Thursday, July 25, 2013

DIY Galaxy Print: A How-To Guide for Making a Galaxy Infinity Scarf

by Sara N.

Welcome to the craft corner at Camp Stellar Four! Today, we'll be making galaxy print clothing. You've seen it for sale and probably coveted it for yourself, and I'm here to tell you that it's ridiculously easy to create a show-stopping galaxy print scarf, t-shirt, or skirt.

Keep reading for a step-by-step guide to making what's sure to become your new favorite piece of clothing.

Note: These instructions are based quite heavily on Gabrielle's how-to post at AutoStraddle, although I've tweaked things here and there based on my own experiences.

  • Dark piece of clothing, preferrably cotton rather than synthetic
  • Fabric paint in blue, purple, red, yellow, and white
  • Spray bottle with a 50/50 bleach and water solution
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Sponges
  • Old toothbrush
  • Toothpick or long, thin nail
  • Cardboard or old towels
  • Paper plates

Making the infinity scarf 

This tutorial will work for any dark-colored piece of clothing. You can skip down to the instructions for adding colors if you're galaxying a ready-to-go piece of clothing. But if you want to make an infinity scarf and don't have a black one just lying around, it's pretty easy to make one provided you have a sewing machine and very rudimentary sewing knowledge. I made mine using two large cheap tank tops from my local mega-mart. Using scissors or a rotary fabric cutter, trim off the top and bottom of the tank so it's a roughly even rectangle.

Top is cut off, bottom half will be trimmed off next.

You'll be left with a long tube of fabric. At this point, you have two choices. You can cut this piece in half longways, leaving yourself with two circles of fabric to sew together. This will give you a long, thinner scarf. 

I used chalk to mark the halfway point for easier cutting. 
The other option is to keep the full width of the tank intact and buy a second tank top. Cut the top and bottom off the second one, same as the first, then sew the two tubes together. You'll have a much wider surface to work with. What you decide to do depends on how large you want your scarf to be. I did one of each and much prefer the wider scarf, although it is quite a large swath of fabric to drape around my neck.

Whatever you do the thicker or thinner scarf, you'll cut each piece along one seam, pin those two cut sides together, and sew them into one long infinity scarf.

Pinned and ready to sew. Why yes, that is some cat hair you see. 
As you can see, my two halves aren't even widths, for I am a haphazard crafter at best. Once the halves were sewn together, I trimmed the longer piece to gradually blend it into the shorter width. Since infinity scarves end up bundled around your neck, I wasn't too worried about perfect symmetry.

Once your scarf is sewn up, run it through the washing machine to smooth it out and get it ready to be bleached and painted.

Creating your galaxy

Pick a work surface where your scarf can sit undisturbed for a day or so, and cover that surface with cardboard, an old towel, or both. (This project will get messy.) Spray portions of your scarf with the 50/50 bleach and water mixture from an old spray bottle. I tried to do a few round galaxies and an oblong galaxy, plus a few spattered spots. Don't get carried away with the spatter, though. You want plenty of black for the endless void of space. It won't immediately change colors, so give it some time to work before adding more bleach, if you wish.

I let the bleach sit and work for about an hour, then I rinsed the scarf well in the sink and dunked the whole thing into a pot of water with some hydrogen peroxide splashed in (try two parts of hydrogen peroxide to 10 parts water). The Internet assures me that hydrogen peroxide works to stop the action of the bleach, which keeps it from weakening the fabric too much. I then ran the scarf through the washer and dryer one more time before pinning it to the cardboard to start painting.

Next, assemble your painting tools. This fabric paint came from my local mega-mart.

Paper plates work great as a paint palette.
Start with purple paint. Water it down a little bit and use a sponge to go over the edges of your beach spots until they're outlined. Then water it down a little more and blot the purple all over the black spots of your scarf. 

Repeat the process with blue paint: Water it down a bit and sponge it around the outside of the purple on the bleached spots, then water it down more and add the blue to the black portions of the scarf.

A look at the purple and blue colors in the black portions. 

Next, sponge on a ring of watered-down red paint on the inside edge of the bleached spots next to the purple. Follow that up with yellow paint around the inside of the red paint, then add white paint in the middle of the bleach spots.

Blue, purple, red and yellow rings.

White added to the inside.

Your galaxy will look a little different when the paint dries, and you may want to add more here and there, so leave it alone for a few hours, then check back to see if you're happy with the colors. There's no right or wrong here, so if you think a spot calls for more purple or a touch more yellow, follow your inner muse and go with it. (This all sounds a little daunting, but I swear, it's fun and will look great when it's all finished.)

Once you're satisfied with your galaxy colors, you're going to add the stars. Put a healthy blob of white paint to your paper plate (no need to water it down), then dip the bristles of your old toothbrush in it. Create the stars by holding your brush over the scarf and running your pointer finger gently up the bristles to fling paint flecks all over the black parts and as much of the colored galaxies as you see fit. This is messy, and you may want to do a practice flick or two on some scrap fabric to be sure you have the hang of it. Vary the angle of your brush head ever so often to add depth to your star field.

The stars up close.

If you'd like, you can use a toothpick or the tip of a thin nail to create the X stars and larger star dots. (The nail head works great to make large stars.) Don't make these too big; keep them smaller and sprinkle them liberally throughout the scarf.

Now leave your scarf alone to dry completely. Try to keep the cats from walking across it. (Oh, is that just my house?)

Now, the bad news: Once your scarf is dry, you may want to flip it over and repeat the painting process on the other side. Since it's an infinity scarf, chances are good that it'll get flipped around as you're wearing it. It wouldn't be a tragedy to have an unpainted side, but painting both sides gives it a fantastic, limitless galaxy look. If you do the second side, be warned that the paint can soak through to the first side, so you may need to touch up your original side if, say, some red bleeds through a white portion. But the bleach spots are in the same place on both sides, so the colors generally line up pretty well.

The good news: The process of creating the galaxy will leave you with a fantastic galaxy manicure.

Once you're completely satisfied with your scarf, follow the instructions included in your fabric paint before washing it. Mine had to sit for 72 hours before I could wash it. You'll want to do this because the paint is pretty stiff and smells very painty — not what you want right under your nose. This is the last step before you can enjoy your hard work.

And voila! You have a gorgeous galaxy infinity scarf. Wear it, and contemplate the infinite nature of space.

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