Handprinted Dharma Trading Unitard

This fabulous project taught me lots and lots. There are a few aspects of this project where I will continue to find and apply solutions to perceived problems.

I started by printing a small swatch of cloth, just to see if my color choices were pleasing.

The Unitard is a  ‘clothing blank’, made of cotton jersey, procured at Dharma Trading. I love it. The medium size fits my body well, I am 5’2”, weighing roughly 130 pounds. The gathering at center front is pleasing and easily printed over. The plunging back is a fun addition to the design. The legs are about 6” too long, which I think is a great addition to this piece-as yoga clothing goes, allowing you to pull the excess length down over your ankles and heels. My one complaint is that the bodice is slightly long, although this may just mean, I am short  🙂

I decided to Playful Fabric Print the Unitard in an all-over design that contains Roses and Forget Me Nots. The repeat is a six inch square (Page 26, Playful Fabric Printing), the multicolor print set (Page 29) contains a total of 5 possible layers to print. The Rose and Forget Me Nots were carved from Eko Carve, and the additional color separations were printed using plexiglas mounted, sticky back, fun foam stamps (Page 63). This was printed using thickened Procion MX Dyes (I swapped out Turquoise Blue, Fuchsia, and Lemon Yellow dyes when mixing color numbers 2 (an Orange), 15 (Teal) and 22 (Red). I did this because I wanted bright colors (see the value bands on page 57 of Playful Fabric Printing).

My one hesitation in printing this, is the need for an insert or form, as I discussed in this post. I traced the Unitard out onto an opened cardboard box, including an additional 3-4″ to stretch the knit jersey and separate the front from the back. 

Recycling a cardboard box meant there were folds in the cardboard. Those folds were nearly impossible to print over. I had to fudge, add thickened dye with a brush and make due on this account. It’s nothing major, the print is pretty forgiving. Also, the Unitard, stretched over a full length form was a bit ungainly to manage on my small print table. But, oh well, it was necessary. 

And, I have two more Unitards to print!

Next time, I am going to try printing with Thermofax, as I think the color saturation with be super pleasing. Overall, I think printing on clothing blanks is something I am going to thoroughly explore! When I bought these babies, I also bought a skirt, a camisole and I recently dug out a tunic and a kimono (similar to this one) from my stash.

Stay tuned to more printing on clothing blanks!

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Unitard and dressing a piece of cardboard

I have been wanting to print clothing blanks for a while. Luckily, Dharma Trading carries many styles and options and they have all the kinks ironed out. Their blanks have been tested for acceptance of dye, even the threads used to sew the garments have been considered and addressed. That’s where I found this Cotton/Spandex Unitard. If you head over there, check out the tie dyed, unitard wearing yogi in the images.

I won’t be tie-dyeing this though. In printing this, I assume I will come across some challenges. Submerging cloth in dye is much different than applying thickened dye to cloth. Much of my experience in printing is based on printing cotton broadcloth, which is woven and smooth. Knit jersey is also smooth, but the cloth is thicker and stretchy. 

Luckily, I bought three unitards, so I have some wiggle room to mess up and try again.

My first step was to cut a form out of cardboard. I made this slightly larger than the unitard, so that I could stretch the cloth some. I imagine this may help the printing to appear darker, as the cloth will be spread out in order to print it, then will retract when taken off the form. My hope is that I am not stretching the cloth too much. 

I imagine the shirring and binding on the bodice will be hard to print well and I accept ahead of time, that this may be wonky. We will soon see. Wish me luck.

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