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.

Sewing Successes

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While I was laid low with Covid I spent a couple of weeks gradually working on sorting, tidying and generally organising my workroom and sewing supplies. It is much easier to sew when you some clear priorities in mind.

The last week has seen some real action and progress in terms of completed garments.

Making clothes for tweens and teens is fraught with danger but luckily my two granddaughters are still happy with what I can produce. Of course, they have plenty of input into the fabric and style choices and have to be involved in the sizing and fitting.

This first outfit would definitely not be Miss 12’s usual choice of style or colour, however, I created it for Valentine’s Day free dress day at school in a couple of weeks. The shirt is made from an ‘indoor teepee’ she had as a young child and the skirt was refashioned from an op shop find which had been lurking in my stash for several years. Everything has been salvaged, even the shirt buttons and elastic for the skirt.

This was a maxidress from opshop discards which was destined for landfill. It had a couple of small stains plus a piece had been randomly chopped off it. The pretty rayon fabric was too good to throw out and when I showed it to Miss 14 she asked for a long skirt. Length was a slight challenge with the fabric available but she was very happy with the end result. I did have to buy new buttons for this one.

A piece of fabric given to me for Boomerang bags was not entirely suitable for that purpose but the colour and pattern caught the eye of Miss 12 so I made this shirt in an identical style to the one in the first photo. I was pleased to have buttons which matched it perfectly.

Finally, the sewing was not all about my granddaughters nor salvaged fabric. I made this pretty top for myself from a piece of lightweight cotton which I bought in Singapore in 2015. Although I loved the fabric I had been a little unsure of how best to use it but I am definitely really happy with the result.

It has been a productive week with several more garments in the planning stages.

A Mixed Bag

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The weather has been quite ghastly for the past couple of days so any kind of outdoor tasks were out of the question.

So, I settled myself into my workroom and decided to sew.

I made a top for myself from a remnant of fabric that had been given to me. The very simple pattern was taken from a top I had bought at an op shop a couple of years ago.

This was not the first time I had used the pattern. I made a blouse from a salvaged tablecloth a few weeks ago. It had some stains and was destined for landfill from our local charity shop. A quick soak solved most of the stain problem. I combined the pattern with a sleeve from a commercial pattern.

Back to today. I took the first tentative steps in making another quilt. This one is mostly muted green tonings. Four blocks done – about 45 to go. I will need a lot more fabric before that happens.

Finally, I made another Boomerang bag. As is often the case, I was feeling a bit ho-hum about the fabric colour combination but it turned out really well.

I have numerous other sewing projects underway but it is nice to be able to finish some and share them with you.

I am hopeful that the weather will improve in the next day or so and I will be able to spend some time outdoors.

Hidden and Forgotten

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My recent clean-out of the linen cupboard resulted in a few things that did not make the cut to go back in. There were various reasons for this and one item was simply because it had been pushed to the back of the cupboard and forgotten.

It is a 100% handwoven cotton rug. I inherited this when it came with a free chair I picked up from Gumtree some years ago. The rug was quite grubby but it washed up well, albeit with what looks like a couple of small rust stains. Anyway, it has been lurking in the cupboard with no particular purpose.

I realised it would make a great picnic rug and we could keep it in the car with the picnic set. It just needed a bag.

I have several cotton drawstring bags which sets of sheets came in and I decided that sewing 2 of them together would make a perfect carry bag for my newly-purposed picnic rug.

Ready to go in the car.

Production Line

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When making Boomerang bags I do not simply make one bag from start to finish as I try to use my time efficiently.

Today I cut out, hemmed and edged 50 screen printed pockets.

Then I added a prepared pocket to each of 32 bundles which include a pre-cut piece of fabric for the bag as well as a pair of prepared handles.

I am not about to make 32 bags in one go but it is now a simple matter of grabbing a pack and making a bag without having to find and cut material as well as choosing fabric for suitable matching or contrasting handles.

These are all made from used doona covers, sheets, pillow cases, cushion covers and curtains.

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.

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.

More Modifications

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A few months ago I wrote about mending my mop.  You can read about it here.

Well, I have made another modification or addition to increase its versatility.

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We have a large expanse of timber decking which we recently had revarnished.  It can get quite dusty so I wanted to mop it.  However, I was not keen to destroy the sponge head which I use for the hard floors indoors.

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So, I set about making a removable cover.  This is a piece of old towel from my stash of rags which live in the cupboard below the laundry tub.  I actually remember this as my father’s beach towel about 50 years ago.

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Using the mop head as a template I cut a piece of towel and mitred the corners.

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I checked to see that it fitted before trimming the excess and finishing the raw edges.

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On the mop.

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I obviously needed to keep it in place so I sewed some salvaged elastic inside the edge to draw it over the mop head.

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The addition of a couple of ties to fully secure the cover in place.

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Ready to go.

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The end result.

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I was pleased to be able to create a solution using salvaged materials that I had on hand.  I addition to the old beach towel I used elastic retrieved from worn out underwear and the ties were from a long ago pair of trousers that had worn out.

The cover cannot easily be squeezed out so it is not suitable for indoor use but is perfect for washing down the verandah floor.

A New Neckline

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I bought this top a few years ago and have only worn it a handful of times.  In fact, I did not even wear it last winter.  When I rearranged my wardrobe recently I decided to make sure that every piece earned its place.

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I put the top on briefly the other day and realised why I don’t choose to wear it.  I do not like the feel of high, fitted necklines and this was simply not comfortable.

I had nothing to lose so I set about modifying the neckline.  I cut just below the ribbed band.  The pins mark the quarter points of the new neckline.

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New ribbing pinned in place.

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The finished article with a new, more comfortable neckline.  It will look better once the seam is pressed.  I am looking forward to getting plenty of wear out of the top in the coming months.

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Approximately 15minutes of my time was all that was needed to turn this into a garment that I will be happy to wear.

Back in Town

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We have been home for 4 days and things are returning to normal.  While I don’t suffer greatly from jetlag, I did feel generally tired for the first couple of days which I think is simply travel fatigue.

Yesterday I had a peek in a couple of op shops (thrift shops) and picked up this top for $1.  It was marked as $4 which seemed reasonable to me but when I took it to the counter it turned out to have a blue label and was reduced to 25% of the original price.

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The top appeared to be in excellent condition with no marks or wear.  It was several sizes larger than what I wear so my plan was to refashion it.

This is the result of a couple of hours work.

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It is a little shorter than would be my preference but otherwise I am very happy with my handiwork.

I also bought this maxi-dress for $8.  It was brand new with the original tags which showed the price as $60.

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Once again, it was not my size, however, I could not resist the jade green fabric.  I unpicked the dress to maximise the amount of usable fabric and I now have the equivalent of about 2 metres of 120cm wide jade green viscose fabric.

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I am still debating as to how I will use it but it will probably be a dress or perhaps a pair of wide leg trousers.

What would you do with the fabric?