A bit of glam

I was going to save this post for next month’s ScrapHappy, but I just couldn’t wait four weeks to share it.

Many many years ago I was invited to a wedding. I and the friend who I was going with had form in terms of making and wearing outfits for various events, but we were both feeling a bit lazy and decided that we would buy something to wear rather than do the sewing ourselves. We discussed what to do and finally settled on a trip to The Bombay Stores in Bradford… I would buy a saree and she would buy an Indian suit. Off we went with my mum and had a wonderful time choosing our outfits. I think hers was really vibrant, whilst mine was lilac and gold. And then… we were asked to be the bridesmaids.

Our Indian outfits were put to one side and we ended up wearing deep purple velvet dresses. That could be the start of a ScrapHappy post in itself, as Mr Snail has a waistcoat made from my dress – I may even have the remaining scraps somewhere. But that’s not what this post is about… this post is about that saree, which I have had ever since but never found the opportunity to wear. I came across it when I was sorting out my work room and decided that its time had come.

Spending a lot of time at home this year, I have increasingly become aware that some parts of the house are tattier than others, and that some revamping is in order. During our latest lockdown I decided to tackle the bathroom. Really the whole bathroom suite needs replacing, but that will have to wait. However, I had already bought some paint to spruce things up a bit and so I was able to improve the walls quite quickly. Obviously the curtains had to come down and once they had I knew that they weren’t going back up again as they had suffered over the years and faded in stripes. Interestingly, the linings had survived perfectly, although the rufflette tape was disintegrating. I dismantled them, retained the lining and bought some more tape… and then I took a deep breath and set to with my scissors and that saree.

Fortunately the width of the saree was perfect for the drop of the curtains so no top or bottom hems were required, and I only had to shorten the lining a little. I put the wider border at the top, where it conceals the stitching and provides additional strength. I did iron the fabric, but because it had been folded in pleats for more than 25 years it’s going to take a while longer for the creases to disappear completely. I’m rather pleased with the outcome – what do you think?

Oh, and I still have a couple of metres or saree left to do something else with.

ScrapHappy November 2020

For some time now I’ve had a project in mind and finally this month, with the assistance of Mr Snail, it came to fruition.

One of the things that often delays me whilst I’m sewing is having to get out the ironing board and iron to press open a little seam or apply a bit of interfacing. Ages ago one of you lovely scrap happy contributors (and for the life of me I can’t remember who nor find the post) described making a little ironing board for just such jobs and I thought ‘I need one of those’. It remained just a good idea until now, although earlier in the year I did buy myself a little steam travel iron in anticipation of the great day when I had a little board to iron on.

I discussed it with Mr Snail (read his take on it here) and he sorted out an appropriate piece of wood for me to use, plus he removed some old upholstery pins from a very tatty chair that I have long intended to resurrect.

For the padding, I used half an old towel, left over from making a scrappy head towel last year . I doubled this and secured it with the old upholstery pins:

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A double layer of old towel around a bit of old shelf, secured with old nails

Then I covered it with a piece of an unwanted “real” ironing board cover. At this point is did have to resort to some new upholstery pins as we’d run out of useable old ones:

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Add a layer of actual ironing board cover (bought in error a while ago)

And, voila, a little table top ironing board:

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Ready to use

We discussed adding feet, but it’s nice and stable and I don’t think there is any need. I’m very pleased with this new addition to my rearranged workroom – it has already come in useful.

-oOo-

I’ve been inspired to write this (and future) ScrapHappy posts by Kate,  Tall Tales from Chiconia. On the fifteenth of every month lots of folks often publish a ScrapHappy post, do check them out:

Kate (me!)Gun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancyAlysKerryClaireJean,
Joanne, Jon, HayleyDawnGwen, Connie, Bekki, PaulineSue L,
Sunny and Kjerstin

If you fancy joining, contact Kate and she’ll add you to the list. It would be lovely to see more non-sewing posts, but any use of scraps is welcome.

“D’oh”

Back near the beginning of the year, you may recall, I began my experiments with sourdough. It was before lockdown and it was just a whim… a vague desire to see whether it was really possible to create, from scratch, a viable culture of micro-organisms with which to make bread. And then came coronavirus and everyone had to stay at home and madly started hoarding random things… including yeast. There was no yeast in the shops and so, suddenly, sourdough became “the thing”. By this time my culture was well established and I was using it for most of my yeasted baking. I’m sure that most cultures that were started during lockdown have long since passed away, but mine is going strong.

Anyway, a couple of months ago Kate (Tall Tales from Chiconia) mentioned that it is traditional to name sourdough cultures. I wasn’t feeling inspired, so I asked Mr Snail to come up with a suggestion. He though about it for a while, and finally proposed Homer… “because ‘D’oh!'”

And so, Homer is our sourdough starter. This meant that when we passed a portion on to a friend, it was naturally named Bart. Apparently Bart too is still going strong.

Anyway, in recent months I have become a little more adventurous with Homer and was delighted to discover what beautiful sweet, enriched dough it is possible to make. I found a recipe for cinnamon rolls that I adapted slightly to make apple Chelsea buns, and it was a triumph… better than my previous attempts made using commercial yeast.

The filling is grated apple with the juice squeezed out through a cloth, then mixed with melted butter, cinnamon and brown sugar. The glaze was made from the apple juice mixed with a bit of sugar (rather than the traditional milk and sugar mix), Although the dough is sweet, it actually doesn’t contain too much sugar, so the result is not sickly, especially if the apples are a bit sharp.

Homer is also now our go-to source of yeast for all bread-making and the packet of commercial yeast is languishing in the fridge, being used only occasionally because I feel I should use it up.

Please plesiosaur me

When you sew your own clothes you are removed from the constraints of fashion and other people’s ideas of what you should wear. Admittedly, it’s not always possible to find exactly the fabric you have in mind or a pattern that’s exactly the right design, but if you keep your eyes open, lovely and inspiring fabrics do crop up, and as you get more experienced, patterns can be adapted. Sometimes, however, you fall in love with a fabric and you find just the right pattern, and you can make an item of clothing that you would simply never find in a high street store.

Currently, the world needs to smile more, and this dress is certainly making me do that at the moment:

The pattern is Indigo from Tilly and the Buttons and the fabric is Jurassic Sea by Lewis and Irene. My only slight criticism of the fabric design is that you can either have the pink plesiosaurs the right way up or the blue ones, but not both… I chose blue although I think this means the ammonites are actually upside down.

The pattern is great, although next time I make it I will move the bust darts as they are a bit low for me (I’ve already marked the pattern accordingly so I don’t forget). There is no zip and no buttons, making it a very straightforward piece of sewing and a garment that, I suspect, is going to be made many times in the future.

Months of yarny makes

Being trapped at home over the past few months has not inspired me to write much, but I have been busy making, so I thought I would share some of what I’ve been up to…

There’s been plenty of crochet and a bit of knitting. I finally got round to completing a coatigan in Jacob wool for my friend Kt. This latter project got held up whilst I awaited the arrival of some beautiful handmade toggles, plus I added some pockets , which the original pattern did not include. It has gone to it’s new home now and seems to be greatly appreciated.

I made a duffle bag – a kit from the lovely Little Box of Crochet, who I’ve taken out a subscription with to provide me with a parcel of cheerfulness and inspiration every two months. Although the pattern didn’t suggest it, I lined the bag, which I think will make it much more useable. It’s rather subtle bleached driftwood colors, so I chose a nice bright green lining to provide a startling contrast. I also made a poinsettia mandala, which uses a surface crochet technique that was new to me and can be used to produce lovely effects., Then there was a tiny Daisy-alike using a pattern from Toft. Finally, there has also been a bit of knitting in the form of a pair of socks which had been hanging around unfinished for months prior to all this staying at home business and which I finally got round to working on because I needed a portable project to take with me when I went on a mission of mercy that required a lot of waiting around.

I’ve also made some more Dorset buttons after my initial trials. First, a peacock brooch and then a variety of sizes to form a necklace. They are fun to make and I think many future projects are likely to incorporate them.

As the winter draws in and we’ll be spending even more time at home, I’m planning a big scrap yarn project plus I have plenty of lovely wool just waiting for inspiration to strike, so I don’t think I shall be short of more yarny creativity for a while yet.

Mend it Monday #15

There’s a bit of a pile of mending building up again, including the never-ending sock darning. However, today’s mend required a bit more care than simply brandishing a darning needle.

Mr Snail has a much-loved mug that he got when he contributed to crowd-funding a stage production of Aberystwyth Mon Amour in Aberystwyth a few years back… he’s also got an original script, but it’s the mug that’s the subject of this post. Sadly, a couple of months ago, there was an incident and the handle broke. Rather than add it to the growing collection of pen pots round the house, I decided a mend might be possible. I toyed with various options, but in the end I used Gorilla Glue combined with a cloth binding. I never trust a handle that’s just been glued and, indeed my first attempt without the binding just wouldn’t hold. So, I glued the surfaces that needed to be joined, and then I glued a “bandage” of strong cotton fabric in place. Once it was completely dry, I soaked some ribbon in diluted pva glue and bound this over the cotton fabric. A little more pva to ensure that the whole thing was waterproof and it was done.

We have lots of mugs and it has to be a special one to make it worth mending, but hopefully this will now last a good few more years.

ScrapHappy October 2020

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A new arrangement

Over the past couple of months I’ve been reorganising my work room, this included moving the big table so that it is adjacent to my sewing machine. Previously it was up a corner and lots of stuff had accumulated underneath, so the move meant that many things came to light that I hadn’t seen for ages… including a stash of fabric scraps from about 25 years ago! Combined with scraps from some recent makes and some rescued fabric from worn bedding and garments, I had a good selection for this month’s projects.

First, some new face coverings. Now masks are compulsory in indoor public places in Wales, I wanted to experiment with designs that would minimise fogging of glasses. I finally settled on a pleated version that tucks nicely under the chin and has a channel along the top in which to put a wire to bend over the nose. We experimented a bit and have found that an old-fashioned pipe-cleaner (I had an ancient bundle of them) does the trick. This particular design is such that the wire can easily be removed for washing. I made us three each. The lining is from old sheets/pillowcases and the outers are from various clothes I made over the years (apart from the snails).

I’ve also wanted to experiment with making more Japanese knot bags, so I returned to my original pattern, which I followed using some scraps. Now I’ve made it again, I have decided how I’d like to modify it to improve it slightly. Anyway, my latest creation has become the home to Mr Snail’s clean masks.

And finally, I made a few more gift bags. Having decided to give up wrapping paper completely, it’s useful to have bags in a variety of sizes for gift-giving. Since some of them end up in new homes (we reuse the ones here), It’s good to replenish my stock every so often. All the fabric, binding and ribbons were scraps (and there’s plenty left!).

-oOo-

I’ve been inspired to write this (and future) ScrapHappy posts by Kate,  Tall Tales from Chiconia. On the fifteenth of every month lots of folks often publish a ScrapHappy post, do check them out:

Kate (me!)Gun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancyAlysKerryClaireJean,
Joanne, Jon, HayleyDawnGwen, Connie, Bekki, PaulineSue L,
Sunny and Kjerstin

If you fancy joining, contact Kate and she’ll add you to the list. It would be lovely to see more non-sewing posts, but any use of scraps is welcome.

Mend it Monday #14

“If you can’t fix it, you don’t really own it”

Stientje v Veldhoven, Dutch Secretary of State for the Environment

Whilst I’ve managed some fairly small mends recently, the mend I want to share today was so big that it took two of us to complete and I didn’t have the energy left to write about it. So, over to Mr Snail for all the details (prepare yourself for the puns)…

https://writinghouse.wordpress.com/2020/09/28/mend-it-monday-the-sheds-too-wet-without-roof/

Do pop over to read it, there is a picture of me brandishing a tool!

A fruity post

Over the years I have become fastidious about bottling fruit, so that I have a supply all year round with which to make desserts and breakfasts. It all started with apples given to me by friends and family. With limited space in the freezer, I learned how to preserve the (free) bounty in jars. I progressed on to bought fruit – pineapple, peaches, nectarines, plums… available cheaply and in abundance for limited times of the year.

This year, however, we’ve tried to minimise our travelling (for quite some time we were only allowed to go out for essentials and then ideally only distances less than 5 miles) and so there were few opportunities to acquire exotic fruits (the place we get them from is local for a rural area but many more than five miles away). It’s probably been a good thing, though, because it has encouraged me to use what’s on the doorstep. So this year the jars are once more filled with apples, but there are also red currants (it was a spectacular year for them) and rhubarb. There are still some jars of plums and pineapple, but most of the produce came from our garden or the gardens of friends. I’m currently still working on the 2020 apple harvest and have yet to juice any of them, but the cupboard is looking nice and full, and it will certainly see us through many more months with relatively few food miles.

A little bit more ScrapHappy

Because I haven’t been writing very often, I have rather a lot of projects to share. I know that I’m likely to finish some more ScrapHappy things before October, so rather than end up with a queue of posts, I thought I’d share this now…

One of the projects at the Crochet Sanctuary last year was a cotton rug in a kit from Hoooked. The company produce yarn from recycled or reused materials, in this case Zpagetti – a “t-shirt yarn” made from selvedges and remnants. So, whilst the yarn was new to me, it was definitely scrappy. I managed to complete about half of the project during the sanctuary weekend, but it was then put to one side and I never got round to finishing it… until now.

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Zpagetti rug

I should note that the kits contain just one colour, but we did some swapsies during the sanctuary, and so I had a ball of dark blue for the edging.

Once the rug was completed, there was a bit of the yarn left over, so I made a doubly scrappy storage basket – perhaps I should use it to store even more scraps.

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A scrappy storage basket

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