After a very painful injury that took a long time to recover from, my physiotherapist impressed upon me that I should be doing yoga. It was harder than I thought to get myself into a class, and once I’d done that and finally made it to my first class, a series of unfortunate events occurred, and one of them was a global event that has closed yoga studios! (Yes, first world problem).
So, one beginner class in, I was back to my own devices. I tried an online class run for free through my council with an actual teacher on Zoom. I discovered the other participant did not have their video or sound on. I can only imagine that was a bit tough for the teacher, who was running her first or second Zoom class and had children in the house. I, on the other hand, felt a rush of surprise and relief, as my memories of doing yoga in my jeans in the 1980s when body shame was my constant companion and I could not afford yoga specific clothing, and the comments people made… rose up and then receded. No one can see me! Not great for guidance but very relaxing otherwise.
Next I tried some YouTube classes. Not bad. But probably not the level of explain-y a complete beginner like myself might need, especially when I’m not going to a live teacher for correction. So I went to the www site of the place I had hoped to go to in person, and they recommended a couple of sites. I did the trial video and signed up. I need a bolster for this! Happily I’d had that one live class, so I’d seen one in the touch-and-feel world; and happily the internet is full of proposals. And my sewing room contains a number of pairs of secondhand jeans. Perfect.
I started with a pattern from Instructables and decided I wanted a drawstring at one end rather than stuffing the thing and closing it up for good. I made some modifications and started cutting up jeans and patchworking them together. As usual, I was finished before I thought too hard about the design of the patchwork. Next time!
Once I had the denim all stitched up and I’d constructed the bag, I raided the blanket cupboard and rolled up one of the ancestral (and very tatty) wool blankets and one of the cotton op shop picnic rugs and packed them in. I’m pleased to say that I trialled this with my new yoga class last night and all went well. No one complimented me, no one suggested that I might need a better one either. No feedback at all. It’s all pre recorded video with loads of explanation at beginner level, so zero interaction. There was a moment when I realised that it wasn’t just that this was the final pose and it was going longer than I could enjoy. The internet was groaning and buffering was occurring. No wonder the commentary had stopped. I called a halt eventually and rolled off my bolster. Totally fit for purpose, nothing new, no plastic. Win-win-win.
There is a thing that’s happening a lot lately. Like the day I thought I’d work on a quilt, and then I constructed most of this book. And the next day, when I thought I’d finish the book, but actually made a yoga bolster out of old jeans. Go figure.
But in the end, things get made and it’s all good and no one else cares about what order things happen in, most days!
I think it was just that a memory of a book a little bit like this from my own childhood came floating through my mind, and I’m the kind of person who acts on those thoughts!
So I got choosing and cutting and ripping up old pillowcases and stitching, and ended up with this, which I hope will brighten some days and be impossible to pull apart!
And there you have it, a book for the grandbub, who is way too little to be learning to count. At the moment!
For years, I’ve been making bias binding from old ties. I can’t believe I still have ties left to transform, but there it is. Step 1. Unpick them. It’s always a bit of a revelation to see how glorious the sewing lavished on some ties is, and how fine the fabric of the inner layers, while others are interfaced with paper or cardboard and held together with the minimum number of stitches and a bit of a whispered prayer. There’s a metaphor for something or other…
By the magic of a little gizmo called a bias binding maker, I end up with this! And then I had a go at binding the inside of a waistband. You know, like on some of my clothes that came from a shop! Well. Let it be said this waistband was not my finest sewing hour, though it will do the job. So here is the single, moodily lit (by which I mean DARK) photo of that waistband in process, looking quite good. For a few minutes 🙂
I’ve found them in op shops across two states… and they keep trickling in…
It’s a bit of recurring task, dealing with the Extinction Rebellion vests! We were given some pre-loved vests last year and Crafternoon gave me some patches… so eventually this job came to the top of my queue and I re-faced the vests. Well, one of them was just too far gone even for my tastes. I could not rehabilitate it even with two washes and trying several stain removal approaches!
Nothing too complicated going on here!
These go on to be used to keep people safe–doing small road swarms or doing banner drops–and here are a couple being used to make small people visible in a bike swarm…
They are also used to make marshals, arrest support and police liaisons visible and identifiable, where needed. And–we even use them at training so people can tell who is in what role in role plays!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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…
There was a great report on the Australian government’s climate action on national TV this week. And lest I be misunderstood by people who are not from around here, what I mean is our government’s virtually complete inaction. The barrier our politicians represent to real action. The world’s scientists have declared that we need 12 years of emergency level action on an unprecedented global scale to avert catastrophe, and the Australian governments federal and state are doing the equivalent of sticking their fingers in their ears, chanting “rhubarb rhubarb”, pushing cash in a brown paper bag toward the fossil fuel industry, and behaving as though there is nothing to worry about.
Meanwhile, the schoolchildren of the world and supportive adults are organising in the streets. #climatestrike. Because schoolchildren know the gravity of the situation. That is how smart they are; that is also how transparent government inaction is. So I added myself to their number in solidarity, and when I had to squeeze myself onto the train to get to the rally, I already knew it was going to be BIG! My pictures don’t do it justice. I love being able to stand behind children’s leadership on this issue.
Extinction Rebellion in four states of our country delivered our demands to our governments in March. Here in South Australia we read out our demands and hand delivered them (yes, we did it by email as well just in case) to the government, the parliament and the Advertiser as a representative of the media. I realise it’s a lot to ask when the planet is at risk (cough)–but we are demanding government and the media tell the truth about climate change and take serious, emergency level action. Our collection of upcycled high visibility vests for marshals and police liaisons have been screen printed by an awesome friend; cured in the hot sun (the photo) and aired out after use ready for a good deal of future action.
And then there was Paddle Out for the Bight, an action designed to let Equinor (a Norwegian fossil fuel giant) know that we do not think drilling for oil in the Great Australian Bight is a good idea. Because–whale sanctuary and wilderness–oil spill modelling shows unbelievable damage would result from a spill in these treacherous seas–and, you know?? CLIMATE CHANGE is a mighty good reason to keep it in the ground. See you on the streets and on the beaches, my friends.
The most recent stack of Boomerang Bags were made over a considerable period. Here are some in progress–straps being interfaced with shaggy leftovers of flanellette sheet well past last use on a bed, and a shirt being turned into a bag lining.
I made linings out of all manner of bits and pieces. The Remakery had a sale and I went in and bought upholstery samples and scraps of cotton fabrics. Here are some of them being pieced together for linings.
And eventually, there were bags–spot the upholstery samples!
And more bags…
Still more bags…
And yet more.
And in due course, I handed them over and the amazing BB volunteer I see most often exchanged them for more labels!
I love the humble hanky. The way it accompanies me through life in a pocket, ready to assist when pollen is too much, when I’m moved to tears, when the wind is chilly enough to make eyes water or when genuine misery leaks out of me. The way it supports me through illness time after time. The way it saves me from single use napkins, means I never find a tissue that has gone through the washing machine, and rescues entire trees from being turned into tissues. I love the way it can be called upon to wipe up spills, deal with sticky fingers at unexpected moments, prevent chafing, or (if clean) wrap a small item at short notice.
The latest festival of the hanky was generated by a friend whose hanky collection had shrunk to zero. But needless to say it didn’t stop when I’d made a collection for him. Soon I had some made from cotton voile and some made from muslin that had a past life wrapping a baby. Then a fine cotton scarf which has been in the cupboard unused for over a decade became four lovely hankies. Then the main parts of a striped shirt that belonged to a friend, who gifted it to me, which had a superpower of making people in shops address me as sir for many years–was converted from a very worn thin shirt to some lovely fine hankies.
And then some fine cotton I’d dyed… and some brand new fine cotton voile… and there it stopped for the time being. And now I have so many opportunities to share the hanky love…