DIY Sock Form

Sock photography is tricky. It’s hard to get the light just right, and even harder to appreciate how socks on the rack will look on real feet! So I decided to buy a couple of foot models, only to discover a pair would cost almost 80 bucks with shipping. There had to be a more frugal way.

Back in 1998, I used a duct tape dress form to design my wedding dress. How hard could it be to use the same method on my feet? Turns out, it’s easy. All you need is a pair of cheap knee or thigh high panty hose, two rolls of duct tape, bandage scissors, and paper or plastic stuffing. Here’s how to do it!

Start by putting on the hose, pulling them up over your knees.

feethoseStarting just below the knee, start wrapping duct tape around your calf. If your calves are curvy like mine, work with 12″ strips of tape and arrange them to avoid wrinkles and bunching up. Keep going down your leg, making sure the hose is completely taped over. tape1 Keep taping down to your ankle. tape2 Tape around the arch of your foot, bringing the tape together smoothly over front of the foot. tape3Fill in the rest of the open areas with strips of duct tape, making an effort to minimize wrinkles. Here’s my foot completely taped up. tapedone Now, it’s time to cut! I highly recommend using bandage scissors for this step. They have a rounded bottom blade and are designed to slip under bandages without injuring the skin. They’re readily available at pharmacies and medical uniform shops. You can use regular scissors, but please be careful!tapecut Starting at the inner knee, carefully cut down the calf. The duct tape will stick to the hose and slip off your leg as you cut.

tapecut2Keep going until you’re able to slip the form off your foot.

cutdoneIt will look like this.

footformoff

Now, stuff the foot. I used plastic grocery bags because I had a ton, and this is a great way to recycle them. Any dry, lightweight stuffing will work if you can pack it tightly.

Push the stuffing into the toes and lower foot, squishing it around with your hands to get a nice, natural shape.

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When the entire foot up to the seam is stuffed, pull the seam back together and secure with duct tape.

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Keep stuffing and taping all the way up to the knee. Repeat the same process with the other foot, unless you’re making a leg lamp in which case you’re done.

Press the form into a natural-looking shape again. For a smoother surface, press in obvious wrinkles and wrap 3-5″ strips of duct tape over to smooth them out. Here’s a finished foot.

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For visual appeal, you can add a layer of duct tape in whatever designer color you like. Since I plan to use these in a light box, I added a few rows of white tape starting at the knees. Here are my sock models ready to go!

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And a few of the resulting photos:

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Not bad for ten bucks, an hour of time, and zero shipping!

2014 Holiday Order Guide

If you’ve reached this blog after seeing my work at a local show or on another site, welcome and thanks for making it a great season! Please follow me on Facebook here.

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My custom dyes are made to order, simply because it’s impossible to stock every design in every size. If you see a pattern or color you like, I can probably re-create it on anything from a onesie to a 3XL Tshirt. With the holidays approaching, here’s what you need to know about ordering and prices.

Normal turnaround is 7-10 business days, plus shipping time. Orders may be expedited on request. All prices include your choice of colors and design. Local pickup is available, or I will ship for an additional $3.00 (more for large orders). Group orders are always welcome; a 10% discount applies to orders of ten or more items. I can also dye any garment or fabric you supply starting at $12 for garments, $10/yard for fabric.

I accept major credit and debit cards through PayPal and Square.

Contact information:
Email: littlelottedesigns@gmail.com
Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/LittleLotteStudio
Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/LittleLotteStudio

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Little Lotte Studio - 2014 Price List

Short Sleeve Tees -100% Cotton medium weight
Baby, 0-24 months (including onesies) ….. $12
Child (3T to 14-16) ………………………….. $14
Adult (S-XL) ………………………………….. $16
Plus Size (2-3XL, larger sizes available) .. $18
Dog Tees (XS-XL) …………………………..$15

Long Sleeve Tees -100% Cotton, medium weight
Baby (including onesies) … $15
Child (3T to 14-16) ………. $16
Adult (S-XL) ………………. $20
Plus Size (2-3XL) …………$22

Socks - 94% Bamboo, summer weight, super soft
Baby … $6
Child … $8
Adult … $10
Adult Thigh High Tights – 100% Cotton … $28

Scarves – 100% Cotton
Lightweight woven scarf  11“ x 60“ ….. $15
………………………………37“ x 80“ … $22
Baby rib knit circular scarf 10″ x 68″ …. $15

Bandanas and Tapestries
12“ x 12“ square or 22“ x 29″ triangle ….. $8
20“ x 20“ ………………………………….. $12
36 x 36″ …………………………………….$25
44″ x 72″ ………………………………….. $50

Fabric - minimum order 1/2 yard, sold in 1/2 yard increments. Prices for 45″ wide fabric, other widths available. Please contact me for a quote.
Lightweight muslin: 1/2 yard …. $8
……………………. 1-5 yards … $12/yard
…………………… 6+ yards … $10/yard

Midweight Kona Cotton: 1/2 yard …. $10
(Perfect for quilters)       1-5 yards … $18/yard
…………………………. 6+ yards … $16/yard

This list covers my most popular items. Many others are available, including heavier weight shirts, dresses, a range of accessories, and underwear. Email inquiries are welcome. You may also place an order by visiting my Etsy shop and clicking the blue “Request Custom Order” button on the left menu.

Thanks for visiting. I’d love to hear from you!

Email: littlelottedesigns@gmail.com
Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/LittleLotteStudio
Etsy shophttps://www.etsy.com/shop/LittleLotteStudio

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Tomato Update 7/14/14: The harvest begins

It’s mid-July and I’m long overdue for a tomato update, so here we go!

The winner of First Ripe Tomato of 2014 goes to … Whippersnapper! The fruit are the size and shape of large grapes, deep pink and so sweet.

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I’ve never had much luck with upside down planters, but this variety is a winner. They don’t seem to mind the heat and not one has cracked. I will grow these again.

Whippersnapper tomatoes

Whippersnapper tomatoes

On Whippersnapper’s heels for earliness was Orlovskie Rysaki. It’s named for Orlovskie trotters, a Russian breed of horses known for its speed. My two plants grew like mad sprinters, and dusted the other varieties in blossoming and setting fruit.

Orlovskie Rysaki tomatoes

Orlovskie Rysaki tomatoes

Orlovskie Rysaki is a true determinate: it bears its crop all at once, then dies. It’s also super early for a full-size tomato. My plants yielded a pound each of 4-6 oz red fruit before meeting an abrupt demise (the 90F+ heat probably didn’t help.)

Orlovskie Rysaki, 62 days after planting out

Orlovskie Rysaki, 62 days after planting out

I pulled the plants up and got another pound each of green tomatoes that I grilled, drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette, and topped with feta cheese.

The ripe tomatoes were juicy and fairly acidic. They’re not as flavorful as some of the indeterminates, but a tomato sandwich on the 4th of July? I’ll grow these again.

Orlovskie Rysaki, sliced

Orlovskie Rysaki, sliced

Next up is ABC Potato Leaf, an indeterminate cherry. Another fast grower, it’s been very productive and shows no sign of slowing down. The fruit is bright red and slightly sweet. Unfortunately, it’s also prone to cracks. We’ll see how it fares through the season.

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My latest full size tomato to ripen is Bradley. An heirloom from Arkansas, its fruit is pink, smooth, and flavorful. It doesn’t seem to mind the heat. This baby made my best tomato sandwich yet. Another one I’ll grow again.

Bradley tomato

Bradley tomato

Coming soon: peppers and watermelon!

Dyes and more: 6/14/2014

With my next show fast approaching, I’m busy creating new inventory! I’ve already got t-shirts from kids to 3XL, but what about the littlest ones? How about some baby onesies?

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Earthy ice:

earthyiceonesie

Rainbow “V”

rainbowvonesie

Speaking of kids, when I was an artsy-fartsy kid in the 70′s, macrame was the epitome of crafty cool. I spent many a snow day making owls and plant hangers. Last summer, I dyed some hemp twine and experimented with couple of macrame necklaces. They came out cool looking, so I decided to try it again this year.

Since macrame is infinitely more fun with beads, I had the bright idea to buy some wood beads and paint them myself.

Painted beads drying

Painted beads drying

Meanwhile, I got a 400-ft roll of ordinary hemp jewelry cord at a local craft store for a few bucks. A little dye magic later, this is what I’ve got so far:

Dyed hemp cord, 6/14

Dyed hemp cord, 6/14

Up close:

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Simple macrame bracelets:

hempmacramePainted bead necklaces:

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So many colors, so little time!

Garden update 6/4/14, with tomatoes

It’s June 4, 2014. Summer doesn’t start for another two weeks. Here was my container garden less than three weeks ago.

5/17/2014

5/17/2014

Here it is today.

6/4/2014

6/4/2014

Remember these babies?

Tomato seedlings 4/8/2014

Tomato seedlings 4/8/2014

Look at them now!

Front: Red Peter pepper. Back tomatoes from left" Orlovskie Rysaki, Polish Dwarf, ABC Potato Leaf

Front: Red Peter pepper. Back tomatoes from left” Orlovskie Rysaki, Polish Dwarf, ABC Potato Leaf

Whippersnapper tomato in upside down planter:

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Orlovskie Rysaki setting fruit:

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Sweet banana pepper:

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Czech Bush tomato:

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It’s going to be a good season.

 

Tie dye spiral tutorial

The spiral fold is both traditional and ageless. rainbow3xspiral In this tutorial I’ll show you how to spin the perfect spiral and apply the dye using CMY color theory to create a rainbow. If you’re new to tie dyeing, my earlier post Fiber Reactive Dye 101 covers the prerequisites. Before you get started, you will need these supplies:

  • 100% cotton t shirt(s) (not poly-cotton blend)
  • Protective gloves
  • Large rubber bands
  • Fiber reactive dyes in primary colors (yellow, fuschia, turquoise)
  • Soda ash solution
  • Squeeze bottles for applying dye
  • Wire rack (not to be reused with food*)
  • Watertight container and/or plastic bags (recycled grocery bags are perfect)

*Thrift shops and yard sales are a great source of inexpensive utensils for dyeing projects! I’ll assume from here your shirts, soda ash, dyes and gear are prepared and ready to go.

In general, I fold and tie my shirts, soak in soda ash solution, then apply dye. This works well with patterns like the heart, which consists of only a fraction of the fabric in the shirt and uses a few tablespoons of dye for the pattern.

With a spiral, you have a lot more fabric in larger layers to cover: almost 100% of it. Spirals have to be folded tightly to make the pattern and color transitions pop. The tighter the fold and binding, the harder it is for the shirt to absorb soda ash all the way through. And if it’s not saturated with soda ash, the dye won’t stick, and you get a washed-out spiral. This was supposed to be purple and teal. Lame spiral The solution? For brilliant spirals, I hand soak the shirt in soda ash solution first, then fold and tie. THIS is purple and teal. hornetswirl

Here’s how to do it. Start with white 100% cotton t shirts. Launder on regular cycle with hot water. Do NOT skip this step, especially if the shirts are new — any sizing and/or impurities from the manufacturing process can inhibit the fiber from taking the dye evenly.

Wear waterproof gloves. Dunk a clean, damp, unfolded shirt in the soda ash solution. Swish it around to soak through and wring out by hand, letting excess drip back into soda ash container. Place on a small table, inside out and face down. shirtready Decide where you want the center of your spiral to be. We’ll be using the middle of the shirt. Now, you have two choices followed by a dance: stick a fork in it or pinch. Then walk in circles. Either direction is fine. If you use a fork, make it a dull one and stick it lightly into the center. Hold light pressure and start walking in circles around the shirt, never letting go of the fork. The shirt should start forming tight pleats like this.

spiralfork Alternately, pinch the fabric at the center with gloved fingers like this: spiralpinch … and walk around it, rolling into pleats: pinchfold Continue walking around the shirt, holding on to your pinch, until only the ends are sticking out, then fold them into the spiral. forkspiralfolded Place your first two rubber bands, dividing the fabric into quarters and nudging in the ends. pinchtie1 Now wrap two more rubber bands between the first two, dividing the fabric into eighths. Adjust so all four bands meet in the middle of the spiral on both sides. Here is the flip side: pinchtie2 To dye a spiral, always work from the lightest to the darkest color. With primaries, that means yellow first, fuschia second, and turquoise last. Start by squirting yellow dye into the center of the shirt and along the sides of the same rubber band. yellow1 Continue applying yellow all over that half of the shirt, first along the rubber band then all the way to the edges. Keep adding yellow until it soaks through the folds and out the other side. yellowdone Apply fuschia to the next wedge, working from spiral center to edges, and saturating the fabric until it drips. fuschiadone Apply turquoise last. Again, start with the center and edges: turquoise wedge Then saturate the entire turquoise wedge: rainbowside1turq Let the whole disc sit for 5-10 minutes to drain, then carefully flip over to a clean section of your draining rack. It should look like this: rainbowflipside Apply dye to the flip side just like you did above, working from the center out and saturating every bit of fabric you can see. rainbowdoneNow, carefully place the disc in an airtight bag or container and allow to “batch,” or react. At ambient temperatures below ~85F, I would batch this shirt for a full 24 hours. On excellent tie dyeing days (95F+), as little as an hour or two will suffice if the shirt is wrapped and left undisturbed in a sunny place. If you have access to a car parked in the sun, you can place wrapped items in a large airtight container in the car.

The shirts pictured sat for one hour in a sunny car with outside temps around 85F. In this example, I made an effort to keep the center of my spiral light in color so the original text on the shirt would still be visible. Here is the result: rainbow1front And the back: rainbow1back A word on CMY color theory — remember, we only applied three dye colors to this shirt. A quick visual review on how they work together: SubtractiveColor.svg (1) magenta (fuschia) + yellow = red
yellow + cyan (turquoise) = green
cyan (turquoise) + magenta (fuschia) = blue

In action:

rainbow1detail Let’s do one more rainbow spiral. This is the one we folded with a fork earlier. Since I was OK with a darker center, I applied the dye in thirds instead of a half and two quarters. Here it is folded and dyed, same directions as above: rainbow2dyed And the result: rainbow2finished Close up: rainbow2detail To create a two-tone spiral like the purple and teal at the top, simply use one color on each half of the shirt and apply center to edge as seen above. That’s all there is to the spiral pattern. Have fun!

8/16/2014: Edited to clarify batching times — CL

Garden update 5/26/14

Quick garden check: looking good!

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From left: snap peas, Orlovskie Rysaki tomato, cucumber.

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The only veggies I’m harvesting right now are snap peas, which are thriving in their container. Most of them don’t make it into the house … they’re perfect right off the vine.

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Orlovskie Rysaki, the early tomato named for a Russian breed of horse, continues to live up to its name. It’s over two feet tall, lush, and covered with blossoms.

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Fine verde basil:

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Genovese basil:

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Sweet banana pepper with baby:

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You can’t have a garden without bees. Here’s one lovin’ on a cucumber blossom.

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It’s shaping up to be a good season. Happy gardening!

Dyeing for spring: 2014 season kickoff

First, I’m excited to announce Little Lotte Studio will be the proud occupant of Booth 216 at the Neighborhood Theatre in Charlotte for the first All Arts Market of 2014. I’m a little nervous, because this is my first show and I’ve got a lot of stuff to fit in a 4′ x 8′ booth!

link here

Friday, May 23, 2014 6-11pm
511 E 36th Street, Charlotte, NC

The term “tie dye” is a misnomer for much of my work. Yes, I do traditional spirals as well as hearts, earths, and other designs. This year’s line so far is tending more toward the abstract, and I’m having fun with it!

You can read more about the dyeing process at Fiber Reactive Dye 101. There are only three must-haves: dye powder, soda ash, and warmth. Applying them in different orders results in varied effects on the finished item, even using the same fold and pigments. The traditional method is to apply dye to the folded item that has been soaked in soda ash.

Fruit Punch Spiral, 2013

Fruit Punch Spiral, 2013

Low water immersion (LWI) dyeing reverses the application of dye and soda ash. The dye solution is applied to damp fabric first and allowed to spread among the fibers. Next, soda ash solution is poured over the top. LWI is my go-to method during the cold and dark months because it needs only an hour or two to react and is slightly less messy. Here is a sampler of LWI quilting fabric from January 2014.

LWIsampler2013

This year, a string of 90F days in early May inspired a new experiment: ice dyeing. Dharma Trading Company, where I purchase my dyes and blank scarves, offers this how-to. Dolly of Dolly’s Hand Dyed Fabric applies concentrated liquid dye instead of powder over the ice, as Dharma Trading suggests.

Because I am extraordinarily bad at following instructions, I read both tutorials and made up my own techniques. I skipped the draining rack because mine didn’t fit in my containers, used less ice because my freezer was acting up, and applied the dye in stripes. There are four child’s shirts under this berry salad. They sat untouched on a 95F concrete patio for 24 hours.

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And the results:

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Detail:

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Rainbow t-shirts. One ice dye, the other LWI.

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The LWI shirt was okay, but the ice dyed rainbow came out spectacular!

Front

Front

 

Back

Back

Detail:

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Bandanas, traditional and ice dyed:

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This LWI spiral inspired by the Carolina Panthers:

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These are last night’s ice dyes ready to rinse.

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Stay tuned for the results, and much more!