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.

Preserves in the Pantry

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Apologies for my absence but more about that in another blog post.

I generally make all of our own jam and today GMan and I were discussing what we had on hand.

The inevitable consequence of our discussion was that he pulled out all of my unlabelled jars from their storage spot in the back corner of the pantry.

There was tomato sauce, sweet chilli sauce, lime marmalade, jaboticaba jam and Davidson plum jam as well as a gifted jar of marmalade. It was a timely review as I noted that there was no spare bottles of Worcestershire sauce. Time to make some more. The recipe is here if you are interested.

I decided that there could be an easier way to store and access these homemade goodies. I remembered an wooden serving tray that was not being used so I placed all of the jars on the tray. This will make it much easier to get them in and out of the pantry.

Soup for Supper

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Today I have made leek and potato soup. It is winter here in Australia and although we live in a relatively mild climate there is something appealing about a pot of homemade soup on a damp, grey day.

There are plenty of recipes on the internet for leek and potato soup but this is my version.

LEEK & POTATO SOUP

Ingredients

1 medium/large leek
3 medium/large potatoes
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon vegetable stock powder
1 teaspoon dried celery leaves
1 teaspoon rosemary salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1.5 litres water

Method

Wash and thinly slice the leek. Heat oil in a large pot and saute the leek. Stir constantly to avoid it browning. When the leek is soft, add 1 litre of water and the stock powder and other seasonings. Simmer gently.

Meanwhile, peel and dice the potato. Microwave until tender. Reserve about 1/3 of the potato cubes and add the rest to the soup and continue simmering for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and blend until smooth. I use a handheld blender for this. Roughly mash the remaining potato and stir into the soup. Add more water to create desired consistency. Check and adjust seasoning as required.

NOTES:

Be extremely careful when blending hot soup.

You may choose more, less or different seasoning to what I have used.

I make the rosemary salt by stripping the leaves from the stems, dehydrating them and then grinding to a powder which I mix 50/50 with a good quality salt.

Soup simmering.

The end result.

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.

One Coat

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You could be forgiven for thinking that this post is about a coat to keep me warm. After all, it is the middle of a significant cold spell in our southern hemisphere winter.

However, it is actually about what I have been doing for the past day and a half – painting the front of the house around the garage doors. I have completed one coat so far and will hopefully get the second coat of paint on this section tomorrow.

It is a significant improvement on the previous salmon colour.

There is still more to do around the corner on the back wall.

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 Box of Bananas

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Yesterday we did some shopping at the supermarket and greengrocer.

As always, I scanned the shops for any particular bargains.

There were bananas for $1/kg so I prepared to fill a large bag. The owner asked if I wanted a whole box.

Yes, please!

We have sliced banana on our cereal each morning and it does not matter whether it is fresh or frozen.

So, I peeled some and froze them on trays. Once they are frozen I will bag them up for future use. Banana cake, smoothies and banana ice-cream are other possible uses.

There are still plenty in the box so I will freeze them over coming days.

This is another example of being open and aware to bargains that may come your way.

The box full was $13 which worked out at slightly less than 9c/banana.

A Refresh

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I have not forgotten you even though it has been nearly 4 weeks since my last post.

After a very wet autumn our weather suddenly turned dry and cold as winter officially began here at the beginning of June. It somehow made our planned holiday very appealing. We had 9 days in north Queensland where the daytime temperatures ranged from about 26C up to 32C. It was a great opportunity to thaw out. I am still adding to the posts on my holiday blog but you can pop over here to read all about it.

We came back with renewed enthusiasm to tackle some jobs around the house. It is really a bit like spring-cleaning in winter. GMan has scrubbed all of the skirting boards, architraves and doors in the lounge/dining area and the office/library.

A bit of decluttering and rearranging of furniture ensued. One thing certainly leads to another.

Bookshelf from the lounge to the office.

Sideboard from the front lobby to the lounge.

A ‘new’ glass fronted cabinet for the lobby. I picked this bargain up on Marketplace.

Scrubbing was not enough for the front lobby so it received a fresh coat of paint.

There is more painting and rearranging in progress. More photos to come.

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.