leggings

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I don’t normally go for large bold prints on pants or leggings. It’s just not my thing. It’s been trending, though, and I’ve made an exception or two in the past for some exceptional prints. I’m sure my loulu print is not exceptional, but I still really like how it came out. It may be that I have beer goggles for my own work. That happens sometimes.

I never thought that I’d be able to make pants until I spontaneously gave it a whirl for my Prince costume. To be fair, what I made were really more leggings than pants. And to be fair, they didn’t end up fitting exactly as I intended. But stretchy knits are very forgiving, and they were still flattering and comfortable and 1970s-inspired enough.

Making those pants/leggings made me believe that I could make actual leggings, to actually wear. Like, not as a costume. I’m beginning to think that there’s very little difference between an outfit and a costume anyway. Costumes and outfits are both curated looks with a specific intention behind them, even if that intention is to get out the door as fast as possible.

I wanted new leggings. I did a lot of mental acrobatics to convince myself that I needed them. My old Forever21 stand-bys were getting stretched out. They always were a bit on the scratchy side anyway. New leggings can cost nearly a hundred dollars so I decided to try making my own. And why not try making my own pattern while I’m at it? (Read about making the fabric print pattern in this previous post.)

There are a few mandatory details I think all leggings should have: a diamond gussett to prevent camel toe, some sort of detailing on the back hip area to make your butt look better (details along the pant legs are nice, too), flat seams, a flattering sewing pattern. I haven’t seen this yet, but I really hope someone adds a kind of seamless shorts lining to increase the thickness of leggings in that area and eliminate the possibility of VPL forever. Maybe I’ll give that a shot next time.

I riffed off the pattern of my Forever21 leggings, winged the gusset, skipped the back hip detailing because that would require more time and effort than I had, and am still puzzled as to how manufacturers create flat seams along pant legs and shirt arms. There must be a special machine that does that.

I could not make the pant leg seams flat, but happily discovered that the “regular” seams weren’t noticeable at all when wearing. I made the leggings high waisted with a wide waist band, because I think wider waist bands are more comfortable. The gusset works fine. The pant legs are a little tighter in parts than I’d like (may need to be more generous when cutting the fabric, but you really don’t want to risk bagginess with leggings). I went with a wider hem on the pant legs just to try it, and I don’t like the look of that so much. Next time I would definitely go with a smaller hem. I may eventually alter them and narrow the leg openings a bit while I’m at it as well to get a more tapered ankle fit, which I think looks better. I miss the back detailing a little, but am happy to report the fit is still flattering!

What I love most is that because I made a matching bikini out of the fabric remnants, I can now put the top and leggings together to create a matching workout outfit. Matching workout outfits always seem to be an unattainable luxury for me, so this is so much fun!

I hope to make another print soon, and have a second go at making a swimsuit and matching leggings again.

For my experience with Spoonflower and more about the fabric, see the bikini post.

Note: I may have to post rather infrequently, like maybe biweekly or once a month, going forward, but do have several projects in the works.

This post is part of the WordPress Discover Challenge and Weekly Photo Challenge. Thank you for joining me on my journey here and letting me share!

DIY bikini and Spoonflower fabric design

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I’ve been thinking for a while it’d be cool to try designing a fabric print inspired by endemic plants. I heard about Spoonflower a long time ago, but always thought it was a bit pricey. My desire to try my hand at making my own textile design finally outweighed the cost recently and so I committed to do it. I’m so glad I did, and justify the cost with knowing that buying products to fill these needs from my favorite brands would have cost a lot more, would not have been made locally with American made fabrics, and would not have taught me as much or improved my design and sewing skills at all.

I didn’t want to put too much time into refining a complicated design only to find out that the fabric quality wasn’t there or the colors were too light (as others have described in the past) so I decided to use a photo to make the design figuring that would be faster than sketching or painting something by hand (also I’m not a great artist).

Looking through my photo archive, nothing immediately stood out as having potential so I did a quick search online for a Creative Commons image and found this photo of a Pritchardia beccariana  (Pritchardia what? More on this below.)

Once I had the image, I did a quick search for tips on how to make a repeating pattern that wouldn’t have any obvious hard boundaries. Tiled patterns remind me of 1990s desktop computer wallpapers, which haven’t quite made a comeback yet. A quick YouTube search returned videos like this one that show you how to make a simple repeating pattern. Here’s the design I ended up using:

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Looking at this image now, the gray definitely looks darker and grayer in this image than my actual fabric, but I still like how it came out. Ordering any fabric can be tough online, and for an important project or if ordering a large amount, I definitely would recommend paying a little for a swatch first and waiting for the shipping. Note that it seems that only a portion of your Spoonflower print may fall within the dimensions of a swatch, so you may have to order a larger piece of fabric to really see what the full extent of the pattern itself looks like.

One thing I don’t like about this design is the “S shape” in the center of the image above. The lesson there for me was that when using photos to make a pattern, you really need to watch out for these types of “hard edges” that can result in unintended geometric shapes that detract from the overall pattern. It would not be hard to fade these edges to get them to blend in a little more or add something or move things around to hide them. I just didn’t see it, though, until I received the actual fabric. Next time, I may consider purchasing a yard of their most inexpensive basic cotton fabric (about half the cost of their Sport Lycra) first to test the pattern out if I’m unsure about the design.

What’s Pritchardia beccariana?

Usually when I see an image of Hawaii, there is either a beach, coconut tree, tiki, or pineapple in it, sometimes all four. While none of these is unique to Hawaii, there are many species that call Hawaii home that do not exist anywhere else in the world, many of which are endangered or threatened. Hawaii is a hotspot for biodiversity!

Pritchardia is a genus of palms primarily found in Hawaii, named after a nineteenth century British consulate to Fiji. Of the 27 species in the genus, 24 are endemic to Hawaii.

The species name beccariana is a nod to the Italian botanist, Odoardo Beccari (1843-1920), who put the Sumatran “corpse plant” (Titan arum) on the map in 1878. Titan arum currently seems to be a popular attraction from the NYBG to Foster Botanical Garden in Honolulu, perhaps because the world’s largest inflorescence also delivers a remarkable stench when in bloom.

Known as loulu (“umbrella”) in the Hawaiian language, these palms were useful to Hawaiians for their edible fruit, wood (to make spears), and fronds (for thatching).

See this website for more information about Pritchardia in Hawaii.

Spoonflower fabric

The Spoonflower fabric I went with is their Sport Lycra, which according to their website is 88% polyester and 12% lycra with 4 way stretch and minimal shrinkage. It’s also knitted in the USA and printed at the Spoonflower headquarters in North Carolina, which is pretty darn cool.

Others have said the black does not print true black. Maybe that’s true, I’m not sure. I was happy with how the black color came out, but I do usually prefer charcoal to black. Any difference wasn’t noticeable to me. The other color in this print is a light bluish gray. I do think this color is significantly darker on my screen than it printed in real life. In real life it could be mistaken for white. Held up against true white (the reverse of the fabric), it clearly is not. I didn’t want a true white because true white can be bright and a bit harsh.

I like the fabric itself better than I thought I would. The fabric weight seems appropriate for athletic wear, which is one of the intended uses of this fabric stated on the Spoonflower website. It stretches more in one direction than the other, which is represented in the product description on their website (“4-way stretch, 75% in width and 50% in length”).

In the stretchier direction, the fabric weave separates and you can see lines of white fabric in between the lines of printed color (the color is printed on to white fabric). This is not a problem in the other direction, so if you don’t need the extra stretch, you can avoid this phenomenon with careful attention to which way you lay out the print and which way you lay out your sewing pattern on to the fabric. This also may not be a problem if you lay out your sewing pattern pieces on the bias, but that tends to consume a lot more fabric.

At $32/yard ($28.80 if you design your own print) plus shipping, it definitely pays to have an efficient plan for how you want to use the fabric. For comparison, I picked up a dark green, very thin spandex type fabric for less than $8/yard to make the swimsuit reversible (more on this fabric later).

Another thing to note about the Spoonflower fabric is that the print is like a large image printed on to a piece of fabric in that there is a white border around the printed image. I assume they don’t include this border in their description of the fabric dimensions, but didn’t check. I just cut the border off and will use it like string for something else.

Someone else also mentioned that Spoonflower fabric has a maximum length of three yards, meaning if you order six yards of fabric, you will get two 3 yard pieces instead of one 6 yard piece. I’m not sure if this is true, but it’s something you may want to ask about if you’re ordering multiple yards and need them to be continuous. (UPDATE 9/26/2016: Spoonflower can print up to EIGHT continuous yards. Please see the comments for further info.)

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Bikini design

I based the bikini top design loosely on a standard triangle swimsuit top I already had. I decided on straps instead of a halter style, and used some leftover black elastic to accomplish that. In my mind, it’s an attempt at combining the best features of J.Crew’s french bikini with some of the best details trending in swimwear right now.

I like the macrame and strappy caged back details popular right now (which I think is a huge and welcome breakthrough for American swimwear), and opted for a simple version using “strings” I made out of the same fabric. Turns out the “string” in “string bikini” is a long strip of rectangular swimsuit fabric sewn together on one side and flipped inside out to make a noodle. (Yep, I just called it a noodle.)

For the bottom, I again used an existing bikini as the general pattern. I tried to modify it, and ended up with a suit entirely too small. If you try making a swimsuit, definitely err on the conservative side in cutting out the pattern and leaving a seam allowance. It seems like cutting the pattern too small and then ending up with something a little too scandalous is a common problem.

One of the challenges contributing to this problem, at least for me, was how slippery this type of fabric is.

Working with spandex type fabric

The Sport Lycra from Spoonflower wasn’t too hard to work with. (This was my first time making a swimsuit and I was able to make something wearable.) The main difficulty I had with the fabric was the “final assembly” stage where you have the right sides out and need to sew the front and back pieces together to finish the garment.

I think my commercially made swim suit bottom was made by joining the sides before flipping the whole thing right side out, and then sewing the crotch seam last. This is what I would try to do next time.

I used two layers of Spoonflower fabric back to back for the top, and would recommend at least two layers of fabric for swimsuits in general (whereas I used just one layer for leggings).

The forest green fabric I used to make the suit reversible was much lighter weight than the Sport LycraIt is sheer and not great quality. I doubled up with two layers of it to compensate for this. It was much more slippery than the Sport Lycra, and therefore more difficult to keep in place, especially with two layers of it. Spoonflower says the Sport Lycra is 8.4 oz per square yard. I’d look for something of a similar weight next time around in the other fabric.

On the other hand, the green complements the palm print nicely and that fabric cost much less. Using a different, less expensive fabric for half the suit is a great way to reduce costs: you use half as much custom fabric and kind of get two different swimsuits. I am really happy with how it came out!

Leggings first

I actually bought the Sport Lycra wanting to make leggings, which is what I made first before the swimsuit (since it takes more fabric – I just squeezed the bikini into the remnants).

I had always assumed making pants was extremely difficult. Lo and behold, I discovered while making my Prince costume that stretchy fabrics are very forgiving and not too difficult to work with, and that leggings are not that hard to make after all. It turns out leggings are probably a great place to start learning how to make pants!

I’ll be back to talk about my leggings project next.

Thanks for reading!

P.S. I mentioned before that the third eye glasses don’t fit in a typical eyeglass case. As a quick side project, I made a simple case for my third eye glasses with the final scraps of fabric, so that kind of takes care of that. (I noticed while handling the glasses that the glue on one side was starting to come loose, so they’re pretty fragile and probably could use a rigid case, but this will certainly do for now.)

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This post is part of the WordPress Discover Challenge and Weekly Photo Challenge.

 

UPDATE 9/26/2016: This post incorrectly suggested that Spoonflower may print up to three continuous yards. They print up to eight continuous yards. Please see comments below for more info.

Easy DIY bag

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I needed yellow satin fabric for my Bowie costume project, but I thought the yellow fabric at my local fabric store was too yellow so I bought a nude colored fabric instead figuring it was the better option of the two. I was wrong. Once I started putting the costume together, the nude colored fabric clearly clashed with the other colors in the outfit. I went back and bought the too-yellow yellow fabric. Once I saw it next to the other fabrics I knew it was the way to go, and that it wasn’t too yellow at all. Now I had half a yard of unused nude satin, and no plan.

I initially thought I’d just donate it, but a friend was making cute little bags and inspiration struck. I had a snorkel lying around collecting dust so I decided to make a bag for it. Never mind that it is more the color of ballet shoes than the vibrant tropical print beach attire I’m seeing everywhere right now. I love light-colored fabrics paired with a tiny jolt of thoughtfully placed black. I rarely see it done, and can’t figure out why. I had wanted to make a drawstring type bag for a while, and decided that the drawstring for this bag needed to be black grosgrain ribbon.

I had enough fabric to line it, so that’s what I did. I made a large button hole for the ribbon to come out of, which wasn’t as wide as I originally wanted so I had to use thinner ribbon. I decided to cut the ribbon ends at a slight angle. It turns out finishing the raw edge of ribbon is surprisingly easy. All it takes is a couple of quick passes of a flame to melt the fibers together. This YouTube video taught me how to do it. It took a little practice to keep the edge straight and not burn off too much, but there’s not much to it otherwise.

Next time I’d make two openings for the ribbon instead of just one. It’s an aesthetic thing. I think it would look nicer with a space between each ribbon. I may also try folding the corners up to create depth to the bag, depending what it’s for. I’m also not sure how to prevent the ribbon from getting twisted. Maybe I’ll sew it down on the other end if I can find a way to make that stitching blend in.

Whelp, now I’m looking forward to becoming a bag lady. Bags for everything!

Love the hat for summer, by the way. It’s the Textured Summer Straw Hat by J.Crew. Wish I had a recommendation for a bikini, but I haven’t found the perfect one yet. If you have any recommendations, please let me know! Have you ever tried sewing a bag? What did you make?