A Creative Challenge

4 Comments

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.

Honouring the Handiwork

Leave a comment

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

Leave a comment

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.

Sewing Successes

3 Comments

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.

Lying Low

Leave a comment

The past 5 days or so have been interesting to say the least. Despite doing our level best to stay away from people, GMan and I have both been quite unwell. I think it is likely that we have contracted Covid-19, however, we have yet to receive the results of our tests taken on Friday morning.

Today is the first day that I have felt well enough not to spend more than half of the day in bed. In fact, I even managed to do a few things. I did not push myself so sitting and cutting fabric seemed like a reasonable compromise.

I am slowly but surely working on sorting out the fabric stash in my workroom and little by little I am deciding whether a piece is really something I need to keep and how I might use it. Any pieces that I have earmarked for patchwork (5 inch squares) are cut and sorted according to colour for future projects. This is what I have been doing today.

A few more piles to put away.

This is some of what I need to sort out. There is some overall logic to the placement but it could be much better.

In the meantime, I like to focus on the successes. This cube is mostly patchwork. Blocks in progress on the left and squares sorted by colour in the basket.

Small steps do make a difference.

A Mixed Bag

Leave a comment

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.

Creating With Scraps

2 Comments

One of my longer term projects is to use up the many and varied fabric pieces I have acquired from multiple sources.

When I was tidying up a few weeks ago I found various pieces of denim offcuts. Once I collected them all together I realised that there was a significant pile. Many were pieces that had been cut off when shortening new jeans. Others were salvaged from garments that were no longer wearable.

Using an existing apron for a template I made a pattern then a patchwork denim apron for myself. The neck strap, binding and ties were all salvaged or remnants.

After posting this photo on my Facebook page I was approached by a friend who asked if I was selling them. Well, not exactly, but I did agree to make her one. This time I even included pockets. These were salvaged from a pair of GMan’s old gardening jeans that had been patched so many times that he had recently declared that they were only fit for the rubbish. That was the case for most of them but the back pockets were still in good condition.

I used flat felled seams to replicate the seams normally seen on jeans. This also meant that there are no raw edges on the reverse of the apron.

My pile of denim offcuts is now much reduced, although I do still have enough for the occasional mending task.

Something Old, Something New

2 Comments

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

1 Comment

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.

Patchwork Tutorial

Leave a comment

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.