Community Connections

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Most of what I write about in this blog pertains to house and home. However, there is much more to my life. Extended family gatherings, cultural events, exercise, enjoying the natural environment and of course, travel are some of the various activities I enjoy. Travel has been somewhat curtailed in the past couple of years but we have still managed numerous shorter trips closer to home rather than major overseas travel.

The other thing that I am both passionate about and find satisfying is involvement in community groups and activities.

This week has seen plenty of action on that front. I am directly involved in 3 groups. The first and smallest is a local residents group for our semi-rural area. There is minimal action in this group but as the secretary I did attend a committee meeting this week and have minutes to finish and distribute.

The other two groups are separate but closely aligned in purpose.

The first is Boomerang Bags. This is a global grassroots project which was started on the Gold Coast in my home state of Queensland, Australia. It seeks to tackle single use plastic pollution by creating reusable alternatives from salvaged and discarded fabric. I have been involved for a little over 4 years, the last 2 co-ordinating our small group. One of my earlier posts gives a bit more information.

My other foray into community action is a fairly recently-formed waste action group which goes by the acronym of WAM. Late last year we co-ordinated several community events during National Recycling Week. There are many and varied ideas for directions the group might take but the overarching theme is about reducing consumption and waste, both of which are very important to me. I regularly address these themes on a personal level in my blog posts. Watch for more about we are doing as a community to encourage everyone to make a difference.

More Creations

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The weather has improved slightly. It is not raining but the clouds are practically sitting on our shoulders and the humidity remains above 90%. I am thinking of venturing out to the garden this afternoon but in the meantime I have continued sewing.

These pieces of fabric were given to me for Boomerang bags. They are strong, good quality cotton and are clearly furnishing samples. I decided to team them with existing fabric from my stash but the first job was to attach the pockets.

The completed bags.

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.

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.

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.

Saturday Stall

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Even though I haven’t written a blog post for a couple of weeks it doesn’t mean that I have been slothful. Far from it. It is just that most of the day-to-day happenings have not been worthy of a blog post.

I have also been occupied in creating as many Boomerang Bags as possible for our very first market stall at the Witta Market on Saturday. This market in our district is dedicated to local makers and growers so it seemed to be the perfect fit for our bags.

We kept it very simple and used the bags as the decorations to attract potential customers.

Here is a close-up of some of the bags.

The market was a clear success with bags being sold as well as some potential volunteers identified and raising our public profile.

Next month’s market is barely a week before Christmas so will be a great opportunity for some last-minute gifts.

Share the Joy

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On two occasions recently, I have been able to pass along items that are not of use to me.

This is slightly different to decluttering because I never intended using either of the items concerned.

The first was when we were in Melbourne and I was having a good look around a large suburban op shop.  I found a Veronika Maine dress.

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While I have never owned any Veronika Maine clothing, I do know that they are good quality and it was made in Australia.  I knew that a size 10 would not fit me nor did I need a dress which would be totally at home in a corporate work environment.  So, I left it there even though it looked perfect and was priced at a relatively tiny $9.  After several hours of thinking about this dress, I decided to write a post for a Facebook group.  This group is simply a gathering of like-minded female friends, some of whom I know in real life.  I offered to buy the dress and post it (if required) if anyone was interested.  Sure enough, someone was keen and the dress is now in regional NSW with a new owner.

I am part of a small group in my local town who make Boomerang bags.  We regularly receive bags and boxes of donated fabric from a variety of sources.  Sometimes these include fabric which is not suitable for making the bags and we generally try to repurpose it in some way.  However, I was sorting through some fabric yesterday when I came across several pieces which defeated me when it came to thinking about how it could be used.

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It is a silky type of material with a floral pattern on it.  Most intriguing was the fact that is had been cut into long strip about 20cm wide and up to 6 metres in length.  This rendered it unusable for making any type of garment.  Once again, I offered it to my online group of friends for the cost of the postage.  Lo and behold, someone was very keen and the parcel is currently en route.  I will look forward to discovering what crafty project this will be used for.

The alternative was to send it to an op shop but I fear that it would have landed in the ‘too hard’ basket and subsequently in landfill.

I have found that it is worth spending a little extra time and effort to find someone to pass things on to directly.

 

Volunteering

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What do you think of when the discussion turns to volunteering?  Meals of Wheels?  The committee of a local organisation?  Assisting communities in Africa or Timor?  Assisting injured wildlife?  Planting trees?

These are all worthwhile and valid forms of volunteering but there are many others.  There are almost as many forms of volunteering as there are people in the world.  Sometimes we do it while it barely registers.

Yesterday I visited the small retirement village where my mother lives.  I gave a slideshow presentation of some of the photos from our trip to Scotland last year.  Mum had asked me if I would consider doing this as she felt that several of the residents would enjoy seeing them.

The presentation was advertised in the village newsletter, I assembled about 30 photos which I felt best reflected our travels and made some notes with specific details about the various places.

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The armchair travellers assembled and we were set to traverse the ‘Islands and Highlands of Scotland’.

I was delighted with the level of engagement by the audience and thoroughly enjoyed retelling some of the anecdotes of our travels.  However, I was completely unprepared for the overwhelmingly positive feedback and thanks which I received.  I was thanked profusely for donating my time.  I had not even thought of it like that – I was simply having fun sharing my passion for some of the places we had visited.  There may well be more travel slideshows of other destinations in the future.

Today was a completely different story.  A small but committed group of us gathered to print more pockets for the Boomerang bags which are made by our local group.  Boomerang bags utilise salvaged and secondhand fabrics to create reusable carry bags.  These are sold for a very modest $5.00 and we were pleased to be able to make a substantial donation to the local Neighbourhood Centre at the end of last year.  The centre supports disadvantaged and vulnerable people in our community.  The Boomerang Bag project saves fabric from landfill, limits single use plastics and supports our community and I am glad to be a part of it.

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A reminder that you are never to young to be involved in volunteering and making a contribution.

I would love to hear about your volunteering contributions.

 

The Bag Ban

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I really wish I did not feel compelled to write this post and I apologise in advance to those readers who live in jurisdictions not affected by the impending plastic bag ban in Queensland.

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It seems to have generated some of the most ridiculous comments I have heard in a long time.

I offer the following observations.

Lightweight plastic shopping bags have not been around forever.  They have been in use in Australia for less than 50 years.

Remembering to take your reuseable bags is as simple as remembering to take your purse and keys when you go shopping.

The ban is about the lightweight carry bags only – not the thicker plastic bags which some supermarkets may choose to sell, nor the flimsy plastic bags for produce.  However, you can choose to refuse these too.  Bring your own reuseable carry bags – fabric ones are best.  They are strong, durable and can be washed as often as required.  You can also buy or make lightweight produce bags for fruit and vegetables.

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You do not need supermarket carry bags to line your bin.  Rather than re-invent the wheel please read this post.

Instead of railing against the fact that supermarkets are profiteering, that the ban will not reduce plastic use, that you will not have a bag to line your bin, that other plastic bags are still available and so on, let us use this as a real opportunity to take a leap forward in moving away from a range of single-use plastics.  We do not have wait until change is legislated and forced upon us.  Take the lead and make a difference now.

The ban on lightweight carry bags should be just the beginning.  Plastic Free July looms on the horizon so tomorrow I will address some of the other single-use plastics that we should be campaigning to eliminate.

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Do you have a bag story?  Please share in the comments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Re-Purposed Boxes

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I am not a great fan of re-purposing as I feel that some people use it as an excuse for not trying to reduce the stuff (particularly packaging) that they acquire.  However, sometimes it is impossible to to gain items.  This was the case recently when my birthday gift from my work colleagues came in 3 matching cardboard boxes.  They looked too good to simply put into the recycling so I put them in the cupboard with the vague notion that I may be able to reuse them as gift boxes as they had no visible brand name on them.

Today I needed to pack up my sewing as I was going to a production day for our Boomerang Bag group.  I keep all of the sewing threads in a small plastic basket but it was not really easily transportable as it does not have a lid.  Additionally, the basket was overflowing, thanks to several reels of thread that had been given to me recently.

Thank goodness for the boxes.

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The threads fitted easily in 2 of the boxes and I put the box of bobbins as well as scissors, pins etc in the third box.

The slide-on covers mean that things could not fall out during transport.

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I have decided to keep the threads in the 2 boxes on the shelves in my sewing room.  The other notions are back in their regular places and the third box is available to transport them on future occasions.

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The small white basket at the far left of the shelf is identical to the empty one which previously held the threads.  I will probably rearrange things of some of the shelves and use it for storing other items.

The plastic baskets have stood the test of time as I originally bought them for dividers in the drawers of our bathroom vanity unit.  I subsequently replaced them with some straight-sided containers which were a better fit for that space.