Category Archives: Sewing

Laptop cover

A while back, my computer reached the stage in its life where I needed to go and make a cup of tea after I turned it on and before it started to be capable of doing anything other than finding its own fingers and toes. The new one is a lot smaller than the old, and needed a protective cover.

The plant dyed blanket stash came to mind yet again, and this is the rather plain and simple sleeve I made.

And a close up of my rather basic blanket stitching! I am loving the way all the plant dyed thread I’ve been gathering keeps getting put to use along with the fabric…

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Filed under Leaf prints, Natural dyeing, Sewing

Needlebooks

I’ve been working on my fabric stash for quite a while, and found I was now struggling to decide what could become bags–and my attention turned to the plant dyed woollen blanket stash. Having made quite a few larger items–the question of what to do with the small scraps arose (inevitably). And so, a very large number of needle books came into existence.

And then some more, and some more. The stash of random small quantities of string went into the mix, and eventually home made string also got used!

I guess I will now have to work on creating some mending kits…

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Box pouches

There came a point where I started to find I couldn’t figure out what fabric to use for boomerang bags anymore. I’ve cleared an entire selection of fabrics out of my stash. And that is when I started to turn toward the wool, and my thoughts returned to the box pouch.

I love this design. Those who have been reading for a while know that I can really get on a roll, and make the same thing over and over. This isn’t even the first time with the box pouch. They are a great size for some of my wool blanket stash, and they have also used a good number of the vintage and reclaimed zippers in my stash. And what fun to be able to use this fabric… dyed with purple carrots, passionfruit skins, eucalyptus …

But wait! There’s more (of course)…

Just quietly, that isn’t a complete catalogue… but it is a fair sampling…

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And Another Apron

Once I finished stitching one apron… I was keen to keep going! I had trouble dyeing my other candidate apron so in the end I cut one from some hemp I had prepared for dyeing with soy milk. Hrm, very stiff for stitching. However–I took it with me for a week in Melbourne and constructed the whole thing by hand, then began stitching for sheer decoration.

Here is the top front, with leaves stitched into it using a variety of undyed threads. And here is the apron prepared for dyeing, with onion shells arranged over the embroidery.

And here it is after dyeing…

And in more detail…

It has gone to one of my beloveds–we make bread together quite regularly and he is often to be seen at our house sporting one of the kitchen aprons.

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Borderline: Sampling the Edge

I just squeaked into this exhibition in its last few days at Fabrik, a fabulous exhibition space in the former Onkaparinga Woollen Mills in Lobethal, a small town in the hills outside Adelaide.

Fabrik sign with bunting made from classic Onkaparinga blanketing in a bold coloured plaid.

At the entrance to the exhibition, fittingly enough, I was greeted by Troy Anthony-Baylis’ Hey-ya! and Hey-ya! Ay-O in knit acrylic. I first encountered this artist years ago and was rather delighted to see he is still deploying knitting as one of his artforms. I’m also delighted to see he has recently won a fellowship to further his art. I found these rather gleeful forms which do rather call out ‘Hey-ya!’ on arrival…

I was rather struck by Kay Lawrence’s pieces Day by Day and Day by Day: Japanese Cloths. Each had a large panel of cloths stitched together by hand, a handmade book, a table and a pair of gloves. I was really uncertain about whether the gloves were meant to be used so that I could open the books… and so, I left the books closed and admired the assemblage! I especially liked Day by Day, perhaps because these cloths are the daily cloths I grew up with. I think part of the admiration for boro in places like Australia is centred on admiration for the cloth of which it was/is made, which in some cases would have been everyday to those using and mending it. I feel that admiration for making cloth from scrap, for making things last, for facing poverty and difficulty and making something beautiful from it. But in terms of day to day–gingham speaks to my day to day, more than Japanese Indigo.

I have seen Ngarrindjeri sister baskets made from sedges, but this metal Sister Basket by Robert Wuldi was rather astonishing, building up what I understand to be the traditional form using the traditional stitch, in anything but the traditional materials.

India Flint had several works in this exhibition, collectively titled limina. What a perfect title for works which I believe were made from scraps and selvedges. I was fascinated watching other people look at these works–I overheard conversation about how much they reminded one observer of objects that have been buried and then dug up. Just such textiles have inspired and informed some of India Flint’s work–so that seemed quite apt. Others puzzled over these works as if trying to figure out how they were created.

I love the colours indigo gives over eucalyptus. Some of the works were hanging beside the piece in the images above.

I loved seeing the different take up of dyes in the various fibres included in the weaving.

Shoes, belt and hat is another set of Ngarrindjeri weavings, this time in sedge, by Ellen Trevorrow, Alice Abdullah and Jelina Haines.

I was completely bemused by Linda Marie Walker’s works–until I read the title: For Election, 6 moves. These pieces are a critique of our recent national election, in weaving. That makes sense … as the fluctuating moods with which people who did not enjoy the process or outcome responded to the election are all too familiar!

Russell Leonard’s pieces Colour #1-6 were rich and beautiful.

There was a lot to appreciate! Machine embroidery Naturally Alluring by Cheryl Bridgart; Phyllis Williams’ astonishing knit pieces Dream Dress and Indigo Dress.

The embroidered work ‘the mysterious butterflies of the soul’ by Catherine Buddle was glorious, and moving slightly in the breeze when I saw it. It had me in mind of braille. It was mesmerising.

And finally, Sera Waters‘ Sampler for a colonised land. What a statement about colonisation. One recognisably colonial dwelling on a nice clean background (cleared of trees, shrubs, grasses, pre-existing human life, and legal rights) and then–fences and walls from bunting to razor wire. It had me in mind of Kev Carmody’s song Thou Shalt Not Steal, a song that has always summed up, for me, the hypocrisy to which Indigenous Australians are so often subjected by non-Indigenous Australians.

So there you have it. A lovely trip to Lobethal and a rather awesome exhibition.

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Crafting for the Rebellion

Extinction Rebellion is a wonderful hive of every kind of activity in our city (and in so many other places around the world). I went to a crafternoon last weekend where people were screen printing thrifted t shirts and patches, cutting out stencils, and carving lino blocks for block printing. Meanwhile, I was taking instructions about how to sew a snail costume and insert zippers into it–some from my stash and some other that showed up from someone else’s stash.

fluorescent yellow flags with the extinction rebellion logo in black, on bamboo poles

Meanwhile, one of this week’s crafty projects at home has been cutting out some ripstop nylon to form pennants for our critical mass extinction bike swarms. The nylon came from the Remakery, and while Sue from the Remakery and I were in agreement that nylon is evil stuff–we were also in agreement that this piece of nylon is otherwise destined for landfill. So I cut out pennants, used a cardboard stencil to draw the image on the pennant, and then painted the design in.

woman on a bicycle with red panniers and a LOT of flags sticking up, riding along a pathway with large trees on each side.

I sewed a casing on each pennant and stitched across one end. Then it was off to the local bamboo patch to cut long slender bamboo poles, and to the hardware to get staples for the heavy duty stapler (we don’t want the pennants flying off!) And then onto our bikes to go to the swarm.

Above, a picture of our pre-swarm briefing. And below, a picture of us all taking up space on the road and letting passersby and road users know that we want climate action!

Bicycle swarm in action waiting for the lights in Tarndanyangga (Victoria Square).

And we finished up at Parliament House!

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A tale of an Apron

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It all began with a linen shirt from an op shop in Warrnambool. A lime green linen shirt. Then I added India Flint’s online class The Alchemist’s Apron and stirred.

I overshot my goals on the elimination of lime green and produced a very dark grey shirt on the first attempt. Never mind, I dyed it and it was still deep grey with some leafy marks on it. I wanted to take it with me on holiday… and so I sewed it into an apron shape more or less, found some cereal packets to cut to size and tuck into pockets, added thread and scissors and my trusty needle book, tucked them into the inside zippered pocket and tucked the lot into my bag. Not quite what The Alchemist’s Apron proposed, but definitely using it as a point of departure!

I had a quote in mind, and stitched it in: ‘a needle is a tool for reparation’ Gina Niederhumer. Then the serious stitching began… and just kept going while my beloved was having her dream holiday swimming 5 km every day and I was often spending time sitting on a boat. It’s a funny thing. I have never fancied embroidery, and undoubtedly, this is embroidery of a type. And yet, I just kept going and going. At first, with threads I’d dyed (and some undyed too). And after I’d cruised a lot of plausible looking places in Athens, I finally found a really old fashioned haberdashery. And did not take good images of it! I could not find a way to ask the women running the shop if that would be OK with them, and it sure was sunny outside. I could have spent hours in there but my enthusiasm tried the patience of others… I came away with single strand cotton thread in two colours.

And when I came home, I kept going for some time. I bought some pre-Euro Greek coins in the flea market in Athens and added them, and a yellow washer I’d picked up on a French Road we were walking along. I stitched in the places I’d sewn in, including the sea.

I stitched watery lines.

And eventually there was an entire apron covered in rather a lot of stitching, with a lot of pockets.

… which tinkles as I move! I find I rather like it.

I do love wearing it. And I like the way it demarcates time when I’m dyeing and stitching and crafting and whatnot, from time when I’m occupied with other things.

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Boomerang Bags

The latest round of Boomerang Bags have been driven by thrifted bedlinen. There was one quilt cover that I acquired simply because it was pretty and had owls on it. But then there have been others bought as a set where what I really want is the sheet or one side of the quilt cover (which is a good green for Extinction Rebellion patches) and the remainder of the set is looking for a use. Oh my. Some of this bedlinen is just about new and already at the op shop. IKEA is the leading label and it makes me sad.

Then there are the places I use fabric that I can’t use any other way. This strap is being made sturdy and thick with a piece of cotton blanket I found on the path where I was walking. I took it home and washed it, and then decided it could be used here.

Then there are some clothes I can’t reuse as bag outers or linings, like this pair of pants. Bought at the op shop, they were one of the first pairs of half lined trousers I’ve had the luck to wear. Now I have decided they can’t keep going–I removed the buttons and salvaged lining and fabric. Some of this will go into straps too.

There have been pockets added into some bags from a pile of jeans pockets I bought for a song at the Adelaide Remakery sale–lovingly removed from jeans being upcycled into mats.

Oh, and there was this. A garden umbrella lying discarded and broken by the side of a road I pass most days. I often pick litter along here. This time I removed the canopy, took it home, washed it, and calculated which parts could be re-used.

These are the umbrella bags–I found two more yesterday…and the colour is wrong but never mind.

One of a kind–two from sample fabrics from the Remakery. One from a great print from an op shop. The large image, a dress from the op shop.

Acorn and iron dyeing experiments…

These are the bedding bags… The two linen bags bottom right are lined with IKEA sheets.

Doona covers with a complementary print on the reverse side and/or the sheet. I guess it’s a long time since I bought a doona cover. But the design opportunities are excellent.

And finally, a nostalgia print my friend could find no use for. 44 bags in all. Whew.

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Dandelion Hankies

Dearest Reader, it has been a long time. I was traveling for six weeks, and managed to create so many posts there were posts the whole time I was gone. And since then almost nothing! I have been feeling a little overwhelmed at the thought of catching up or maintaining a sense of timing or order. I think it’s better I let that go, and just create posts in any order that works. There is always a bit of poetic license going on here in any case!

Here is a little make I enjoyed–I could not resist this beautiful print, and I always want to make the best use possible of fabric. So I made three sizes of hanky. One for small people with small noses, and more to the point–small pockets. One for medium size and one in the generous size I prefer.

I love that I have made friends with my roll hemming foot sufficiently that I just make hankies now. Since I returned I’ve been on a roll with finishing things, and I am noticing that so often I stopped something because I was afraid of the next step. It’s a confidence thing. But my skills are actually fine, and where I do not have skill, all I really need to do is spend some calm time working something out, asking for help, or seeking instruction online. It’s good to notice, and I am happy to find that I’m working through a backlog of items in progress. Thanks for reading and thanks for being patient. Maybe you notice that confidence and lack of confidence play a role in your making too? I’ll be interested to hear how this works for you.

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The rational and irrational in mending

The legs of a pair of dirty, worn, baggy jeans with patched knees and a pair of black shoes poking out at the bottom.

Sometimes when I do massive mending, I ask myself whether it’s really worth it. This time I certainly considered retiring the gardening jeans. They were not fabulous jeans when they were new. Apart from being comfortable, there is little to recommend them now they have moved from best jeans to workaday jeans to only at home jeans to gardening jeans over many years.

close up of a patched jeans knee stitched by hand with white cotton thread using running stitch.

Even if I am not asking myself, I do get other people asking me why I mend. Especially on very worn out garments. And honestly, a lot of things might go into considering whether it’s rational to mend something. Like what other options you have available to you, and what the ultimate destination of that garment might be if not mended (landfill? worm farm?), how concerned you are about that; and especially, how much you love the garment.

Inside view of a green short sleeve with eucalyptus printed fabrics stitched on as patches with machine zigzag.

I’ve been so interested by the big mending commission and the series of decisions it reveals on the part of my dear friends about what should be mended. Some things clearly very much loved and much worn whether they might have been cheap or expensive when originally purchased, for example–something I very much recognise in my own decisions. I was intrigued by this mend from my friends–a t shirt worn to a very soft degree of thinness (which is the best attribute of some t shirts after all) with a tear in the front. I hand applied a patch to the back from one of my very worn t shirts–and that was the best I could do.

Sometimes I decide I must mend because I have nothing else suitable to wear and I need that garment right now; or because I have some plan I can carry out if this garment lasts a bit longer (like making a new one). I just mended my summer pyjamas for travelling, because I didn’t manage to make new ones in time and I’m not going to buy pyjamas. And of course, people mend because they have no other option.

Patch on the inside of a green short beside front button band.

As the mender though, I also make decisions based on whether mending will be fast or slow, fun or annoying, or whether I happen to have a free evening and something interesting to listen to or watch right now.

This gardening shirt you are looking at here is years old and has spent years in the rag bag. My beloved found the rag bag (not the main one–this one must have moved houses!) and pulled out one of hers and one of mine, and insisted I mend hers (done) and that this one was too good to throw out. Well, the cuffs look like they encountered acid. Lots of holes in them. A hole in the front pocket. Another beside the button band… and on and on. Maybe my one long ago encounter with paint stripper hit this shirt? Or did I wear it blackberrying? Or did it come to me like this (from the thrift shop)? It has paint from that time I painted the pink ceiling white finally. It has mismatched buttons. It has been stitched (both constructed and mended) in several colours already. When to stop?

After and before images. Apparently it is not time to stop yet! Rational or irrational? I’m not sure. I don’t really care much and no one else suffers. Patches from the small scrap stack beside the ironing board, all offcuts from eucalyptus-dyed apron making. Any old and all greenish threads, and all kinds of bobbin threads that needed using up. And back out into the muddy neighbourhood one more time for guerilla gardening. It’s rough and ready mending but utilitarian and functional. A bit like the shirt!

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