ScrapHappy January 2023

You may be starting to think that my entire life is taken up with crocheting bollard covers from scrap, but actually I am finding time for a little other scrappy action. Whilst the shop is closed (we don’t reopen until 25 January), I’ve been sorting through boxes of scraps that have been passed on to me by various people and these are going to be used in some of our courses this year.

My own scrappy creations have extended to sashiko and boro. I love the simplicity of the concept – decorative running stitches – and the practicality of the technique – layering and stitching for strength and insulation. For the sashiko, I’ve started off with some templates to get me going on some traditional designs, but am looking forward to exploring other ideas from the various books I have and also doing some free-form stitching. The straight lines of running stitches associated with boro (which is all about repair and using scraps) are a great way to reinforce and mend. Here are some of my practice bits:

As you can see, I’m playing about with pieces of scrap fabric on an old cloth shopping bag that is long past its best. The dark piece in the middle is a scrap from some old jeans (part of which was used in a past scraphappy post in combination with the cover from a discarded body board) and the cream fabric is mill scraps that I bought over 30 years ago!

I started experimenting with embroidery floss and a household sewing needle. I soon found that my needle was too short and too flexible, so I’m now using proper Japanese sashiko needles (and stocking these in the shop). They are very sharp, have a large eye and don’t flex, making it very much easier to get your stitches even (unlike mine in the boro you can see in the middle of the three pieces, which was done using a crewel needle). I’m also now using proper Japanese sashiko thread, which is very strong and smooth and is much easier to draw through the layers of fabric (again, I now stock this in the shop). The plan is that my bag will form a sampler with various traditional and non-traditional designs and, no doubt, demonstrating my improved stitching!


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 folk often publish a ScrapHappy post, do check them out:

Kate,  Gun, Eva,  Sue, Lynda, Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Tracy, Jill, JanMoira, SandraChrisAlys, ClaireJeanJon, DawnJuleGwen, Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue LVera, NanetteAnn, Dawn 2, Carol, Preeti, DebbieroseNóilin and Viv

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.

ScrapHappy July 2021

Plans to write during the past month did not materialise as a result of trips to my mum and to attend a family funeral. All this meant that most of my making for the past weeks has had to be portable, with little opportunity for rummaging through scraps looking for inspiration. However, in my absence, Mr Snail did come across an unspeakable object that was just crying out to be turned into something else. He found this in next-door’s rubbish* after they’d had a family with children visiting:

I hardly know where to begin with my assessment of what’s wrong with this thing… the waste of resources, it’s disposable nature, the “It’s girl surf stuff” slogan, the image of the “girl”, the pink for girls design… I won’t go on. Suffice to say that Mr Snail thought that, whatever its faults, it shouldn’t be going straight to landfill after a few uses. To begin with, he thought it was still functional, but upon inspection, it turned out that the polystyrene inside was broken, so it couldn’t be used for it’s original purpose. He put it to one side for me to look at upon my return home.

I have to say that initially I was not inspired… revolted might have been a better description of my reaction. However, I decided that it might make a good scrap project and so I took it apart. I kept all the fabric and plastic bits, but I did send the polystyrene for recycling.

I specifically wanted a project that would allow me to disguise that slogan. At first I thought that I might be able to use all the bits , but then I decided to focus on the fabric for this ScrapHappy. And so, in combination with a very old, ripped pair of jeans, I created this rather jolly shopping bag. I managed to combine fabric so that even some of the worn parts of the jeans could be used and I “lost” the slogan in the handles:

The webbing, plastic washers, extra bits of fabric and velcro have gone into the scrap stash and we now have a rather jolly bag that’s bright and cheery, but certainly not reinforcing the pink for girls stereotype. I am very pleased with this particular scrappy transformation.


* I should point out that he doesn’t normally rifle through other people’s rubbish, it’s just that he promised to put it out for them as there was no one home on collection day.

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 folk s often publish a ScrapHappy post, do check them out:

KateGun, EvaSue, Lynn, Lynda, Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan (me), Moira, Sandra, Chris, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean, Jon, HayleyDawn, Gwen, Bekki, Sue L, Sunny, Kjerstin, Vera, Nanette, Ann, Dawn 2 , Bear, Carol, Noreen, Preeti and Edith

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.

ScrapHappy Update

I simply can’t wait until next month to share my completed February ScrapHappy project with you. I used a pattern from etsy called the Carina Satchel and, apart from a few places where I scratched my head a bit, it all went quite smoothly. I took Kate‘s advice and used a denim/jeans needle and didn’t break a single one – thank you for that tip. In addition, I worked almost entirely using the walking foot on my sewing machine, which coped well with multiple layers and ‘sticky’ vinyl.

In the end I used a few new things: the hardware (a magnetic clasp, two D-rings, a slider and two swivel clips), some waistband interfacing (to make sure the strap was nice and tidy) and a small amount of ready-made piping (which I could have made myself, but decided to buy). Working with vinyl meant that the bag mostly couldn’t be pinned, because pins leave holes in the plastic, so I used the sewing clips that I’d bought specifically to use for bag-making. Of course these are going to be used time and again. All the fabric and most of the interfacing as well as the fleece, which helps to give structure, were scraps.

And here it is completed:

Now, I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t look at that and think ‘scrap’. I’m now on the look out for other old vinyl tablecloths, although I have lots more of that one to play with still.

ScrapHappy February 2019

This month’s ScrapHappy is very much a work in progress. Once I got used to the new/old sewing machine, I gave some thought to what I would like to make and the answer (as you have seen here and here) was bags. As a complete beginner with bags, I started off by buying a couple of kits, but now those are finished, I want to progress on to using up some of my old fabric, much of it left over from long-completed projects. However, I was also interested in working with charity shop finds. When I was trawling Aberystwyth, unsuccessfully as it turned out, for old handbags to cannibalise, I came across a very large vinyl-coated cotton tablecloth and thought that it might be a cheap and useful source of waterproof fabric. A bit of research later and I settled on using some of it to make a satchel (designed specifically with this sort of fabric in mind). However, I wanted this to be a scrappy project, so I found a nightdress that I made but hated and had only worn a couple of times, to use for the lining and some left-overs from my gardening apron for the strap and handle. Not only that, but I also found some very tatty, but salvageable interfacing to use, as well as part of a fleece blanket that my mum gave me after she had used some of it to make soft toys, but then decided that it wasn’t ideal.

So, all the main bits and bobs are scraps (or scrapped!):


Old tablecloth (hearts), old nighty (spots), fleece blanket scraps (cream) and scraps left over from my gardening apron (dark)

I have had to buy some hardware, but I don’t mind a few new things in such a scrappy project:

IMGP6426 (2)

the new bits

So, now it’s all cut out, I’m ready to sew… wish me luck!


I’ve been inspired to write this (and future) ScrapHappy posts by Kate, who provides links to other (mostly sewing) ScrapHappy bloggers at Tall Tales from Chiconia on the fifteenth of every month… do check them out.

I jest!

It’s very pleasing to start the week with a successfully completed project. I put my jester work bag through the washing machine again on Saturday (60ºC long wash, along with a pair of jeans and my swimming towel to provide some effective agitation) and it felted beautifully:

It’s worth remembering that this was knitted, so it started life looking like this:


Jester work bag pieces pre-felting

Once it was felted, I draped in over a jam kettle to dry into approximately the right shape:

And then, all that remained this morning was to attach the bells to complete the jester theme:

And this is why it’s a work bag not a handbag (turn your speakers on):

So, thank you Sheepfold for a lovely kit… British wool, fun to make, fabulous colours.


Not just grannies

I spent yesterday teaching a lovely group of ladies how to crochet – a day of hooks, granny squares, tea and cake. My own blanket for Sixty Million Trebles grew a bit during the day and I started several more small squares, which will all eventually become a second blanket for SMT.

The day was a delight in its own right, but it also acted as a catalyst for me to complete a long unfinished project… something I wanted to show new crocheters to demonstrate that crochet is so much more than granny squares.

Many moons ago I knitted some socks for Mr Stitch (whose work also featured in last week’s Three Things Thursday) in exchange for him making me a leather strap and base for a bag. My intention was to make a felt bag that would hold an A4 folder or two and that I could use when I was teaching. It took me ages to get round to doing the felting, and I really wasn’t satisfied with my creation, so I put it all to one side and pondered how to make the thing that I envisaged. And I pondered and pondered and then I gave up academic teaching and no longer wanted ‘that’ bag. Eventually, I settled on crocheting the bag rather than felting it and decided to use up  lots of scraps of natural-coloured pure wool. I loved doing the crochet and was very happy with the end result, but once more the project stalled; this time because of my lack of enthusiasm for sewing. Finally I got hold of some Buckram to stiffen it (given to me by someone who had it going spare) and made a lining out of some strong cotton fabric scraps… then I decided that the way I had constructed the lining wasn’t ideal… and once more I ground to a halt. After I while I converted the first attempt at the lining into a useful drawstring bag in which to keep my passata maker, and then I awaited inspiration. This eventually struck – I could suddenly see the best structure. I cut out the fabric (more scrap heavy duty cotton). The final hand stitching took hours and hours – attaching the leather pieces required much patience as I had to line up the external and internal pieces on either side of the crochet and liner and stitch through all the layers. The leather had already been punched, but it was still a fiddly and difficult job. And it took me several weeks to complete, finally finished on Saturday afternoon, just in time to be able to show it off to my learners on Sunday. So, here it is… hopefully built to last!

All the components except the leather pieces were scraps and even the little metal feet on the base of the bag were reclaimed.

Building stock

I just thought you might like a quick preview of one design of bag that I’m making for sale. I’m planning to open an etsy shop in the autumn, so I’m spending some of my time now building up stock… Anne tells me that the recommended number of items is 100!  I’m unlikely to reach that heady height, but I see she currently has 44 items in her lovely etsy shop so she’s nearly halfway there.

Anyway, I thought some especially eye-catching items would be good, so I came up with this idea:

I think it’s likely to grab attention. I love the bling string bags, but they don’t draw the eye so much in a photograph. What do you think?

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