Making The Most Of A Stain In Your Clothes

This article about clothes stains provides instructions for rescueing garments for wearability.

Perhaps it's that favorite little black dress; or maybe that two-piece designer number you found for half-price at the outlet, the one in that just-right shade of blue. Well, most of it is still that perfect color. You had been so sure that you could get out that gravy stain (Didn't you say you knew all the laundry tricks?).

Don't despair. There is a way to salvage or enhance that garment.

In fact, what you will be doing is creating a one-of-a-kind hand painted piece of wearable art. Yes, you can do this, even if you say you have no artistic talent, and have never painted anything more challenging than your living room walls. And if I'm mistaken, and you are a hopeless case when it comes to wielding a brush, well, you were ready to throw the darn thing away anyway, or use it for a polishing or dusting cloth. So do give this a try. You might have fun, and at best you'll be getting compliments on your creativity. Here's what to do:

1.) Go to your local craft or artist's supply shop, taking the garment with you. You want to choose a minimum of three colors of fabric paint. The first color you choose should be one that is close to the color of the garment if it is a solid color, or close to one of the two major colors if the garment is made of a printed fabric. The other two colors are up to you: you can choose two other tints or shades of the same color, or go for two others that blend with or complement your main color. Get as adventurous as you like, but remember that since this is your first attempt at this, it might be a good idea to think conservative. The only other thing you need to buy is a brush. Ask the store help about the best brush for the kind of paint they sell. One is sufficient. Size? Medium range, or buy a medium and a finer bristled brush for smaller detail if you wish.

2.) In the actual painting process you can either limit your design to simply incorporating the stain into the pattern, if the fabric is printed, or, you can paint around and over the stain, and continue onto the surrounding area, expanding on your idea. An example: Let's assume you are working on a dress that has an overall floral pattern. The stain can become another flower, like the ones in the print, but bolder. If you will be expanding onto the surrounding fabric, you can use another color, green in the case of a floral print, and create a leafy or vine like effect, especially if the stain is near the neckline. If the stain is elsewhere, say near the waistline, try working the vine in two directions: upward from the stain toward the neckline, and downward toward the hem.

Working on solid colored garments can be more challenging. But you can succeed at this if you keep the design simple, and trust yourself. Small repetitive strokes with the brush starting at the center of the stain, for example, and working outward into the surrounding area, changing colors or shades at will, and increasing the size of the strokes as you paint outward. These paints are cleaned up with water, while wet. Once dry, they are permanent. Some paints instruct you to set the design when finished with heat (usually by ironing). Be sure to read the instructions.

Assume you will succeed at this, and chances are you will. There really is no need to pre-plan what you will be painting, but if this suits you, by all means do so. And good luck!

Who knows? This may be the start of a new creative hobby for you, as it was for me.

You're not happy with the results? Well, you'll still have the prettiest dust-rags in town, and some art supplies for your next project to boot! And, just possibly, an outrageous new frock to wear at your next party!

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