A bit of a waste…

Sometimes, a good idea just doesn’t work out.

I was interested in the idea of no-waste clothing, which uses up every last scrap of the stipulated fabric quantity to construct. In October last year, I bought online the how-to pdf of the steps to make a no-waste dress. I had some very pretty light linen fabric, I wanted something comfortable and loose, and I bought the larger of the two size options because the measurements in the description seemed to indicate this was the better choice for my size.

The layout was easy to follow, the measurements were clear, there were only a couple of instructions which were not totally clear, and it didn’t require any major sewing skills. There are several hacks to change the construction and appearance of the dress, all within the no-waste scope.


It’s perfectly awful. I could see it was heading for disaster, but I finished it and put it on. I wandered out to show the Husband. His instantaneous, unconsidered response was %$#@}&, that’s horrible”. Although this was not a response I’m used to from him (normally he manages to find something nice or supportive to say), I could not disagree. It’s monstrously enormous and shapeless. It’s a catastrophic Waste of perfectly nice fabric.

Before we go any further, I’m not going to publish the designer’s name; I don’t want to damage a small business person’s business and reviews of this pattern have been OK (perhaps for the smaller size). If you really want to know, you can contact me, but please don’t do it out of simple curiosity, only if you were thinking of doing something along the same lines yourself and wanted to avoid this particular pitfall. On a taller and even more generously built person, this might look dramatic and swoopy. I’m short, and it makes me look like a stumpy floral outhouse. With wings….

The problem with the pattern is, I think, because it was designed by and for a much smaller person, and the no-waste principle became forced when it was scaled up for larger body types, leading to inappropriate sizing.

I haven’t seen the layout for the smaller size, but I suspect it doesn’t use two full widths of the fabric for the skirt. Following the pattern piece dimensions exactly, I have ended up with a bodice which is 62 – yes, sixty-two, you read that right – inches around. The hem is 110 inches around. The arm scye hits me just above the elbow.

The shoulder seams are 12 inches long, and that’s after I put in three generous tucks on each side because I couldn’t see how it was going to fit a human body otherwise. The skirt joins onto the bodice at a really unflattering place in the bust area; 3 inches longer would have been more becoming and less lumpy.

There are three small scraps left once you have cut the pieces out: two long triangles and one small curved shape, all three left from cutting out the neck opening. In the interests of the no-waste principle, these are to be ‘stuck on’ to the garment without apparent practical function, simply as a decoration. I abandoned the triangles and made a sort of false facing from the curved piece to sew my maker’s label onto. A wasted effort, as it turns out.

I look as if I’m wearing a small tent, or perhaps a collapsed hot air balloon. I agree with the Husband that it looks horrible, so I’m not even happy wearing it for lounging around the house – why make us both miserable? I’m going to give it a bloody good hard look and see if I can take the scissors to it and rescue something wearable from this great big heap of, well, waste. Don’t get me wrong. I still believe in the no-waste principle, but I want something that isn’t just a load of random rectangles sewn together.

I do feel civilisation has moved on past the point of wanting simply to cover the body. These days we like a bit of style too.

Bench Mat #2

And here is the second scrap-gobbler.

This one is long and skinny to fit the space in front of the coffee machine and kettle. It’s using up the last of the colourful binding fabric, the last of the grey and black print backing, and most of the larger light grey and white scraps. It also fits the space where I do most of my vegetable chopping and slicing, and has the added benefit of stopping the cutting mats and chopping board from walking around the bench top while I work.

I felt a bit bored by the idea of doing more wavy line walking foot quilting on this one. Now that I’ve done these freehand badly-done FMQ serpentines, I feel much less bored about walking foot quilting!  It reminded me exactly why I don’t enjoy FMQ…  Still, it’s not too disgusting and I’m certainly not going to pick it all out. If I ever mention FMQ again, remind me, would you?

Today is the Husband’s birthday. I whipped up a batch of carrot cake cupcakes, his favourite. They had an orange-flavoured drizzle glaze on top; I felt they needed something extra as it was a birthday, although they do taste very yummy without (well, I had to give them a taste-test, didn’t I?). We took Mouse for a lunchtime outing into town yesterday, and he got a rasher of bacon, delivered by hand in small pieces, while we demolished some very delicious chilli crab, scrambled egg, lime and sriracha hollandaise and toasted sourdough. He offered to help with the chilli crab too, but we pointed out that he has failed to enjoy stuff with chilli in it in the past… Tonight we’re eating out again at the Husband’s favourite restaurant.

The broken foot is still encased in the Boot. The fracture clinic told me it’d be six weeks before it was fully mended. Just under two down, four to go. I shall have to wait and see how long I can bear the Boot before I go completely bonkers. I have a strong suspicion that as soon as it stops hurting when I walk, this thing will come off, never to be seen again. After all, the reason crutches are off the menu is that they want me to load bear somewhat so that the bone grows in strongly. Of course I have to wear a sock and a sweaty plastic Boot in the hottest weather of the year so far (38°C/100°F yesterday). Of course it’s a different height from all my other footwear so I’m lurching around like a zombie and giving my back hell. But then again, it could have been so much worse… Blessings counted.

Onwards. I have a new quilt for another niece to think about 🙂

Bee, Myself and I #51: Parterre Block 18

Didn’t think I’d get a block done again this month, but I squeaked in!

Block 18 is back to my bright, colourful preferences. Some might say too bright. I’d say they were fuddy-duddies. What’s wrong with multicoloured paisley mixed with bright green on bright turquoise, with a pink and purple flower? It makes me smile.

I really do need to set them all out some time soon to check for colour-gaps. I know, I know, I said that last time, but I really have had one or two other things on my plate.

Bee, Myself and I is a forum for ‘selfish sewing’; any stitchery which is purely for pleasure and not to a deadline or for anyone else. The original concept belongs to Carla of Granny Maud’s Girl. To find out more, you can click through on either her blog link, or using the button a fair way down in the left hand column of this blog.

Until next time…

Bench mat #1

Remember I talked about this a while back?

Something scrappy to make an imperceptible dent in my scrap collection. The back is made from offcuts of the Days Gone By Quilt backing, as is the batting layer and the last scraps of binding.

It’s to protect the butcher block benchtop in the kitchen when I’m prepping the Husband’s lunch and snack kit for work. A steel Thermos of boiling water; two Thermos travel mugs of freshly-brewed hot coffee; one Thermos travel mug of hot home-made soup; fruit, cheese and nut mix. (And before you marvel at the quantity, he starts work at 4.30am and gets home at sometime after 5pm, with a mid-morning sandwich delivery to his truck door as it passes by the end of our road, and while I’m walking doggo.) It has finished at 26 x 17 inches (66 x 43cm). which is a good generous size.

So, this is the first – and larger – one, for when it’s all made and is sitting waiting on bench 2 to get packed into his snack bag, together with three water bottles. There’s a second, smaller mat in progress for bench 1, where I’m assembling everything in a slightly tighter space due to kettle, coffee machine, etc. Getting this lot assembled while I’m barely awake and in a short time requires consistency, method and a lack of interruptions and surprises. Doggo knows this and stays snoring on his bed. Husband knows this and concentrates on drinking his coffee and eating his breakfast. Interruptions or changes to the routine turn it from a tightly choreographed dance to a severe case of flapdoodle.

Up to now, I’ve used tea towels, but I want more padding and something the right size.

Hence another pair of scrap-gobblers. Mat #2 coming soon…

Fancy Footwear

I’m a long-term member of the Klutz Klub.

I stub my toes, I cut, prick, mash and burn my fingers, bang my elbows, smack hard objects with outlying parts of my anatomy, and if there’s a head-level item within cooee, I’ll hit my head on it. Show me an innocuous obstacle and I’ll find a way to trip over it. It’s not usually enough to cause serious or lasting damage, but I can proudly boast an unusual number of small scars, I’ve broken most of my toes and several of my fingers, and it’s really just as well I have a hard head.

So, well, the sensation of breaking bones is not new. Everyone knows what it’s like to stub a toe, but to that you add an additional sharp spike of pain, enough to make you nauseous. Yup, that’s a break. This time, it’s my right 5th/pinkie/little toe. Toe meets bedside table at 3am on trip to the bathroom. Toe bends outwards at angle not intended by nature, with some force. Time for a visit to my friends in the X-ray department, followed by 10 days in The Boot.

Stylish, isn’t it? And so lovely to be obliged to wear it in the heat and humidity of the Queensland summer. But with the toe strapped firmly to the one next door and this thinly disguised plank strapped firmly to my foot, I’m actually out of pain for the first time in many hours. Oh, and the tasty pain relief helps too.

With any luck, I might be allowed to take it off just in time to go on holiday…

Days Gone By: done deal

‘Tis finished, people.

Last night I set the last stitch in the binding and the label. It’s finally finished and ready to be handed over to Days for Girls next weekend, when our Saturday morning stitching sessions begin again after the summer break.

A couple of weeks ago, I handed the completed top and back and a large piece of batting over to a very kind lady called Judith, who is a long-arm quilter and who had graciously agreed to quilt it for free. On Thursday I got it back, beautifully stipple quilted, plus all the offcuts. For those not in the know, when a quilt is long-arm quilted you need to make the backing and batting at least 5 or 6 inches larger all round than the quilt top. I had been generous with both batting and backing, and I got one substantial piece and several smaller pieces of both back. Enough, in fact, to do the batting and backing for my table runner, also for Days for Girls.

I made binding from a number of partial or discarded jelly roll strips from other projects. I have some left over, but not, I think, enough to bind the table runner, so I’ll need to dig out more scraps for that.

So, without further ado, the photos. Appreciation to the Husband, who did the holding up.



And the label:

A final summary for anyone not already familiar with this lengthy project: the quilt front is made from scraps left over after cutting out the pieces that go into the Days for Girls kits. When I joined the group, I was horrified to see usable pieces being simply thrown away. It meant that all the donated money and fabric was being partly wasted, so I determined that I’d find a way to rectify this. Days Gone By is the result. The backing and binding are made from scrap fabric from my own stash, which had not yet found another purpose. The only new parts of this quilt are the batting and thread, without which it would not be a quilt at all. It’s a truly scrappy, minimal-waste quilt.

It has been a very long pull. Some of you may recall that a large piece of assembled hexies was lost at the end of September 2019, and I had to start again. It was hard, but start again I did, and finally we’re across the line. This quilt, the table runner still in progress and the cushion cover I’ve shown earlier will all be raffled to raise funds to purchase fabric and other supplies for more Days for Girls kits. Although we have been unable to distribute the kits we make because of Covid-19, we haven’t stopped making them, and when travel restrictions are finally lifted they will once again go to the women and girls whose lives are changed and improve by them.

On to the next DfG quilt. This time I think I’ll go for something a bit quicker to make!

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…