Life Skills


The topic of tonight’s post is relatively minor and almost insignificant.  On many occasions I would not have even considered it as a potential blog post.

However, it has recently occurred to me that a lot of what I do and take entirely for granted are activities or skills that would be completely unknown to many people.  Therefore, this year I am going to make a concerted effort to post about some of the little things that fall under the broad category of life skills.

I made a sampler of different sewing stitches when I was 8 years old.  It was a laborious task undertaken in school sewing lessons in Year 3.  The sampler is framed and hangs in my sewing room these days.  There are 6 different stitches, one of which is blanket stitch.

2019-01-01 01

I don’t think I have ever used blanket stitch in over 50 years since that sampler was completed.

Nevertheless, when I noticed the stitching at the end of a blanket coming unravelled  today, I immediately knew that I would mend it using blanket stitch.  It was a bit like riding a bike – you never forget.

The blanket is one of a pair that we have owned for 40 years so I guess it is not too bad that it needed some running repairs.  I simply threaded a large needle with the unravelled thread and restitched the edge with blanket stitch exactly as I had done on the sampler.

2019-01-01 02

The left hand side of the photo is the existing machined ‘blanket stitch’ and the right hand end is my repairs.

Fit to Wear

Leave a comment

There are many ways of approaching the goal of producing less waste but for me, one of the most obvious things is to consume less and make do with what you have.

Mending, repairing and refashioning will significantly extend the life of items, save them from landfill for longer and of course, reduce the need to purchase a replacement.

Here is a practical example that I did this morning in less than an hour.

This is GMan’s sweatshirt which he wears on the weekend when gardening, mowing and painting as you can see.  The cuffs and lower band are all frayed and badly stretched but the body of the garment is still relatively sound.

2017-04-25 01

When I said that I could replace the cuffs, he commented how much he liked the fit of it – although I don’t think ‘fit’ is actually the right word.  So, The first thing I did was to make a pattern for future reference.

2017-04-25 02

I use lightweight interfacing for this purpose and have a roll of it.  I find the patterns cut on interfacing are durable and unlikely to tear.

There are only 2 pieces required – one for the front and back (with different necklines marked) and one for the sleeves.

2017-04-25 03

Next, I had a dig in my stash of ribbing to find a suitable piece.  I found some bottle green which was exactly enough for the lower band and sleeve cuffs – no wastage at all.

2017-04-25 04

I then found a piece of black for the neckband and set to work.  I will not try to explain how the ribbing is attached as there are plenty of good instructions which can be found using Google.

The final result.

2017-04-25 05

GMan is happy and I am sure this will see plenty more wear in the garden.


A New Bag


I promised I would share some of the things I spent my time on during my Christmas/NewYear break from work.


This is a bag which had definitely seen better days. It is over 20 years old and the handles were worn out.  I had cut the handles off before I took the photo but you can see that they really needed replacing.

My daughter arrived a couple of days before Christmas and had used a couple of large paper carry bags from boutiques to pack some of her Christmas gifts.  One bag had split and could no longer be used so I cut the heavy ribbon carry handles off it.  They were just the right length to use to replace the handles on my bag.


I wonder if it will last for another 20 years?

Running Repairs


I feel as though I could open my own repair cafe at the moment.


Yesterday I repaired the cover for my iPhone rather than buying a new one.  I have a tiny tube of supa-glue and I managed to re-attach the plastic case to the cover and also re-join the split along one side of the plastic case.  I did such a good job that it is not really visible in these photos.  Unfortunately, I did not get any ‘before’ photos as the battery for my camera was flat and I had to recharge it.


Tonight I did the second step of the repair when I replaced the small magnet which actually secures the closure on the case.  I had lost the original one some time ago so it did not actually fasten.  The replacement magnet was salvaged from the cover of a little notebook.  The notebook had become detached from the cover and my grand-daughter was ready to toss the cardboard cover so I retrieved the magnet before she did so.


While I had the supa-glue out, I also repaired a Christmas ornament which had a mishap when being hung on the tree.


The antler and the oar back in place.


Finally, this is a dress which belongs to my grand-daughter.  It is strapless but not really practical for a 9 year old.  It needs some shoulder straps and I have found some black fabric which I will use.  I will do the sewing on the weekend during daylight hours as I find it too difficult to sew with black fabric and thread at night.


No Repairs Today


While I am prepared to have a go at repairing almost anything, there are some things that only have one destination at the end of their life and that includes small electrical appliances such as irons.

I was almost finished the ironing on Sunday when I realised that the iron did not seem to maintaining its heat. On closer inspection I discovered that it was not on and that we had lost power on one circuit.  A bit of judicious testing revealed that the iron was malfunctioning and tripping the circuit breaker.

So, the old iron has been discarded and I bought a new one on Monday.


I expect that when I do not have business attire to launder for both of us that my ironing pile will decrease significantly but for the moment an iron is absolutely essential.

Now, I just need to find time to make a new cover for the ironing board as this one is now worn out.  It is actually close to 2 years since I wrote a blog post about the fact that it was about to wear out.

I really must do something about it this weekend.  The new iron deserves a new cover on the board!


Successfully Repaired


I did some repairs to my cane laundry basket a couple of weeks ago.  I delayed showing you my handiwork until I was sure that it really was going to be successful.

Here is the well-used basket with some of the cane broken.


The rear of the handle on the left has broken canes.  Here is a close up view.


These pieces should be positioned the same as the other side of the handle but once they have broken and the tension is released they have sprung away from their position.  There is now nothing holding the handle in place and if I chose to, I could pull that side of the handle right away from the basket.

I had been considering how I could repair this for some time and I finally bit the bullet and bought some thin plastic rope.  I would have preferred cotton cord but that did not seem to be readily available.

My general idea was good but I had not really thought through the finer details so I did that on the run.

Here is the end result and so far it appears to be holding up to the rigors of being a washing basket.



Luxury of a Long Weekend

Leave a comment

Thank you for your kind words after my last post and patience while I collect my thoughts.

This morning I woke and lay in bed contemplating the unusual situation of 3 days at home (it is a long weekend here in Queensland) and no commitments.  That is right – nothing, nobody, nowhere.  We had no plans.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love catching up with family and friends, entertaining and going places but it is such a novelty not to have anything planned.

The weather is cool and humid with showers of rain threatening.

GMan and I began by taking the outdoor table downstairs to clean it in preparation for painting.  Next, we have cleaned all of the concreted area under the house – swept, vacuumed and cleaned with the high-pressure water spray.

After using the outdoor vacuum cleaner GMan discovered that the filter bag was falling to bits.

2016-04-30 01

I decided that I could make a new one which appears to have been a success.

2016-04-30 02

Here it is attached to the lid of the vacuum cleaner.

2016-04-30 03

There are lots of other things we can work on and there will be more about those in upcoming posts.

I hope you are having a safe and relaxing weekend wherever you are.

Flown the Coop

Leave a comment

We have a small flock of chickens.  It ranges in number from 2 to 7 depending on circumstances.  We had 5 until last week when one of them died.  We usually let them out for a couple of hours late in the afternoon when we are home so since I was working from home today I went downstairs to let them out about 4pm.  The 2 brown chickens came running but there was no sign of the 2 black ones.  I searched everywhere for them but to no avail.

Then I noticed that the shadecloth that we have over part of the run was split.  The join had obviously deteriorated in the sun.  One of the reasons I put the shadecloth up was to stop the chickens getting on the roof of the henhouse and then using that as a launching-pad to fly out of the enclosure.  The black chickens were the main culprits and The Duke had christened them ‘Harriet Houdini’ 1 & 2.  It looked like they had lived up to their names and I was not sure whether I would see them again.

Wire clips
I decided to fix the split so I used these fencing wire clips.

Repaired shadecloth
Here is the finished result.

About an hour later the 2 escape artists returned and carried on scavenging in and around the garden beds as though nothing untoward had happened.  I am hoping that I have solved the problem and they will stay in the run.

Make & Mend – Picture Frame


This week I want to share a few of the projects I have been working on recently.

First up is the picture frames.  These are 2 large timber frames which belong to my mother.  They have family photographs in them and usually stand on her sideboard.  The problem is that the stand is actually very heavy cardboard.  After several years of very wet and humid weather the cardboard has absorbed moisture and now has flexed and will not stand and support the frame.

Picture frame with stand
I brought these home with the idea of repairing them and this is what I did.

I made a pattern from the stand on each frame and then marked it out on a sheet of plywood.

The pieces of plywood were cut using a jigsaw.

I then spread the glue (Aquadhere) over the plywood and placed it on the cardboard stand.  I used several clamps to make sure firm contact was maintained between the surfaces.  I left the clamps in place for 24 hours.

There are no photos of the clamps as my camera battery was flat.

Tonight I removed the clamps and the repair has been successful.  Now I need to finish the other frame then return them to my mother.

Tune in again tomorrow for the next project.

New and Not So New

1 Comment

I have been busy with my sewing today and wanted to show you what I have done.

This morning I started on the blouse which I cut out earlier in the week.  I was on target to have it completely finished today, however, the sewing machine decided to misbehave.  The automatic buttonhole function is not working,  I do not know what the problem is and have tried all of the usual trouble-shooting ideas – re-thread the machine, reset the buttonhole settings, clean the bobbin case etc but all to no avail.  I will have to ring the sewing machine shop tomorrow.

In the meantime, here is a sneak preview of the blouse.  It is all done except for the buttons and buttonholes.

2012-12-02 01The next project is another skirt but I decided to have a short break from making new things and set about repairing/refashioning this bag.

2012-12-02 02This bag belongs to my daughter and it previously had rope handles which were knotted on the inside.  The holes were finished with large eyelets, however, one of the eyelets had pulled away from the fabric.  In order to repair the bag I removed all of the eyelets and made new handles.

2012-12-02 03

I used some scraps of chocolate brown fabric which was lurking in my stash.  I had to join a couple of pieces together to get enough length for the handles.  The straps are double-stitched to allow for heavy weights that may be carried in the bag.  You can still see the eyelets holes on the inside but all in all it is a functional bag again.  It is great to be able to give items a new lease of life.