Searching for a Unicorn

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Unicorn = perfect bra.

Last week I finally bit the bullet and went bra shopping. I suspect I am not alone to say that this is one of my least favourite tasks and was well overdue. I think is mainly due to my inability to find something that is perfect for me.

My main problem is that I have relatively narrow and sloping shoulders and it is difficult (or impossible) to find a bra that the straps do not tend to slide off my shoulders.

I successfully bought 2 new bras and have decided that is all I need at the moment as I can wash one each night. I always handwash my bras to ensure the maximum life from them.

The new bras are good but not perfect and I am still debating future options. I could buy more of the same and put up with second-best. I could keep looking in more shops with more unhelpful retail assistants. I could try buying online, however, I feel like this could be fraught with danger if I do not know exactly what I want. Or, I could try making my own bras.

I have successfully made bras in the past and do have a pattern. The reason for my success was the fact that i could alter the pattern slightly so that the attachment point of the straps at the back was closer to the midline than on most commercial styles. This meant that the straps never slid off my shoulders.

I am very tempted to give bra-making another go. You do need some specialist materials such as the straps, clips and elastic but these are available for purchase through various sources.

Before I discarded the old bras I disassembled them and retrieved various bits that may be useful in future bra-making endeavours. The elastic may be used for other projects.

This lot went straight in the bin.

**EXCITING NEWS**

I have just launched a Facebook group which is aligned to this blog.

If you are reading this and have not yet joined the group please pop over to https://www.facebook.com/groups/2482607615213480 and introduce yourself.

The content and discussion is in the early stages.

Selling and Sewing

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One of the challenges of having our home for sale and regularly open for inspection is that I cannot leave my sewing room as it is when I am in the middle of a project.

Before we went on holidays I cut out a blouse. I had pinned the darts in place and then had to pack everything away as there were going to be an inspection while we were away.

When I retrieved the project it took me a while to work out where I was up to. Then it was full steam ahead and I finished the blouse. The fabric and buttons were all sourced from my stash.

Here is the work in progress.

The finished blouse.

A close-up showing the wooden buttons and a glimpse of the self-patterned fabric.

While making the blouse, I realised that I needed an appropriate outfit that I would be comfortable wearing to a funeral. I did not want or need the outfit to be black. So, once again I dived into the stash of fabric I had on hand a found a piece of linen/cotton that had been given to me. It is not a colour I would generally wear but I rather liked it so decided that I could make a skirt to go with the blouse.

Unlike some of the more complex details on the shirt such as the one piece collar and the split turnback on the sleeves, the skirt is a very simple pull-on skirt with an elasticised waist.

I was happy with how the entire finished outfit looked.

The sewing room is now looking pristine once again as we have another open inspection tomorrow.

A Cover-Up

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In my last post I mentioned sorting photos on my computer. The added bonus is locating photos which I had taken with plans to use them in blog posts which were not written. These are still relevant and will appear intermittently.

Today I want to share a sewing project from April last year.

Although we both use laptops for our computing requirements, we do still have a large monitor on our desk. As its use is occasional at best I decided to make a dust cover for it.

In order to make a discreet cover for black screen on a black desk I naturally chose black fabric. A remnant of strong black cotton in my stash was perfect. I found a piece of soft white wadding from the backing of an old bed valance which had seen been better days and been unpicked for use in future projects. I used the wadding to line one side of the cover. This provides additional protection for the screen.

I mitred the corners using the same method as the bottom of the Boomerang bags that I make.

It is a simple and useful item made entirely from from salvaged materials.

The covered monitor is barely noticeable when sitting on the desk and not in use.

A Simple Solution

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Yesterday I was tidying up the top of the shelves in my sewing room. I found a box covered with contact that contained knitting needles. I am not a great knitter but I have reasonable selection of needles. The collection is considerably less than in the past as I rationalised what I had a year or so ago.

I decided that the box was excessive and not the best way to store the needles I had kept. So, I dived into my stash of fabric and found a scrap of corduroy and a suitable salvaged zip. Here is the result of about 30 minutes work.

All packed up and easy to store on the shelves.

A Creative Challenge

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This morning I received an SOS from one of my sewing friends. Help with a sewing project, I thought? Well, what eventuated was an unusual request. My friend had sustained an unexpected knee injury which necessitated urgent surgery yesterday. It was a day procedure and she was discharged in a knee brace and with crutches to be used for at least 6 weeks. This all seemed pretty straightforward so far but there was a catch. Previous breast surgery some years ago has left my friend with very sensitive scar tissue which is painful from any pressure when using the crutches. Some sort of padding was required. So a brainstorming session ensued.

As a result I repurposed an old singlet top by attaching padded protective flaps.

I cut pieces of wadding from an old polyester quilt.

The pieces of wadding pinned to the inside of the singlet to gauge the accuracy of my plan.

Then I chose a small piece of very lightweight smooth satin from my stash for the side facing the skin. I used a piece of very thin cotton sheeting for the other side of the pocket for the padded inserts.

The pocket is made and wadding inserted.

The padded inserts were then sewn onto the inside of the lower armholes of the singlet and bound with some satin binding.

It is not the prettiest project I have done but it was immensely satisfying to be able to create a solution for my friend in need.

From the Stash

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Sometimes I get so involved in projects, I actually overlook posting about what I am doing. So, this is a bit of a catch up on my recent sewing endeavours.

The first was a valance to cover the ensemble base of our bed. We originally had a bedspread which covered both the mattress and base but that has not been the case for a number of years. I did buy an elasticised cover for the base several years ago, however, it was only moderately successful in my opinion. After lengthy consideration I finally decided to try making my own version. I used a piece of light-coloured upholstery fabric from my stash to cover the ensemble base and then joined some strong black cotton fabric for the fitted side panels.

This is a glimpse of the side of the bed once it is made. The black fabric-covered base is barely noticeable so I regard my mission as a success.

The next project was completed in less than a week once I set my mind to it. I have a patchwork knee rug which I made a few years ago for my mother. We have had some particularly cold evenings and GMan was rather envious as I snuggled under it while watching television. I set to work to make another one.

The first step was to select the fabric. As I sort through fabric I regularly identify small pieces which are suitable for patchwork. I cut them into 5 inch squares and sort by colour. So it was a simple process to grab the number I needed from the bag of blue fabrics.

In progress.

The squares were all salvaged scraps. The wadding was from an old polyester doona which I disassembled and reused. The plain edging was an old pillowcase and the backing came from a worn-out doona cover.

The final step was to add the binding. I cut and made my own bias binding from yet another piece of salvaged fabric.

Both of these items have been created entirely from fabric which was destined for landfill. We have so many resources already in circulation and it makes sense to utilise what we have.

Honouring the Handiwork

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I am regularly given pieces of fabric, garments and bed linen to use for upcycling into Boomerang bags and other projects. In recent months I have acquired a large quantity of these items from a local thrift shop. These are pieces that are deemed to be unsuitable for sale for a variety of reasons. The process of diverting them to our group assists in saving these pieces from going to landfill.

We have discovered that simply washing some articles makes them usable again. Thrift shops are not laundry services so it is important that anything you choose to donate is clean.

Some stained and torn articles yield sections of good fabric which we are able to use.

However, there is one group of items we receive that can be a challenge. These are the partly completed craft projects. I have received pieces of embroidery, patchwork pieces and even fabric painting at times. I feel an emotional responsibility to utilise these pieces if at all possible. They represent effort and skill from an unknown maker and deserve to be honoured.

Here are a couple of examples I have recently completed.

A piece of calico with fabric painted flowers has become the front of this bag. It is complemented by plain blue handles and back of the bag.

A contrasting inside pocket completes the bag.

Several small strips of patchwork provided me with another challenge. I joined them in an acceptable pattern before making the rest of the bag in a matching navy fabric from a doona cover. The contrasting handles are a similar fabric to the patchwork and were lurking in my stash from another donation.

I am so glad that I have been able to give these pieces of handiwork an outcome which is so much better than landfill.

An Apron

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This afternoon I made an apron. It was in response to an enquiry to our Boomerang Bags group from someone who wanted to know if we made aprons.

Our group has been considering diversifying a little so this was a perfect opportunity to test my skills.

In keeping with the Boomerang Bag ethos of saving textiles from landfill, it is made entirely from salvaged fabric. The red is a discarded cushion cover which I had unpicked. I used the wrong side of the fabric as the right side was quite faded. The striped fabric is from a discarded apron – I used the original ties for the waistband and ties. Finally, the dog fabric was a scrap leftover from a bag I made – the original piece was given to me. The dog fabric is a pocket which is divided into 5 sections.

I can definitely see an opportunity to make some more for our upcoming market stall next month.

A Winter Bed

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We have a small dog. She is a Tenterfield terrier – very similar to a miniature fox terrier.

At slightly under 2 years old she is still a puppy in many ways. Chewing holes in her blanket is a favourite pastime. She had 2 blankets cut from a very large old polar fleece blanket but today I decided that I needed to rethink her bedding.

So, I made this cover from a piece of upholstery fabric which was lurking in my stash and placed the 2 blankets inside it.

The new bed appears to have gained a stamp of approval. We will see how long it lasts before being chewed.

Staying on Track

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I know that there are many and varied opinions of ‘to do’ lists. I have used them in differing guises and with varying degrees of success over the years.

Now that I am retired there is really not a great deal pressure to get things done. My lists are simply a memory aid more than anything else. I jot down things I think of in the notes section on my phone and while I do not follow it exactly, I do refer to my notes each morning. There always seem to be plenty of things that get rolled over to the next day (or week).

One of the things I had been meaning to do for some time was to make another pair of sock protectors for GMan. Last night I cut out 2 pieces of fabric.

This morning I joined the seam, hemmed the bottom edges and turned a casing and added elastic. It took about 15 minutes of my time and they were done.

Another item ticked off the list.

My list is also very flexible. For example, I had intended to clean the kitchen windows today, however, we woke to high humidity, drizzling rain and low cloud which meant that we could barely see the backyard. It does not seem like the ideal conditions for cleaning windows so I am off to work on tidying my sewing room instead.

How do you plan your day?

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