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.

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.

Lying Low

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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

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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.

Creating With Scraps

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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.

Completing the Craft

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When we packed up Mum’s things there were various pieces of craft which were works in progress. Some are out of the range of my skill or interest, however, I have begun work on one particular piece.

I am not sure what Mum’s plans were for this piece of hand-pieced patchwork but I think it may have been going to to be a small wallhanging.

My first step is to complete the quilting. I have never handquilted anything but I am fortunate that Mum had done about 60% of it so I was easily able to follow the pattern. The needle and thread were in the bag with the work so I have been able to easily pick it up where Mum had left off.

Here is a close-up of the stitching.

Knitting was another craft which occupied a lot of Mum’s time in recent years. She enjoyed contributing garments for the local charity, Knitting for Brisbane’s Needy. Naturally, she had a knitting bag. I planned to give this to my younger daughter, however, I discovered that it was not in great condition so I came up with another plan.

Once I have finished the quilting project, I am going to disassemble the bag and use it for a pattern to make a new knitting bag using the quilted patchwork for the side panels of the bag. I will add some plain fabric to complete the project and then my daughter will have a knitting bag constructed using patchwork and quilting that was started by her grandmother and completed by her mother.

I think that will be a pretty neat keepsake as well as a practical piece which she can use for her own knitting projects.

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.

UFO No More

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It is less than 2 months since I wrote this post in which I committed to completing some unfinished projects in 2021. The first was a patchwork quilt for our queen-size bed.

I am pleased to report that the entire project is finished. I did not do the quilting as I have neither the skill nor the equipment to quilt such a large piece. My primary aim was to make a piece of patchwork which used all of the blue-toned fabrics and to declutter some of the bits of fabric that I had be hanging onto for far too long. All have been salvaged from one source or another, with many of them being scraps of homemade garments from various family members. What wonderful memories!

After completing the patchwork, I purchased a piece of suitable backing fabric and placed my handiwork and faith in Tanya who had been recommended to me. I was not disappointed. Tanya quilted the piece using a fairly simple design as I had requested.

Once the quilting was done, the final touch was to bind the edges. I cut bias strips from the remainder of the backing fabric. The handstitching of the binding was a bit tedious but it is now finished and I am thrilled with the final result.

Here are a selection of views of the quilt which is now an integral part of our bed linen.

I hope you have enjoyed following the story of the quilt as much as I have enjoyed creating it.

There has been a significant hiatus in blog posts and I do apologise. Real life events have been first and foremost as my mother is quite ill. Please keep her in your thoughts. My blog presence may be a bit hit and miss but I will certainly be here when I have something of interest to share.

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.

Secondhand Stuff

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One way to significantly reduce our carbon footprint is to source pre-loved items in preference to buying new.

There are a number of ways of achieving this.  Thrift stores, garage sales and online groups as well as hand-me-downs and cast-offs from friends and family.

I think it is important not to simply use this as a way of acquiring excess possessions that will not be used.  However, if you are willing to watch and wait and be prepared to take advantage of what comes your way, there are plenty of bargains out there.

Here are some of my finds from the last week.

I was walking past the recycle boutique in our local town when I spied this dress hanging outside the shop.  I couldn’t believe my luck when I discovered it was my size.

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After a relatively minor alteration it is ready to wear to a Christmas lunch tomorrow and probably on Christmas Day as well.

On Saturday morning I ventured to a clearing sale at a property not far from where we live.  I knew that there would be a wide selection and went with an open mind.

This was what I ended up with.  Total cost was $50.

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The 2 larger Pyrex dishes are for my daughter.

The doona set was for king-size bed but I modified it for our queen-size bed.  You can see the pattern better as it is on the line after being washed.

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The offcuts have not been wasted as I will be able to cut squares for the patchwork quilt which is a work in progress but will one day grace our bed.

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The bed linen is the perfect colour for our room.

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