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.

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.

Indoor Pursuits

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We have experienced some wild weather (strong winds and heavy rain) over the past 48 hours but I have been happily ensconced indoors.

Our granddaughters have finished school for the year and are spending this week with us. I decided that it was a perfect opportunity do do some sewing for them. I had promised it some weeks ago but it is definitely easier when they are here and I am able to try garments on and fit as I go.

The first project was a pair of summer pyjamas for Miss13. I had previously begun the boxer shorts so it was a relatively simple matter of measuring and attaching the elastic. The elastic was salvaged from worn-out underwear when the elastic is as good as new. It is great to be able to re-use this resource.

I did not have a suitable pattern for the shirt so I turned to my collection of Enid Gilchrist pattern books which belonged to my mother. She used various patterns to make outfits for me and my siblings when we were young and in turn I used them for my daughters and granddaughters. Most of the patterns are for birth to 6 years, however, there is one book of outfits for girls which goes up to 12 year olds. I decided that a pattern for a blouse/shirt with numerous variations would be suitable and set about drafting a copy onto some salvaged heavy brown paper.

My piece of gifted fabric proved to be just enough for the pyjamas. Here is the shirt with mauve buttons which I found in my collection.

The recipient was happy to model them once they were finished.

I am now working on another top using the same basic pattern but with a different neckline and sleeve. I am using one of her existing tops as the template for the sleeve.

Stay tuned for more sewing projects.

Ladybird Ensemble

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Yesterday I did some sewing that was not Boomerang Bags. I had made a start on a black linen shirt a few weeks ago and finally found some time to get back to it.

This is not just any black shirt as I specifically wanted it to wear with these trousers that I had made almost exactly a year ago. You can read all about them in this post.

I half-jokingly refer to them as my ladybird pants.

Back to the shirt. When I started making it I was on a mission to find some suitable black buttons, however, my mother sourced these ladybird ones from a large stash of pre-loved, but possibly unused buttons. I could not help but use them.

The finished shirt with ladybird buttons.

Today I wore the outfit which was cool, comfortable and above all, unique.

Family Comes First

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I was looking back at the date of my last post which was a little over a week ago. Since then my focus has been firmly on my family. Even though GMan and I are the only ones living here, we are fortunate to have plenty of contact with family. Sometimes it seems to come all at once as has been the case in the past week.

Last Monday I went to Brisbane. I took my mother to a specialist medical appointment then we treated ourselves to lunch at Fuzzy Duck Cafe. I would recommend it. This was en route to visit my aunt who is in an aged care facility. Visiting has not been possible during COVID19 restrictions so it was good to be able to see her.

I stayed in Brisbane overnight and after another appointment the next day I picked GMan up from a dental appointment and we headed home.

It has been school holidays for the last 2 weeks and our daughter and granddaughters arrived on Wednesday evening. The girls stayed until Saturday afternoon while their mother went to work for the remainder of the week and picked them up again on Saturday.

During their stay we prepared meals, sorted through my fabric stash, went to the gym, shopped for shoes, went to the beach and park and checked out the garden.

Miss O making french dressing and learning the principle of adjusting the seasoning to taste.

Cutting broccoli for the soup.

A successful shopping trip to buy new sandals for Izzy.

More cooking – pizza bases ready for toppings.

The beginning of a dress for Miss O from a piece selected from the stash.

Some of the regular housework goes by the wayside when there are visitors and this time was no exception.

The refrigerator looked somewhat chaotic. There were several leftovers that I could incorporate into meals the following day.

I had invited my sister and brother-in-law for lunch on Sunday but had no specific menu planned for the meal. We did a small amount of grocery shopping late on Saturday afternoon.

Our lunch was predominately a selection of small plates and salads which worked perfectly as we sat outside in the very pleasant spring weather.

Photographing the spread was overlooked until I brought the salads out.

Homemade hummus, guacamole and sourdough bread, rice crackers, vegie sticks and brie for starters then kale salad, rice salad, cucumber and onion salad ad tomato wedges to serve with mini meatballs, vegie kofta balls and spiced cauliflower bites. Fresh fruit salad made the perfect finish to the meal.

While it sometimes works out that a particular period of time is mostly taken up by a single facet such as family events, I am trying to create more balance in the spread of activities in my week. More about that tomorrow.

Not Busy

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As I mentioned in a post last year, I have tried to remove ‘busy’ from both my vocabulary and mindset as much as possible.

I have spent the last 3 days occupied in one of my favourite activities – sewing. It has not been just any sewing but specifically dressmaking clothes for myself.

The first project was a dress which was modelled on an oft-used shirt pattern.

I bought the fabric which is a cotton drill from a local thrift shop for $5. I have yet to source suitable buttons and finish the hem.

Another dress. A simple, lightweight shift which will be perfect for hot summer days at home or the beach. The fabric for this one was leftover from a previous project. Of course, both of the dresses have pockets.

A navy linen shirt made using the same pattern as the first dress. This is an extremely versatile pattern which I have used numerous times. The contrasting binding on the neckline and armholes is not visible when the garment is being worn but I think it adds a somewhat whimsical touch. Making my own bias binding allows me to indulge ideas like this. Once again, buttons and hemming are required to complete the shirt.

I have another linen shirt cut out which is black.

This has barely put a dent in my stash of fabric and I am looking forward to making more items to add to my wardrobe.

It is almost 2 years since I last bought any brand-new clothes apart from underwear. In that time I have bought less than 10 pieces from thrift shops and recycle boutiques and made a few items. Some of the clothes that I wore to work are still suitable for some occasions, however, I find that I am gradually changing the mix of clothes in my wardrobe to reflect my retirement lifestyle.

Patterns and Pants

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Dressmaking can be a challenge when trying to get a perfect fit.  One of the best methods I know is to disassemble a garment which you love and fits well and then use the pieces to make a customised pattern.  I did this several years ago with a sleeveless, collared shirt and have made numerous shirts from the pattern.  Here are a couple of examples.

This time it was the turn of my white cropped pants which I have had for about 9 years.  They are starting to get a bit thin in places.

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I generally use non iron-on interfacing for tracing the pattern. It is reasonably sturdy and stands up to repeated uses. However, on Sunday I discovered that I did not have any left so I had to think laterally.  I had a scramble through my stash and found several large pieces which had been part of a donation to Boomerang Bags but were not suitable.  The fabric is medium-weight, cream synthetic with no stretch so I decided to use it for the pattern pieces which worked perfectly.  It was easy to add markings and instructions, too.

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This is the fabric that I had earmarked for my first attempt with the pattern.  About 3 metres of a medium-weight cotton drill that I had bought last year for $4 at the local Salvos thrift shop.

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I am very pleased with the result.

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The only variation I made from the original was not to add belt loops.  I never wear a belt with these pants and the absence of the loops makes for a smoother silhouette.

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I call them my ladybird pants and you certainly won’t lose me in a crowd when wearing these.

I have a black, fitted t-shirt which I will be able to wear with them and I plan to make a black linen shirt using the pattern I mentioned at the beginning of this post.

Now that I am happy with the construction and fit of these pants, I am working on a pair of lightweight dark navy linen ones.  They will be full-length rather than cropped.

I have several sewing projects underway or planned and I will show you more in future blog posts.

A Gift of Love

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A few weeks ago I became aware that one of my former colleagues is expecting her first child.  As I had done for another colleague, I offered to make a quilt for her forthcoming addition to the family.

I dived into my stash for a selection of suitable fabrics and bought 2 small pieces to supplement what I had on hand.

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The first block completed.

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All of the patchwork done.  Now to make it into a quilt.

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The mum-to-be was delighted with the end result.

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It is special to be able to use my sewing skills to make unique gifts from materials which would otherwise be likely to end up in landfill.

Sewing Something Different

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While my sewing is generally bags or clothes, occasionally it can be something completely different.

Last week was one such moment.  I decided to make a cover for my newly-acquired overlocker.  I also made a matching one for the sewing machine.

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Covers completed and on the machines.

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These were all made from salvaged secondhand scraps from my stash.  The one for the overlocker was the quilted side of a decorative pillowcase.  This meant that it had enough body to stand alone.  The sewing machine has a hard plastic case so I simply made a fitted slipcover for the case so that it would match the overlocker one.

As well as looking pretty they do the very practical task of keeping the ever-present dust off the machines.