It’s summertime and the garage fabric painting and dyeing studio is now open. A friend succumbed to a display of Jacquard’s new SolarFast sun printing dye product and I benefited from her purchase. There’s lots of information about this product on Jacquard’s website and the blog And Then We Set It On Fire, plus videos on YouTube.
Using violet, teal, and scarlet colors and recycled bits of fabric (previous dyeing failures and stained light colored fabric,) we experimented.
Violet with drink coasters and washers.
Teal with shelf liner and packing material on Moda Marbles fabric. Note how the beige in the fabric dulled the teal.
Crocheted antimacassar over violet on silk organza.
Organza laid over drink coasters print.
Crocheted scarf over scarlet, front side. Below is the reverse side of the same piece. I have no idea why the pattern came out so much clearer on the reverse.
Same thing with reverse side of this two color piece using the crocheted scarf. The packing material looks about the same on both sides.
The keys to success with this product are having everything flat on the fabric (a piece of glass or plexiglass on top is helpful) and removing the resists in the shade. We lost some definition on a few pieces because we were so eager to see the results we removed the materials in the sun. In less than a minute the newly exposed fabric got darker.
My friend got lovely effects with plant material, especially leaves. Blossoms shriveled too quickly in the hot sun to make a clear pattern. She also used little bits of stamped metal shapes which left a sharp imprint.
Is this product worth it? It depends on what’s important to you.
It’s premixed, easy to clean up after, and can be diluted up to 1 to 1 with water. We diluted it with about half part water to one part SolarFast. The resulting colors were pleasant, but not intense.
While the colors can be combined, it’s impossible to see the effect before sun exposure as the product is a murky, chalky color out of the bottle. Other paints such as Setacolor can be more accurately mixed. The colors don’t blend well on fabric but remain distinct.
It seems designed to work especially well with photo negatives. This is demoed on the above YouTube link. You can get sharper detail than with other sun printing methods. However, Jacquard wants you to use their special transparent sheets for this.
It’s much less messy and works faster than other methods. We exposed our fabric for about an hour due to a doughnut break, but the instructions said the desired effect could print in as little as 15 minutes, varying with color used. Depending on time of year, that could be an advantage. It could also be used by children who are old enough to follow directions. No masks are needed though the product contains ammonia.
It leaves fabric with a soft hand and no stiffness.
It’s expensive compared with other paints that do the same job, and I don’t think it can be used for anything else except sun printing. However, the videos show some great t-shirts made with it, so it may be the best product for sun printing photos.
I’d love to hear about your experiences with this product or any sun printing you’ve done. I need to go back to my other paints and try sun printing with them so I can do some comparisons.
Nature Versus Nurture
Recently I spoke with a quilter who was agonizing over the spacing of her quilting lines. She was obsessing (my term)/being meticulous (her term) about whether to rip out already done quilting because she felt the spacing between lines was about an eighth inch off. I certainly didn’t notice this in her work nor would I have even considered ripping it out if it were my work.
This got me thinking about the old nature versus nurture question because I am inherently a “good enough” person while my brother is a perfectionist. When I made my clothes in high school and sewed my facings in wrong side up I just tacked them down as is. Nobody would see them. In college I had some hems held up by tape for four years. It worked, right? Those guys were not interested in the quality of my hems.
In contrast, my brother glued hundreds of little pennants to a string for one of his battleship model kits. If they weren’t straight he redid them. He went on to become a computer programmer.
We grew up with parents who took very different approaches to tasks. Our father would decide to touch up the window trim and start slapping on paint without bothering to clean the surfaces first. If the dirt got painted on it just added interesting texture. Our mother would frantically try to swab the surfaces before his brush reached them. She would stay up all night before Easter to get the armhole of my brother’s suit jacket sewn in just right. Yes, she made our spring outfits each year, including my good spring coat.
Here I am about age 14 in that year’s outfit.
I can’t help but believe that the different approaches my brother and I take came coded in our genes. He got our mother’s fair skin and perfectionism; I got our father’s easily tanned skin and his slapdash ways. We witnessed both approaches during our childhoods, so I don’t think nurture had much of a role, despite my mother’s constant admonition that if something was worth doing, it was worth doing right.
What does this have to do with quilting? One conclusion I have come to reluctantly is that sometimes I have to rip stuff out, that care from the beginning will pay off later. I have looked at too many of my finished quilts and regretted not having redone some piecing or quilting.
I have gotten more careful over the years, but it’s because the nag inside my head is scolding me, not because I have an innate desire for perfection. I’m still not ready to rip out a sleeve seven times to get it perfectly smooth.
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Tagged as quilting approaches