I don’t know about you, but I was super inspired by Katie’s block printed upholstered stool last week. In the after photo the stool is stationed next to a plant in a basket, which got me thinking about my own potted plant situation.
We have a large schefflera in the main part of our house. I’ve had this plant for ages, through multiple moves, prunings, and re-pottings. About a year ago it developed a major list, and I whacked off the entire top. I kept the top in water and repotted the base and both are now large, full, beautiful trees (the top is potted and flourishing in my husband’s office). The plant is in a huge plastic pot, which is convenient because there are times when we need to move it (like when I paint the walls white–soon, very soon). I wanted to keep that convenience, but also make it at least slightly less unsightly.
I love the look of plants in baskets, but this pot is huge, and I couldn’t find a woven basket nearly large enough. The ones that came even remotely close were well over $150! I decided to try my hand at making a fabric basket to conceal the pot, and to break up the monochromatic brownness of this corner of the living/dining room. I have seen a few tutorials lately for bleach printing fabric, like this one (which gave me the idea for the pattern I used) and this one, which piqued my interest. The basic idea is you draw a pattern on fabric with a bleach pen and the bleach extracts the dye from only that area, leaving the pattern lighter than the fabric.
So I went in search of bleach pens. I looked everywhere in this town, even places I had no business being in, but I couldn’t find a single dang bleach pen. Luckily I found a tutorial for making your own bleach gel that was super simple. All it requires is cornstarch, bleach and water.
Instead of a squeeze bottle, which is recommended in the tutorial, I used a cake decorating tool that I had on hand (why I have this thing I can’t say. I have never decorated a cake in my life). It has a small opening, and after experimenting I found that it was fairly easy to control the flow.
My experiment also taught me that the printing would be imprecise and would bleed in the fabric a bit. I knew it wouldn’t be perfect, but I didn’t want it to look like a big mess either, so I laid out a pattern using a fabric pencil and parallel ruler that I still have from my Merchant Marine exam.
Working quickly, I covered the chalk lines with the thinnest bleach lines I could manage. I worked next to an open window to cut down the fumes.
I could see the bleach working right away as a pinkish hue spread away from the bleach gel lines.
I waited about two hours until the bleach gel was dried and crusty. Then, being careful not to let the fabric fold on itself or touch anything, I carried it into the shower and gave it a thorough rinse in cold water.
I had to scrub at the fabric a bit to get all of the dried gel off. Once I was sure it was all off, I washed and dried the fabric, and then ironed it to get ready to sew the planter basket.
For the planter basket, I loosely followed this tutorial. The instructions were really clear and easy to follow, and I customized them to the size of my planter. Because I was using lightweight cotton, I used a fairly heavy duty stabilizer: Pellon Fusible Interfacing 71-F. After ironing on the interfacing, I sewed the short ends of the body of the basket together. Then, working slowly and easing the fabric (and, frankly, accepting a few random pleats), I sewed the bottom circle to the basket body. Using the same dimensions I repeated the process with some white canvas I had on hand for the lining. The tutorial I followed calls for sewing the lining with the outer piece inside the lining, right sides facing, and then turning it through an opening in the stitching. I knew I wanted to fold the canvas over, so I skipped that step and just top-stitched the top of the lining and outer piece.
I really like the fabric, and I’m pleased with the how the planter basket turned out. It’s definitely an improvement over the brown plastic!
It’s nice to have some color and pattern in this formerly all-brown corner, and the fabric printing process was really satisfying. Have you tried bleach printing fabric? Do you have a blah planter that you’re considering beautifying? We always love to hear about your projects and ideas in the comments!