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:

20161106_133647
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:

20161029_092609
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!

screen-shot-2016-11-06-at-1-55-56-pm
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:

20160909_200611

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.

20160917_135621
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!

20160910_163603

 

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:

image

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!

Madeit Storefront

In an effort to just get out there, I’ve listed some things on my Madeit storefront! makeMonster @ MadeIt Currently I just have a few plushies and some embroidery art for now, but next weekend should have some jewellry up, and possibly I’ll get around to finishing some wallets or other Kraft-Tex things I’ve been working on 🙂 Preview: madeit, makemonster, store, I may have to work on the old photography skills… CSC camera =/= instant photographic talent. My favourite is the Lovely Octopus!

octopus, stuffed, plushie, felt, applique, sewing, DIY, craft, fabric
Look at those wee nobbly feet!!!

I decided to go for MadeIt instead of Etsy, mostly due to the Australian-centric base of MadeIt which tends to stop re-sellers. It feels a bit more like a community, not unlike you’d get at a local craft fair! If you’ve never been to MadeIt.com.au, I would suggest just popping over and having a look. There’s some really talented artisans on there, and may have even seen them at your local craft show.

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.

kraft-tex, washing, stamping, DIY, product labels
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.

Japanese Seed Bead Wrap Necklaces and Packaging

Full disclosure: I’m not a jewelry person. I haven’t worn earrings since a New Years party… Nearly a year ago (side note, damn this year has gone fast). Necklaces for me are tiny neck prisons that always threaten to snag on an unseen nail somewhere and strangle me to death.

I felt this up until I started my recent purging and Ebaying of the majority of my crap in an effort to de-clutter. While cleaning out those IKEA drawers to get them ready for painting, I found an old necklace I made YEARS back.

seed beads, necklace, glass beads, wood beads, multi strand
First necklace I ever made!

It was my first attempt at making jewelry that didn’t involve embroidery floss and knitting. I thought it was pretty cool and I remember wearing it a few times! It was delicate enough to where it didn’t annoy me, was green, and asymmetrical (I’m not a fan of symmetry). Not blowing smoke up my butt, but I thought it was pretty cool 🙂

I became inspired to make the same style necklace, but also be able to have variable lengths depending on what mood you happened to be in. Long flapper style, doubled up, or 3 layers of a choker style. They can also be wrapped around your wrist/ ankle as a layering bracelet!

So, while messed up from my recent orthodontic adventures (re: not going outside because I look like a TMNT villain) I made one and became addicted. I ordered a fat stack of very nice seed beads and other bits from Fire Mountain Gems ($15 flat rate shipping to Oz, whoop whoop!) and went into production…

More photos of them later, when I can model (aka I’m not a hot mess from spending the day in the sun doing chores and crap) and show them off. But for now, here’s the packaging that I came up with!

product packaging, wrap necklace, DIY packaging, jewelry packaging
Wrap necklace packaging, version 1 (embroidery floss spool inspired)

Keeping with the “wrap” theme I modeled them off of embroidery floss bobbins. When I get the stamps I’ll put the logo and art on them.

product packaging, wrap necklace, DIY packaging, jewelry packaging
Wrap necklace packaging, version 1 (embroidery floss spool inspired)
product packaging, wrap necklace, DIY packaging, jewelry packaging
Wrap necklace packaging, version 1 (embroidery floss spool inspired)
product packaging, wrap necklace, DIY packaging, jewelry packaging
Wrap necklace packaging, version 1 (embroidery floss spool inspired); this is my favourite one!

The shadows are pretty awful since its so late in the day, but, oh em gee that orange…

Saturday Project: IKEA Moppe (or Fira / Mackis) Chest of Drawers Makeover

I think anyone who lives within a fifty mile radius of IKEA has one of these:

IMG_0068.JPG

The classic IKEA wee chest of drawers that’s had a few names over the years. I think I bought mine when they were called a Fira, but they were also sold under the guise of a Moppe or Mackis. At any rate, I’m sure you have one banging around your house somewhere, most likely filled with random tatt as mine once were.

Continue reading Saturday Project: IKEA Moppe (or Fira / Mackis) Chest of Drawers Makeover

Saturday Project: Before and After Dumpster Find Mannequin

mannequin, dumpster dive, repurpose, DIY, recycling, spray paint
Dumpster dive mannequin find before and after spray paint

I will go on and admit my secret shame: I dumpster dive. Not as much as I did back in the States, but if I see something interesting in the trash I have no shame picking it up. Australians also seem very good at putting their “nice trash” outside the dumpster… Council Clean Up Day, anyone!?

When I lived in downtown Newcastle the back entrance to my place was an alleyway where all the shops would dump their trash and it would sit for weeks before they got it emptied. Awesome for when my partner wanted to make seating for the veranda out of palettes, not so cool when it piled up and you couldn’t open the gate.

But I digress. One day I found this little gem shoved awkwardly in the side of the dumpster, probably by the guys who ran a t-shirt printing business at the end of the alley.

I carried it back up to the apartment much to the shock and horror of my partner.

Something needed to be done with it. I had all of these lofty ideas to paint it, put all sorts of designs on it, decupouge, cover in fabric or duct tape… None of this ever happened. I hauled it from one house to the other, thinking it would eventually go in the bin again.

I got some kick up the ass when I was home for a weekend and figured the very least I could do was spray paint it. One trip to Bunnings and $7 lighter, I had a can of blue spray paint.

I went to town on this thing. The partner tried to give me a few pointers (which I promptly ignored, even though he is amazing at anything DIY), and in about an hour it was done.

One thing I will recommend: clean off any marker before starting! I gave the mannequin a good wash but couldn’t get off the permanent market. I should have dissolved it with something to get it off, because as I was spraying the marker would dissolve from the paint. I wound up just giving it a first coat and letting it dry for a few hours but I could have saved myself some time and some of the nightmarish imagery.

Saturday Project: DIY Organic Lip Balm

lipbalm_jb

I’ve been wanting to make my own lip balm for a WHILE now, because it seems like one of the easiest things to do in the world. I was dabbling with the idea of going commercial (HAR HAR HAR) but it’s been put aside for now since I’m away for work so much.

I made two relatively large batches (I think it was 8 of the bergamot and 6 of the lemongrass) and gave them to the Unsuspecting Partner and a bunch of mates. Results are in and they like it! The bergamot went over relatively well!

So, this is piss easy to make. Seriously. I don’t know why everyone and their mom doesn’t do it. From scouring the internet I used this basic ratio:

  • 2 parts coconut oil
  • 1 part beeswax
  • 1 part shea butter
  • 0.25 parts ‘nice oil’ (such as sweet almond/avocado/macadamia)
  • 2-5 drops essential oils
  • 1 to 5% vitamin E (this helps to act as a natural preservative)

I made approximately 100mL of lip balm, so I used this basic recipe*:

*Note that I used mL and g interchangeably at 1:1, which I know isn’t scientifically correct, but for this application I really didn’t give a crap.

Steps

1. Assemble tools (measuring spoons, scale, glass Pyrex bowl for mixing ingredients, pots for lip balm, spoon for mixing). Wash everything like it’s going out of style; I’m talking hot water, soap, the works. Dry thoroughly, because introducing water to beauty products is like asking to cover your face in mold. It isn’t okay.

2. Measure out ingredients. I used a scale to measure the solid items and just kitchen tablespoons to measure the liquids. Note that once you use tools for beauty products, they should ONLY BE USED FOR BEAUTY PRODUCTS. I know you can eat all of the ingredients, but still, cross contamination with food/things you put on your skin, kind of wigs me out.

3. Melt the coconut oil, beeswax, liquid oil and shea butter in a double boiler (Pyrex container in a pan of simmering hot water). Don’t have it as a rolling boil because it may splash and you will not have fun after that. Stir until the mixture is entirely melted and clear. This will most likely take longer than you think, as the last few bits of the beeswax took forever to melt in mine!

4. Take Pyrex out of double boiler. Add essential oil and vitamin E. Stir stir stir!

5. Pour into container of choice. If the mixture starts to harden, put it back in the double boiler until liquid again.

6. Cover containers (foil, plastic wrap, clean tea towel) and let sit for 4 to 6 hours or until hard.

See, super simples? Next time I make a batch I will be sure to include pictures of the process, even though there’s like a billion tutorials already on the internet. I just feel like everyone should be able to see my hideous 80’s designed rental house kitchen.

You should also check out my Instagram!

Saturday Project: Dresser Before and (somewhat) After

dresser, furniture, DIY, before and after, furniture sanding
Before and after of my free (thanks Sally!) wood dresser

Sanded the hideous varnish off of this dresser a mate gave me, and probably got cancer in the process from breathing in the varnish dust.

After sanding everything (stopping frequently to blow the varnish dust out of my nose and think about my life choices), I added a coat of Danish oil to seal and protect the wood. Just waiting on some hardware! I went the way of the EBay for some “cup” pulls, rather than a local distributor, because $2 for a pull was a bit more economical than $25 each pull for the EXACT SAME THING (I kid you not).

Seriously, Australia. Not cool.