A Simple Solution

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Yesterday I was tidying up the top of the shelves in my sewing room. I found a box covered with contact that contained knitting needles. I am not a great knitter but I have reasonable selection of needles. The collection is considerably less than in the past as I rationalised what I had a year or so ago.

I decided that the box was excessive and not the best way to store the needles I had kept. So, I dived into my stash of fabric and found a scrap of corduroy and a suitable salvaged zip. Here is the result of about 30 minutes work.

All packed up and easy to store on the shelves.

A Creative Challenge

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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.

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.

An Apron

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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.

A Winter Bed

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We have a small dog. She is a Tenterfield terrier – very similar to a miniature fox terrier.

At slightly under 2 years old she is still a puppy in many ways. Chewing holes in her blanket is a favourite pastime. She had 2 blankets cut from a very large old polar fleece blanket but today I decided that I needed to rethink her bedding.

So, I made this cover from a piece of upholstery fabric which was lurking in my stash and placed the 2 blankets inside it.

The new bed appears to have gained a stamp of approval. We will see how long it lasts before being chewed.

Staying on Track

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I know that there are many and varied opinions of ‘to do’ lists. I have used them in differing guises and with varying degrees of success over the years.

Now that I am retired there is really not a great deal pressure to get things done. My lists are simply a memory aid more than anything else. I jot down things I think of in the notes section on my phone and while I do not follow it exactly, I do refer to my notes each morning. There always seem to be plenty of things that get rolled over to the next day (or week).

One of the things I had been meaning to do for some time was to make another pair of sock protectors for GMan. Last night I cut out 2 pieces of fabric.

This morning I joined the seam, hemmed the bottom edges and turned a casing and added elastic. It took about 15 minutes of my time and they were done.

Another item ticked off the list.

My list is also very flexible. For example, I had intended to clean the kitchen windows today, however, we woke to high humidity, drizzling rain and low cloud which meant that we could barely see the backyard. It does not seem like the ideal conditions for cleaning windows so I am off to work on tidying my sewing room instead.

How do you plan your day?

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Sewing Successes

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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

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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.

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.