denver art museum

DAM >> Untitled >> Darn!

June 10, 2013

Last Friday I had the opportunity to teach two workshops with my friend Kristen for the Denver Art Museum’s May Untitled event. The theme for the evening was Darn! – misprints, mistakes, mending, and moving on.


Our first class taught museum-goers how to sew on a button. There was a surprisingly big group of people young and old who sat at our tables and learned a few tricks. As it was one of the first classes of the evening, people slowly trickled in giving us plenty of one-on-one time with each student.

To make it more authentic, I sewed long lengths of button plackets and button bands then cut them into manageable sections. Each student got to take a placket and practice lining up the band. We had a large assortment of thread colors and buttons. Kristen even made little instruction cards.

Our next workshop was on stains. We wanted to come up with solutions for a bleach or ink stain, so throwing away the garment wasn’t necessary. Because of my previous success with iDye Poly and Procion Reactive dyes, Kristen decided to over-dye her husband’s ink-stained pants as an example. The result was a huge success! They are now a dark charcoal grey and the ink splotch is completely hidden.

supplies process

before after

photos by Kristen LittleJohn-Lasker

I wore my blue H&M dress (for sure my most popular post ever) and brought some shorts that I over-dyed the same time I dyed this fabric. Both are still brilliant in color despite several washings. My examples demonstrated that if you have any pieces that are unflattering colors, dye them!

To make the dyeing workshop interactive, we provided fabric squares, stamps and screenprinting dye. We also had pencils, so they could use the erasers for polka dots. If you had a small stain, you could incorporate stamping to cover it up.

Our dyeing class was the last workshop and we were late setting it up because of other ongoing events. By the time we were ready, we looked up to find a large crowd standing around us. No one-on-one interacting like the button workshop! We both froze for a second then launched into an unexpected lecture format. Luckily we had pictures and other tools to explain our process. The crowd dispersed and we were left with those who wanted to stamp. Awh, much better.

copyright / all rights reserved by Denver Art Museum

copyright / all rights reserved by Denver Art Museum

Kristen and I in deep concentration trying to sew on buttons.

crochet! crochet

needle felting

buttons! weaving

copyright / all rights reserved by Denver Art Museum

There were several events occurring throughout the evening that we missed since we were teaching. I’d love the opportunity to teach again, but I’m also looking forward to being a participant in this month’s event.


Do you have any salvage stories? Any ways that you’ve mended or saved a piece of clothing?

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