A dog’s dinner

It’s a great expression, isn’t it?

It’s old fashioned British slang for messy or unfinished, or cobbled together. In this instance, it has an additional meaning.

Regular followers will recognise the fabric of this nice apron. It’s what I used to make Mouse’s warm winter coat, lined with cosy red fleece.

In this case, it’s a more colourful alternative to the efficient but very dull tan cook’s apron I’ve been using for a couple of years. And in point of fact, it’s not messy or unfinished, but it certainly is a bit cobbled together!

I only had the dog-coat remnant, but thought I could probably squeeze an apron out of it. Well, yes, the bottom half and bib top, certainly. But I also needed ties and a loop to go over the head, and a pocket. The ties and loop were achievable by piecing strips together, but that left no rectangular pieces for the pockets. So I did a bit of crazy patchwork! One pocket is hand sized, and the other is phone sized.

All the edges are simple overlocking turned over and stitched down. It’s probably not as durable as the old tan apron, but it’s cheerful and fun, and I shall wear the dog’s dinner to make the dog’s dinner 🙂

And that’s used up the last of that piece of scrap. These remnants are too small for any other use, so I feel no guilt about dropping them in the bin.

Like the dog, I haven’t wasted a scrap!

ScrapHappy January

Welcome once again to ScrapHappy Day!

It’s the day my friend Gun in Sweden and I host ScrapHappy, a day for showing something made from scraps.

Here’s to a much happier and more hopeful and creative year for all of us. With that in mind, I gave my creative urge a swift boot up the backside, and took out the scrappy table runner I’ve been making forever for a while for Days for Girls to raffle at their fund raiser, together with the quilt (now at the long arm quilter!) and the cushion cover previously shown. I’m just over a third of the way through. Here’s where I’ve got to:

And here’s the next batch, waiting for the black separator hexies and then assembly.

(Sorry about the rather garish background, but I had to find a place where I could get enough light on the subject, and the kitchen floor mat had the best lighting.)

After that there will be a smaller section at the end. To finish the whole thing I think I’ll appliqué it to a rectangular background before sandwiching, quilting and binding. I have a bit of time; this is going in the raffle in mid March, but is needed for photography end of February.

ScrapHappy is open to anyone using up scraps of anything – no new materials. It can be a quilt block, pincushion, bag or hat, socks or a sculpture. Anything made of genuine scraps is eligible. If your scrap collection is out of control and you’d like to turn them into something beautiful or useful instead of leaving them to collect dust in the cupboard, why not join us on the 15th of each month? Either email me at the address on my Contact Me page, or leave a comment below. You can also contact Gun via her blog to join. We welcome new members. You don’t have to worry about making a long term commitment or even join in every month, just let either of us know a day or so in advance if you’re new and you’ll have something to show, so we can add your link. Regular contributors will receive an email reminder three days before the event.

Here are the links for everyone who joins ScrapHappy from time to time (they may not post every time, but their blogs are still worth looking at). If you’ve copied this list from previous posts, please use the one below as it’s the most up to date

Kate (me!)Gun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancy, Alys, Kerry, Claire,
Jean, Jon, HayleyDawn, Gwen, Connie, Bekki,
Sue L, Sunny, Kjerstin, Vera, Nanette and Ann

Please note that I will be going through this list shortly, removing the names of anyone who hasn’t posted for a year or more. If you know that’s you but you’d still like to be left on the list because you have something coming up, just email me and I’ll leave you in.

See you next time for more scrappy loveliness.

Another mixed bag

So, a couple different things to show you…

Yesterday, I went out for lunch. It doesn’t happen often these days, but up here in north Queensland we don’t seem to have any Covid-19 cases, so the sewing ladies of Days for Girls met to catch up on Christmas, the holidays and forthcoming events. Precautions were taken and distance maintained, barcodes were scanned, forms filled in and lunch orders were taken and arrived……… eventually.

It did take a long time for the food to arrive. But when it did, it was worth it.

Sourdough toast with a mountain of free range scrambled egg, mud crab and thinly sliced chilli on a bed of baby spinach, topped with sriracha hollandaise. A reverent silence was maintained.

This, plus the Dowager and Aunty Marion inviting themselves over for lunch today (and arriving at 10.30am!) chewed into my planned sewing time rather, but I did get this project finished in time to post about it today. It’s another Jocelyn Proust furnishing fabric, sold as a pair of 20 inch panels to make into a cushion cover. It was in the Spotlight remnant bin because someone had slipped with the cutting out and demolished part of the border. I love the colour scheme, and the birds are such fun!

And finally, the early stages of a future ScrapHappy project (but not tomorrow’s, I fear). I wanted a large bench mat for the kitchen. I currently use a tea towel for setting out the Husband’s work food supplies: Thermos flask of boiling water and two travel mugs of hot coffee, one of hot home-made soup; milk for future tea or coffee; a banana and two apples, sliced soft fruit or grapes; a bit of cheese and some trail mix. But I’d like something a bit more padded to protect the bench from hard edges and boiling water spills, so I’m going to make a large mat, 30 x 16 inches.

I’ll probably also make another, smaller one for assembling the packed supplies so he can put them in his bag quickly and efficiently. Anything to make things run more smoothly at 2.30am… I picked lots of pale and mid-grey scraps to stand out against the dark acacia butcher-block bench top, whilst at the same time being soothing and not to bright for scarcely-open sleepy eyes. Now all I have to do is press and trim them and start sewing.

Something completely different for ScrapHappy Day tomorrow, though!

And so to bed…

I’m always short of sleep.

It’s an occupational hazard when you’re married to someone who works shifts. So I really value my time in bed, and insist on being comfortable. This includes not only the mattress and linens, the quilt, the patchwork pillowcases, etc, but also what I wear in bed. North Queensland is too hot for robes or dressing gowns, so some form of presentable nightwear is needed, whether it’s worn to sleep in or not.

On a recent fabric hunting and gathering foray I’ve previously mentioned ($75-worth of fabric for $15), I scored two pieces. which I thought would do for nightwear. Individually, at 1m and 1.5m respectively, they were too small, but combined, they worked. One was cotton poplin, a 1m piece and a separate .5m piece. The other was a printed satin, a 1m piece. The great thing was that although they were very different in style and design, the colours blended. I dug out some existing patterns and did some tweaking and cheating.

I stitched the two pieces of poplin together to make one larger piece, and used it to make a pyjama top. I shortened the original pattern and made it sleeveless. There’s a seam across the lower front, but it doesn’t bother me (pyjamas, OK…?). The pintucks give it a bit of interest and distract from the seam. I used bias binding on neck and armholes instead of self-binding to save fabric. It’s a pattern I know and love, having made it three times before, so I know it’s comfortable, and being cotton poplin, it will be cool and breathable.

For the bottom half, I’ve made shorts from the satin. I was able to squeeze them out of the fabric despite the fact that the pattern specified it needed another 30cm or so. I even managed pockets and ties. The only thing I had to ‘fudge’ was turning the small front waistband piece through 90 degrees, which I feel is hard to see once the front tie is done up. Satin for bed-shorts works quite well, as it doesn’t catch and bind on the sheets and ruck up uncomfortably.

Finally, another nice thing about this combination is that it doesn’t scream ‘nightwear’ if I have to answer the door in my pjs! Pity it’s taken me nearly a week of scattered, scatty work to complete. I hope to have my brain back in gear shortly. And in case you’re wondering why I’m not modelling them for you, I’m doing you a big favour there, OK?

Can’t wait to give them a test run…

Fly away, Peter…

…Fly away, Paul.

Does anyone else remember that nursery rhyme? Today, for me, it has two meanings, one happy, one sad.

Fly away, Peter: Today is my father’s funeral. His name was Peter. My mother’s ancestors might have said Alav hashalom, zichrono l’bracha (Peace be upon him, may his memory be a blessing). My father’s ancestors might have said Go forth, Christian soul, on your journey from this life. Whichever words we use, he is gone ahead, into that great mystery from which none return, and he is free. There is still a Pa-shaped hole in my reality, but other things will crowd in over time and distract me from the size and shape of it. And I feel strongly that this rite of passage will reconnect me with everything; I’ve felt unmoored and uncertain and unsettled these past weeks. The support of my family and friends has made an enormous difference. This, for example, really lifted my spirits, and I am so grateful!

Fly away, Paul: The Wagtail family have departed, swiftly and silently. One minute they were there, the tiny nest overflowing with three hulking great teenage babies, the anxious parents hovering and darting in with mouthfuls of whiskery insects. The next, they were all gone. I checked carefully on the ground below the nest for signs of tragedy, and in the nest itself, but it was bare. They have flown! I never got the chance to capture the nestful of babies; Mrs Wagtail was too protective and they were too cautious, ducking down when I went close enough to try for a photo. Hard to believe that tiny little bowl held three babies and their mama at one point, in wind and heat and pouring rain…

One life ends, three more tiny feathery ones begin. It’s fitting.

Quick, easy, comfy, pretty

It’s McCall’s M7969. And I really love it.

A while ago, I scored $70+ worth of fabric for the princely sum of $15, a combination of gift card, sale, loyalty card and remnant bin-diving. Among the fabrics was a very pretty lawn. Aqua background, printed with bunches of roses in pink and coral, light and soft. Enough for a dress. I don’t own many dresses, being more a pretty top and cropped pants type of person, but sometimes, a dress is called for. What I needed next was a pattern. M7969 has featured quite a lot on blogs and IG recently, and I can see why. It’s loose, pulls over your head, drapes nicely (if you use the right kind of fabric) and has gorgeous sleeves. It’s also very forgiving of less than perfect figures, and doesn’t require the wearer to have a waist. Just as well, in my case.

Possibly the least flattering photo of me taken in recent years, but at least you can see the dress…

It’s also surprisingly easy to make, apart from all the gathering. You do need quite a lot of fabric, but not quite as much as they suggest. The pattern calls for 3.8m for the dress length I wanted (View D), but I also wanted the wider View A sleeve so even more was needed, probably nearer 4.2m than the 3.5m I did have.

I’m short, so I could shorten the skirt pattern a bit. I also cut the bias neck binding in several pieces instead of just one, saving a bunch of fabric there. I cut the sleeve bindings on the straight grain instead of bias, and I cut the sleeves on the cross grain (the design on the fabric’s forgiving enough that you don’t notice the roses are sideways!). And I still have some very nice large scraps!

I have only one issue with the instructions. The raglan sleeves need gathering at the sleeve head, but they don’t tell you what the gathered measurement should be. You have to actually measure between the seam marker dots on the binding pattern piece to work out that the sleeve head needs to gather down to 7 inches on the larger size pattern, but they don’t tell you that. It’s the same measurement on all sizes, so I can’t see a problem with telling you a finished size. It seems a strange omission, especially as you have to gather and then stay stitch the entire neckline opening before you apply the binding, so you can’t fix it afterwards if you haven’t gathered it quite the right amount. Oh, and there are no instructions about when to finish the seam edges. Sometimes it matters whether you overlock/serge first or afterwards.

I like this pattern on me. It’s not for everyone – the bodice has no shaping, for example – but I find it very comfortable, and while the neckline is fairly low it’s not too revealing. If I find after a few wears that it gapes too much, I shall just put a small button and loop to hold it closed. For taller people, the variants with sleeve or hemline flounces would also look lovely in something soft and drapey.

I think this may become a bit of a favourite, to be made again.

Worth three in the bush

Do you know the proverb?

‘A bird in the hand is worth three in the bush’. In this case, I’m changing it to ‘A bird on the nest gains three in the bush’. Yes, you read that right. Mr and Mrs W. Wagtail joyfully announce the arrival of three little Wagtails, Li’l Willie, Wally and Willow. I have no way of knowing if I have chosen appropriate names, because at the moment, they’re just three tiny gaping beaks appearing over the edge of the nest when Mrs Wagtail takes a break to go hunting or find a drink. Mr Wagtail is kept incredibly busy decimating the local insect population.

If you look carefully at the photo, you’ll see a tiny black point appearing from Mrs Wagtail’s silhouette, just below her head. That’s a baby wagtail beak. She’s very, very protective, and I haven’t yet been able to get close enough to take a photo of them alone, without her. Soon enough, they’ll grow larger and will be much more visible.

I think the Husband will have to put off mowing around that particular tree, or he’ll disturb them badly. The branches are low, and he is tall, so it’ll just have to wait.

I’m sure he’ll be devastated about that…

Not just another day

We all need to mark the good times.

The Christmas tree of north Queensland, the Poinciana (Delonix regia).  Its giant red pompom flowers are seen all over the north of the state at this time of year, like enormous red Christmas tree baubles.

A reason to gather, to celebrate, to be with family if possible, to be grateful. Christmas is as good a time as any, even if you’re not religious. Today, I am gathering later with the Husband’s family, as my own is far, far away. Today I am celebrating the second most important festival of the Christian calendar. And today, I am grateful for so many things, great and small:

We have come (so far) through this pandemic with our health intact, and have lost no-one important to us to the ravages of the disease.

The Husband’s work is secure, we have food on the table and a roof over our heads.

Our household is filled with love, with people who encourage, support and admire each other. Even the furry ones…

The local harvest is in, the farmers’ income is secure for another year, and rain is falling to prepare the earth for planting next year’s crop.

My father’s passing was peaceful and easy, after a rich, varied and interesting 97 years on this earth.

I can still create and make and imagine and conceive ideas. My arthritic hands are holding out. There are many quilts still in my head demanding to be made.

I am grateful for the technology to speak face to face with friends and family everywhere, and to my father two days before he died, that will let me ‘attend’ his funeral virtually.

I am still grateful to be alive in this increasingly uncertain and wobbly world.

Long may it be so.

A very happy Christmas and a peaceful, prosperous and above all, healthy New Year to you all.

Anything for a little attention…

Hello people, Mouse here again.

Today, I am a VIP. In case you’re wondering, today the P does not stand for Pupper, but for Patient. That’s right. I am Injured. It all began when the Staff took me to the new dog park in town yesterday. Normally, it’s fairly quiet, and being grassy and shady, with big trees and benches, we spend a fair bit of time there. There’s a Big Dog enclosure, and a Small Yapper enclosure. I had the Big Dog area to myself, but the Small Yapper occupying the designated yapper space would not shut up. I decided to show it (through the fence) who was a) bigger and b) faster.

Yes, well. I won’t be doing that again in a hurry. If you’re squeamish, skip this bit and go straight to the next paragraph. I was going great guns until I caught a nail on my right hind leg and ripped it right off. Gornski. I spared the world the Greyhound Scream of Death, which would have been fully, fully justified, but it was horribly painful.

Well, you bet I pulled up in a big hurry. The Staff rushed over as I tried to put my weight on that foot without success. At first, you couldn’t see much, but then it started to bleed. And bleed. And bleed. They hurried me home. Mum washed it and sprayed it with purple spray, quite fetching really (Cetrigen antibacterial aerosol wound spray – Mum), and wrapped it tightly in non stick gauze dressing and cohesive bandage to try and stop the bleeding. I bled through that. And the next one. Greyhounds often don’t clot easily, apparently.

Anyway Mum wanted the vet to take a look, make sure there were no ragged bits left to catch on stuff, and ensure the wound was clean enough, and also to get antibiotics for me to prevent infection, as I’d walked through all kinds of stuff to get back to the car. So off we went to the vet in the morning, and came home with pills and ointment and a very annoying large white bandage-boot on my foot. I am under orders to leave it alone, and despite enormous provocation to give it a good gnawing, I am leaving it alone. Well, wouldn’t YOU if the alternative was The Cone of Shame…?

I am dealing with this by wearing an expression of deep pathos, imminent starvation and hopeful cuteness all at once. So far, today’s score is breakfast served in bed, two chicken necks, a beefy treat and three chicken hearts – Score! (What he doesn’t know is that the chicken hearts contained his pain medicine and the antibiotic, which is e-n o r m o u s! We’ll just keep that between us, shall we? – Mum).

I am keeping to my sofa and sleeping a lot now that my paw isn’t hurting any more, and I’ve even stopped doing that silly ‘I’ve got something on my feet’ spider-walk.


Clearly, I am on the mend. Just don’t tell the Staff, or the treat supply will dry up pronto.

Shake your tail feathers*

I have been doing a spot of quiet, unobtrusive bird-watching.

Mr and Mrs Willie Wagtail have set up house in my front yard.

Can you see her?

Mr Willie Wagtail is very active just now, hunting insects busily to keep Mrs Wilhelmina Wagtail fed as she sits on the teeny little nest they’ve built low down in the young frangipani tree in the front yard. It’s 5 ft from the road, 5 ft off the ground and right next to our driveway, so I’m not exaggerating when I say they’re incredibly tame. If you’re Australian, you’ve certainly seen these busy little creatures hopping and wagging, hopping and wagging as they search for insects on the ground. In the air, it’s another story. They become incredible aerialists, swooping and diving, feathering back to dead stops and cutting a swathe through the insect population.

They have a pretty melodious song, often sung at night in the breeding season, making it easy to identify in the general silence. And I’m willing to bet that tiny little nest (about 2½ inches across) is lined with silky black hair from a certain Mouse of my acquaintance. Mrs Wagtail is riding steadily as the branches wave in the slight hot breeze (it’s currently 32°C/90°F). I reckon she’s already laid her three eggs and is sitting on them till they hatch.

Maybe we’ll have some feathered babies for Christmas, too…

*One of my favourite Blues Brothers songs