The GREI. Guys Get their Home Depot On
Ah, the draw of that blaze orange sign.
Andrew Spargo of the super-sophisticated, gender-neutral accessories line GREI. is really into Home Depot. Like, really. “He’s obsessed,” says his partner (in business and life!) Larry Paul. But, hey, his infatuation comes in handy: He uses his finds—from ceramic tiles to clothespins—to evolve the label’s patternmaking and dyeing processes. Check out three of the projects that, per Larry, have reaped the benefits. —jane-claire quigley
“This indigo dip-dye is super-tricky. It’s very linear, and it’s only dyed along the perimeter. This can be really challenging because when we’re dipping the ponchos, the fabric tends to stick to itself, which causes the dye to crawl. The solution? Wooden clothespins and masking tape.”
“Three pins held together with masking tape separate the fabric while mini clips serve as weights to keep the fabric in line and beneath the surface of the liquid.”
“These are the ponchos drying. The darker areas are freshly dipped, and the lighter areas have already been dyed, washed, and prepped for the second step.”
Mill Mercantile Curtains
“Our friends Todd and Carl of Mill Mercantile in San Francisco asked us to make fitting-room curtains that resemble one of our most popular scarves. They have a huge appreciation for indigo and really get into it. The panels were so big we had to come up with a system that would allow us to dip yardage while maintaining a steady hand for long periods of time.”
“We used large tubes to roll the fabric, ladders for stability, and a large storage bin as the bath that could handle the full width of the fabric. Cameo appearance by our trusty Home Depot bucket!”
“The tubes helped us to achieve precise lines with multiple dips in a given area.”
Indigo Silk 64 Square Scarf
“We offer a few styles that don’t change from season to season. One of them is a geometric design executed using the ancient Japanese shibori technique, which uses resist dyeing to make patterns through folding, twisting, and binding the fabric. Think ancient tie-dye.”
“We fold the silk, and then compress it between two laminate tiles using metal spring clamps. The best thing about this method? The tiles are samples, so they’re free!”
“Here, the scarves drying. It’s important to get a high contrast between dips, because a lot of color is lost when washing silk.”
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Way-Easy Guide to Painting Textiles With Kindah Khalidy
With the craft skills of a kindergartner, you absolutely design your own fabric.
Kindah Khalidy hand-paints little cotton tanks and canvas pouches with knock-your-socks-off, abstract motifs, and, whether or not you have the vision to go all wearable work-of-art, you can definitely DIY your own fabric. Enter: stencils and a tutorial from a chick who knows just what she’s doing. —monica derevjanik
+ Fabric of choice (canvas or cotton do well)
+ Kindah’s stencil (download here!) or your own drawn shapes
+ Cardstock or a manila envelope
+ Stencil paint brush with a round and thick bristle
+ Cup of water
+ Paint palette for mixing colors
+ Masking tape or blue painter’s tape
+ X-Acto knife
+ Pencil or pen
+ Cutting mat
+ Fabric paint, such as Deco Art SoSoft or Jacquard Lumiere. (Note: Some paints require that you prewash the fabric.)
Step 1: Start with a clean, ironed piece of fabric so you can work with an even surface. Choose your shapes. [Ed: Kindah provided some options—or, duh, you can draw your own!] Remember that you will be cutting out the positive space. Think about incorporating alternative shapes into your design. For example, you could have one main flower stencil and then then different leaf stencils to mix it up. You can also create multiple stencils to layer over each other.
Step 2: Cut out the drawn shapes with an X-Acto knife. Then cut around the shapes, leaving enough space around the cutouts so you can tape it down to the fabric and have some room to paint over without messing up the fabric. You can group small shapes together. Place your stencils onto fabric and tape the stencils down so that they don’t move during the painting process.
Step 3: Mix the colors in the palette. Dab a little bit onto the brush. Too much paint will leak over the stencil, so use sparingly and do a few tests to find the right amount. Press the stencil down around edges while you are painting to prevent paint from leaking out the edges. Paint over the edges of the stencil to make sure that you get the entire shape filled. Let the paint dry before lifting up the stencil. When dry, move the stencil around to create a repeat composition.
Step 4: Layer stencils to create more intricate designs, or go in with a paintbrush for a more hand-done look. Most paints require that you heat-set the fabric after painting, so iron your fabric and then wash according to paint instructions.
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Scout & Catalogue’s Denim Short DIY
Breanna Musgrove has some real dye savvy—and she’s willing to share it.
Scout & Catalogue’s Breanna Musgrove claims there are some fabrics that are just begging to be dyed. While silk is at the top of her list, denim isn’t too far behind. She’s agreed to show us her pro skills, transforming humdrum jeans into cool-as-hell cutoffs. —jackie varriano
+ Pair of jeans
+ A box of drugstore dye in the color of your choice
+ Elastic bands
+ Big pot
+ Table salt
+ Rubber gloves
+ Mixing spoon that you can part with
+ Washing machine
Step 1: “I like to shop at local thrift stores to find great, cheap, jeans to transform into shorts. The lighter the denim is to begin with, the more noticeable your tie-dye pattern will be. I’m preferential to Levi’s and find the men’s rack has the best selection.”
Step 2: “Use a sharp pair of scissors cut your jeans to the length you desire.”
Step 3: “Crumple your shorts in an organic fashion, wrapping your elastic bands to hold the bunching in place. Make them as tight as possible. When you think you’ve used enough, add a few more—you won’t be sorry.”
Step 4: “Bring the water and salt to a boil, wet the shorts, and place them into the pot. Follow the dye instructions for quantities and time required. Keep in mind that your garment should appear a shade or two darker in your pot than you want—the color lightens when it dries. If you plan on dyeing often, consider buying a pot just for this process—most dyes have a toxic element to them, which doesn’t lend well to using your dye pots to also cook food. After you mix a dye vat with your spoon, don’t ever use it to cook.”
Step 5: “Once the shorts are ready, pull them out of the dye bath with your spoon and—wearing gloves—take off the elastics. Put the shorts into your washing machine and wash separately in cold water. This will remove any excess dye and give you a great frayed edge. Pop them in the dryer, and you’re ready to hit the beach.”
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Dyeing Leather With Morgan Parish
The color-happy designer teaches you how to work her tricks at home.
Color us impressed.
Dye-master Ayeisha Mesinger of the way-slick, hyper-pigmented line Morgan Parish has painted and stained pretty much anything that can take color—horsehair and cobra skin? Check and check. One of her favorite materials to amp up: leather. “It’s definitely harder than dyeing fabric because it’s a tedious process, but you can be more precise with where your dye goes because it’s hand applied,” Ayeisha explains. “It’s definitely worth it!” Here, she shows us her ways. —monica derevjanik
Speaking of crazy-colored leather: Check out Ayeisha’s bold pouches, in both electric blue and sunny fuchsia.
+ Very fine sandpaper
+ A sponge
+ A cotton ball wand
+ Acrylic leather paint or leather stain
+ Matte or glossy leather finish
Step 1: “It’s always a good idea to test a scrap piece of leather with your paint choice before you dive in. I paint, let it dry, and then stretch the leather just to make sure it’s not going to crack or peel.”
Step 2: “I get my leather ready by lightly buffing it with a small piece of very fine sandpaper to take off any finish. Then I dampen the leather with a wet sponge to make it more porous so it takes the dye better.”
Step 3: “I use the cotton ball wand to dab the dye on the leather and then the sponge to layer the color. Painting leather really just involves acrylic leather paint or any acrylic paint that has a good elasticity, like Liquitex. I was going for an ombré effect here, so I used a water-based stain instead of an alcohol-based stain, which would create a more intense shade.”
Step 4: “I let the dye dry and wipe off the excess with the sponge before adding on more layers to get the color I wanted. Usually the color will look lighter when it’s dry, so I try to keep that in mind.”
Step 5: “Once it’s dry, you can use either a matte or glossy finish to seal the color into the leather.”
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Ayeisha Mesinger Brings the Fiesta to Denver
It’s her party, and she’ll have a marg if she wants to.
Let’s get it started.
After returning to CO from her vacation in Mexico, all Ayeisha Mesigner of the amazingly sleek accessories biz Morgan Parish wanted to do was go back. Since that wasn’t exactly viable, she hosted a “We Miss Mexico” themed dinner party at her pad in Denver. “I love color and liked the idea of having a simple, fun, and bright party,” she explains. Here is how she got everything ready in just three hours—which means you have no excuse not to fake a border crossing this weekend. —monica derevjanik
Time: 1 hour
“While I was in Mexico, the Zihuatanejo International Guitar Festival was going on, so I designed an evite with that in mind—with a little Dia de los Muertos twist.”
Time: 30 minutes
“I bought a set of colorful doilies in Mexico, and now I can only find one of them. So I recreated my own with some plain white cotton doilies that I bought at a craft store and soaked in brightly colored dyes.”
Time: 15 minutes
“You can buy this trim at any fabric store—it doesn’t have to be perfect, just fun! I had some scrap fabric lying around at home, so I just stitched the pompoms around the edges.”
Time: “Literally, two seconds”
“I bought an inexpensive cutting board and sprayed one end of it with chalkboard paint so I could write my own message on it. I love that I can reuse this board with a new message for parties in the future. You can even use this technique with smaller pieces of wood to make personalized place settings.” [Ed: Craving the salsa in this picture? Check out the recipe—c/o La Esquina and DailyCandy—here.]
Time: 30 minutes
“These are so simple to make, you can use them pretty much anywhere, and they instantly brighten up any party. Just accordion fold a pile of eight sheets of tissue paper and tie it at the center with some twine. You can cut the edges to give them a different shape, or leave them straight and peel back each layer until you create a pouf shape. I love hanging them above my dinner table.”
Time: 5 minutes
“I actually used a wall hanging that my dad had brought back from Panama for this project. Sometimes I’d be looking for a plate to protect my table from hot meals, and I figured this would be a great use for it since it wasn’t on the wall. I just spray-painted it to give it some color.”
“Mex-covitch” Fried Fish
Time: 15 minutes preparation, 5 minutes cooking
“Escovitch is a Jamaican style of seasoning and frying fish. I merged that technique with the flavors I tasted while in Mexico. I don’t always cook with recipes—I like to use past experience in the kitchen, time spent watching my mom, and recipes from food magazines to guide me. Helpful tool: a deep fryer!”
2 one-pound pieces of whole red snapper (scaled and prepared)
8 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 habanero peppers, thinly sliced
½ medium white onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoon butter, quartered
1 cup cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon ground all spice
1 teaspoon ground thyme
1 teaspoon ground chili pepper
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
Black pepper and salt to taste
Mix the all spice, thyme, chili pepper, granulated sugar, black pepper, and salt to create a dry rub. Make 2 or 3 deep slits on both sides of the snapper and evenly distribute the dry rub into the slits, over the skin, and on the inside of the fish. Push onions, peppers, and garlic into the slits. Place the slices of butter inside the fish and squeeze lemon juice over the fish. Cover the fish with foil and let it marinate in the fridge for at least an hour (and get working on your party decorations!). Set the deep fryer to 375 degrees. Place one fish at a time in the fryer and let it sit for about 5 minutes. Remove from the fryer and sprinkle with fresh chopped cilantro. Serve family-style on a platter—the fish will be super tender and can be easily picked off the bone. Serves 3-4.
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Lina Rennell Brings her Textiles Home
The fabric fanatic proves her materials look as good on your body as on a couch.
Lina Rennell is a practice-what-you-preach kind of girl: Not only does she wear the custom textiles she makes for her line like mad but she also uses them to add some oomph to her beach-adjacent Northern California pad. Here’s a look at how they do with interiors—feel free to rip off her ideas. —allie wood
Now’s your chance to score not one but two of Lina’s prints: She made a pair of statement-making totes that will make any spring jaunts that much more fun.
Linens: ”These sheets are made of my Ballet print in mint and peach from the spring collection. I get dizzy with pleasure looking at the sherbet colorway. I’m on board with the pastel movement and think it works well in the bedroom.”
Curtains: “This is one of the first prints I did called Helsinki Tents that I made into curtains that hang in our front window. It’s neutral without being cookie-cutter basic.”
Pillows: “Love my prints as pillows! The top pillow is the Pink Marble print from my spring collection. The bottom pillow is in the lilac and gold Triangle print from my Big Sur collection.”
Rug: “This rug in my daughters closet was made from various leftover scraps of my textiles knitted together. I love all my prints. and this use of scraps made sure they didn’t go to waste. It was fast and fun and made me feel like I could do no wrong.”
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Rachel Takes the High-Sodium Approach
She demonstrates that painting silk can get salty.
The finished paint job, at center.
It’s pretty amazing what you can do with a few bottles of vibrant silk paint and a container of rock salt. It’s one of designer Rachel Rose’s favorite techniques—although she currently relies heavily on paint brushes and eye-droppers for creating her stunning silk shirts. Here, she shares the how-tos of the technique—which would also happen make an appropriate grade-school chemistry lesson—just in case you have a couple of silk scarves that could use some DIY-ing.
“First, I coat the fabric with dilutant. It spreads the paint around.”
“Dark colors are better to use for the salt—light colors don’t get the same effect. This is a blue that I’ve mixed. It has some black and some red in it.
“Then you place the rock salt. It takes a little while to work.”
“You can see it’s already starting to pull the paint. It’s really cool!”
“To finish it, I use this enormous steamer. It sets the paint permanently and also brightens it, brings it out, and saturates it.”
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Ann’s Tight-Dyeing Guide
D.I.Y. the coolest, homemade accessory from the designer’s fall collection.
At Ann Yee’s fall 2011 presentation—the designer’s first!—everyone was psyched about the floor-length silk skirts and natty, elastic-ankled pants, but there was also tons of buzz about the totally unique tights, which the designer whipped up in her kitchen. Start with a sheer pair that you’re tired of right about now—or pick up drugstore nude stockings (used for our demo)—and get dyeing.
Bonus: This homemade accessory looks especially cool with a mini and the drapey black chiffon shirt that the designer made with Of a Kind in mind. Click here to score one of only ten.
1. “First, you boil a big pot of water. Then, you start knotting the tights. You just do it in random areas—however close or far apart you want them—to vary the pattern. Just make sure that the knots are pretty tight but not so tight that you can’t undo them. It’s worth dyeing a couple pairs at once because it looks cool to layer them.”
2. “So, the water doesn’t need to fully boil because you don’t want it too, too hot. When it starts simmering, you shut the stove off, put on rubber or latex gloves, and add the dye. You can use any color you want, and I eyeball it. I like to do about a capful of the red liquid Rit dye, a ¼ cap of the black liquid one, and then a sprinkling of the blue powder dye, which is good for highlighting. Then you add a couple tablespoons of salt, which helps make the dye stay.”
3. “You have to really massage the tights to make sure the dye gets in there. Then you wring them out, let them cool, untie them, rinse them, and hang them to dry.”
The final product, as seen in Ann’s fall 2011 lookbook.