Category Archives: Sewing

Silk noil dyeing

I had a happy moment dyeing at my daughter’s place in Melbourne–where the local park contains a Eucalyptus Crenulata. Too exciting! I had a small piece of silk noil with me in preparation, and loved the outcome.

One silk noil pillowcase made some time ago finally gave way completely, so I decided to continue the tradition of silk noil leafy pillowcases–and this one is now in my bedroom.

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The Survival Frock

My Mother-out-law (perhaps I should call her my Mother-in-love?) is a delightful, kind and generous sort, who has recently turned a spectacular 92. Life is holding some challenges, as you might expect. And one of them is staying cool in a tropical climate. For this, she has an entire category of clothing she calls “the survival dress”. This is a pattern she has made again and again, and that she now feels unable to make.

Here is one she made. I know with the confidence a person has when she has done the washing and ironing during times of especial difficulty, that this dress is in constant rotation. And because I ironed it several times, I was able to put aside tales of my dear Mother-in-law’s stern sewing teacher, and concerns that my sewing might not be up to standard. Like most garments I make, this one has a few fudges on the inside that clearly do not cause trouble to she who wears it. And so, when the version that had been pinned on to a lovely cotton print fabric was unearthed in a drawer, I agreed to make it up. Just bring me the pattern and the instructions and all, and I’ll sew it up, I said.

I always make a few adjustments, she said. I’ve made them on the pattern, she said. Then it arrived. A startlingly small number of pieces pinned to some fabric with pins that had been holding for long enough to rust. No pattern packet. No instructions. No sign of any adjustments. Happily, I had asked for the completed item to be sent. So first I worked it over and wrote an account of how I thought it might have been constructed (reverse engineering, you know). Step by step. Then I drafted the skirt. Then I drafted the pocket. And then I went far enough to think I could check for likely adjustments–sure enough, the neckline had been narrowed. I gave this my best shot!

Well. I wasn’t sure at all. But bless her heart, she has received this frock with gratitude and applied ribbons to the inside shoulder to keep her underwear out of view, and apparently it has entered rotation. I’m going to claim success and apologise for having shown you every photo I took. And thank the crafty friend who was over for a sewing day and whose presence bolstered my confidence. Maybe I could have done it without you, but I sure am glad to have company instead!

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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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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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