Sunday, January 3, 2010

Rusted Silk Charmeuse

I promised I'd post photos of my latest rusted work, and here they are. The fabric was three yards of heavy silk charmeuse that I was commissioned to rust. The top photo is the satiny side, the crepe side is below.

I found this fabric to be challenging to rust, primarily because of its thickness. Overall it took me about 10 days and three go-rounds of rusting and finishing before I got enough rust on the fabric. It's going to be used for garments and I'm hoping I get to see photos of the finished pieces.

Recently I began hunting around for info on how to properly finish off rusted fabric, because this piece was not a sample and I wanted to make sure it was as user friendly as possible for the client. I hadn't realized rusted fabric might present problems when sewing, until I attempted to use some moderately rusted muslin as the background fabric for my Fiberactions "Initiative" quilt (to be revealed on January 15). There was enough rust on the surface of the cotton that I shredded every kind of thread I tried to use and dulled a few needles. For the quilt, I ended up cutting off everything I'd machine appliqued onto the rusted fabric, and putting it on a new background fabric -- which was fortuitous because the quilt turned out much better than it would have on the rusted fabric. But I did realize that I needed to learn a few things about finishing rusted fabric if I wanted to sew with it.

I found quite a bit of information online, including Kimberly Baxter-Packwood's Natural Surfaces Zine, with a lot of advice for treating heavily rusted fabric as well as tips for sewing on it. Combining info from various sources, what I did to finish this silk was to soak the fabric for a half hour in a half-sinkful of warm water with 1/4 cup salt and 1/4 cup baking soda. The salt stopped the rusting process and the baking soda removed much of the tiny bits of metal on the surface of the fabric. Then I washed the fabric in hot water with about 1/4 cup synthrapol and another 1/3 cup baking soda. The final soda was added to the wash to remove the rust and vinegar smells from the fabric.

The fabric turned out beautifully, and I'm hoping it's a pleasure to work with!

7 comments:

katherinesands said...

This sure is gorgwous, Connie...I have rusted crepe, but don't think I have done any silk charmeuse.

katherinesands said...

Well, duh to me...gorgwous...I don't have a lisp! Gorgeous is the word...

Emma said...

The fabric looks fabulous - it's on my list to try rusting some fabric & thanks for the finishing tips. I'm also going to try the erosion project - see Carolyn Saxby Love Stiching Red.

Delighted to be the winner of your Collage Journey givaway, my first one!

Emma

Gerrie said...

It really is gorgeous. I'm glad you found the formula for finishing the fabric.

frazzledsugarplummum said...

Absolutely gorgeous. It would be wonderful to see the finished clothing pieces. Inspired thinking re how difficult it might be to sew. Thanks for sharing your formula. Shirley

Kim said...

I have rusted lots of fabric, but not sewn with any yet... thanks for the tips, I will definately use them.

Purple Missus said...

I agree, the fabric certainly is beautiful.
Many thanks for the link and the info on how to treat the finished fabric. Very helpful.