Kraft-Tex (Krafttex) Washable Paper Leather Tips & Tricks

So, wow, it’s been ages since I’ve gotten around to doing… anything! I’ve moved to Perth, and really started gearing up my Etsy and working on that (finally), so blogging was put on the back burner a bit. I’ve also started getting more Kraft-tex (washable paper leather, to those not “In the Know”), and selling the surplus in Australia. Apparently it’s rarer than unicorn farts, but a pretty popular material!

1. So what is this mythical product and what can I use it for?

Kraft-tex (sometimes spelled Krafttex, or Kraftex) is actually a paper product that when washed and worked, turns into kind of a leather-y heard-wearing material. It’s manufactured by C&T Publishing, who are generally known for scrapbooking stuff.

From the horse’s mouth:

[Kraft-tex is a] tough, touchable new paper combines the best of leather and fabric. Wait until you get your hands on this rugged paper that looks, feels, and wears like leather, but sews, cuts, and washes just like fabric. kraft. · tex® is supple, yet strong enough to use for projects that get tough wear.

The jean manufacturing industry has been using this product for AGES, as a replacement to the traditional leather tags found on jeans:

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Please ignore the irony of Levis’ exclamation of quality right next to a broken belt loop on a nearly new pair of jeans– somewhat of a sore point…

You’ve definitely seen this material before, and felt it, and probably thought it WAS leather! Or am I just speaking of myself and my horrible realisation? Anyways, onwards on how to deal with this interesting stuff…

Lovely, you say, but other than jeans labels, what on earth could I use this for?

Lots of stuff! Kraft-Tex can be used anywhere you would use leather, or want to use something a bit stronger than fabric. Since it can be cut, sewn, glued, painted, punched, ink jet printed, embossed (amongst other things), you can use it for:

  • Making handbags, clutches, pouches
  • Wallets, coin purses, card wallets
  • Strong handbag straps
  • Key fobs
  • Notebook covers
  • Decorative accents (applique, embossed accents, etc.)
  • Storage bags
  • Flower pots

This is not an exhaustive list… I’d have a look at Pinterest, google, and all the like. There’s a lot of information out there from a lot of cool people! I’ve mainly used it for making bags and accessories, like this zipper clutch:

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I’ve used three things on this clutch: hot pink Sharpie, black laundry ink, and copper Lumiere metallic paint. All of these materials have proved really well for durability when used on treated Kraft-tex.

2. Where to Buy Kraft-Tex (i.e. shameless plug)

I couldn’t find this stuff in Australia (apparently Spotlight had it at some point, but it’s long gone), so I started ordering rolls. I currently sell meter sections in my Etsy shop, as well as some A4 size sample packs and swatch packs. Link to the shop below!

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Various versions of Kraft-Tex I have available, and I’ll soon have the stone colour as well! Muahahahahahahahahaaaaa

3. Making Kraft-Tex feel like leather

So you’ve just got a roll or section of Kraft-Tex, and it’s pretty tough. More like flexible cardboard, less like leather. Don’t panic! This is okay. You just have to treat it a little bit to get the leather effect*. Don’t forget that you can use it straight out the package for straps or feeding it through your ink jet printer.

I’ve successfully used two methods to work the Kraft-Tex into a pliable, scrunchy leather-y form, which I’ve outlined below:

Method 1: Hand scrunch, aka Old School

  1. Take a the piece of Kraft-Tex you want to work with, and run under warm water, scrunching it up as you go. Remember to cut a bit more than you need, because it will wrinkle and stay like that! You don’t want it to scrunch too much that it no longer fits.
  2. Scrunch, rub, roll– work it just like a hard leather you’re trying to make soft.
  3. Soak the Kraft-tex in HOT water, scrunched up in a ball, for at least 30 minutes. You want the Kraft-tex to get really saturated and soak up the water.
  4. Once it’s done soaking, scrunch it some more and work it until you’ve achieved the desired amount of “doneness”.
  5. Flatten it out and let dry on a rack.

When the Kraft-tex is still wet, you can add pigment. That’s what I did with the zippered clutch when adding the blank ink; I wanted more of a ‘watercolour’ effect and the ink to spread through the wet fabric:

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I definitely had a good time making this!
 

Or you can let it completely dry, and then feel free to go whole hog with paints, pens, markers, etc.

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After it fully dried, I started doodling all over with some hot pink sharpie.

Method 2: Machine Wash, aka Laziness or Practical Approach

For this next approach, it won’t result in a too-crinkly Kraft-tex, so after it comes out of the machine you will may still want to hand work it a bit and then let it dry.

  1. Put the Kraft-tex in the washing machine. I stick it in with some other towels (not your delicates!). This helps to agitate it a bit more to get a bit of roughness.
  2. Run a standard cycle with gentle detergent. I use the ‘eco friendly’ stuff for this, otherwise there may be some residue still left on the material. Wash on hot if you can. Do not add bleach!
  3. Wait until the cycle is finished, then continue from Step 4 listed above. Simples!

*They now sell ‘pre-washed’ Kraft-tex from the manufacturer! But it’s easy enough to do it yourself.

4. Painting, inking, drawing, printing…

This will be under PART DEUX, coming soon!

But for a teaser, I marked on some white Kraft-Tex using 2 Sharpies and a standard Steadler felt tip pen. Then I washed them! Which medium will reign supreme with colour fastness?? Put your bets in below!

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Small update and miniature embroidery hoops!

Oh gosh, it’s been a while! My real job seems to have gotten in the way of doing anything on makeMonster, so I’ve had a backlog of things to write/update for a while now.

My meager efforts so far have bee building a Facebook page and uploading many random photos my Instagram.

So not a lot.

But but but! I have made some progress on this little pet project:

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This has garnered more effort in terms of sourcing supplies than I would care to admit… Who knew trying to buy tiny metric screws was going to be so frustrating?!

The hoops themselves have been cut using a laser by Online Laser Cutting, out of sustainable bamboo. They’re absolutely perfect and I have a few more projects in my head that I’d like them to do!

(As a side note, if anyone needs any assistance re: buying a particular type of screw, nut, or bolt, let me know because I am not a self-professed expert.)

So this one is just a prototype so I could see how I went with the Dremel and the initial screw sizing. Way too long. And I am terrible at using the Dremel.

I’ve got some different screws on order, and I think they’ll be much more appropriate. Looking forward to using up some of my beautiful fabric stash for these babies!

Testing Kraft-Tex with Waterproof Ink & Stamping, DIY Sew-In Labels (Kraft-Tex Testing V2)

So I left off last time with just treating the Kraft-Tex (washing, mooshing, and then letting dry), with the intention on testing out how well it takes paint. I’ve decided to make a few ‘leather like’ labels to put into handbags or other things. I figured it would take the ink really well, but I didn’t know how ‘washable’ the ink would be after it were stamped.

As a side note, I got my stamps from this guy:

HootOwlPress – Custom Stamps

And I was really super chuffed with how they came out! Don’t let my stamping skills fool you, they’re super awesome on paper and you can get special stamps for fabric (which in hindsight would have been a much better idea).

So here is what I gathered to test out my wee experiment of stamping on Kraft-Tex:

stamping, branding, ink, product branding, kraft-tex
Step 1: Gather supplies.

I used something called ‘laundry ink’ which is a completely washable permanent ink. Be forewarned, it WILL STAIN EVERYTHING YOU OWN. It stained the stamps and my hands, but I will be happy to note this did not decrease the effectiveness of either.

I stamped the Kraft-Tex, making sure I loaded up the stamp with plenty of ink. I held it onto the material for a few seconds before slowly (I REITERATE: SLOWLY) peeling off the stamp, making sure nothing moved in the process.

stamping, crafting, kraft-tex, DIY, product labels
Step 2: Admire your stamping skills. Success! Kind of. I wasn’t that careful with these because they were just an experiment. I didn’t really think at this point that they would hold up. I am a pessimist.

I let them dry overnight before attempting Stage 3.

kraft-tex, washing, stamping, DIY, product labels
Step 3: Set up the washing station. Please admire my use of eco friendly laundry detergent in this endeavour.

To really drive the point home, I used scalding hot water and plenty of soap. I let the Kraft-Tex soak for 5 minutes before really scrubbing them, in essence, trying to rub off the ink.

kraft-tex, washing, stamping, DIY, product labels
This is the result after soaking and scrubbing like my life depended on it.
Keep in mind that the loss of stamp detail is mostly because of my inability to stamp things straight and not that anything washed off.

Sweet!!! No loss of the inked image after soaking and scrubbing. I promise I’m not working for these guys and trying to promote their product because I’m getting kick backs. These experiments are mostly to settle my own curiosity and to understand the limits of this weird material before making things out of it.

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Step 5: Let dry. All finished! After the abuse there was no loss of the inked image nor did the Kraft-Tex break down.

I let them dry overnight, and the results were pretty awesome. They turned more ‘supple’ like leather, but there was no loss of the stamped image, nor did they break down. I’m pretty happy to use these as product labels that won’t degrade if they need to get wet. Nor does the laundry ink smear or fade after washing.