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!
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!
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.
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.