Indigo dyed Cornell shirt

I decided to make the Cornell Shirt from Elbe Textiles. Then my friend Marion from Beautiful Silks gave me a length of linen she had dyed with indigo. Wow, what a gift! I decided to bring these two together.

Best to concede right away that I had so much trouble getting a picture with an accurate sense of the colour of the indigo! I loved the level of instruction on this shirt. I’ve made a lot of basic shirts but still learned things from the level of instruction provided in the pattern, which is a happy thing.

The indigo dyeing is not uniform across the length of linen, and I love the way this shows up at seams…

Once it was done, I stitched in the year and the place of making (Kaurna Yarta). And then some words inside the collar, like little wishes for myself. And then it came to me that perhaps it wasn’t finished after all. And then one day I started stitching in a quote about hope, by Rebecca Solnit. I am an admirer of her fine mind and beautiful writing. And I have been thinking about hope a great deal in the context of the climate crisis. So I took the #10minofmaking prompt from Felicia at The Craft Sessions, and began stitching and photographing in earnest.

Until one fine day…

It was finished. And I managed to take a number of blurry pictures!


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On a roll with failure

Tonight I looked into the “drafts” folder on the blog and found some surprise items. So here come a few posts started quite a long while ago. I do remember writing this one, but how did I not post it? Looks to me like I could not get images sorted out once I had the text drafted. It’s a thing that stops me posting sometimes!

Every once in a while, I feel like I get on a roll with getting things wrong. Like having a reverse superpower. Yesterday (the day before I started writing), I was feeling glum. I’d had some boring old virus (not the new pandemic one, which is good). So I’d been feeling a bit stupid the way a person can under the influence of pathogens. But even so. I’d made a very misshapen zippered pouch. Surely that shouldn’t be hard? I made the awesome zebra finch hat and thought I might make one for myself, lined with fabric I had been saving for, well, years. What did I even do wrong? I don’t know, but it is too small, and awkwardly misshapen. It cannot be a hat for an actual person. This slowed down the pace of my sewing, I will admit. And then, my 6 km walk in a national park grew to 11.5 km which was a bit much for me that day. The next day when I was perhaps a little weary, I realised my first batch of olives had grown mould. That was discouraging!

Well, these things happen. And don’t you love the way these things are all different, and happened over some weeks in which I maybe made an entire jumpsuit with great success, did some perfectly excellent mending, made sauerkraut and some pickled wombok and pickled ginger and enjoyed jam and pickles I’ve made without any mould at all. And I also grew vegetables, made compost, sang songs and walked places where I never doubted I was on the right path, kilometre after kilometre. So I gave myself a talking to about my sad sack yesterday and decided I could just crack on with doing stuff and everything would be fine. I put Australia’s Biggest Singalong on, and half watched it as I enlarged a piece of patchwork from the stash to create a banner for #stitchitdontditchit. Then cut out the letters from a pair of dead jeans a friend gave me. Then double checked I had the hashtag right and corrected it. The singalong finished and on came a film I had heard about but not seen. Well, I stayed up late sewing and watching Florence Foster Jenkins, starring Meryl Streep as the lead, a wealthy woman who appears not to realise she really can’t sing, and is supported in this belief by those around her for various reasons. And who ultimately puts on a concert with herself as the star, in Carnegie Hall.

So just imagine me getting up the next day, finishing the last few letters on my banner, and then looking at it and going wait… is that right? And you know what? It is NOT RIGHT. In fact, it is dead WRONG. Hilarious. Not. Hilarity requires a bit of time! My daughter said to me, well, can’t you just cut it up and sort it out? So in the end, that’s just what I did!

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Floor Cushions

I admit it. I have a weakness for books. I also have a little job in which I am paid in book vouchers, which does not help me stay away from my weakness. Some time back I decided to invest in Quilting: 20 Mindful Makes to Reconnect Head, Heart and Hands, by Elli Beaven. I can’t quite remember all the details, but I think I saw her floor cushions on instagram, a place where I very seldom feel moved to buy things. Or perhaps I saw some other project obviously made from recycled materials, and checked the book out. But the floor cushions were the deciding factor.

If I saw this book in a physical store, I would never buy it. The cover is not exciting (to me–YMMV) and I don’t personally feel drawn to the idea of mindful crafting. I think some of my craft is mindful, but perhaps not in quite the way I feel is implicit here? Never mind. The book is really pretty fabulous, and the waste not floor cushion is right up my alley of interest. Elli Beaven’s cushion is beautiful. It is not made from denim, but everything about this book invites reuse and upcycling, and denim is what I had and felt I could make work. And (tiny, or otherwise unusable) scraps were the category of textile I was looking to keep out of landfill. That is just what she uses to stuff her waste not floor cushion. I was there. I made the inner cushion stuffers from a stained tablecloth a friend had given me for reclamation, sheeting scraps, and ticking salvaged by another friend’s Mum.

The cushion stuffers. Before stuffing.

Also, I made a little modification and mitred the corners. I can’t help myself, apparently!

I had collected a lot of discarded jeans one way or another, as long term readers know. I turned them into a yoga bolster, lots of bags, two shirts (at a friend’s request! that is how it all started), and now two floor pillows. I have been collecting my scraps in a drawstring sack made out of an old tablecloth, and from time to time, a solution appears (like a friend doing weaving with school children, who wants a lot of them–or a friend making an art piece out of many tiny scraps). Here’s an idea of what I mean. Sheet hems, bits of dead pyjamas, elastic from fitted sheets that have gone to their next incarnation, trimmings, seams, thread, the odd discarded shoulder pad.

I actually had to wait for enough scraps to accumulate to make these! I waited so long that I think I turned the cushion back panels into bags (not recognising them as special or different to the random denim patchwork to be found in my room) and had to make a second set. And then another friend who sews brought over a polyester fibre quilt with a disintegrating poly cover that she had acquired on Buy Nothing, in her quest for materials to make pouches for rescued animals. It was clean but awful and… I cut it in half and used it to create a soft layer around the random, lumpy, heavy scraps inside these two pillows. You can see it under the coloured parts above. And here is a little video of the final step…

And then I sewed them up. Like a minor miracle of textile waste salvage.


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Stitch it don’t ditch it, Adelaide

Our second street mending event was bigger than the first. Perfect!

So many people took part…

So many different kinds of mending and stitching.

Such a pleasure to see everyone who came!

Please do join us next time… and if you would like to see a great little video of this action, here is the place to look!


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Climate crisis crafts…

I’m in a phase of Extinction Rebellion crafting. Folks have begun to ask me to make/repair/amend things, and I keep thinking up projects, too. It seems a good application of my skills. This banner went along to an event where it was confiscated by the police outside SANTOS. If you’re interested, you can see it in use here. It was torn so thoroughly and in so many places it seemed like there must have been a tug of war–but I was there and saw no such thing happen. On closer inspection, metal eyelets had been set into what looks like an old bed sheet. That was never going to end well!

I added massive patches onto the back in (relatively) sympathetic colours (more fabric saved from landfill); pinned and then machine stitched them into place, and then machine stitched the casing at the bottom in place so that the chain that has been threaded through it to hold the banner down a bit in wind, will stay put. Just as well I warmed up on making a quilt recently! This banner is absolutely huge.

Having mended it, I made it a nice sturdy bag from my stash of unloved upholstery fabrics.

I followed up this mending with some amending–adding these rather beautifully painted words onto three banners with flames painted on them, so that they can be put to future good use.

And… some more patches, referring to the recent statement by Antonio Guterres, Head of the UN, that the most recent IPCC report is ‘Code Red for Humanity’. Deep breath. I’m focusing on all we can save.

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Circular economy households

We have begun participating in a research project on circular economy households, that will be a PhD thesis. It is such a lovely idea, and the research methodology relies, in part, on photography. These are some of the images I’ve sent the rather delightful, very smart and committed researcher.

Bread rising, full of candied peel I’ve made from citrus peels that would otherwise go straight to compost. Bread that doesn’t come in a plastic bag!

Some of the pre-loved bottles that have housed the ginger beer of last summer, waiting for warmer weather. They have been refilled many times at our house and travelled the neighbourhood going to other people’s homes, picnics and dinners.

Uh, oh! The pages of books that have come into our street library and haven’t made the cut. These are culled and used as sheet mulch. They will return to soil in our garden. I hate to say it, but sometimes even books have to go. Books that are so racist or sexist that they won’t be circulating through the support of our household. Proselytising materials. Ancient texts that are so out of date they are really being dumped. Sorry, but there it is. Even though I love books!

Jars that have come from Buy Nothing and will soon be filled with olives.

The crockery bank glasses drawer, ready to travel to events or parties. IT hasn’t travelled much during the pandemic.

My second hand iron on the iron board cover I made from a friend’s mother’s stashed ticking after her mother died. That ticking would have come off a mattress her very thrifty mother unpicked and saved.

The ever loving tea towel collection. Home made bread travelling to other folks’ homes often gets a nice, clean tea towel that isn’t a favourite (in case its journey is long or it enters the vast collection of travelling teatowels, never to return!) So that is a loaf of sourdough ready to be delivered to a friend.

Random beautiful wattle.

Scraps from vegetables ready to be made into stock.

Parsley, seedlings and aloe vera going from our household to other people via the Grow Free cart.

These are some of our stories about reducing waste. Feel free to share yours!


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Stitch it, don’t ditch it: October 17

Our throw-away society is drowning us in waste, and speeding up the climate crisis. Come and join us in reducing waste, at our next Stitch-it-don’t-ditch-it event. As part of the Festival of Climate Action, we will be gathering to mend, stitch, rework and create, from 1-3pm on Sunday 17th October. We will be located at the north end of Tardanyangga/Vic Sq, with time to chat, introduce others to mending, or contribute to the Felt Book being created during the festival. Create a small panel with a message or an image! Help stitch a banner! Teach someone how to mend or repair! With a special shout-out to International Repair Day – ‘Repair lowers carbon emissions’. All welcome, family-friendly.

To book a ticket, please go here. To see more about what is happening over the three days of the festival visit the programme.

Anyone will be welcome to attend any of the sessions running during the weekend regardless of whether they have registered. If a session is over-subscribed though due to Covid limitations for our “indoor” marquee spaces, preference will be given to those who have RSVP’ed.

This is a grass roots community event. Please support us by donating to our crowdfunding campaign:

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This quilt is quite some years old now, and it had sprung a hole.

A few hand stitches fixed it!

It took a lot more for my bike trailer to get repaired. I asked my Dad if he would be my advisor, but that I was happy to do the work. He said he would be happy to mentor me, but after the first discussion he decided it needed to be repaired at his house. I’d already done some of the work of taking it apart, but then–he just finished the job!

Here it is, before. I bought this trailer new from the chap who made it, in the 1980s. It has done a lot of kilometres. In the early years I used it to haul ingredients from Gaganis where it was cheapest to buy them, to the place I lived in, in Prospect in those days. I was making cakes for a living and I wasn’t making much! I would deliver the cakes in it as well–I had a cunning system involving some stout cardboard and a lot of cleaned empty tin cans, that let me transport them in several layers. These days, I am mostly hauling guerilla gardening supplies in it: plants, cardboard, scraps for composting and mulch.

Dad replaced the sad old box that was the main component of the trailer with one he had used a lot in much better condition. He regreased the hubs, and reinforced a part of the tubing that was worn through, with a second hand metal bracket. The missing hub cap has been replaced with the lid from a deodorant (!) He even used some paint he had to make it look nicer and protect the metal of the tubing. I have absolutely loved having it returned to smooth operation, and seeing how he decided to approach this job, makes me feel like a chip off the old block!

This is a stepped through sequence of mending my jeans back pocket. I’ve decided what to cut out, then decided what shape and size of patch I need. I needed to rip part of the seam holding the pocket to the jeans, to get the patch in position and turn its edges under.

Finally, I restitched the pocket seam into position. And there you have it.

Here is the second knee mend on these same jeans. I love wearing them but they were second hand when I started wearing them and they are not such sturdy quality that they will last forever. Meanwhile…

Then, there was a pile of reusable nappies. They needed new velcro. I used some of Joyce’s stash and replaced it. These are going to a family expecting their first child. I’d keep going, but maybe that’s enough for one post? Because the mending rolls on 🙂


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NEWSFLASH #stitchitdontditchit THIS SUNDAY at Festival of Climate Action

Dear Readers, If you are local (Adelaide) and would like to hang out with menders and stitchers (or learn to mend and how to thread a needle), we will be hanging out at the Festival of Climate Action this Sunday 17 October 2021, 1-3 pm. We will be in Tarntanyangga (Victoria Square). Look for us on the hay bales, and bring whatever you would like to mend, or join a collaborative stitching project. Full programme here!

You can find the full programme for the Festival here.

Here is what the Festival has to say about where we are at:

Join us for a family-focused weekend where we can connect, learn and prepare to take action to tackle the climate crisis together. If you’re new to the world of climate activism or already deeply involved then this is the space for you.The festival begins on Friday 15th October after the next School Strike 4 Climate rally. Throughout the 3 days there will be talks, workshops, music, food trucks, art activities and more.

The scale and pace of change to our climate has almost no precedent.

The last time CO2 was this high in our atmosphere was 2 million years ago when rich forests covered the Antarctic.

Immediate, deep and sustained change is needed.

To do this, we need everyone: old and young, people of faith, parents, business leaders, politicians, artists, you.

The latest report from the world’s leading climate scientists is clear: there is still hope.

There is still a narrow path to avoid a climate catastrophe.

But only if we act fast.

From now on every fraction of a degree matters.

Every tonne of carbon matters.
Every day matters.
Every choice matters.

The decisions we take and the actions we make today will resonate for centuries. The next few years will be the most consequential in human history.

What we do with it is up to each of us.

In the lead up to the COP 26 Climate Conference in Glasgow, come along to learn what you can do, be inspired and connect with others who want to make a difference.We choose to come together because we can – on behalf of all those in isolation throughout the country and the world.And we choose to come together because we must.

This festival is a collaboration between many partners. Come and join in!

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I screenprinted some more patches. This time, the endangered spotted quoll. This is artwork that has been given to Extinction Rebellion by the artist.

These are printed onto fabric that is otherwise on its way to landfill, from op shops and the local Buy Nothing group. Then I made some patches specifically for one of our local Extinction Rebellion actions focused on SANTOS.

This is my classic hand cut stencil. I start with unloved wallpaper from the Adelaide Remakery and the XR font, and then move to using it with a screen. This is the way I learned to screen print in the 1980s. Basic, but it does the job!

And here is the Greenwash Cleanup Crew, preparing to clean the windows at SANTOS HQ!

If you would like more of the story, check it out here–and see the cleanup crew hard at work!

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