Something Old, Something New

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It is even blue as well.

Yesterday I made this playsuit using some of the seersucker fabric from a barely-worn dressing gown.

I used a pattern drafted from a vintage Enid Gilchrist pattern book which is over 60 years old. The book originally belonged to my mother and has been used many times.

I do not have a photo of me in an outfit from this pattern but here are some taken of other family members over the years.

1968

1983

2008

A good design will stand the test of time.

I even found some of the green/white spotted fabric in my patchwork squares that I am sorting out today.

Back to the Beginning

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One of the very earliest posts I wrote for this blog was about folding plastic bags. It was back in 2011 and you can revisit the post here.

As part of my sustainability strategy, I reuse everything as many times as I possibly can. Even though we do not intentionally acquire any new plastic bags they do seem to accumulate. This is due to several factors, including other people giving me things in plastic bags, the longevity of the bags and finally, an enormous number of both new and used bags that have resulted from cleaning out my mother’s possessions.

Plastic bags are not the only ones that I seem to have. There are also paper bags. I know that these can be recycled and/or composted but it is still better to reuse them where possible. I give consideration to the resources that have been used to generate these bags and feel that they deserve to be used as many times as possible.

I seemed to have different types of bags stored in various locations in my home so I recently decided that there needed to be a better and more co-ordinated approach. Hopefully, this will assist in ensuring that what we have can be easily accessed and used as required.

Additionally, the bags I use every day are in the kitchen drawer – ziplock bags and reused bread bags as well as lightweight plastic bags hanging in a dispenser in the laundry cupboard.

I made the new dispenser as the old one had really seen better days. All of the materials were recycled bits retrieved from my stash.

Finally, I created a small pack of bags for the glovebox of each car. A few small ziplock bags, paper bags, lightweight plastic bags and a small foldable carry bag all contained in a medium ziplock bag. The plan is that this will cover all possible unforeseen contingencies when we are out and about.

I am happy with my new arrangements and keen to gradually reduce the quantity of bags in the household through natural attrition rather than wholesale disposal or recycling.

Designed By Me

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Today I made a new peg bag for my laundry trolley. The last one was about 15 years old and worn out. It also also had some serious design flaws – yes, it was another of my creations. At least I was willing to learn from the shortcomings.

This is the old one once I had removed it from the trolley. Once upon a time the fabric was navy and the buttons were red.

I sourced some heavy gauge wire from GMan’s collection along with some wire cutters and pliers to fashion the approximate size and shape of the hanger for the bag.

This piece of heavy cotton fabric was an offcut in my stash and seemed perfect for the purpose.

The hanger shaped and completed.

The next step was to make the bag. Note the mitred corners to create a boxed base. This was an improvement which resulted from my experience of making Boomerang Bags.

Stitched onto the hanger.

Filled with pegs and ready to use.

A closer shot to show the hanger over the handle of the trolley.

I have not specifically mentioned Plastic Free July this year, however, making/upcycling/refashioning things we need is one way that we minimise our use of plastics and other resources all the year round – not just in July.

Completing the Craft

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When we packed up Mum’s things there were various pieces of craft which were works in progress. Some are out of the range of my skill or interest, however, I have begun work on one particular piece.

I am not sure what Mum’s plans were for this piece of hand-pieced patchwork but I think it may have been going to to be a small wallhanging.

My first step is to complete the quilting. I have never handquilted anything but I am fortunate that Mum had done about 60% of it so I was easily able to follow the pattern. The needle and thread were in the bag with the work so I have been able to easily pick it up where Mum had left off.

Here is a close-up of the stitching.

Knitting was another craft which occupied a lot of Mum’s time in recent years. She enjoyed contributing garments for the local charity, Knitting for Brisbane’s Needy. Naturally, she had a knitting bag. I planned to give this to my younger daughter, however, I discovered that it was not in great condition so I came up with another plan.

Once I have finished the quilting project, I am going to disassemble the bag and use it for a pattern to make a new knitting bag using the quilted patchwork for the side panels of the bag. I will add some plain fabric to complete the project and then my daughter will have a knitting bag constructed using patchwork and quilting that was started by her grandmother and completed by her mother.

I think that will be a pretty neat keepsake as well as a practical piece which she can use for her own knitting projects.

Hang It Up

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For those of you who have been following this blog for a long time or anyone who knows me well, it will come as no surprise to discover that one of my preferred organising methods is hanging things up.

Today I created a solution to a long-standing dilemma. As you would be aware from my last post, I sort my washing into light and dark loads, however, there is another small issue – the handwashing. I know that there are wash bags for delicates, designated wool cycles on the machine and so on but I choose to handwash my bras as well as any woollen or particularly delicate fabrics. Historically, these have always been tossed in the main laundry hamper and sorted out when I come to do a load of washing. Alternatively, they end up languishing on the laundry bench until I am ready.

In among some of my mother’s things were several small wash bags as well as a couple of much larger ones. The zip was broken on of these but I had a plan.

I set to work. 3 small hooks from the stash in the workshop. Installed just below the lower shelf in the laundry cupboard.

I then cut 3 small holes near the top edge of the bag and handstitched the edges to reduce any fraying.

Here is a close-up of my handiwork.

Can you see where this is going? 3 hooks, 3 holes?

The bag is now hanging and ready to hold any handwashing.

With the laundry hamper in place.

A full view of the cupboard which was originally a full-length space which was of limited use to me.

The 2 shelves were added by a builder when we had the laundry renovated about 15 years ago.

I added the upside down hook in 2015 to retain the small ladder.

Today’s addition is pretty much the icing on the cake in terms of storage solutions in this cupboard.

Mending to Make New

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I cannot imagine simply throwing out (to landfill) every item that ceases to function perfectly.

Mending is definitely a skill worth nurturing. Some mending jobs are relatively simple while others are a bit more complex. Replacing a trouser zip definitely falls into the latter category in my opinion. It is not one of my favourite tasks. However, there is enormous satisfaction at restoring an otherwise useless garment to a functional piece.

The first step is to carefully remove the existing zip. Replacing a zip is made more difficult by the fact that it is not the final step when the garment was originally constructed. Unpick as much stitching as required to insert the new zip.

One side pinned in place.

I stitched the first side and worked out how to place and stitch the other side.

Here is the final result with the fly folded back to show the zip. It was a previously salvaged zip from a worn-out garment and I was fortunate to find a reasonable colour match and the correct length.

And the zip works.

Looking perfect and ready to wear.

Patchwork Tutorial

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Tonight I want to show you a step-by-step guide to making a block of ‘Disappearing 9 Patch’ patchwork.

This quilt top is made up of 42 of these blocks.

As the name implies, the first step is to collect 9 different squares of fabric. I choose to use 5 inch x 5 inch squares but you can select whatever size square you wish.

Nine squares laid out in the preferred arrangement.

Sew the squares together to create 3 rows. Press the seams as you go.

Sew the rows together. Make sure that the seams line up.

You will now have a block of nine squares sewn together.

Fold the block in half, press and then cut.

Repeat the process to create four equal quarters.

Rearrange the quarters to create a pleasing visual balance.

Sew the pieces together. Remember to ensure that the seams line up in the centre of the block. Press.

Make as many blocks as you need for your project.

I generally use a plain coloured block for the centre block.

This is the first of 12 blocks needed to make a throw for the foot of the guest bed. It may be a slow process as I do not have a great deal of fabrics of suitable colours.

UFO No More

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It is less than 2 months since I wrote this post in which I committed to completing some unfinished projects in 2021. The first was a patchwork quilt for our queen-size bed.

I am pleased to report that the entire project is finished. I did not do the quilting as I have neither the skill nor the equipment to quilt such a large piece. My primary aim was to make a piece of patchwork which used all of the blue-toned fabrics and to declutter some of the bits of fabric that I had be hanging onto for far too long. All have been salvaged from one source or another, with many of them being scraps of homemade garments from various family members. What wonderful memories!

After completing the patchwork, I purchased a piece of suitable backing fabric and placed my handiwork and faith in Tanya who had been recommended to me. I was not disappointed. Tanya quilted the piece using a fairly simple design as I had requested.

Once the quilting was done, the final touch was to bind the edges. I cut bias strips from the remainder of the backing fabric. The handstitching of the binding was a bit tedious but it is now finished and I am thrilled with the final result.

Here are a selection of views of the quilt which is now an integral part of our bed linen.

I hope you have enjoyed following the story of the quilt as much as I have enjoyed creating it.

There has been a significant hiatus in blog posts and I do apologise. Real life events have been first and foremost as my mother is quite ill. Please keep her in your thoughts. My blog presence may be a bit hit and miss but I will certainly be here when I have something of interest to share.

In Record Time

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Another day, another sewing project. Unlike the patchwork this was completed in what must be record time for me. It was less than 36 hours from the moment that I decided that I needed a small bag to take to a wedding next weekend until the said item was completed.

This small black bag was my initial inspiration.

Since my frock is navy I decided that silver would be my best option. A dig around in my stash of fabric revealed this heavy satin pillowcase. I had acquired it through fabric donations for Boomerang bags but this is not really suitable so I had set it aside.

I then found some cord which I had salvaged when unpicking a cushion cover. I could not believe my luck that the colour matched, too.

I unpicked a piece of the pillowcase which proved to be a particularly good quality heavy fabric.

I did not really want a perfectly plain bag so I headed off to the local Salvos op shop and managed to find some sequins and beads for a total outlay of $3. I now have enough to make about 100 bags!! Embroidery and embellishment are not really my skills but I felt sure that I could create something that would suit my needs. A quick Youtube tutorial to discover how to make French knots. No embroidery thread so I used regular sewing thread. No pattern or design so I made it up as I went along.

Making a start.

I did not want to overdo it so decided that this was enough.

Then it was time to create the actual bag. It is open at the top and fully lined using part of a well-worn navy pillowcase. There is also an internal side pocket. I did not have a pattern so the actual construction was designed on the run. I handstitched the cord to the sides of the bag as the final step.

I am happy with the result and am looking forward to using it next week.

2021 – Year of the UFO

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In this instance UFO refers to ‘Unfinished Object’.

UFO’s often frequent craft and sewing rooms and mine was the beginnings of a patchwork quilt.

You can read about the first part of the project here.

Everything came to a grinding halt a bit over 6 years ago. This was predominately because I did not have enough scraps to create the additional blocks which I decided that I needed.

Fast forward a few years and I had managed to collect more scraps so I restarted the patchwork a few weeks ago. This is the first block of the new batch.

11 blocks finished to create a total of 42. This will be enough to make a generous quilt for our queen size bed.

Today I sewed all of the blocks together. The patchwork is complete. The next step is to make the quilt.

I spread the completed patchwork on our bed to get an idea of how it would look. I am very happy with the result.

I hope there is not another 6 year hiatus before it is completed.