As the title maaay vaguely suggest, I haven’t been very on top of my game lately. But rather than focus on the negatives (throws glitter into the air): I have repurposed the Kraft-tex material I made a while ago into something completely new!
I didn’t really like the zipper pouches (the zips were meh and didn’t match), so I took them all apart and have let them sit on my desk for a while. Just sitting there. Some unsewn little bits. Wondering what to do with them…
So after a “bit” of time (re: 6 months or so), I have finally found myself with some key fob makin’ bits and a bit of free time. A few hours later, and I had some brand new key fobs!
So what is the lesson here? Hoard things for months and months and stress over them until finally you crack and tear them up (THREE TIMES!!!) and then finally understand their true calling?
Maybe not. But anyways, I’m out of wisdom so here’s a link and a pretty picture to the aforementioned fobs. Have a good holiday everybody and see you in 2018 where I may even get my crap together!
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:
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:
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:
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!
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
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.
Scrunch, rub, roll– work it just like a hard leather you’re trying to make soft.
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.
Once it’s done soaking, scrunch it some more and work it until you’ve achieved the desired amount of “doneness”.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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:
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.
I let them dry overnight before attempting Stage 3.
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.
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.
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.
I won’t lie, this stuff tripped me out when I first saw it. I was walking through Byron and little shop had these massive leather tote bags in all sorts of metallic colours. The shop owner saw me touching them (because I’m like a 4 year old and have to feel everything shiny), and asked if I knew what is was made of.
“Feels like painted leather” I said.
“Nope, it’s paper!” She replied, smiling as the shock moved across my face.
What. The. Hell.
I spent that entire night frantically googling this mystical material.
The makers of bags are called Uashmama (who have a whole range of cool things), and call it ‘washable paper’. It feels exactly like leather, but it’s a manufactured paper product that’s a vegan alternative to cow hide. I’ve even seen their stuff pop up in Newcastle now, at one of my favourite Hunter Street shops, Studio Melt. I don’t know exactly their source, but commercially it’s available as Kraft Tex (or KraftTex, Kraft-Tex depending on where you look).
But with some more research, I discovered that this isn’t some new technological miracle, it’s been around for ages. If you own a pair of jeans with a leather name tag on the back, it’s probably not leather, but this Kraft Tex.
Of course I bought some. It comes in bolts like fabric, but feels like card stock. The website said to wash it once to give it a bit of texture. So this weekend, I decided to see what happened when I washed a bit. I didn’t send them through the machine, but soaked them in boiling water for ten minutes. After they became soft, I crumpled them and molded them a bit to get that rough texture. After drying, as if by some miracle, it turned into a really supple leathery material!
The next level is seeing how well this takes fabric paint. I bought some silver over the weekend, and in my head I have some really cool accent pieces for tote bags I want to do.