Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Killing a dress with a penguin is a good idea (AKA blocking acrylic)

So I'd heard both sides of the story: blocking acrylic...pointless or absolutely essential. I wasn't going to bother until I came across the concept of 'killing' acrylic. The idea is to deliberately over heat acrylic and the result is a project with gorgeous drape. Now 'killing' goes against my pacifist nature but then again so does dressing my baby in one of those 1980s over-fluffy acrylic garments (usually in garish colours and sold at fund-raising events by lovely but misguided older ladies). So I gave it a try figuring I didn't have much to lose as the technique had worked very well for a much more experienced crocheter than I.

So here is Little Miss's dress before blocking:


The results are great!!
I used my 'Penguin' steamer as they are nicknamed. It's not much use as a cleaning steamer but it's great for defrosting the freezer and as I now know, for blocking/killing acrylic.

And after being 'killed' by a penguin:

The drape is much better, the fibres are much more relaxed - they don't spring up in odd places - apparently it's good to be killed by a penguin if you're an acrylic dress ;-).

Killing an acrylic project with a penguin steamer is easy. Just look at Beadknitter's blog for a tutorial on killing acrylic. I didn't pin the dress in place before killing it. I simply held the steamer about 4 inches fromt he dress, steamed it section by section and smoothed it with my hand as soon as the section was cool enough that I wouldn't burn myself. When you steam in this way, you'll know when you've steamed enough as you can see the yarn change appearance. I wouldn't go beyond this point or the acrylic (which is a plastic) might melt too much. I'm guessing that killing acrylic is basically melting the plastic enough to make it relax but not so much that the garment becomes a puddle of melted plastic.

Oh and here's a picture of Little Miss modelling - somewhat reluctantly - her dress. I decided to add a crocheted trim after killing the dress - I'm sure more organized, sensible people would have done it the other way round but the trim was an after-thought.

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1 comment:

  1. Hi,
    I'm the person who wrote the article on Blocking Acrylic that you linked to. The article is about blocking, not killing. I, as a rule, do not actually kill the fabric when I'm steam blocking. It still softens up and drapes like it is supposed to, but keeps it's body. It doesn't get the flattened silky drape that killing does. I just wanted to make that clear.

    The dress turned out fabulous. Congrats!

    Take care,