July 18, 2016

Journey to Batik-tutorial: Statement Shirt

To start making your own 'Statement shirt' there are a few things you need:

- First: Only make positive statement shirts; if you have shit to share, don't share it!
- A shirt (preferable white) or cloth from linnen or cotton
- a nice piece of fabric that fits with what you want to express. I used a piece of Wax print for this shirt
- a piece of Fusible Interfacing ("Vlieseline, Vliesoflix"), the one that sticks when you iron it
- an iron
- vinegar or salt
- flowers or vegetables from your garden
-  a big pan(s) and a colander 
- sewing machine, fabric scissors, pins, thread

The Shirt

For this 'Statement shirt' I started from scratch. I wanted it to take time and, more importantly, effort to make it. If you want to make a statement, you have to work for it!
I used an old bed linen to copy one of my favorite shirts. The design of the shirt is quite easy, just a T-shape for the front and back. I left the length of the shirt a bit longer then the original so I could make it fit nicely at the end.
You can also use a shirt (or linnen bag). It can already be a colored one too. I did the same with two 'Statement shirts' I made last year, see here and here.

The Colour 

Before you can dye your fabric, you need to boil it in water with one cup of vinegar for an hour. You can also use salt. The vinegar and salt make the colour sticks to your fabric. After an hour rinse the fabric with cold water and let it drip out a bit.
To make the natural dye you can use many different things. Search online and you find endless possibilities. Because I didn't really prepare for making natural dye, I just choose to use a flower that was well represented in my garden and so far cultivated that it is pretty, but useless for insects. The pink flowers of my Hortensia. I cooked the flowers for an hour into enough water so I could soak the fabric in it. You can let the cooked flowers soak overnight, but I decided to use the dye straight away.
I'm no expert on natural dye, this is my first attempt, so use online information to do it right.

The Tie-Dye

When your natural dye is finished you can put your still wet fabric into it. You can make it an even dye, but you can also play with knotting so bits stay white or a lighter shade. Look up Shibori from Japan, Mudmee from Thailand or Tie-dye from Ghana.
It is nice the experiment with knotting and you can follow workshops almost everywhere to explore the different ways of decorating natural dyed fabrics. I made (too) quick tie-dye knots in the fabric before putting them in the dye.
I left the fabric in overnight and the next morning I ironed the fabric dry. Use a towel between the fabric and the ironboard and a towel between the fabric and the iron. The ironing fixates the colour.

The Statement

A little reminder: Only make positive 'Statement shirts'; if you have shit to share, don't share it!
To know how big the statement can be on your shirt, you need to measure where you want it. You don't want it to high or to low. The statement needs to be on the shirt between your nipples and shoulders. Measure the maximum space you have on the shirt or bag.
I print the letters, but you can also write the letters on a piece of paper. With the paper letters you can check if your statement is going to fit on your shirt.
Choose a piece of fabric that is big enough to cut all the letters out. You can of course also use different pieces of fabric. Choose a fabric that is thick and not to stretchy.
Iron the 'Fusible Interfacing' on the back side of the fabric. 
I first cut out the letters till a little edge is left. I pin these to the fabric and cut them out with fabric scissors. Place the letters on the shirt and pin them on the right spot. It is a good idea to try the shirt before ironing the letters on the fabric. 
When the letters are on the right spot, iron them on the shirt.

The Sewing

If you work with an already finished shirt you can start with sewing the letters onto the fabric. Of course they already stick to the fabric after the ironing, but it will secure the letters & gives it a nice effect. Choose for your thread a contrasting colour, neon or glitter can be nice too, or a colour that is in the fabric, but subtile. I used neon and light green, because the color is in the Wax print and it contrasts nicely with the lilac of the fabric. Now zigzag around the letters. Make sure the thread goes around the edges of the letters. 
If you make a shirt yourself, it is easier to first sew the letters into place, before putting the shirt together. After I sew the letters, I lined the neckline and sleeves. I pinned the shirt together and sew around the edges. I first tried the shirt before lining the bottom of the shirt.

Congrats, your Statement shirt is finished!


I started making this shirt to express how I feel. I want to express my worries about everything that is going on. The killing of humans and the killing of our planet.
In the three days it took me to make this shirt even more terrible things happend and I can't believe this is the reality. This is what we are doing on this beautiful planet.
My thoughts go out to everyone who is suffering from violence, both mentally and physically.
I hope by sharing this tutorial, more people feel the freedom to share their thoughts and dare to wear this statement with me: Stop Killing!

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