Raw Silk Envelop Bag

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This a a fun easy project that uses a couple easy fun techniques and requires only very basic sewing skills. You can make the bag any size, you just start with a square piece of fabric large enough to make the size bag you want. You can use the bag to store delicate clothing items, give even more precious gifts, as a gift itself, or even as a pillow case, much like our envelope pillow cases (which you could also start with if you don't want use silk).

Shopping list:

  • One yard of Raw Silk (#RS45) (cut fabric into squares) or one Open Seams Cotton Duck Envelope pillow case (#CDPC)
  • Contact paper
  • Blank Silk Screen 8" x 10" (#BSF8)
  • 6# Neoprene Squeegee (#SQG6)
  • Assorted size brushes (depends on how much/what you want to freehand paint)
  • Wide foam brush (#FOAM)
  • Dharma Color Remover (#CR), or Discharge Paste (#DDP)
  • A metal snap or small patch of velcro (from your local sewing supply store)
  • X-Acto Knife with #11 blade
  • A way to steam your project, see our how to make a stove top steamer instructions.
  • Dharma Fiber Reactive Procion MX dyes (#PR) - We used:
    #25 Turquoise
    #24 Navy Blue
    #3 Golden Yellow
    #44 Better Black
    #13 Fushia

  • Versatex Printing Ink (#VPI) - We used:
    #01 Yellow
    #03 Orange
    #06 Bright Red
    #21 Blue
    #14 Brown

  • Chemical Water (see The Cold Bath Method):
    Sodium Alginate (#SA)
    Urea (#UREA)
    Vinegar (if you are using cotton use the Soda Ash)

Let's get started!

1. Layout your fabric or opened up pillow case and apply the background color of your choice. We used a mix of Turquoise and Navy Blue to get our back ground color. Then, when it was mostly dry, we went back in with the Golden Yellow and a 1" foam brush and painted in swishes to look like kelp. The main thing is to keep in mind that you are going to fold the fabric so you want to think about where you want things to be when it is all folded up.

2. While the main color is drying cut out stencils for your design, we made stencils for coy fish, rocks, a water lily, and then some highlight/detail shapes for the rocks. Use a permanent marker to draw out your design on the contact paper. Next using the X-Acto knife, being very very careful cut out the design.

3. Next, using a thickened dye solution (chemical water + Sodium Alginate + dye concentrate) in the desired colors, your stencil, silk screen, and squeegee, apply your next layer of shapes. We did our main rock shapes next. Place the contact paper stencil on the fabric with the backing paper down on the fabric. Place the screen on top and put a little of the thickened dye on the screen. Make a pass with the squeegee. Keep moving the stencil around until you have made as many shapes as you want. Start in with the next design you want to use the dye for, the Thiox/Discarge Paste is the last round of stencils to do. Remember to wash out your screen between colors and once you are done.

(For more specific information on good screen printing techniques check out Improvisational Screen Printing with Jane Dunnewold, the book or DVD, both are great.)

4. Steam your fabric and wash in cold water with Synthropol.

5. Now with your detail stencils (in our chase the rock details and the fish) go back in with the Vertex Printing Ink, again using the stencil under the silk screen.

A fun thing to try, is taking two colors and "blopping" (very technical term) a bit of each color right onto the screen where you would like to have the color and then running the squeegee over the screen. This will produce the dual tone, mottled effect you see on the coy fish. You might need to make two passes with the squeegee to make sure everything gets covered, but any more than that and you will lose the color difference and ruin the effect.

6. Let the Printing Ink dry and heat set with an iron (about 1-2 min per section) and wash again with cold water and Synthropol. The printing ink will now be very soft and pliable.

7. Sew up your bag. If you are using the cotton envelop bag just sew the seams up as they were. For the Raw Silk serge or turn over the edges, lay the square out flat, right side (the printed side) up. Fold three of the corners into the center, just like an envelop looks, and pin your two seams. Sew them up.

If you are making a two layered bag at this point, you would turn the inside fabric right side out and put it inside the outside layer so that the right sides are facing each other. Pin the edges together and sew around the edge, but leave a 4 inch opening. Turn the bag right sides out by pulling the fabric through the opening. Hand stitch the opening closed. Sew on your velco or attach your snap according to the instructions that come with it.

8. Admire your wonderful bag! Show it to your friends, make another one, give it as a gift, write a 10 page blog about it, whatever, just enjoy it!

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