SAL 62: froggit, froggit

In, and then out again…

I’ve done more stitching than it appears this time. I got a block of pale green done top leftish, but there was a problem. I’m not using exactly the same colours as the design as I can’t get them here. My colour substitutions just looked wrong in this particular area, so I pulled a load of stitches out and replaced them with an alternative green which I feel looks better. It’s a slight deviation from the design, but I’m happier with it.

Here’s where I’d got to last time:

And here’s where I am now.

Do go and have a look at what the others in the group are working on. We’re all over the world and in different time zones, so if you don’t see a SAL post yet, pop back later.

AvisClaireGunCaroleLucyAnn, JessSue,
CindyHelenStephLinda, Mary Margaret, Heidi,
Jackie, Sunny, HayleyTony, Megan and Timothy

The next SAL is due on 27 May, so I’ll see you then.


A little less plastic

I’ve been trying to reduce how much plastic I use and then have to throw away.

I do recycle both hard and soft plastics, I don’t use plastic carrier bags in supermarkets, and now, I won’t need to use those flimsy single-use produce bags any more, hurray! I’ve put together a set of netting produce bags in different sizes, with a drawstring top. Washable, light and easy to see through. They can live in my heavy insulated fabric shopping bags. They’ll be getting a test run shortly, and if all is well, I’ll make a batch more.

I had an old roll of mosquito netting which was perfect for this, being stretchy and non-fraying, and there’s still plenty left for more bags, or replacements when these get a bit tired or start falling apart. The drawstrings are shoe laces, and I used a sewing machine stitch which combines a straight line and a zigzag to finish the edges a little – they don’t need it, but I like things tidy 🙂

I got the idea from Celia at Fig Jam & Lime Cordial. She’s a bit of a green superstar and recycling warrior among her many other talents, and her blog is well worth following if you don’t already do so.

Hmm. I think I need some different shapes. Rhubarb, cucumbers, kale, stuff like that…

SAL 60: and another petal

I can’t quite believe how fast time is flying right now.

It’s time for the Stitch Along again.  Here’s the usual before shot:

And here’s the after. Respectable progress, if not that impressive. I go through phases of being keen to work on this, and other phases, like now, when there are three other things calling my name, one of them urgent!

Sorry about the rubbish blurry photo. I took it late at night and was rather tired so getting things properly in focus was a step too far…

Do go and have a look at what the others in the group are working on. We’re all over the world and in different time zones, so if you don’t see a SAL post yet, pop back later.

AvisClaireGunCaroleLucyAnn, JessSue,
CindyHelenStephLinda, Mary Margaret, Heidi,
Connie, Jackie, Sunny, Hayley, and Tony

The next SAL is due on 15 April, so I’ll see you then.


PS: apologies to those on the list I missed off earlier, I think I missed an update email or two!

Mending: A challenge

It’s a dying art.

I’m talking about mending clothes. In my experience, many of the generation of women before mine made it a point of pride to regard the gentle domestic arts as beneath their dignity as liberated women, describing domestic skills as being under-valued ‘women’s work’ and taking no pride in practising household economy. I come at the end of a large family, and my mother was older than most. She’d raised children in the dark days of wartime Holland, when food and clothing were terribly scarce, and she knew these skills were not to be despised, but rather treasured. So I learned to cook and sew and mend, and stretch what I had, rather than throwing away, buying new and wasting resources.

I snort with disgust when I hear anyone, male or female, declare with pride that they can’t cook and don’t know how to sew on a button. Good grief! Imagine being so helpless! I do concede that it’s only partially their fault. They weren’t taught how. But these things are not hard to learn, and knowing how is so much cheaper than paying someone else to do it and quicker than waiting while they do.

So, I’m issuing a challenge to everyone who’s reading this. Mend something. It doesn’t have to be sewing. Fix it instead of throwing it out or putting it in the shed for Ron (That’s Later Ron, you must have met him). Sew on that button, stitch up that loose thread, put a bit of glue on that flappy thing, screw that other loose thing back down. Save the cost of replacing it, and feel a bit clever as a result. It doesn’t take much to make a start: a few simple tools. Once you’ve done it once, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it earlier. There are a thousand YouTube videos and blog posts and online tutorials for mending things. Go and find out how to do it. People who mend are neither crazy nor geniuses. We’re just ordinary people who don’t believe in throwing stuff out when all it needs is 15 minutes of your attention.

And when you’ve mended something, let us know. Write and talk about it. Encourage other people. Be proud. If you’ve written a post about mending things that you think will help someone else, send me a link and I’ll add it below.

Maybe we can revive the dying art of mending. What do you think?

NOTE: I have edited this post since I first published it, hopefully making it clearer that the opinion expressed is based on my personal experiences rather than a sweeping generalisation about the attitudes of women in the 1960s.


Mending torn seat of jeans:…m-of-the-problem

Mending old torn shirts:

General mending:

Mending a quilting hoop:


Mending a torn down-filled jacket:

Mending a leather purse:

Mending a swing seat cushion:

Mending a fabric purse:

Getting to the bottom of the problem

Yes. Sorry about that. Another punning post title…

The post I did recently about patching a favourite shirt of mine, and a question I saw on a post on Lynn’s blog the other day made me think it might be a good idea to show a simple, easy way of patching pants, trousers or whatever your local vernacular is.

I get a lot of jeans/work pants repairs to do. The Husband has a strange old job. He spends large amounts of time sitting on his bum behind a steering wheel. In between bouts of wheel-twiddling and pedal-pressing, he’s then strenuously bending, lifting, shoving and stretching, hauling great hoses and fittings around as he makes his delivery of 51,000 litres of diesel. His work pants get both friction/ compression wear (sitting) and stretch/ stress wear (aforementioned gymnastics). And they give way. Regularly. It’s always in the same place, right below the buttock crease, from the centre or inside leg seam outwards and down.

The rest of the garment is still fine, and has years of use left in it, so clearly, a patch is the best option. I have a stock of pre-cut patches. They were cut from old jeans and work pants that were past saving, using good parts from the legs. The patches are a variety of shades, and are going onto used, well-worn, washed garments, so the patch fabric needs to match as well as possible. These are work pants, after all…  I have a couple of reels of blue cotton thread which matches the jeans always on hand. I don’t recommend repairing a tear in the seat of pants with hand stitching, as it’s really not durable enough. For a shirt or other lighter fabric, it would be fine.

Here’s how a repair goes:

For this tutorial, I’ll be working with heavy navy cargo pants, because that’s what needs repairing today, but it’s exactly the same for jeans. Get a piece of light interfacing a bit bigger than the rip. Place it sticky side up on the inside of the jeans, behind the tear.

Lay flat, and pull the torn edges together as well as you can. Using a piece of baking paper laid over the tear, use a dry iron to bond the interfacing to the inside of the torn area. This will help prevent the tear growing and stop any bits of interfacing that show through from sticking to the iron.

If the tear is a very bad one, you should darn before you patch, to prevent it growing. Select the zigzag stitch on your machine, fairly close stitches and medium wide. Zigzag all the way around the outside of the tear, in good, solid fabric. Then work slowly inwards, overlapping the previous stitching a little each time till you have closed the gap. The aim is to almost create new fabric in the gap with the stitches and interfacing. I don’t usually darn in a contrasting colour, but I wanted you to see what it looks like!
At this point, you can choose whether you want the patch to show or not. If the fabric’s not quite right, try the reverse, where the colour might be closer. (The photo makes the colour difference in this patch more noticeable than it is in real life.) Take your patch, and place it over the tear. You need a patch that’s a good bit bigger than the tear. I tend to go for at least an inch all the way round, often more. Pin the patch in place.

Pin in an anti-clockwise direction. It sounds daft to be so specific, but that way, the pins are pointing the right way (towards the sewing machine foot) when you put the job under the needle of your sewing machine. You have stabilised the tear and placed the patch. Now it’s time to sew. If you are concerned about tackling pins while you wrestle the repair under the machine, consider basting (tacking) the patch in place and removing the pins before you use the sewing machine. Don’t use a bonding product like Bondaweb to hold it in place, as it’ll make the patch too stiff and uncomfortable to wear.

I personally prefer a blanket stitch for attaching the patch. It neatens the edge so you don’t have to turn it under, which creates a bodgy great lump on the edge which wears much faster. It’s secure, and it looks good. If you don’t have blanket stitch on your machine, you can achieve much the same effect with zigzag, it’s just a bit more visible. Use a piece of scrap fabric to decide what width and length of stitch you want. I’d suggest a fairly short stitch length and a medium stitch width. Stitch slowly, especially if you need to cross any thick seams. Work all the way around the outside edge. Start and finish with 3 or 4 very small stitches, or use your machine’s lockstitch if it has one.

Change the stitch to straight and stitch again all round, just inside the zigzag or blanket stitch. This second line of stitching anchors the patch and prevents stress on the blanket stitch, which is just finishing off the edge. On some earlier patches, I didn’t do this additional line of stitching, and you can see the result. The patch is pulling away from the edging stitches. I’ve reinforced it again, and done this extra line, which should preserve the patch for a bit longer.

There, you’re done. It wasn’t so bad, was it? Total expenditure: $0; total time: 10 minutes.

Go on now, go and save a pair of lovely jeans from the rag bag!

Patch Work

Not quilts, for a change.

There comes a time in the life of all one’s favourite garments when things give way. This was true yesterday morning, when I put on one of my favourite shirts. It’s a pleasantly soft cotton/linen mix, comfortable in the heat and with sleeves and a collar to protect me from the hottest summer sunshine. I’ve washed and worn it for over 5 years. But today, as I put it on it tore up the back and under one arm.

I debated whether this shirt should be honourably discharged from duty. But I love it, and it’s so comfortable. So I decided to patch it. Now, there wasn’t the smallest chance of finding fabric to match. It was a soft pink once. Now, it’s merely nearly white, nearly pink, having been bleached in the sun and washed to within an inch of its life. The answer was to do the job with fabrics that blended rather than matched. A quick rootle in my pale pink scraps did the job.

I feel a few more patches are called for. What do you think?

There now. Neatly patched. Actually, I’m quite looking forward to it giving way somewhere else so I can add more patches in pretty fabrics. I think the result is fine.

There’s a pair of the Husband’s work pants waiting for attention, but I can’t give rein to any creativity there, the results would not be appreciated. So they can just wait a bit more…

For now, if you’ll forgive me – I’m tickled pink!

ST&D: Lush!

I have four more blocks quilted.

I confess, I was a bit nervous about this one. I wasn’t sure how the Aida fabric would quilt up, compared with the softer quilting cotton fabrics. I was terrified of mucking it up, so I made a sample using the same fabric and quilted that. It seemed to be OK. There were a few small tracking marks where the new walking foot’s feed dogs had gripped onto the surface, but I though the result was pretty good. So I took a deep breath and got going.

It’s lovely. The firmer fabric hasn’t stopped the texture forming, and there’s a gorgeous soft ripple which catches the light beautifully. It’s a really nice contrast with the slightly nubbly texture of the background and stitching. I’m so pleased with it!

Thanks, Margaret, your beautiful embroidery is a real asset to the quilt 🙂