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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Odds and ends socks

Planning for a six week trip, you can bet I packed knitting, socks especially! This is the story of one pair. In the first picture, a miracle has occurred: we have one night in Montpellier, France, and instead of staying downtown we stayed a long way from town (the reasons are complex but the booking has been made in advance from Australia), right near the stadium where the FIFA women’s soccer world cup is under way and our one night is the Australia v Brazil game!! My beloved is a former soccer player, so we had to go. The French couple beside us were charming. Eventually as she high fived my beloved because Australia scored, he turned to me, and said: “so she’s the soccer loving one and you’re the one who knits?” and laughed heartily when I said “You have worked it out–but how?? I was trying to keep this a secret!”

In the picture below, I’m on the train from Montpellier, France to Milan, Italy, en route to Rome. It was a big day, livened up by being mistaken for a man in the women’s toilets in two countries, three languages, three cities. Who can say exactly why this happens–but somehow we got to Rome. These socks began as a bag of somewhat orange leftover sock yarn, left over after pairs I’ve knit over the last 10 or 15 years. Apologies for the refusal of style involved here!

The second image was taken in Rome. I’d been to the Museum of the Liberation [of Rome from occupation by Nazi Germany]. It now takes up a building that was the headquarters of the SS during the occupation. A place where leaders of the resistance were imprisoned, tortured, killed or sent away to be killed. It was both educational and harrowing. I hope that under circumstances of fascism I would be part of the resistance, and I am interested in educating myself about how resistance can be undertaken, how it succeeds, how it is responded to. I wept. As I write, I am watching a documentary about the Myall Creek massacre (of First Nations Australians by white people]. Just to be clear, resistance is not just something that only happened or happens in other countries.

So after the Museo della liberazione, I found a bakery that had a buffet lunch option. I studied Italian for four years in High School in the 1970s and 1980 (! how have I become this much older?) and all I have left, even after a tune up with an online language app, is some words and some transactional communication. I decided to brave it, and through a combination of pointing, asking as nicely as I could, expressing gratitude as best I could, and the generosity of the gentleman on the other side of the counter, I ended up with this sensational plate for a very reasonable price, including a drink and fresh bread. It was the best meal I had in Rome.

These socks have gone to a friend who has told me many times she doesn’t care about colour, just use up the odds and ends! I received her mother’s knitting stash after her Mum died and I could see what a thrifty woman she was. It is not the kind of stash people on Ravelry talk about. It was only stub ends, not even one entire ball. As you can see, these socks are in no way a regular pair. On the other hand, they sure will keep my friend’s feet warm when she is out feeding rescue donkeys these chilly mornings in her gumboots. I understand she received them with chuckling I can hear in my mind! Perfect.

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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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Still more guerilla gardening

Two buckets full of seedlings in pots, two watering cans and some tools in a blue wheelbarrow.

Oh yes. More saltbush (some of them very stunted but still alive). More wren bush. A Eucalyptus Scoparia seedling and some sheoaks.

In they go!

And by the way, previous plantings are now sending out their descendants!

And, home again with more autumn leaves destined to mulch my yard rather than go down the drain or into the street sweeper.

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Bee motel

It is a sign that fills my heart with dread–that bees are in so much danger. Leaving aside the honey bee for a moment, calls now go out for the creation of habitats for native bees–a real indictment of the devastation of native habitats. This has led to “bee motels” turning up all kinds of places. This one is in the park lands.

This one is near our local community garden.

Honestly, the best things I do for bees are growing without chemicals at home, and guerilla planting native plants. But, I decided I could make a bee motel with things that would otherwise be going to recycling or compost, and why not?

The cans come from the kitchen, thought not very often these days. The bamboo grows in our neighbourhood. I had harvested some for banner poles and the side shoots have gone into the cans as well as the excess length. And I’ve tied them together with pre-loved string that has come from the dye pot and before that–from ripped up and upcycled clothing and manchester. Here’s hoping the bees will like it!

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Reverse applique

I have a friend who has made several beautiful reverse applique t shirts with lovely images of plants or insects. Then she made a couple with the Extinction Rebellion logo (a circle representing the earth with an hourglass shape in the centre that symbolises time running out and the urgency of action). I loved them! When she said she would offer it as a crafternoon project I decided to try and give it a go–I guess that was an indication she thought it wasn’t too difficult, where previously I assumed I would not be able to do this.

The hard part for me was getting the image right. In the end, it was cereal box stencil to the rescue.

T shirt from the op shop with a little image on it that I thought could vanish in the process.

I tacked another piece of old t shirt under it and then had a go!

And–result! I made two! And gave them away at a working group meeting to people who will use and appreciate them.

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Very hungry caterpillar shirt #2

Some time ago I made a Very Hungry Caterpillar shirt, while under the delusion that I am twice my usual size. Or something. Anyway, the fit was appalling, so that even I was not prepared to wear it much. So there came a day when I pulled it apart and cut out a different shirt from the pieces, with a bit of creative piecing together in places. And the shirt was reborn as Lotta Jansdotter’s Esme Shirt.

And the back… and now we wait to see if this one gets more wear!

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Pincushion + Cushion

I have tried a few pincushions thinking I’d like to go beyond the commercial ones I own. This one has been so long in the making I’ve lost track of its antecedents on the internets–there is no longer anything like it at sewandso.com.uk. I even completed the embroidery on the top ages ago and apparently squibbed (that is, acted on my cowardice) at the sewing it together stage.

Then my sweetheart requested a very specific cushion and it occurred to me that it was about the size and shape of this rather large pincushion–and so a second item came to be. Two layers of a t shirt that was waiting to become part of a quilt batting. I’m happy that part of the image has lived to see another life!

Small round green cushion with design of a dandelion in black

I’ve also had some fun ripping apart business clothing I will no longer need. It came from the op shop and is a bit far gone to go back there and expect to be sold again. Rather than have it enter waste or rag streams, I’ve converted it to component parts and begun transforming it into bags, beginning with drawstring bags…

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Planting the Correas

I have had more success with propagating correas (from cuttings) than previously, and so–the correa alba babies go out into the big wide world.

I have planted them in a spot the council has installed a watering system. The parent plant for all these cuttings almost died in the 47C heat of summer.

Here’s hoping they make it!

Muddy jeans, a bucket with empty pots and tools in it.

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