Thursday, May 26, 2011

Screen Printing with Alex

Who remembers screen printing in junior high art class? If you've never had the chance to try it, then you missed out. Simply put, it's a printing technique, like a stencil, that forces ink through a screen and transfers it onto paper, fabric or other substrate. It's very fun. But a tad bit messy. And the cleanup can be a pain. But the results are worth it! 

Here's an example of screen printing on burlap bags, that totally inspired me when I saw it on the dieline
Aren't these bags great? I don't know what it is, but I want one of these. I've been on a burlap kick lately and I happen to have a bunch of it in my craft closet. I also love printmaking and ink. There's just something about bold ink in the form of typography and graphics. Don't you agree? Maybe it's just me. 

Catalina Rozo & Melissa Clinard, recent graduates from the University of Florida created these cute Burlap Bags for Market Grown, a campaign to help local farmers in Alachua County, FL (source, And now they're selling them on Etsy if you'd like to order one.

I was crushing on these bags and trying to figure out how I could make one of my own. Then, low and behold, my husband's brother's girlfriend Alex (did you get that?) tells me she HAS a screen printer. Say what? When is the screen printing party? 

So, that's what we did. We had a screen printing party. It was like having art class in my living room. Alex and David kindly carted all of the printing gear to our house and we went to town testing it on burlap and other fabrics. It was so much fun! 

Here are the screens and ink. 

I traced shapes onto wax paper and cut them out, making stencils. These cherries ended up being my favorite.

I also made a pear and some initial letters (recognize these old stencils Mom? I knew they would come in handy!). We taped them onto the back of the screen with masking tape. 

Then placed fabric underneath, where we wanted the design to transfer. Next, we spread a row of ink, enough to cover the width of the design.

Then it was time for the fun part. Using the squeegee to spread ink through the screen and onto the fabric. When screen printing, be sure to apply enough pressure. You may need to go back over it a couple of times (like I did) to make sure it covers everything. If it's not perfect, that's ok. That's what gives it the screen printed look.

This is what it looks like when the ink is spread. Can you see my "S"? 

 Tada! Isn't that cool? I might make this into a tote bag for myself (someday). 

Here's my favorite. I like the bright red against the light tan.

The mustard color pear didn't look as strong, but it's still cool.

It printed perfectly on this thick piece of white fabric.

An "A" for my honey, Andrew, and of course for Alex, my screen printing teacher. I want to mention that Alex's middle name is Andrea. Which means when you say her full name, it's Alex Andrea. Say it again. Alexandrea. Clever parents.

And "D" for David. 

That concludes this session of art class in my living room. Thank you Alex, for sharing your screen printer and letting me try out burlap printing. And thank you for letting me do all the fun parts, like pick shapes, use the squeegee and admire our designs, while you did the not-so-fun parts like cleaning the screen, washing the utensils and picking up after me. You would make a wonderful art teacher!   

Now to figure out what to make with all my beautiful screen printed pieces of fabric...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Feathered Friends

Today, I got to see some local fine feathered super stars at a press conference (my first press conference ever, I think). Wegmans unveiled a new flavor of ice cream, "Spikes Play Ball," endorsed by Rochester Red Wings baseball mascot, Spike. To read the full story at click here.

There's also an article in the Democrat and Chronicle and I think it will be on the local news. This is big time people.

Regina and Nicole (the lovely and talented designers that I work with) are the creatives behind the carton design. Spike even autographed one!

We can't forget Mittsy, Spikes cute canary "friend" who happens to be a girl. One might assume that she's his girlfriend, but neither one would comment. Kristy and I are her new BFF's.

What a fun way to promote our hometown baseball team and Wegmans new ice cream. What does it taste like? "Spikes Play Ball" is vanilla ice cream with strawberry and blueberry swirls and candy stars. It. Is. Delicious.

Play Ball! 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Time To Plant

After a looooong stretch of continuous rain, this weekend was absolutely beautiful. The sun was shining Saturday morning and I couldn't wait to get outside and do some gardening. We took a trip to Lowes and The Garden Factory to pick up some flowers and herbs, a bag of soil and two bags of grub killer. Yup. Our lawn needs help in the fight against grubs. Yuck.

A couple weeks ago I found this adorable set of three pink metal planters with tray, on clearance for $1.97 at Joanne Fabrics. I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it. 

Enter fresh herbs. 

Sweet basil, for pasta dishes and caprese salad. 

Italian flat leaf parsley, to make-a-the-sauce-and-meat-a-balls. 

Sweet mint, I have big plans for you. Ever since I saw Rich's post about Minty Mojito's I knew I needed to get some mint and try this refreshing drink recipe. Soon minty leaves....soon. 

Do you like my cute little herb garden? The bright pink against the vibrant green makes me smile. The scent in itself is delicious. 

I also found these eco-friendly turquoise pots at Joann Fabrics, made from recycled materials, for 50% off. They were $6 each. I am done with terracotta pots. I had a couple that broke and I was disappointed I wouldn't be able to use them this year. I like these replacements. 

I did have some other empty containers to re-use as well. 

Bringing me to The Garden Factory is like bringing a kid to a candy store. Row upon row of gorgeous blooms in so many colors. I love flowers. I really do. Each one so unique, exquisite, beautiful. I was in the market for geraniums. They do really well on our deck and bloom for a long time. I seem to have the most success with them, so I was going to fill all my containers with them. Dark red, magenta and light pink. 

They really liven up the deck and our front porch! 

Our deck is one of the things I love most about our house. I try to spend as much time out there as possible. (Don't mind the greenish looking steps, we need to re-stain it) The house I grew up in had a wooden deck with built in seating. I played out there all summer. Mom grew parsley on one side of the deck and some years Dad had a vegetable garden. 

I really enjoy our 12 piece patio set, which was one of our first Craigslist purchases. It came with everything - glass table, umbrella and stand, 6 adjustable reclining chairs, two footrests and a small glass side table. It's held up really well. The table could use a new coat of paint. I love eating meals out there or relaxing with a book. 

Can't forget our little tomato plant from Aunt Mary's Easter basket. Now at home in a bigger pot (that spade came in handy). Hopefully we'll get a couple of good tomatoes! 

I bought a hanging basket for our front porch because I love "fuchsia". These flowers are incredible to me. My Dad used to hang them on our front porch. 

Bright pink exteriors bloom to reveal such purple flowers. What a gorgeous combination! I just learned that this flower was first discovered on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, which is now the Dominican Republic and Haiti. We are going on vacation to the Dominican Republic, for the first time. I am CRAZY excited! Maybe I'll see some fuchsia in their natural environment. Along with sandy beaches and swaying palm trees...

Spending time outside gardening with the sun shining overhead was like water to my soul. All this rain and gloom was starting to get to me. I need Vitamin D! There's nothing like digging your hands in some dirt (with gloves on of course), and surrounding yourself with God's beautiful creation.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Strapless Dress Turned Uni-Strap

This is the story of how I turned a strapless dress into a single strap (or uni-strap) dress. We have three weddings to attend this year, so I was browsing the dress department at JCPenney with a $10 off coupon in my purse. 

I spotted this pretty black and floral strapless dress and had to try it on. I fell in love with the floral design but wasn't 100% sold on it's straplessness (it kept sliding down too, which was a major no-no). Earlier, I tried on polka dot single-strap dress, and while I didn't like that dress in particular, I really liked the idea of one strap. That trend seems to be pretty popular right now. If only this dress had a strap. I looked at the price tag. With the sale price and my $10 off coupon, it would only be $17 (originally $50). Could I sew a strap for it? Should I try it? Would it look good? 

I bought the dress, hung it in my closet, and thought about it for a few days. I bet I could make a ruffly strap. Maybe even a ruffly flower or two. I picked up a 1/2 yard of black cotton fabric, almost an exact match with the top of the dress, and a pack of small silver snaps. I found some dresses online with the look I was going for.

This bride is Tia Mowry from Sister-Sister. Remember that show? 

I folded in half a 6 inch by 56 inch piece of the black fabric and sewed it together lengthwise. Then I turned it inside out, putting the seam on the back and in the center. This would become my ruffled strap. Then I scrunched and gathered it as I sewed it again down the center, creating ruffles. I went back over a couple sections that needed a bit more gathering. 

I tried the dress on and figured out where I would need to attach snaps to the front and the back. Then I pinned the strap in place. I used snaps in order to make the strap removable, in case I ever decided to wear it strapless. I sewed the two flat sided snaps to the interior lining of the dress, and the extended snaps to the strap. 

I did the same thing to the back. I lined it up where I wanted it to attach, pinned it in place, and sewed on the snaps. Man, I am pale.

I also sewed a removable ruffled flower pin to attach to the strap. I placed it where the strap meets the front of the dress, to ease the transition and look like the dress was made that way.  

Here's the finished strap with the flower in place. (I did not wear flip flops to the wedding)

And now on the dress. I love how it turned out! 

It totally made the dress. They should have made it like this in the first place!

I wore it to Ryan and Christina's wedding and it looked great. I don't think anyone could even tell that it was added! My husband even thought it looked good, so I know it passed the test :) 

I'm so happy I tried this and I'm really proud of the results. This is the first time I have customized an article of clothing in such a prominent way (and actually wore it). I feel like Brooke Davis (Clothes Over Bros...One Tree Hill anyone?).

One more look at the before...

And after. 

Ladies, if you've got any strapless dresses hanging in your closet that you'd like to give new life to, try adding your own uni-strap. It's not as difficult as you might think. And you might really love it!