Tag Archives: sewing

Continuing my Flurry of Crafting

So my energy levels have continued to stabilise – I’m still not able to bend over but luckily knitting and the projects in The Creative Family don’t really require it. It does mean I’m mostly bloggin’ crafting stuff since I don’t have the energy for gardening or other projects.

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Rainy Day Square

I read the whole of Amanda’s book as soon as it arrived. I am pacing myself but the lure of her wool felt projects was too strong. Whilst I was online popping 100% wool felt into my shopping basket for the Wild Things Birthday Crown Project, I decided that the project for a Wool Felt Block would be a perfect welcome present for the Baby.  (In addition to the 3 cardigans, the hat, the carefully chosen and painfully orange plushie fish from her big brother etc.)

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A Carrot – something I can reliably draw and it always looks right.

But sewing these felt squares is so tactile and so fun and I think 100% wool felt is my new craft crush.  I can  really appreciate the Waldorf philosophy of giving children good quality, natural crafting materials and toys.  Whilst R probably has more plastic than I’m comfortable with there is a solidity to his wooden toys which I think he enjoys and I certainly do.

It isn’t quite as portable as knitting but easy to knock a square out at 6.30am when my hips hurt too much to sleep and my brain is too tired to work on writing projects. And it uses up my stash of embroidery threads – so really it is a good thing.

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Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy

Plus there is something compelling about getting artistic in such a minimalist space.

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I can even use up my button stash!

Stay tuned for the last two and the final product!

p.s. you do not want to know how long it took me to get the photos the right way round for this post. One day I’ll get a decent camera… one day.

 

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Knitting with Leftovers

I knit a lot and virtually every day.

Some of my knitting uses thrifty, frugal options, but some of it includes luxury handspun alpaca. It is my hobby and whilst I do try to source eco-friendly alternatives (I never buy standard cotton for dishcloths because it’s eco-footprint is so bad) I have bought some wonderful expensive and luxury yarns for my hobby over the years. I’ve even bought a few and had them posted from the US because Socks that Rock is really the best sock yarn I’ve ever used and you can’t buy it in the UK (I’m weaning myself off this habit though and haven’t bought any yarn for over 6 months – I’m pleased you agree that is a REALLY LONG TIME!)

I wanted a nice little text overlay here with the title of the post... far too many colours to make that a reality :(

I wanted a nice little text overlay here with the title of the post… far too many colours to make that a reality 😦

But I never throw any yarn away.  I am a master at stretching out yarn and finding ways to use up the leftovers once a project is done.  Like with food and garden prunings there is no such thing as yarn waste.

This post is a list of my 3 tips for using up yarn and 3 patterns which are really good at making the most of every scrap.

1. The Beekeeper Quilt –  by Tiny Owl Knits. This is a paid for pattern, but it is worth every penny. Not only because I love this design, it is modular and therefore easy to knit whilst out and about, but of all the patterns I’ve ever knitted, this is the best pattern for using up leftovers.

A hexapuff waiting to be stuffed.

A hexapuff waiting to be stuffed.

Firstly it is made of tiny hexapuffs knitted in sock yarn.  In my knitting career I’ve knitted about 90 pairs of socks (I know!) that is a lot of leftover sock yarn.  Some of my leftover sock yarn went into darning but darning doesn’t use it all up.  This project is perfect because I can knit hexapuffs out of all my fabulous colours put them all in a basket and only start to make up the blanket afterwards at which point I can pick the colours and place there where I want to.  I’m not limited in placing colours next to each other in the order in which I complete my original projects that generated the leftovers!

Not only do I knit with the leftover yarn but the teeny tiny scraps of yarn which get snipped off after sewing in the ends… they get used to stuff the hexapuffs.

AND… I fill some of the hexapuffs with dried lavender from my garden to give the blanket a lovely smell and keep the moths out.

This is the ideal pattern for using up things and just look at how gorgeous it is!

A sea of little hexes.

A sea of little hexes.

2. The Oddball Spiral blanket – by Sarah Bradbury (free pattern). This is my current big project.  Up until recently I had a huge bag of leftover Aran weight wool and no idea what to do with it.  I tried to knit a stripey vest but I couldn’t get enough colour repeats out of the yarn I had left so I ripped it out for this blanket.  There are only 9 live stitches at any time and the pattern is easy to memorise.  You will end up with a giant blanket if you keep going (like me) and I’ll probably finish this in the Winter now as it is too hot to work on.  But if you don’t mind the blanket looking a bit mismatched then use long and short colour repeats where you have bigger and smaller partial balls of yarn.  I think because of the geometric design you can pull off irregular colour patches which only makes this pattern more brilliant.

The blanket is growing.

The blanket is growing.

3. Baby Trousers – by Mini Magpie (free tutorial).  This is not a knitting project.  This is what to do when knitting goes wrong… so horribly wrong.

Many moons ago, before I was as wise as I am today, I knitted a wonderful Hoodie in Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran.  The pattern was incredible and I will knit it again one day. The yarn was super soft… but that was the only good thing about it.  It pilled (went bobbly) and looked terrible after I’d worn it precisely once.  I kept wearing it because it was warm and I’d worked so hard on the amazing patterned cables.  And one day in a fit of helpfulness Josh washed it for me.  Pure wool, 20% cashmere in the washing machine.  I think you can imagine what happened (I won’t describe it for the delicate amongst you but let’s say it involved, felting, shrinking and a lot of swearing).

It is a testament to my stubborness that I’m still wearing it about 7 years later despite the fact it is clearly a couple of inches too short, everywhere.  The yarn cost a fortune, the jumper took ages to knit I wasn’t going to give up on it that easily.  But I think the time has come to say goodbye.

As I said above no wool is wasted.

I’m going to cut the (now felted) jumper up to create the trousers in the above tutorial (possibly even dungarees if I can work it out) and then cut up the rest to use as stuffing in the beekeeper quilt!

 

Denim Jeans – Invisible Mending (Almost)

Following on from my experiments in patching here and EcoThrifty’s slow fashion challenge, I decided to tackle the 3 pairs of jeans with holes in the knees.  I knew I’d saved them for something 😉

I’m really pleased with the results and this is how I did it.

Tiny tiny stitches. As if made by mice.

I’d looked at a couple of different online tutorials and even bought the embroidery foot attachment to do it by sewing machine.  Then in a fit of enthusiasm (I can’t remember why) I decided to do it by hand.  This was a much slower process but gave much better results.

You will need:

Patching needs a patch.

Patching needs a patch.

Spare denim for patch

Thread in a similar coloured thread to the denim

Sharp needle

Small embroidery hoop

Pins

Choose your weapons!

Choose your weapons!

1. Pin the denim patch on the inside of the trousers with the right side of the patch facing the wrong side of the hole. You should be able to see the right side of the patching material through the hole.

2. Then stretch the denim over an embroidery hoop to keep the fabric taught and even throughout the mend.

You can just about see just under a half of the patch has been stitched on the left of the photo.

3. Sew vertical lines of small running stitches up and down the patch, securing it to the original denim with lots of small little stitches.  For material this thick running stitch works fine.  Just don’t pull the stitches so tight the material buckles. If you look very closely in the above photo you’ll just about be able to see my rows of stitching on the left hand side of the patch.

4. Once you have covered the whole of the patch with lines of closely spaced running stitch turn the jeans right side out.  Use more hand stitching to blend the edges of the hole and any bits of frayed fabric until it is hard to discern where the edges of the patch are.

If you don’t have any spare denim to make a patch then you could consider sewing up one of the back pockets of your jeans and cutting a patch out of the fabric in the back layer of the pocket which won’t be seen.

When I showed the jeans to Josh he couldn’t see the patch at all at first.  Success!

This mend took a lot of time and effort.  But it was worth it, partly because I got a real buzz out of doing such a great job (no false modesty here!)  Secondly because it is one of the small steps I’m taking against throw-away fashion.  If we mend our clothes they will last longer, then means we can afford to buy fair trade, organic cotton and more expensive clothes which will in turn last longer.  Not everyone can afford to buy more expensive clothes and every choice you make for yourself and your family is personal so this isn’t about judging anyone’s choices but my own.

But I can’t buy clothes which I know are made by people who don’t get paid a fair wage and have to work in dangerous conditions, use cotton grown using farming practices which are unsustainable.

 

First attempts at patching

Inspired by Make Do and Mend’s post about patching clothes in the Guardian I decided to practice on a pair hand me down trousers given to R.  They were a nice pair of blue corduroys but with a small rip on one of the knees and both knees were looking a bit threadbare due to the previous owner’s enthusiastic crawling.

A small but undeniable hole.

A small but undeniable hole.

I also thought that the decorative patching technique in the article would best suit children’s clothes.

Now R has a lot of trousers and whilst I had pulled these out for mending ages ago I never got round to fixing them because he didn’t really need them.  Then I read an article on another blog about the terrible condition of some clothes donated to charity.  I decided to fix them there and then because even if R barely wears them at least now I’d be happy to donate them to a charity shop in the future.

Because the knees on these trousers will always be subject to crawling wear I decided to make my patch out of a smaller circle of fleece and a larger circle of cotton fabric. I thought the extra cushioning would help with future wear and tear.

Patch pieces - wow that photo is blurry!

Patch pieces.

Before I started the patching process, I very quickly put a few stitches to roughly hold the torn bit of fabric together to make it more secure (even though no-one will ever see it… doubly so since I forgot to photograph that step!) Then I placed the circles wrong sides together and using a running stitch I tacked down the edges of the cotton fabric so that it enclosed the fleece.

A patch complete and ready for sewing to the trousers.

A patch complete and ready for sewing to the trousers.

Once I’d gone all the way round I pinned the patch over the worn place on the trousers with the right side of the cotton facing up.  Then I sewed around the patch using blanket stitch to make it look prettier. I used this tutorial on blanket stitch applique which was very easy to follow.

Voila!

Voila!

And finally I repeated it on the other knee.  Both knees were worn so it was worth it but I would probably patch both knees on another pair of trousers like this just to make it look more appealing.

It took about an hour in total – which might seem like a lot to time-poor parents.  But since I spent the evening relaxing in front of the TV it was easy to fit in.

The grand finale!

The grand finale!

 

Summer Trousers Completed!

For some months now I’ve been trying to finish some lightweight summer trousers for R.

A trio of summer trousers.

A trio of summer trousers.

[Did you spot the upside down patten on the front pair – too late to change it now!]

As we use cloth nappies (probably another post on it’s own!) his little baby bottom is much bigger than normal. Modern clothing is cut for thin disposable nappies, not bulky cloth and so he used to grow out of thing really fast without really growing that much. So I knew at some point that I’d want to sew a few clothes for him.

My other bugbear is colours.  Even at this young age children are beginning to get colour-coded.  We work hard to ensure R enjoys a range of colours, blue to pink and everything in between – but the older he gets the more mud coloured and navy the options become. If I made some of his clothes I can give him the colour which is obviously far too daring for a 10 month old.

I use this wonderful pattern by Rae: http://www.made-by-rae.com/2010/08/big-butt-baby-pants-sewing-pattern/

It was clear, easy to follow and any problems in the execution (upside down owl leg) are mine not her pattern’s fault!

Did you say an owl on my bottom, where?

Did you say an owl on my bottom, where?

There is a 4th pair waiting to be elasticated and after that I’ve two more projects I want to try (these are both free unlike the above):

http://prudentbaby.com/2012/01/baby-kid/shirt-sleeves-into-toddler-harem-pants/ – I have a bunch of sleeves cut off men’s shirts from when I made a circle skirt (out of men’s shirts), I reckon this is a cool way to use them up.

Secondly there is Mini-magpie’s amazing tutorial on turning an old jumper into toddler trousers.  One of my old work jumpers has developed a hole is probably isn’t worth fixing so…

http://minimagpie.com/HOWTO

it will be turned into a pair of purple trousers for the Autumn.

The rest of the weekend has been mixed so far, new pigs are arriving tomorrow so we’ve been busy for the last two days, putting in a new fence, cleaning the hutch and cutting back the grass from the fence (so it doesn’t short out the electrics).  In the process of this hard work I was clearing a tussock only to discover it was also an ants nest… ouch!

Circle beds are so far mixed, I am getting some nice growth in them and they are easy to weed.  Unfortunately they also look like comfortable cat toilets so I’ve lost half my carrots already. Life of a gardener I guess.