Turn an Umbrella into a Shower Cap

Broken umbrellas. It’s nearly always the frame that goes first, and for those of us with recycling tendencies the fabric is just begging to be used for something else. People have used them to make clothing, the most obvious being a skirt. I’m not all that keen on wearing shiny plastic, and though making a raincoat sounds like a natural transition it wouldn’t be very breathable, though this dog coat is adorable. Others have made bags out of them, which is a great idea but I don’t need more bags. This person makes beanbags out of them which is pretty cool, though I’m long past being able to sit in beanbags.

No, I decided make something I’ve been finding it harder and harder to find: a shower cap large enough to fit my head. Honestly, I swear the ones you buy in stores have been getting smaller and smaller, and the longer my hair gets the harder it is to fit them over my head and the little bun I tie my hair into.

For a while now I’ve had fabric from a plain black umbrella waiting for me to get around to making a shower cap out of, but recently I discovered that the umbrella I bought at the British Library, which changes colour when wet, was broken.

I’m going to pause here for a short gripe. This umbrella was expensive. It came, as they often do, in a little cover. The label’s care instructions specify you must keep it in the cover, but the fabric is thicker than the usual umbrella fabric, due to the special paint that changes colour, and getting it to squish back down enough to get the sleeve on is a real struggle. It was my efforts to do so that broke the frame.

Since I’d only got to use this umbrella a few times, I was determined to make something out of it. And I love the idea of having a shower cap that changes colour, too.

But this method could be used for most umbrella fabric.

So, this is what I did:

The umbrella was a medium to large size so there was plenty of fabric. I wanted to make use of the patterned part. After removing it from the frame and taking off the tie that holds the umbrella closed, I unpicked two opposite seams so I wound up with two halves:

I took one half, turned it inside out and sewed it together up the side:

I copied the seaming method, which involved folding it over before sewing. I’m guessing this make it extra strong and waterproof.

Above the top of the pattern, I sewed in halfway to the centre on both sides:

Then I refolded it in half with those two seams were pressed against each other and sewed in again from the outside to halfway, where the first seams met:

Then I trimmed off the excess fabric at the point:

Right side out, the top now looks like this:

Next I folded the outside edge of the fabric wrong sides together and sewed a channel for the elastic, leaving a gap to thread it through:

Partway around I reattached the tie, with the velcro bits removed, to use as a loop to hang the shower cap up by:

I measured some elastic by wrapping it around my head then shortening it a little so it gripped well. Then I fed it into the channel:

Tied it in a knot. You may want to sew the ends together so it sits flat. But the join will sit in the channel, not against your head, so it won’t be uncomfortable.

Done:

And yes, it fits:

I even tested it for you:

Look! The colours change:

Coolest shower cap ever.

Squirrel Scorpion Book

This is another of the projects I finished during the first heatwave.

Yonks ago, when I was on my bookbinding thing, I made a cover out of stiffened fabric but never got around to binding in some pages as I thought it was a bit boring. In the meantime I cut a design off a favourite tshirt thinking I’d applique it to something. The two were destined to meet. That just left the binding.

I grabbed some yellow embroidery thread and got stitching. The gingham lining made marking up the holes easy:

The pages had been torn out of an old cartridge paper sketch pad.

I wish the diamond and spine stitching had lined up better, but the binding does need to be centred for stability. Otherwise I’m pretty happy with it.

It’ll probably become a brainstorming notebook, once my current one is full.

Heatwave Refashioning

During the first heatwave I tackled a few of the clothing refashions:

I turned the brown lacy top inside out, put it on the dress model and marked the new necklines:

Pinned and sewed:

Much better:

The blue t-shirt was so badly made that not only did the stripes not line up, they were at quite an angle. I wound up cutting the seams off and using the remaining two pieces as fabric. A sleeveless t-shirt laid over this was my pattern, and I used the hems at the bottom and arms for the new sleeve edges and neckline:

(I didn’t notice the stain until after I’d made it. Fortunately it came out in the wash.)

The wrap top fabric is quite thin now, so this is going to be its final incarnation, as a caftan top:

All I had to do was move the straps onto the inside of the back, make two buttonholes in matching positions on the front:

Then sew the back and front together with two lines of stitching between the arms and body.

No more gaping armholes.

Mystery Box Challenge

While at the Guild I succumbed to the lure of the Mystery Box. Well, it has been a while since I participated in a crafty challenge not of my own devising. There were only three boxes left, all labelled ‘W’ for weaver:

And inside…

Quite a collection of odds and ends:

The playing card made me laugh – it was right at the bottom. The rules state that you must use at least 50% of the contents. Any knitted or crocheted items must be handspun, which is a pity as my first ideas involved weaving, knitting and crocheting the provided commercial yarn. You see, the first thing that popped into my head was a figurine:

These are early sketches. I’d like to be able to use all of the materials. The glitz and handful of short threads are the only things I can’t see a particular use for, so I suspect they are going to become stuffing.

In other news, I put something on the table loom last week:

My second huck lace project, using hemp yarn. It’ll either be a scarf or a table runner, depending on how much it softens up in the wash.

2013

Last year was one of flood and drought, when it came to creating and craft. Mostly that was because I also had intensive periods of work and travel that left little time for crafting, then relaxed stretches where I could dedicate weekends and evenings to creativity.

January:
The year started with Bagapalooza, a big bag review and refashion project.

I also made a whole lot of plans to sort out my photo collection… and that’s as far as that went.

February:
The AKL got a bit of action, as I wove up a few things out of oddments of yarn:

And snuck in a little forbidden knitting with rocket needles and velvet fabric cut into a long strip:

And whipped up some jewellery:

March:
Time to dust off the Bond Sweater Machine:

After picking up a free old Bond machine I made The Mega Bond:

April:
More Bonding:

Until I had to clear the table for some sewing:

May:
I made map coasters:

And tried out a few more methods in the inkle book:

And tried some embroidery:

And started the Fast Diet.

June:
The beginning of a new obsession, perhaps:

I made an envelope clutch for a themed party:

July:
I dabbled in cross-stitch:

But for most of July I was in the crafty doldrums.

August:
Got my act together. Started tackling the problem of the back of the house falling off. Solution: better engineered verandah. Bonus shade panels and new balustrade. (Completed in November.)
I finished a portrait:

And decided to tackle six to-do list categories over six weekends, and some projects I could do while watching tv.
I started with jewellery:

Moved on to tackle accessories and clothing refasions:

Plus dyeing:

September:
Some simple quilting:

I made a bag out of a painting and another out of an upholstery sample:

I tried solar dyeing, and made gifts to take overseas:

I finished weaving a scarf and wove another, and did more inkling:

It was also the month for learning I had a small heart condition, osteopenia and confirmation I’ve reached menopause. Or peri-menopause. Whatever. But I’d lost 4kg on the Fast Diet, so I was feeling pretty healthy.

October:
I spent most of October overseas.

November:
Craft Day on the first weekend back kick-started my crafty brain.
I made a necklace:

Badges:

And framed some cats I’d stitched over the winter:

I got the cards done early:

Though we only used a few, as we didn’t find the time for the write & mail part.

December:
I ended the year stitching:

I also went camping and painted ‘in plein air’:

I made a cover for the day bed:

And made a door mat for Dad:

And I finally finished weaving the paua shell ruanna after a year and a half on the loom:

I stitched a heart, and a pair of eyes:

Then we went to Japan!

All in all a good creative year. The craft category challenge proved very effective, so I might do that again in future. Half of the garments I made on the Bond I’ve decided need frogging or adjustment, however, and it wasn’t a great year for weaving. But I seem to have found a replacement for knitting with embroidery. I’m not as obsessed, though. Yet.

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.

Front:

Back: