Monthly Archives: July 2022

Drawstring bags from precious fabrics

As I’ve been working over my stash of fabrics, little treasures come to the surface. This little drawstring bag is made from the remainder of a bag of small indigo dyed scraps a friend brought back from a trip to Japan some years ago.

I had a piece of fabric with a great mushroom print on it, that I could not resist some time last year. It called out to be made into a bag for a foraging friend. Uh, oh–it was the end of the bolt, so I bought some extra. In the end I made three bags and gave them to the forager, a friend who grows oyster mushrooms at home and someone I met by chance who forages for mushrooms and who is on my partner’s delivery run. We had a delightful conversation touching on their passion for foraging one day, and I decided it was time to make those bags! The last bit of the print because a smaller drawstring bag.

And, I found these rather glorious small pieces of silk velvet from Beautiful Silks, which I dyed with leaves some years ago. I had no idea what to do with them at the time and here we are!

It’s good to find a setting for such beautiful, special (and yet small) quantities of fabric.


Filed under Natural dyeing

Reclaiming the spencers, part 2

In my earlier post, I talked about the holey spencers and how I decided on two strategies for retrieving them. Once I’d decided which were capable of being mended, I took my scissors to the rest, aiming to save as much fabric as I could and give the rest to the worms in the worm farm. They will deal with everything that is organic matter, and leave any petrochemical by products (like nylon thread) on the surface where I can retrieve it for landfill. It’s almost magical, how well worms can sort out the biodegradable from that which will not break down for many lifetimes (otherwise known as plastic).

Then I patchworked together the larger pieces until I was able to create two new underthings.

They are a bit haphazard, since as usual I dyed first and sewed later. But since they are underthings… no one will know unless you tell them!

They are like little woolly maps of the dye trees I especially enjoy in my neighbourhood. These days there are even leaves from our back yard in the mix.

And… I have the smaller pieces saved in a mothproof bag for later patching, which is sure to be needed.


Filed under Natural dyeing

Retrieving the spencers, part 1

In the large quantity of threadbare fabric that came into the house from a friend’s family home in the last year, there were some once-fabulous woollen undergarments. All kinds, but with a generous amount of tops my mother would call “spencers”. Now I have written that down, as often happens I’m wondering why they are called spencers and if it is something to do with Marks and Spencer and… evidently it is not, or it’s just that my research is cursory. But evidently this is an expression for thermal underwear specific to Australia, New Zealand and South Africa–go figure.

The wooliness of these garments, many very much worn–some threadbare–all having been feasted upon by m*th larvae, had me thinking of leaf printing. Eventually they made it into bundles and came out much improved but still holey. In the end I decided on two paths of action. Two of the spencers had a fair amount of integrity, so I patched them generously and they have gone to warm the friend whose family they came from.

I do not know why I persist in dyeing first and sewing later, when it would be so much more sensible to take India Flint’s excellent counsel and sew first, then dye. I can’t figure out whether it is just a failure to plan ahead, or perhaps being a bit excitable… or sometimes just preferring to sew the dyed fabric. But I do it over and over!

Anyway–I like the outcome, and more importantly, so does the recipient. No one else needs to!

And here is the second spencer.

And from the back…


Filed under Natural dyeing

Mending for the beloved

My sweetheart buys stretch jeans. She is her own person and makes her own choices, but let it be said that stretch jeans do not wear or mend as well as those that don’t stretch! This is a step by step though mending one pair.

And this is a close up of the finished item. I started the next mend the day she wore these to a job. This mend got so many comments that she thought she might review her request for less visible stitching on the next pair. It was too late! I mended the other pair with a visible patch but most of the stitching holding the bulk of the patch in place is on the inside, and the thread is a linen that blends with the denim so that the little stitches on the outside don’t really show at all. Only those trapping the turned under edge of the jeans around the part of the patch that shows.

These are the steps… and here is the inside!

And the finished mend.

Finally, my beloved’s favourite, lusciously soft cardigan.

This very much loved cardigan belonging to my beloved is made from a very fine wool/cashmere of some kind. And it has worn right through in a lot of places. This one, I’ve managed to take from unravelling–to holding together in a way that doesn’t shout out as much as the unravelling did. It’s not invisible though! I asked for a review today and she said the repair is “basically invisible”… and these photos are a lot closer up than any casual passerby will ever be.


Filed under Natural dyeing

The first spoons!

That butter spreader making workshop I did with Sam from Folk of All Trades gave me the confidence to try turning the spoon blank that I bought when I invested in a couple of wood carving knives, into a spoon. I’m afraid I have to skip over the blank I brought home from the workshop because it all went very well until I snapped the bowl off the handle! This is the nature of being a beginner. But still disappointing.

Here I am having made my very first concave cuts! It was slow going but I kept reviewing my notes and reading my book on spoon carving… and I kept going.

And eventually I ended up with a spoon!

That was exciting but I had no more wood. Then I was walking from the railway station to my parents’ house and there were some gentlemen cutting a lot from a tree–so I asked if I could take a piece that was on the footpath. I thought I could at the very least practice using an axe with it. It was Ficus Benjamina (weeping fig). And it was lovely to work, so I tried another spoon.

And I ended up with another spoon! Learning new skills is so exciting.


Filed under Natural dyeing

Guerilla planting: bladder saltbush edition

Some months back, friends and neighbours helped weed out and sheet mulch a part of the guerilla garden where veldt grass has been extending its hold. This effort was pretty successful, so this autumn I put in bladder saltbush to give some diversity to what is mostly ruby saltbush with some bluebush and a couple of bladder saltbush at this site.

This is my first guerilla gardening site and it looks so much better than it used to!

There are a couple of spots here, with some rhagodia as well as the ruby saltbush. And all of looking good and green. No more weed spraying and far fewer weeds. No more trampling the root zone of the E Scoparia!

I love that I can now propagate from the first bladder saltbush I ever grew, at this site–they create seeds and I keep planting them!

Someone had cut back the nearby melaleuca and left it on the ground so I added in some gentle mulch. And then, home again, with very little rubbish and just an out of date sign removed to add to my compost pile!


Filed under Natural dyeing


I do seem to run to quite a bit of repetition… and so here are more needlebooks for more mending kits. It’s such a great use of lovely little scraps of dyed blanket.


Filed under Natural dyeing