Saturday, December 26, 2009

Rust Removal - Direct Method

The baking soda paste has been sitting on the surface for several days and has dried.

Fabric washed, rinsed and dried - the view is the flip side, and turned 180 degrees, of the above image.  The fabric is much softer with little loss of color.  NOTE these fabric pieces had been dyed some 6 years ago and this may affect color retention. 

Direct Discharge Rust Update

I'll try to post pics later this evening but wanted to post an update.  The direct method is finished and has been washed, rinsed, and dried NOTE very little color left the area BUT the fabric is much softer which would make it easier to needle or sew with the machine.  There are gobs of holes as well on this particular piece, whereas before I applied the baking soda paste there were only hard crusty areas. 

The plan is to stabilize the fabric, just like the previous piece, and stitch as usual with my machine.  I will embellish the areas around the holes and take it from there.

Have a wonderful New Year Everyone!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

More Rust Removal Notes

Ok I've recieved an email, thank you Connie, and the question is: "OK I tried your method but there's still rust on the surface"!  Now what?

Good question!  Here is a partial copy of my email reply:

Is it heavily crusted on the fabric? I left mine overnight in order to remove rust, it doesn't remove all of it, from the fabric, I should have clarified that in my orignal post. For the heavily crusted fabric I did the direct method and NOTE I ended up with holes where the baking soda really went to town, something else I forgot to mention that might happen - my bad!

Also water type may play a role in this, doesn't it always. What is your water's pH? Sometimes a little soda ash helps to get the pH closer to 7.5, which is what you will need to budge the rust off the surface.

AGAIN it may not remove ALL of the rust off the surface. My goal for removing rust from the fabrics surface wasn't so much to remove the color as it was to help those who had rather stiff fabrics, due to rust build up, so that they could stitch the fabric with ease.

I'll post pictures tomorrow of the rust removal direct method - I have lots of holes to share but my fabric is supple again, which makes stitching a joy.

Friday, December 18, 2009


Final colors are added, time to finish the interior of this piece.


Detail of machine stitching on rust dyed quiltlet.

Stitching Rust - One Option

Stablized rusted fabric, two layers (I know hard to believe) wool quilt batting, black cotton commercial backing fabric.

The quilt to the left was orginally as thick as the quilt sandwich to the right, heavy stitching reduced the piece to a very thin piece.

Already you can see how the heavy stitching will decrease the thickness of this piece.

I'm stitching the outer areas first with a dark rust colored thread, will come back in and fill the strata layers with two other colors of rust and ocher threads and finally will begin stitching the heavily rusted area in the center.  The reason for this approach is I don't want to have to change my needle, as the heavily rusted areas will dull the needle quickly, in order to finish stitching the outer areas once the center is finished.

I will fill the hole in the center, where the fabric rusted through, with decorative hand stitches and maybe some beads. 

Rusted Silk Carrier Rods

Rusted Silk Carrier Rods - stitched to Aquabond a water soulble stabilizer.

Detail 1

Detail 2 - I used a leather needle and heavy cotton threads to machine stitch the constructed cloth layer.

Detail 3 - some areas of the silk carrier rods were exceptionally stiff, I simply left as is on the surface.

Rusted Tea Bags

Above - Tea Bag Fronts
Below - Tea Bag Backs

Rusted Cotton Tea Bags - these were in the Nov/Dec 2007 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors, page 67, as was my recipe for dyeing with rust, but I was never given credit for any of this even though I asked repeatedly for credit to be given.

I love the rust dyed indigo bags the best out of this collection.

The patterning on the front sides of the back is very different than the patterning on the back of the bags, though they were rusted with the same exact objects.

Art Cloth

Cotton fabric that has been screen printed, monoprinted, dye painted with natural dyes and then rust dyed.  Approximately 28x28 inches.

Sewing Rusted Fabrics - The Fabric Rusted Through Now What???

My fabrics have rusted through now what?  Can I still use my fabrics? 
The anwser is yes you can still use your fabrics, with a little help from a quilters best friend iron on stablizer!

A small tid bit of rusted fabric that once lived in the fabric in the preceeding photo.

Heavily rusted areas that glisten, this glistening is due to the iron oxide deposits on the surface of the fibers.

A view of the area I will be working with, complete with a hole that has rusted completely through the surface.

Mistyfuse TM stabilizer, I pressed my top fabric first and then sandwiched the Mistyfuse TM between the top fabric and a piece of soft cotton fabric, as I will be using a wool batting and another backing fabric.  Needling is imporant for this piece hence the reason I chose to use the flannel. Cotton scrim is also suitable for this project.

The stabilizer and backing fabric are now adhered to the front fabric.

Here you can see the stabilzer and the backing fabric peaking through the hole of the rusted fabric, click on photo for larger detail shot.

Full view of the fabric after the backing fabric and stablilzer are put in place, I am now ready to make my quilt sandwich as usual and begin stitching.

Sewing Rusted Fabrics - Supplies

Supplies for stitching rusted fabrics with left to right: Mistyfuse TM fusible interfacing, sewing machine needles with large eyes, rusted fabrics, heavy cotton threads, pearl cotton, hand sewing needles with large eye, nymo thread. Other items needed are scissors, iron, ironing board, teflon pressing sheet, pins.

Hole that where the rust went completely through the fabric.

Nymo beading thread, fireline may also be used, basically any beading thread that is designed to be used with sharp and/or metal beads will work well with rusted fabrics.

Crewel or tapestry needle with large eye.

Pearl Cotton for those areas that your machine needle, and threads, absolutely refuses to play nice with, sometimes you  just have to think outside of the box!

I prefer Schmetz needles, I typcially use the largest leather needles I can find for my machine.

Aurifil 12 wt cotton thread, hasn't failed me yet but then again neither has the 50 wt cotton thread!  For those super rusted sections I simply used other threads to sew the area with and work more with embellishments.

Sewing Rusted Fabrics Tutorial

Sewing rusted fabrics is no different that stitching any other fabric except, and that's a big EXCEPT, when the fabrics are heavily rusted!  Then there are all sorts of problems that arise. 

For moderately rusted fabrics as seen in the above photo, a heavy cotton thread and a sewing machine needle with a large eye, like a leather needle, work well. 

But what does one do when the fabric itself or the thread shreds during the stitching process??? 

This tutorial will help you stitch those fabrics and get the look you are wanting.  I highly recommend having some extra rusted samples on hand and taking good notes on which processes worked for each sample, BEFORE you start the large commission piece.  Doing so will guarantee fewer headaches in the future ;-)

Materials Needed:
Rusted fabrics
iron on interfacing of some sort I use Mistyfuse TM
Sewer's Aid TM (Dritz) - liquid
Fray Check TM (Dritz) - liquid
Needles with large eye such as a leather needle
Heavy cotton or poly blend threads, rayon and silk thread will only shred to pieces in this process.
Nymo or Fireline for heavily rusted areas that you don't/didn't want to discharge.

Removing Excess Rust - Direct Method

Removing Excess Rust - Direct Method

Supplies Needed: Baking Soda, Old Tooth Brush, Spoon for mixing water and baking soda, sponge brush, optional, warm water, plate or bowl for holding baking soda paste.

Place onto your plate or bowl about 1/4 cup of baking soda, mixe warm water into the baking soda but just barely enough so that you have a thick paste, not too runny.

You don't want the past to be too runny as you want it to sit on top of the rusted areas and penetrate the rust, allowing it to sit on the surface will help to break down the thicker rust areas on the surface.

Apply the baking soda paste with a sponge brush or an old tooth brush.

Notice how thick the paste is on the surface, it is sitting on the surface.

Take your brush and work it into the surface of the fabric.

THEN flip your fabric over and repeat.

Apply a second layer of baking soda paste on the back side of the fabric, this is especially important on very thick areas of rust.  Yes you will lose color on your fabric however that can be gained back later in an iron mordant bath if desired.

Now that you have the baking soda paste worked into the surface wet the surface slightly to ensure further removal of the rust, you don't want the fabric to be dripping wet, just slightly damp.  If need be you can repeat this process as many times as necessary until you have acquired the desired level of rust necessary for sewing.

Wash, rinse,and dry fabric in the normal manner after removing excess rust, you may need to do this process more than once.

Removing Excess Rust - Process One The Soak Method

Supplies for removing excess rust using the soak method: gloves, tongs, long spoon for stirring, bucket, warm water, baking soda, plastic to protect work area, rusted fabric. 

Remember all items used for this project are NOT to be used again for genearl cooking/eating purposes.  Please use studio dedicated tools ONLY for safety's sake!!!  Wear gloves and old work clothes if you do not wish to stain your hands or your clothes.

Add to your clean bucket 1 quart of hot water and then mix in 1/4 cup baking soda.

The water will become fizzy, this is ok.

View of  your baking soda water, this is what you will use to reduce the rust on the surface of the fabric

Push your fabric into the warm water solution and thoroughly wet out the fabric making sure the fabric is beneath the waters surface, add more warm water if needed.

This is what your fabric will look like in the bucket, after about 3-5 minutes your water will start to change color as the baking soda knocks the rust/iron oxide particles loose from the fabrics surface.  I genearlly allow my fabric to soak overnight, if the rusted area is excessively heavy I will change the baking soda solution. You can save this solution as a mordant for dyeing other fabrics, you could pour it into an old soda bottle for later use.

Removing Excess Rust - Getting Started

Removing Excess Rust - Getting Started Removing Rust is very simple and is a form of discharge dyeing.

Above are three pieces of fabric I rust dyed using an old coffee can lid in 2003, each piece of fabric has varying stages of rust on the surface depending on their position in the rust bundle layer.  The piece of fabric to the far left was closest to the metal lid and therefore has acquired the greatest amount of rust on the surface.  The iron oxide particles are so thick that they shimmer as just like metal.

Above, detail of teh rusted fabric and rust particles.  Click on image for greater detail

Above supplies needed, excluding old tooth brush, foam brush, and nitrile gloves, includes bucket for soaking fabrics in, baking soda, water, and rusted fabrics.