Monday, January 13, 2014

A Whale's Tail

I took my favorite sewing machine in to be serviced just after Christmas.  They've been holding it hostage for 2 weeks now and I'm really starting to miss it.  I have two other machines, but one is a serger and the other is an industrial, which can sew just about anything, but I prefer my Kenmore for most apparel projects unless it's heavy duty fabric.  I've been searching around for some knit and denim refashions to do, but in the meantime, I did some cheap and easy "screen printing".  I'm not sure what you call it when you don't use an actual screen.  I'm going to go with ghetto screen printing.  

I am so lucky, not only to live in such a beautiful town so close to the great Pacific Ocean, but also to have such an awesome landlord who owns sports fishing and whale watching boats.  He is very generous with letting me get on the whale watching boat from time to time, free of charge.  One of the many perks of living in this little complex.

On our expedition we saw several whales.  Fin Whales, which are very uncommon at this time of year.  They are also the second largest animal on Earth.  We also saw at least 4 Grey Whales.  It is their normal migratory season and they are out in droves right now.  We saw 200+ dolphins in all directions at one point, too.  Our ocean is thriving in Manhattan Beach.  Great Whites have recently moved here making our beaches their nursery.  The water has been crystal clear and I'm seeing very little garbage and run off debris along the beach and in the water.  The plastic bag ban seems to be helping, as I haven't seen a bag floating in the water in quite some time. It's just lovely here this Winter.  Here is a photo of the back of one Grey Whale and the fluke of another.  They generally come up for air 3 - 5 times in a row and then they will take a deep dive and go under for up to 25 minutes or so.  When they do their deep dive, that is when you see their fluke, which is the tail of the whale sticking up  out of the water, like this one below.

I was thinking to myself, maybe that's the whales way of flipping us off .. giving us their whale middle finger … lol.  Telling us to "Fluke off!  We're trying to eat and swim here people!  Mind your own business!" I had a good laugh to myself over this and I decided to turn it into a shirt.  Because … well … I'm a weirdo!

You can make your own ghetto screen printing shirt just as I did.  You can create your own design and it is pretty easy to do.  All you need is a shirt, some freezer paper, an exacto knife, cutting mat, pencil, fabric ink, iron, sponge, and an idea.

Start by drawing your picture on the paper side of the freezer paper.  Then start cutting it out with your exacto knife.

Here is mine all cut out.

Get your shirt and figure out where you want the design to line up on the shirt. 

Save all the pieces you cut out, so you can use them to trace if you ever want to make the pattern again.  

The cut outs also come in handy when you are trying to line it all up on the shirt, too.  I used mine to make sure I had every thing center and aligned, so it wouldn't pucker when I ironed it to the shirt.

I pinned it down to the ironing board, so the paper wouldn't shift.  Now I'm ready to press it to the shirt.

Use a hot iron with no steam.  I moved the pins out of the way as I went.

The freezer paper is now fused to the shirt and it is ready for ink.

But first, I wanted to make a shirt for the kids, too.  I used the cut out piece of the whale tail to trace another tail onto a new piece of freezer paper.  Easy peasy this time.

I'm not adding "fluke off" to the kids shirt for obvious reasons.  I did mine on the back and I'm doing theirs on the front of the shirt.

Here is the one for Bayne.

And here is the one for Aubrey.
Now we are ready to print.  I put styrofoam and a pillow case inside the shirt to prevent leakage to the other side.  The foam helps make ink application easier by providing a soft, forgiving surface to work on.  I didn't have a sponge brush, so I rummaged around and found an old partially used make up foundation pad to use.  It worked great.

Here they are with all the ink on.  I let them dry like this over night.

When they are completely dry, rip off the freezer paper.
The ink needs to be set with a hot iron for 3-5 minutes.  You can also toss them in the dryer to heat set them.  I'm a paranoid freak, so I do both.

Here are the finished whale tail shirts!

I even added a little whale tail to the front of mine.

 I really love how the kids came out.  I want to make one like theirs for myself.  I like how mine came out, too.  I think it was good to go with the blue shirt and blue ink to make it more subtle.  There are a lot of puns in there.  If I'm the only one laughing, well … that's fine.

There is a Whale Fiesta coming up at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium and you better believe we will be there in our awesome whale shirts.  I love attending fun events that spread ocean awareness.  I grew up on the beach in Santa Barbara and at a very young age learned a great respect for our ocean and all of it's inhabitants.  We all have to work together to ensure that our oceans stay clean and thriving, so future generations can enjoy the beauty that this vast body of water holds.  It connects us all.

Next time you see a whale fluke, you just may wonder … did that whale just flip me off??

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