Going under cover

Not us. The furniture.

In March last year, I posted about turning one huge table into two smaller but much more useful ones. The smaller of the two became our front porch ‘visiting’ table, where cold drinks and tea and peanut butter cookies were consumed. It’s well under cover, but in the recent lashing torrential rain we’ve had, it got soaked, and despite being robust Japanese cedar, it didn’t enjoy the experience.

I therefore decided that a coated, water-resistant tablecloth was called for. You can get some very pretty prints these days as well as the more traditional red and white check variety, and I chose a teal Japanese-inspired print.

After that, of course, my outdoor chairs looked a bit naked. So I’ve set myself the task of making four scrappy cushion covers to beautify them, to match the tablecloth. The cushions will have to come inside at night or during bad weather, but it will make the whole set up look more intentional and elegant, and less practical/ prosaic. Or at least I hope so. In any event, the chairs will be more comfortable if the weave isn’t digging into our backsides! Maybe even some coasters or napkins might turn up eventually. You never know…

It’s not like I lack teal scraps, or anything…

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.

I have invented a new scrappy garment.

It’s called the Trous-A-pron. Seriously, though, I was having a tidy-up in the sewing room a few days before Christmas and came across an old pair of the Husband’s work pants which had been cannibalised for repair patches. There was a leg and a half left attached to the waistband.

I have a lot of patches already, and this particular pair was exceptionally richly endowed with pockets. An idea formed…. So, I unpicked the inside leg seam on both sides, followed by the crotch seam from front to back, eliminating the zipper section en route. The whole leg became the lower half of the apron, minus about 30cm/12 inches of leg at the bottom. The other half leg became the bib of the apron, and the bit I’d cut off the bottom of the full leg became the front shoulder straps. The waistband became the back shoulder straps where they cross over and rejoin the apron at the waist.

Lots of fiddly unpicking. Lots of working around bumpy seams and pockets. End result: one useful, durable, extremely pockety apron for working outside in muddy, chickeny, weedy conditions. There is not a new thing in it apart from the thread.

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). The list below is the most current one I have, so if you’d like me to update something, let me know in the Comments.

KateGun, EvaSue, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, 
Jill, Jan, Moira, Sandra, Chris, Alys,
Claire, Jean, Jon, Dawn, Jule, Gwen,
Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue L, Vera,
Nanette, Ann, Dawn 2, Carol,
Preeti, Debbierose, Nóilin and Viv

Juggling

Another word for busy with no tangible outcome!

I have lots of things on the go, I’m actually quite busy, but nothing really post-worthy on its own, which is why the photo is pretty random – we took doggo and a picnic to the newly-developed Riverside leisure area in Mackay for a bit of a change. Beautifully done: loungers, tables and chairs and benches under cover, very nice amenities, ample rubbish bins, and best of all, a couple of free filtered-water dispensers for people and doggos. We’ll be going back again soon.

The entire central panel of the Delft quilt is now entirely stitched together, a mammoth undertaking. I’m currently cutting borders/ working out what I want the corners to look like, preparatory to taking the project away with us when we go travelling at the end of January, as handwork. Stitching the hexie edges onto the straight border should be challenging, as well as tedious time-consuming. It’s easy for things to get puckered and bubbly if your stitch tension is too tight.

I’m making a skirt out of a thrifted pair of pants. It’s a work in progress… If it works, I’ll show it.

I made a work apron out of a pair of the Husband’s old work pants. More on that for ScrapHappy Day on the 15th.

I made a waterproof iPhone hiking pouch for a friend. Fold-over press-stud top for waterproofing, and zippered bottom for quick access.

I made a set of 3 ‘feminine hygiene’ kits for a young lady of my acquaintance who is going to need them soon. Ecologically friendly, washable, comfortable, colourful, practical, discreet, and nothing to landfill or the sewage system.

The red kurta is still on Rosita, my dress form. I have opened out the side seams and basted in muslin panels to act as patterns for the eventual final inserts. And there it has stopped. For now…

I have a green silk thrifted top that is waiting to be altered with a patterned silk insert. It’s a gorgeous colour, but as an occasional-wear item it’s not high on the To Do list.

I just finished making a set of napkins from some beautiful French red and white striped linen. I wanted super-large ones (nearly tea towel-sized), and you just can’t buy them that size.

I carved, vacuum-packed and froze the rest of our Christmas ham. I made pea and ham soup from the bone and smallest scraps. The shells from 2kg (4 pounds) of prawns are still sitting in a bag in the freezer waiting for me to make a stock from them for a bisque. The soup I made from the two chicken carcasses is almost history already. And that’s the end of the Christmas leftovers.

I am 3½ pages into the instruction book for my latest miniature kit. The booklet is 24 pages long… The kit is a surprise gift for someone, so I’m not going to be showing any pictures, but it’s one of the most content-intensive ones I’ve seen, so there are literally dozens of pieces to make for it. And I’m on a deadline. Why do I do these things to myself? Oh yes, because it’s heaps of fun!

And finally, we gave Miz Lizzie the caravan (travel trailer) a major bath and beauty treatment. After years of restrictions, we are finally getting ready for an out-of-state 1400km/870 mile trip down south to Nambucca Heads in northern NSW, where the Husband and I will both celebrate birthdays with friends and family. Miz Lizzie is looking very clean, shiny and spiffy. She will shortly be off to visit the caravan repair yard, to have two more inline bilge fans fitted to her new air conditioning system to help the cold air shoot out faster. The new system couldn’t be fitted in the old location due to size, and the new ducting is much longer, so the built-in fan loses efficiency and the cooling is reduced. We fitted one in-line fan at home to test whether it helps. It does, so she’s off this coming week to get the rest of the work done before we go away. I hope it gets done fairly quickly, as we had to strip the interior to get at the relevant ducting, and it all has to go back in again before I can clean and start packing!

So, as you can see, my comparative radio-silence has not been evidence of idleness, but rather of too many irons in the fire and not enough completion.

So clearly, my word for 2023 will continue to be FINISH.

ScrapHappy December

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.

After last month’s highly successful and so far, much complimented scrappy fabric necklace, I eyed the remaining triangles of batik from the Floribunda quilt with a much more assessing eye. And this is the result. A Christmas hemi-wreath, decoration, whatever you’d like to call it. I call it pretty, and hung it on a door. I love those colours!

Scrappy Christmas, everyone!

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). The list below is the most current one I have, so if you’d like me to update something, let me know in the Coments.

KateGun, EvaSue, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, 
Jill, Jan, Moira, Sandra, Chris, Alys,
Claire, Jean, Jon, Dawn, Jule, Gwen,
Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue L, Vera,
Nanette, Ann, Dawn 2, Carol,
Preeti, Debbierose, Nóilin and Viv

More tiny, and a bit of festive fun

First, the tiny.

I have begun a new model. This time, it’s what the maker calls a ‘miniature house’ – in reality, just a room, and not even all 4 walls and a roof, but like a stage set. It’s a sewing room, and it will be a gift for a friend and fellow quiltmaker. We’re meeting early next year, (Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise), and I shall pack it up carefully and carry it the 1400km to our meeting place so we can enjoy it together on our holiday. She’s getting daily progress bulletins, so I thought I’d share with you too!

Here’s the box, showing what they intend it should look like.

There are some lovely details, and some absolutely ferocious bits of construction needing to be done (I’m looking at you, treadle sewing machine), but it’s coming along and I’m making progress. It’s a lot more fiddly than the other one, mostly because of all the furniture and accessories that have to be made. The structure itself doesn’t look too bad… Possibly famous last words, there.

This is where I’ve got to.

From left to right: work table with cutting mat and tool holder (rulers, scissors, spools of cotton); tailor’s dummy with measuring tape, treadle sewing machine, assorted baskets and cushions, fabric dresser with cushions, basket, fat quarters and fabric bundles; coffee grinder on top, chest of drawers with newspaper and hat (made from scratch). That sewing machine was something else. All the ‘ironwork’ underneath had to be glued and assembled, and the crank that holds the treadle to the flywheel is 10mm long…. I had to make the handles on the chest of drawers and the fabric dresser, and wind the cotton on the tiny bobbins.  The coffee grinder is made of 12 different components. Well. You get the idea.

That said, I have every intention of cracking on and getting it done by the end of next week, despite having a number of other things that need to be achieved. It’s difficult, but so very satisfying when you hold up this finished tiny thing, and realise that you did it!

Speaking of other things, now for the festive fun. It’s the Happy Greys Social Club Christmas party on Sunday. We’re having a picnic, people are bringing nice things to eat, greyhounds will get treats, a Secret Santa will be held with dog gifts, and there will probably be varying levels of dressing up, by both doggos and people. I shall content myself with my dangly earrings with reindeer and flashing lights and a red top. Mouse, on the other hand, has a position to maintain. Which is why he’ll be wearing this:

It’s made from two $3 Santa hats and a pack of ‘reindeer bell’ Christmas decorations, plus assorted scraps. Poor old Mouse doesn’t know what he’s in for, and I’m only going to put it on him once we reach the car park of our destination, in case he’s traumatised by the jingling of those bells. Which is why you’re not getting a photo… yet.

I think he’ll look adorable and handsome, but I won’t torture him if he hates it. I might have to wear it myself if that’s the case, hehehe! His girlfriend Lotti will be wearing a tiny Santa hat and a large paper poinsettia in her collar, very chic and girly!

Anyway, update over. Back to making more tiny pretty things until my back gives out.

 

Garment archaelogy

Yeah, weird title.

But I can’t think of any other way to describe the voyage of discovery I’m on with something I bought recently.  I was browsing in my favourite charity/thrift/op shop when I found two elegant, ‘special occasion’ short sleeved women’s kurtas*, one in turquoise with magenta and gold brocading and embroidery, and the other in crimson with gold and two shades of green embroidery, and gold ribbon borders. The turquoise one looked as if it would fit, the other looked a bit small, but I thought I could do something with it.

Multiple seams in the lining of the red kurta

8 different thread colours (the white is serging), showing multiple alterations.

And that’s where the fun began. As expected, both were made in India, as stated on a small label inside. Neither of them had a durzi’s (tailor’s) label, so I can’t credit them to the artisan creator. I could see that the side seam was wobbly and the borders didn’t line up, so it didn’t take much to realise that at some point they had been altered. Now, this is normal. Significant garments of this sort are routinely taken in or let out along the side and underarm seam to achieve a closer fit or to suit a different person, and often, the excess seam allowance is left in place in case they need to be let out again. What was interesting was to see how many times and in what order the alterations had been made, judging by how and where the thread colours crossed. I would be making the (hopefully) final changes for myself, and thus it felt right to ‘excavate’ the previous seam strata. I will not be removing any fabric, in case anyone is concerned. Instead, I will be adding fabric inserts, leaving the original fabric in place and intact. I will, however, be serging to prevent further deterioration of the seam allowances.

For the turquoise one, it was a simple job. I opened out the alteration seam and reverted to the original one, which, while it was snug, did fit and didn’t require any further work. Despite the snugness, it’s actually very comfortable.

Zardozi embroidery on yoke and placket

Zardozi close up on placket

The turquoise fabric is a net lace over a solid turquoise cotton lining, the yoke is a deep magenta and gold brocade with the design outlined in gold bugle beads and picked out with tiny gold crystals. There is a heavily gold and turquoise zardozi**-embroidered placket, further embellished with crystals, diamantés and bugle beads down the front. The back is plain, apart from the deep magenta/gold shot lamé border, two plain ribbon borders in magenta and turquoise and several lines of gold/ mirror braid. It’s very decorative and fairly formal because of all the embroidery and bead work.

The crimson one is another story. It has at least 5 different seams, all stitched in different threads, many of them in totally non-matching and even clashing colours. I have opened out from sleeve edge to low hip level through both the dress outer and the lining and have basted the outer to the lining to try and preserve the integrity of the loosely-woven lining, which is severely frayed, stretched and distorted by all the stitching. The lining seam allowance is all over the place, because earlier seams have been carelessly sewn, taking tucks and wrinkles out of the lining in the process.

It has been a lot of work, hours of time picking out very small, tight stitches in rather delicate fabrics without creating more damage. I’m planning to gently steam and press these edges to give me something straight to stitch and remove some of the stitching holes if possible, and serging the fraying edges will hopefully prevent any further loses of fabric content. However, I feel it will be totally worthwhile in the end.

I will need to make an insert for the underarm seam of the sleeve and side seam of the kurta, and I’m planning to use matching green and crimson fabrics, stitched into a triangular shape to match the borders. I think a thin band of gold ribbon applied to this would look good, but it remains to be seen if I can find something to match the antique gold of what’s already there. If I can’t, I’ll leave it off. This kind of alteration is quite acceptable (and even traditional) for a valued and expensive garment, and even if I only paid $5 (yes, you read that right) for each of them, I do value them highly, and the skilled and beautiful craftsmanship that went into them.

Green and gold embroidery on red kurta

Vintage gold and diamanté buttons

The embroidery and decorations on this kurta are exquisite. There are long teardrop shapes of embroidery in antique gold, dark and light green around the hem and on centre back, and a row of vintage gold/diamanté buttons down the centre front. A deep border of green with gold lamé ribbon decorates the hem, with a matching narrower one on the sleeve edges.

The colours alone would tempt me to wear it for Christmas, but the fact that the long teardrops look like elegant Christmas trees is an additional incentive, so I’m going to try and get it ready to wear for lunch on Christmas day.

Traditionally, these two would be worn with a pyjama-style pant, but tight fitting churidar leggings would be an acceptable alternative. They both also require significant necklaces to sit in the scooped neckline. For the turquoise one, I have something ready, if you recall an earlier post. However, the crimson and green one will need some further thought. I think I have some op-shop finds that would do the trick 😊

Some people may have issues with cultural appropriation. My position is that I am paying respect to the beauty and workmanship of these garments. They have effectively been discarded by their previous owner, they were critically under-valued by the charity/thrift/op-shop selling them, and I have recognised and appreciated them and plan to give them a new life. I believe I have earned the right to wear them.

So, onwards with the voyage of discovery and restoration!

*Kurtas are popular ethnic attire in India. They are loose-fitting upper-body tunics with no collar that are worn by ladies on a daily basis, as well as for formal occasions. They can be worn plain or with embroidered decoration (a popular decoration is chikan). These kurtas can be loose or tight in the torso, and end just above or below the wearer’s knees. They can be worn over pyjama pants, loose salwars or churidar pants.

**Zardozi is a form of embroidery prevalent in India, that originated in Persia. The literal translation of the term hails from two Persian words: ‘zar’ means gold and ‘dozi’ meaning embroidery, thereby translating into gold embroidery. Today, zardozi refers to the process of using metal-bound threads to sew embellishments on a wide array of fabrics.

Bucket list

And this is No. 2 on the list.

I have literally just finished stitching down the brim lining this one. I promised the second hat would be a bit more vivid. Was I wrong?

Sorry about the poor lighting, I took it with flash in the evening, since I didn’t want to wait till tomorrow. Perhaps that was a mistake, as it has washed out all the colours (and me, but also the wrinkles!), but I think you get a pretty good idea of what it’s like. You can’t see the crown, but it’s a third fabric, also very prink and bright. The brim is made of two fabrics which are alternated on the top and bottom so that whichever way you turn the brim up, you see two fabrics. I love those bold black and white patterns!

I think this is enough for me, for now. I’ll probably make one for the Husband, and then call it a day. I have other projects singing a siren song, calling me to make a start on them…

I am powerless to resist. Or perhaps I just don’t want to!

Bucket Hat

This will be the first of several.

I’m calling it the Seascape Hat because of the coral reef light fabric and the ‘brain coral’ crown fabric. I didn’t use heavy fabric, or make it close-fitting, because in this climate, the head needs all the ventilation it can get. It’s a pattern which Jean posted about on ScrapHappy Day recently, very easy, just three pieces, and it was a free download, even better.

I’m definitely making another one for the Husband too, probably something a little heavier (I have a very nice dark blue twill with the Australian Kangaroo icon on it in white). Plus a couple more for myself, I think, including one that’s got a nice splashy pattern on it.

A bit of machine sewing is great for resting my hand-quilting fingers…

Goes with anything

Isn’t that what they say about black?

Or in this case, all the colours. It’ll work with so many things! I’ve finished the fabric bead necklace, using up as many cones as I had. I also made a pair of earrings to go with it. Originally, I’d intended to have all the beads strung close together, as I wanted a sort of floral effect, but I discovered on wearing it that the beads would get forced upwards by movement and it looked extremely odd. So then it was deciding what to do about adding spacers.

The wire choker is quite thick, and the fastening at the back doesn’t allow most of my spacer beads to pass over it. So then I had a brainwave. I have a small collection of narrow clear plastic tubes which I’ve saved from using Piksters* after cleaning my teeth. I thought they might come in useful some time, and now they have. I cut small slices off a number of tubes, and worked out that putting two spacers between each bead looked the best. Because they’re clear, they don’t really ‘read’, they weigh nothing and they do the trick. Job done.

And finally, I have at last got round to adding the three-string clasp to my lilac necklace.

I made it in the first place to go with my beautiful silver, pearl and amethyst earrings, and I feel it works rather well. Another one to add to the collection.

 

And now that’s enough jewellery making for now. Back to fabric!

 

*Piksters are tiny interdental brushes for scrubbing between your teeth, and I find them more effective than using dental floss.

What do you think…?

Personally, I reckon it works rather well.

I need a lot more, so that they’re thickly clustered, but I think the overall effect is pretty good.

It’s not too tricky. Take an inch of silver wire. Turn up one end with a pair of needle nose pliers to form a ‘stop’. Slip on a small silver spacer bead. Fold your triangle of fabric in half and poke the other end of the wire through both thicknesses of fabric at the apex, about an eighth of an inch from the point. Push the triangle down towards the bead at the end. Fold the two ‘wings’ of the triangle in towards the centre. Poke the wire and fabric into the bottom of the cone and feed the wire through the hole in the top. Slip another spacer onto the wire. Using the pliers, form a loop at the top, snipping off the excess wire before you close the loop. Done. All that’s left is to gently pull off any dangling threads and slip the ‘bead’ onto the wire choker.

I need to remake a couple of the beads where the fabric has come adrift because I didn’t use the first spacer bead inside the cone. Apart from that, it’s really simple.

Now I just have to think about what to do with all the other triangle scraps. This necklace  has barely scratched the surface…