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My Journey as a Creative Designer

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We all that those 'little things' that we want to finish up in our lives. I think you may know what I mean - those 'extra' projects around the house that we may have put off for some reason. They range from things that take five minutes to others that take five or more hours or even days. It seems that we all have them and they are put on the 'back burners' of our lives until we decide that it is time to actually do them.

Since we moved into our new home in June, my list of these types of projects has been long. We took the first five or six weeks after moving to clean, organize and work toward making out new place our "home". But then life got in the way and we realized that we had to get back to working. While we accomplished quite a bit, I feel as if there is still quite a way to go until I am happy with things. There are still so many "odds and ends" that I wish to work on and get finished. But there just aren't enough hours in the day to do everything, it seems. 

We are already approaching the middle of September. It is hard to believe that in a few short weeks we will be officially in the autumn season. With that comes cooler days and the ice and snow that winter brings. Most of my time will be spent indoors, and I am sure I will have a productive winter, checking things off of my 'to do' list as time permits. 

However, there was one project in particular that I wanted to have finished before the seasons changed. I knew this would require me to do most of it outdoors, and I knew that my days to do it were numbered. When I awoke on Saturday to a day that was warm, sunny and calm I knew I needed to take the opportunity to dive into this project. The clock was ticking and days such as this would not be here much longer. Besides - we just finished a site update and I was 'in-between' my projects and deadlines. It was a perfect time to take a day to get this project done. I felt it was time. 

As many of you have seen, In my new home I have a room that I call my "studio".  I worked hard to think through this space, and so far for these couple of months I have come to love it and practically live in here. It is not only my workplace, but also a wonderful place to store the vast array of supplies that I use for my work and crafting. 

A main part of the studio was purchasing a daybed with a trundle underneath. The trundle is rated to store 300 lbs, and instead of purchasing another  mattress, I decided to use it to store much of my paint:

This has worked out beautifully, and has been most handy for me so far. Everything is easy to access and I can easily see the many colors and many types of paint that I use in my daily design work. It couldn't be more handy or efficient. I  just love it. 

But what I still need to do is to make a cover for the daybed to make it look more like a seat instead of a bed. I want the room to be cozy and attractive while still being functional. While the Pusheen throw pillows and pillow is cute, I wanted something a bit less 'casual' and more 'office-like' to complete the look. (Why does it matter?  Because I am "me"!)  I just think that it will really make the room look more like a working, functional area rather than a sleeping place.That is important to me because I will be spending a lot of time there, and so will my visitors. I want it to look nice. 

So what I decided to do was to make a cover not only for the mattress, but also the small bench under the window. I had made the blue cushion for that several years ago, and it looks really nice. But I wanted something a bit brighter, in colors that would complement not only the rest of my room, but also be able to take on many different moods and styles as I design new things and want to display them. 

I must have looked at over 5000 fabric swatches trying to decide on a fabric. I wanted something sturdy enough to withstand daily use, yet the pattern had to be something that would compliment many styles. I began looking at cotton twill, but of the hundreds and hundreds of patterns that I came across, nothing was what I felt suitable. I even sent away for some samples of about 10 beautiful cotton twill fabric swatches which had pale pink designs on them. At first I wanted something along that line, as I wanted softer color that would be feminine and versatile. While I loved most of the designs I had chosen, before ordering them I came to the realization that I would be boxed into a 'pink' room for a long, long time. What if I didn't want pink for years and years?  What about purple, green, or my very favorite - aqua?  

I then got the idea to use a multi-color fabric. That way, no matter what 'mood' I was in, I would be able to transition the room easily. The search was on and I tried to find something that resembled the picture of the fabric that I had in my head. I wanted a washy, watercolor look where the colors bled into each other. I thought it would look very "artsy" and appropriate for a studio room. 

But after hours and hours of searching and looking at literally thousands of fabric pieces, I couldn't find what I saw in my head. Either the colors was too strong or there were basic colors missing from the designs. I saw pretty samples of all blue tones or all pink tones, but that would keep me in the same dilemma that I began with. I knew that I would tire of one color and then I would be 'stuck' for who knows how long until I made the covers again. I didn't want to risk that. 

Finally, after many days of searching, I came to the conclusion that the only way to get things how I wanted, I would need to dye the fabric myself. I knew that I had a lot on my plate already, but I also knew that it would be the only way that I would be completely happy with my fabric choice.  

To make a long story short, that all happened a couple of months ago. Since then, I purchased nine years of beautiful, upholstery-weight white linen as well as some Jacquard Dy-Na-Flow dyes. I had used these dyes for dying some of the pretty silk ribbon I have for my embroidery with success and thought about how I would need to do it on a grand scale to dye this quantity of fabric how I envisioned. 

I began by purchasing the 8 oz bottles of the dyes. 

As you can see, the color is very intense. I wanted a much softer look, so I knew I would need to use a great deal of water with them. I purchased six colors and also six spray bottles from the dollar store. I poured only about a quarter of an inch of the dye into the bottom of the bottle:

This was done with each of the six colors:

I then filled each bottle to the top with water:

I just kind of 'eyeballed' it and didn't feel that I needed to measure exactly. 

Now it was time to move outside.  I purchased a large drop cloth that was waterproof and placed it on the ground. I weighted the corners with some logs we had laying around the back:

I then rough cut the fabric into three large pieces - One for the cushion for the small bench and the other two for the top and bottom of the daybed mattress cover.  I hung them on the clothes line dry and used the hose to wet them down thoroughly:

I allowed the excess water to drip off of the fabric, and then I took it down from the clothesline and placed it on the drop cloth. I didn't have to weigh it down, even though there was a breeze because the water kind of 'stuck' it to the tarp. 

I then proceeded to use the six colors to spray the dye randomly, allowing the colors to 'bleed' into each other on the damp fabric.  

I was thrilled with the result! Even if there were edges from the colors were a bit harsh, within a couple of minutes, the water from the fabric 'bled' them into each other for beautiful, soft transitions.  

I allowed the fabric sit in the sun a bit in order to dry a little bit. I then peeled it off of the tarp and hung it once again on the clothes line to dry. I didn't want to do this too soon because I didn't want the colors to 'run'. They needed to be dry enough so that they would not drip. This was not an issue on such a warm and breezy day. Leaving the pieces for about half an hour did well. 

I repeated this process for each of the three large pieces of fabric. 

I then had to heat-set the dye, which took longer than the actual dying process. I found out (after the fact) that there is a chemical you can add to the dye so you don't have to heat set it, but since I already did the process, I had to take the time to iron each piece with a hot iron to set the dye. This actually took several hours, as I needed to make sure that the high temperature was reached on every single section. There was no quick way around it, so I put on some shows and just took the time to do it correctly. 

I don't know when I will get to the actual sewing of the pieces. Hopefully within the next week or so. I am still deciding on the style of the cover I want to make. I find it best that when I am undecided about something like that, to take my time and think it through. That way no mistakes will be made.

I finished up some other things as well over the weekend, and cut several orders. But this post is long enough and I will talk about them later on in the week. 

I thought you would all be interested in this process and some of you may like to try it yourself. It was really fun and it did turn out beautifully! I am happy that I went to the trouble to give it a  go. 

Happy Monday to you all! I hope you have a great week ahead. 


  1. Nancy Leager on September 12, 2016 at 4:08 PM said:
    Hi Sheila - Wow - that is beautiful fabric now!! I have actually purchased pillow covers and fabric to do this very same thing!! (a few years ago) However, I had not bought any dyes. I am so glad to see how yours turned out!!! Now I know what dye to buy, and read your blog, so I am confident enough to move forward with doing mine. However, it will not happen for awhile yet, as I have too many other things to accomplish before that! But thanks so much for sharing the process - it turned out gorgeous!
  2. Sheila Bergner-Landry on September 13, 2016 at 7:48 AM said:
    Thank you, Nancy. I got my dye from Dharma Trading Company. ( They had the best prices that I found and they also have an extensive site with lots of education on how to use the different products. Check them out for some tips if you wish. I think it will help a lot. :)
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