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Oct 28, 2013

What Should I Make With This Fabric? + Claudine's Waxy Buildup!



Greetings from the bike lanes of New York City!

So I made a somewhat impulsive fabric purchase on Saturday and I'm not sure what to do with it.  It's two and a half yards of an Italian leopard print wool knit in black and gray tones.  Originally I thought sweats, now -- after realizing it's not all that cuddly soft -- I'm thinking some kind of coat or jacket.  It's almost felted and and not particularly stretchy. 







The trick, I think, is in making sure this doesn't end up looking like cheap fleece.  Goodness, I hope animal prints aren't already played out...

In other news, I spent much of today in the leafy suburbs of New Jersey, where I visited talented sewing blogger Claudine, who had invited me to experiment with waxing fabric.  (I'd expressed an interest in waterproof outerwear fabrics in a post a few weeks ago.)  Claudine recently made this beautiful silk coat using a pattern from the famous Japanese Men's Coat Pattern Book I just bought, and she applied wax to it herself.  I tried it on and with the exception of the sleeves being a bit short, it fit perfectly, so I guess if I can go with the size Small.





Today she demonstrated her fabric-waxing process on black cotton twill.

She uses a blend of beeswax, linseed oil, and turpentine, which she mixed herself.  Apparently what you don't use on your fabric you can apply to your legs.

Claudine melted her wax by pouring boiling water into a larger tin and letting it sit for a few minutes.





We then took the molten wax outside, along with Claudine's cotton twill.



Claudine smeared the wax on the fabric with a rag.





I watched and took photos.



Finally, Claudine hung the fabric on a clothesline and remelted the wax with the aid of heat gun -- an appliance I'd never even heard of but which is apparently popular in the the suburbs for tasks like melting paint off walls and killing spiders.



As the wax melts, it disappears into the twill weave.  The fabric is now stiffer, though still quite supple, and there's no visible white residue.  She then lets it air out for 24 hours.  

You can read more about Claudine's experiments with wax on her blog.



I have to hand it to Claudine: not only does she wax fabric, dye, and embroider, she also owns a home mangle -- another appliance (this one more directly sewing-related) I had never heard of.   It's actually where the verb "to mangle" comes from, as in, "I mangled my left hand in my home mangle."  

Anyway, thank you for a lovely afternoon, Claudine!

In closing friends, two questions:

1) Have you ever waxed fabric and, if so, did you use a method similar to Claudine's?

2) What would you make with two and a half yards of leopard print knit?

Happy Monday, everybody!

34 comments:

  1. We do a version of this to our Carhartts to make them water-repellent for fall camping and hunting. I love the idea of doing it to a length of cotton and then sewing it. Does it get the sewing machine icky?

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  2. I would make holiday gifts with the fabric. Nice newsboy caps, infinity scarves, fingerless mitts, knee high slippers. I would make a zippered vest with serious turtle neckage to wear under the grey car coat, dispensing with the need for a scarf. I might just make a warm zippered jacket with a silk or rayon lining. I might combine it with the grey sweater material. Any left?

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  3. The leopard print reminds me of Edith Prickley, a Canadian character from SCTV from the 80's. She always wore leopard print.
    I can't wait to see what you turn it into. I know it will be wonderful!

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  4. It was so great seeing you today! Thanks for coming all the way out to the burbs.

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  5. Enjoyed the post very much; however, it might be worth a note about the hazards of linseed oil and cloth. Hate to see someone burn their house down.

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    Replies
    1. I'm with you. This is so incredibly combustible/flammable. I would never bring this stuff into my house let alone sew with it. I can only imagine how bad it smells.

      Delete
    2. Linseed oil actually doesn't smell of much of anything - I've used it to refinish furniture actually, as well as in oil painting. And the spontaneous combustion of the oil generally only occurs when there is fabric soaked, actually soaked, in the oil and then allowed to increase in temperature by exposure to oxygen. The small amount in this recipe, tempered with the beeswax and turps, would not actually pose the same hazard. As you can see, when exposed to direct extreme heat (from the heat torch) the fabric did not burst into flames. From what I can tell, the beeswax would be insulating the linseed oil from oxygen, thus not allowing the exothermic reaction of linseed oil+oxygen to occur.

      And I think the turpentine would actually be the stinkier component to the mix.

      If you use tools unsafely, they are then rendered unsafe, but if you respect them and use them responsibly they are not inherently death traps.

      Delete
  6. I haven't waxed fabric, but I've waxed um... other things. Seriously; I waxed the leather tabs for the suspenders I made my daughter with a mix of beeswax, home rendered tallow, and orange oil. It ended up rather stiff; I think I need a higher % oil or a softer fat (maybe lard).

    http://tooling-up.blogspot.com/2013/05/brace-yourself-homemade-suspenders.html

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  7. Wait, you mean you aren't going to say what a mangle is or does besides mangling hands? Harummph. ;-)

    Can you wash cloth that has been waxed?

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    Replies
    1. A mangler is for ironing large linens like sheets or table cloths.

      Delete
  8. Ah.. I never knew that was a "mangle" my grandmother's washing machine had one built into it. We just called it the wringer.

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  9. Thank you for sharing! I have been waterproofing/stiffening my fabric by using outdoor acrylic based waterproofer (meant for masonry and woods). I have to replace it cause I ran out and it was an old can. I like that it not only waterproofs the fabric (I use them for bags) but also stiffens them and sometimes I use it as interfacing for structure.

    But as an artist, I would not recommend putting anything with turpentine on your legs! xD

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  10. A Mangle is a large stand alone iron
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMdf6g1iff0

    Edith Prickley - the awesome talent of Andrea Martin!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDP_3jMSIiM

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  11. Technically, a mangle is the mechanical part of a commercial iron that does the folding. I worked in a commercial laundry and every time I had to climb up on the iron to run bands I was scared I would fall in.

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  12. we made the exact same mix to use on our slate hearth

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  13. My nana too had a hand crank mangle and one that was attached to a big single tube washing machine. My uncles and mum clubbed together to buy her a front loader and she owned it six months before she would use "that contraption" and that was only because my uncle took the others to the dump.

    I love the leopard print and would make and short hooded cape/coat.

    Never waxed anything but am intrigued to try now :)

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  14. A Heat Gun is just a hairdryer on steroids.
    My Nana had a washing machine with a mangle on it when I was little. I thought it was just the wringer you put the clothes through to get rid of most of the water before hanging them out to dry - sort of two rollers with a crank handle.

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    Replies
    1. The wringer washer and mangle are separate machines. The mangle roller, about 24-30 inches wide, is covered with a cotton pad. There's a curved arm above it that is heated (like an iron) and is lowered by a knee control, if I remember correctly.

      When I was a kid, my mom had one for a while, and we pressed sheets, pillowcases, and my dad's handerkerchiefs.

      Delete
  15. SeamsterEast@aol.comOctober 29, 2013 at 5:48 AM

    Heat guns are available in Home Depot, Sears, probably Target, etc. They are much like a hair dryer, with same heat output but with just a tiny fraction of the air volume. Much heavier duty tool than a hair dryer, with prices to match. I've used them to remove paint and varnish from wood, and also to burn fingers and hands. They will scorch wood, too, if you are not careful.

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  16. I've been obsessed with Barbour jackets for a while and this was a great post very interesting. But cooking wax turpentine and linseed oil indoors? Ack what did it smell like? Sounds toxic.

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  17. Check out Bunnings in Australia for a heat dryer. What a great idea! And that impulse fabric purchase. I had been drooling over an identical grey Dolce and Gabanna version of this print in crepe de chine at my favourite shop until it sold out (too expensive for me anyway!). I wanted to make some pants out of it though.

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  18. We use heat guns on the 3d embroidery on hats to melt away the bit of foam sticking out. Makes them look sharp.
    You should make a hat out of the fabric. Like those russian ones. And a cowl to go with it. The frost is on the pumpkins now it would seasonally apropriate.

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  19. That mixture would make a fabulous furniture polish too, just like mama used to make. To use it for that, warm the bottle (for that is what you'd keep it in) in a large bowl of hot water to melt the contents, give it a shake, apply with a soft cloth, buff. Voila! Deep glossy shine.

    I can't BELIEVE you didn't know what a mangle is, Peter. You're kidding, surely?

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    Replies
    1. We didn't mangle in the Seventies; we drip-dried. ;)

      Delete
  20. You've reignited my mangle-lust!

    Enjoyed the waxing tutorial.

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    Replies
    1. I used a mangle as a kid (not for long; who really wants ironed sheets?!), and didn't see the benefit. Now, though, I can imagine pressing great swaths of unsewn fabric before cutting out.

      I would expect old mangles to go cheap.

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  21. I'm so glad you went for the leopard print-- it's gonna be fab! And how interesting-- I didn't realize you could wax fabric yourself! That's amazing! Claudia's jacket looks incredible!

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  22. I can't believe Claudine cheated on me.

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  23. I would consider the leopard print for the major portion of the zip out lining of a natty three-season trench style raincoat. But then, my taste is really mundane and I often think of patterned fabric as linings and such rather than as surface. Resources: Toby Wollin is blogging about doing zip out linings; and in books you can't do better than Sewing Outdoor Gear by Rochelle Harper (for technique).
    Marishka

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  24. never heard of a mangle??, used to be a standard piece of equipment in many homes in the UK till the 1950's, don't laugh, my Grandmother really did trap her left tit in the mangle.

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  25. There was a time when a well-run household used ironed (cotton and linen) sheets and table linens. Wrinkly ones were too rough to set a nice table on and the sheets were smoother. You could show off the fancy needle work on the sheet hems and pillowcase hems when they were pressed. My mom had a mangle, part of her lifelong climb from poor-as-dirt to proper middle class lady. I think the mangle found a new home when wrinkle-free fabrics became available...

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