Eye Mask

This year I skipped Christmas. Well, it isn’t really possible to escape it. Even in Japan they celebrate it. Nearly all the decoration vanishes the next day, though, and not a bar of carol muzac is heard again.

I started this on the plane over, worked on it in bullet trains and finished it on the way back:

More about the trip to come, with pics and craft.

Daybed Cover

So, as I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve removed the daybed from the workroom and put it in the lounge. It took me less than a week to stain the calico cover with chocolate icecream, driving home the need to make a cover.

When I removed the daybed I also had to empty the boxes I had kept under it and find other places to store the contents. One of the boxes contained several old pairs of jeans, leftovers from when I’d woven the denim rag rugs. It occurred to me that it would be a neat solution to use them up making a cover.

So I started cutting up the jeans. At first I thought I’d just open up the legs and sew them together in strips, but only a few were long enough to cover the width of the bed and I was worried the thick seams would be a bit uncomfortable to sit or lie on. Instead, I settle on a simple patchwork of squares.

I made a template and got cutting. 119 squares would be needed, and thanks to Paul seeing what I was doing and giving me another worn out pair, I had enough jeans to make it with a leg and a bit spare. I wound up cutting more than 119, though, as I decided to use the holey bits of jeans with another non-holey square of thinner denim behind. This cover is going to come into existence pre-distressed.

The sewing of the squares and rectangles together got done in batches, an hour here and an hour there:

I’d bought some topstitching thread for sewing the seam edges flat, but changing tension across the different kinds of denim meant it went all loopy in places. I eventually gave up and had to spend an hour or two unpicking it all. Red cotton topstitching looked pathetic, so I unpicked an experimental row of that too.

Finally I settled on the navy thread I’d been using already. So the holes looked more deliberate than simple wear and tear, I zig-zagged around them.

Then I lined it with black calico:

So now have a cover that matches the handwoven floor rugs which can be tossed in the wash and I’ve used up most of my stash of old jeans. Two items crossed off my to-do list!

Tidy Up

I’m loving how spacious my workroom feels now, and it seems to have inspired me to do some crafting (pics later).

Here’s the corner of the workroom where the day bed used to be:

As you can see, it’s bright and airy. The cat has accepted a basket as a replacement for the day bed, which is now downstairs in the lounge.

I’ve come to the conclusion that shifting things from the edges of the room to the centre back in 2012 was a mistake. It felt too cluttered, even if it did mean I could fit more into the room. This is the plan I drew up during that reshuffle:

Looks good in 2D, not so good in 3D.

Discovering that the drawing board converts to a table also makes me very happy. It’ll get much more use like this, and I can always swivel it into a vertical position if I want to draw.

I’d left a few unfinished projects scattered over my old wooden table when I went overseas so I’ve been tackling a few of them (or deciding they weren’t such a great idea after all – time away can give you a fresh perspective). I used fabric pens to draw on two buttons I made when testing if I could make badges with fabric:

And I framed the cat embroideries:

I also used up some more wooden beads to make this simple necklace:

And I sit and stitch of an evening, when I’m not nodding off thanks to the lingering weariness from a very busy month overseas.

Twill Oversized Purse

So this being my sixth and last weekend before the trip I wanted to defeat another category. To be honest, I did this partly by moving items to other categories. The remaining items in my original list were these:

Fair Isle part-vest into Capuchine style hat
2 seam 50s top
Passap cover
Twill oversize purse

The Fair Isle hat had become a knitting machine project. The 2 seam 50s top could go, along with the projects in the Shirt Conversion category, back into my general Sewing & Refashioning to-do list. That left the Passap cover and the Twill purse. I decided it wouldn’t matter if the Passap cover didn’t get done – the fabric for it was doing well enough at protecting the machine just draped over it for now. That meant I could concentrate on the bag.

Once again, I was tackling a project using a fabric sample. The piece I had would have made a very short bag so I’d picked out some leather to go with it. For contrast I chose some leftover blue fabric for the lining.

I had pinned several tutorials on the internet on how to make a pattern for a purse-frame bag. I also examined a bag I already had, by the wonderful Jubly Umph which has a more complicated construction.

All of which weren’t completely suitable because they used square cornered frames. I made what I hoped was a patterns that would work, but I would advise anyone with a curved frame to test their pattern first. Mine worked, but could have done with a more fabric between the hinges.

One of the reasons this project was left until last was I had to decide what to do about handles. The purse frame I’d chosen was ‘silver’. I could have bought already-made handles, but none had metal parts that matched. Eventually I decided to make my own out of the leather and some rope.

Just a matter of making a tube and threading the rope through. Except it took both Paul and I working at it to get the ropes through the tubes. To make the ends easier to handle, I used glue:

Which made sewing them to the bag much easier and hopefully will make them sturdier, too. Handles can never be too sturdy.

Then I was ready to put the fabric parts of the bag together. Of course, I got so involved I forgot to take pictures. I followed this tutorial.

Another difference between my purse frame and the ones in the tutorials is that it attaches to the fabric with little screws, not glue. I decided to see how well this worked, and if it wasn’t satisfactory I’d resort to glue. The tiny screws were really, really fiddly, and once in place the purse frame wouldn’t close properly. Paul had to file down the points of them so they’d go in flush with the frame. I suspect they’re meant to go through a hole in the fabric. The thought of getting the holes in the fabric to line up exactly with the ones in the frame makes my brain hurt.

We’re just relying on the fabric being squished between the screw and the frame to hold it in place. It seems to be secure:

The blue lining looks great:

I reckon it could do with some embroidery, don’t you? Maybe this?

Or something blue to match the lining. Hmm.

Painting Bag

How odd. I thought I’d published this post. Well, here it is:

On the Sunday afternoon of the first crafting weekend, after all the dyeing, I had a bit of time to fill so I tackled another accessory. A fews years ago I ripped a few dud paintings off their frames and made a bag out of one. I’d always meant to do the same with this one:

I kept it simple. For handles I looked in our box of leather scraps and old belts and straps. I found a piece of acrylic strapping I bought so long ago I can’t remember what it was for, and some studs Paul got for a costume he made before we met.

This was definitely a stash-buster.

A bit of sewing and stud applying later, the dud painting was a bag – that got a rare ‘ooh, that looks good’ from Paul.



The Lazy Quilt, Part I

On Friday work had fried my brain and given me a sore back so, as you can do when self-employed, I declared the weekend started mid-Friday. I needed something not too mentally challenging, so the first think I did was ‘fix’ the flanelette blanket.

When I’d washed it the batting had come scrunched up within the swatches, so I decided to cut them down the middle, straighten out the batting and then sew it all together again:

I also sewed a rectangle within each swatch, to make sure the batting didn’t move around again, as you can see more clearly on the back:

Next I worked on turning the curtain fabric swatches into a quilt. I had bought a length of calico and washed it, so I got it ironed and worked out what size to make it by looking up standard bed sizes, folding it into the two smallest (cot and single) and tossing the swatches onto it to see if they’d cover enough of the fabric.

I figured I had enough for a slightly smaller than cot sized blanket. ‘Enough’ being a relative term, of course. I really had no idea what I was doing, and I didn’t care so long as it didn’t take too much time and I enjoyed the process.

Once I’d cut the fabric to size, I decided the swatches needed more variety in sizes, so I cut them up, mostly into two pieces. Then I messed around with the arrangement until I had something I liked.

I ironed them down, which didn’t work as well as I’d expected, with some of the swatches peeling up again. I could have tacked them down, but that seemed like too much effort. This was supposed to be The Lazy Quilt, after all. A couple of pins in each swatch was good enough, even if it meant I spiked myself a few times. I’m sure I’m not the first person to bleed for their quilt.

Grabbing some cotton in dark red, green, blue and a pale tan colour, to match the details in the swatches, I got sewing. Applique sure uses up thread fast, so pretty soon I was out of yarn. I grabbed some more from Lincraft in the evening. The next day I filled the time waiting for the solar dyeing to do it’s thing by sewing, and by the end of the day all the swatches were done:

I’m pretty chuffed with how it looks.

Now I just need to attach batting and backing and do the quilty bit. But before I do, I think I’d better look up a few tutorials.

Dyeing Day

After making so much progress last Saturday, I was keen to do more on the Sunday. But my back was a bit stiff from hunching over the sewing machine so I decided to do something that didn’t involve sitting down. It was warmer and dry, so I decided it was Dyeing Day. Items on the list:

Dye poncho-shawl
Overdye socks I don’t wear much

The first project I tackled was converting this poncho my parents bought for me on a holiday to something a bit more my style.

These days I want my knitwear to be easily removed, preferably not over my head, and bulky white garments make my body look huge and my head tiny. Thankfully the two pieces of the poncho were easily unpicked. I sewed them together end to end to make a shawl on Saturday. Now I just had to dye it. For that I needed dye for synthetics, which I found at Lincraft.

There was a lot of shawl to dye, so I decided to dip dye the ends. I tied a string to the rail of the deck above and made loops to adjust the height. The instructions for the dye said to boil the item in the dye bath for half an hour to an hour, stirring constantly. The stirring was vital – at one point I let it go still for too long and the end of a piece of fringe began to melt. I don’t think I kept it up for an hour – more like half an hour.

Look at that strong colour! The instructions warned that not all synthetics dye well. Unfortunately, the shawl must be one of those kinds, as didn’t turn that wonderful blue. But the pale lavender it did change to is nice enough. Which is why I chose blue. No matter how pale or strong it turned out, I’d still like it.

It dried even lighter than that. Oh well.

Next I set about overdying four pairs of socks I don’t wear much because the colours don’t match much in my wardrobe. I used trusty Landscape dyes and it was satisfying, after the shawl, to see the wool suck in the colour. Here are the socks, back when they were fresh off the needles:

And here they are now:

Almost like having new socks. Almost.

Later in the day I did another Accessory project which I included in this post at first, but it looked odd so I’ve made that one a separate post.

Score for the day: 3 projects finished. One category defeated! Yaaaay! I wondered if I should eke out these posts, as I suddenly have a lot of them after a couple of months of not much happening here, but I like the diaryish feel of this blog that lets me look back on what I was doing at different times in the past, and so it may as well reflect the droughts and floods in my crafty life right now.

Yarn Shade Card Blanket

I’ve been receiving shade cards from Bendigo Woollen Mills for quite a few years now – since 2006 if the shade cards I’ve collected are any indication. When the new one arrives I can’t bear to throw away the old one, or the shade cards for yarns they stock temporarily once the yarn is discontinued. Those little fringes of yarn are just too pretty. I’ve always wanted to come up with a way to repurpose them, maybe as greeting cards. Well, greeting cards for knitters.

A while ago I gathered them together and found I had enough for larger projects. I could cover a scarf or bag in multicolour fringe. I just needed fabric or a bag to cover, so it went on the craft to-do list.

When I measured how much fringe I could make last week, in preparation for the weekend, I realised I could go even bigger. I could surround a small blanket. Two blankets, even. But if I stuck to the standard shade card where the fringe is all the same width I had enough to go around a meter square.

I bought polar fleece and iron on adhesive tape.

The first task was to iron the tape onto the fringe, on the side attached to the card.

Then cut down the centre of the tape and carefully peel the fringe off the card.

Once I had all the fringe off the cards, I applied the first piece to the blanket, peeling the backing strip off the tape…

… and ironing the edge of the blanket to it.

Then I sewed the fringe to the blanket with a wide, short zig-zag.

But I found this made the edge curl, so I cut it off, and discovered that the removed fringe straightened out. So I attached the rest of the fringe to an off-cut of polar fleece instead, which I cut off…

… then sewed this to the blanket with a longer wide zig-zag.

I’m really happy with how it came out.

Hopefully the adhesive and two runs of zig-zag is enough to keep the fringe in place. It seems well attached, though I haven’t tried giving it a good yank.

I have some fringe left, and plenty more shade cards, so maybe a shade card scarf will go on the next craft to-do list.

Overlocking/Accessory Day #1

So last weekend was my first one tackling the craft to-do lists. It was overcast and cold so I decided Saturday was Overlocker Day. My list went like this:

Fair Isle part-vest into hat
Join poncho panels ready for dyeing
Add side panel to navy sleeveless top
Make scarf out of travel towel
2 seam 50s top

Additional projects I’d found that use an overlocker:
Mend purple tshirt
Make a headband out of flowery top

I tossed all the materials into a basket and took it and my sewing paraphernalia downstairs to the dining table. I also threw in a couple of the Accessory Day projects, as I wanted to get materials for them from Lincraft and needed to work out exactly what to buy.

First up, three years ago I abandoned this attempt at the Ivy League Vest because it turned out too small.

I cast off and decided I’d make a bag. Like I need more bags. Last week I suddenly realised what it could be instead – a Capuchine style hat. So I cut and overlocked down the side, then put it aside for some hand and machine knitting attention later.

Next I made this headband out of a top that was getting a bit worn looking:

I added side panels to this navy top:

Hmm. Thanks to the Fasting Diet the dress model is now bigger than me. I’ll have to fix that on Shirt Conversion Day.

I worked entirely on the sewing machine rather than the overlocker for the top. I’ve been getting familiar with the stretch stitches and using a needle for stretch fabric has helped enormously, but in this case the striped fabric, despite being a knit, isn’t very stretchy so sews up nicely.

After tackling the poncho-to-shawl, I popped down to Lincraft. Once I got back I mended a tshirt, then having bought material for some of the Accessory Day projects I was all fired up to start them so I ironed backing onto these curtain samples:

I’ve decided to applique them to a calico backing using thread in the bright colours of the sample patterns, and (probably) make a quilt.

Next I made a blanket out of yarn sample cards. I took lots of photos to do a separate post, but here’s a spoiler.

Finally I cut up a travel towel into two scarves:

I finished the edges in two different stitches to see which I preferred.

The plain zig zag does a neater job, I think.

Why turn a travel towel into as scarf? Travel towels are made from a light, thin fabric that sucks in heaps of water, lets most of it go when you wring it out, and dries quickly. One of the secrets of travelling with only carry-on is hand washing clothes. If you wrap a hotel towel around the wet clothes and walk on it you can squeeze out a little extra moisture and speed the drying. A travel towel, apparently, does an even better job. Multipurpose items are also great for travel, so since the towel has as nice drape and almost suedey texture I figured it would also make a good scarf.

Then? I made spag bol and collapsed in front of the tv.

Score for the day: 4 projects finished, 3 started, 1 mending job done. No categories of the to-do list eliminated quite yet, though, but the weekend has only just begun. I didn’t do one item on the Overlocking list and tackled two from the Accessory one, but I figured there’d be a bit of blending anyway, as I found the best way to sew up projects. Later I decided to combine the two as a category and introduce a new one, Bookbinding, since I need to make some gifts before I go os.

Andy Capp Clutch

I have two cocktail parties to go to, both with comic art themes. They’re not costume parties as such, more ‘dressing to the theme’ sort of parties. However, I’m not finding the comics themes all that inspiring for clothing, so I decided to accessorise instead.

The first party theme is Andy Capp vs Ginger Meggs. A bit of googling found me an Andy Capp strip of a good size. I got Paul to print it onto some fabric transfer paper, ironed it onto a scrap of canvas and painted around the edges:

It took me ages to come up with a simple bag design, eventually settling on an envelope clutch. I cut the shape out of newspaper:

Then traced it onto more canvas and painted it both sides:

I cut a window in the envelope shape and stuck the cartoon piece inside with pva glue, then covered it with red felt.

Folding the felt up, I then stuck the sides and bottom onto it.

Added a closure, keeping to the ‘envelope/stationary’ theme, and a strap.

And I had a clutch. I made it the same size as my iPad mini, too, so I could also use it as a cosy.

That just left the Golden Age of Comics party theme to accessorise to, and for that I recruited a very talented friend.