ScrapHappy Solstice

Yes, I know that ScrapHappy is usually on the 15th of the month and that I’ve already done December’s, but I’ve been very busy with scraps recently and this one includes some solstice-specific makes, so here we are again.

As you may recall, Mr Snail and I do not celebrate Christmas, nor do we send Christmas presents. We do, however, celebrate the winter solstice because it marks that special point in the year when the days start to get longer… and that’s very important to us. I was delighted, therefore, when I came across the most beautiful book on exactly this theme… The Lightbringers. I wanted to share this with some of my friends, so bought a few copies to send as solstice presents to people I haven’t been able to meet up with this year and who I have missed very much.

So far, so not at all scrappy. But then, thinking about wrapping, I realised that I could make use of the old bathroom curtains (the new ones were a previous scrappy post)… they have suns and moons on them and seemed very appropriate. Over the years they had faded in a very patchy way, but this doesn’t really matter for present bags. Four gifts required four bags, and I had plenty of fabric. The ribbon was from a spool given to me in a collection of things that another crafter did not want, so I consider that scrappy too. The recipients should have opened their presents by now, so it’s safe to share.

With plenty of fabric and bag-making in mind, I decided to continue and make a bag to line the bucket (salvaged from something or other) we keep our Qwirkle tiles in. I’ve made it so that there’s a drawstring to hold it in place round the top of the bucket, and another to make a hole in the centre, allowing us to reach in to take tiles without being able to see them. This is turning out to be a very scrappy game, as the tile racks were one of Mr Snails recent scrappy creations.

I made an additional spare present bag with the remaining fabric and that was one whole curtain converted into useful things. I still have another one left, but inspiration has not yet struck… watch this space.

-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.

ScrapHappy December 2020

Thank goodness for ScrapHappy – without it I might never post!

As we continue with our enforced time at home, I realise how many items with potential to use in ScrapHappy projects there are about the place. Currently, in our living room, there is a big heap of yarn left over from past projects and I am trying to make use of at least some of it. The easiest and quickest thing to make is granny squares, so this past month I dug out all the double knitting (ish) wool that really is wool, or at least mostly wool. I seemed to have quite a lot of earthy tones and they came together quite quickly in a rather nice lap blanket. As a bonus, I was able to incorporate a few squares left over from the woolly dog bed I made a while ago. It didn’t reduce the heap as much as I had hoped, but every little helps.

And mention of the dog bed reminds me that I decided it finally needed a new cushion as the old one was not very nice and the stuffing was squashed almost flat. I dug through my fabric scraps and found an old roll end of some furnishing fabric. I knew I’d had it a long time, but I was a bit shocked to discover that it was actually marked with a date… 1985! About time I got round to using this particular scrap:

A cosy cushion for dogs

-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.

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.

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.

Dressy

I may not have been writing much, but I have been sewing. The plan to update my wardrobe is going well, and I have chosen to work as far as possible in natural fibres. I’ve made two dresses using a pattern from Anna Allen (the Demeter Dress), the first in a cotton and linen mix and the second in a wonderful bright pink linen. Both dresses are lovely to wear, especially in hot weather, and were simple to make, with brilliant instructions to follow.

After these, I decided to use a fabric remnant that I acquired last year. I modified the pattern that I made up in MayThe Avid Seamstress’ Raglan Dress – making the neckline a little lower and the skirt part a little more flared. This also gave me the opportunity to test out my new “invisible zipper” foot for my sewing machine, which turned out to be a dream to use and did indeed make the zip nearly invisible. This time I made the dress with short rather than 3/4 sleeves, because that was all the fabric I had available.

Now I’m on a roll with my dress-making, I plan to make several more, including some for winter and I have a few new patterns to try out. I have two more pieces of linen, some wool/viscose jersey and a number of pure wool fabrics (more on these in a forthcoming post), as well as some silk, so I have plenty to keep me busy for a while yet.

Biased

One of my plans for this year even before all the lockdown stuff happened was to do some more dress-making. I’m not a big buyer of clothes and in recent years many of my old favourites have got to the point where they are no longer wearable. Eventually fabric gets too thin to be repaired and has to be consigned to the rags.

Unfortunately, rather than being caught up in a whirl of creativity, I have found the lockdown stressful and draining, so haven’t done as much making as I would otherwise have achieved. However, I’ve now completed a second dress (first one here). I’m quite pleased with the end product, but it turned into something of a labour of love. I’ve done lots of dressmaking over the years, so am not too intimidated by a more challenging pattern, but it’s nice sometimes to go for a quick and easy make, which is what I thought I would do in this case. I selected a slightly unusual pattern that was cut in a single piece on the bias, so that it only had a single long seam up the back and two short seams at the shoulders. I had assumed that the neck and arm holes would be faced, but when the pattern said a single piece of fabric, that’s exactly what it meant. The suggestion was that all the edges were left raw, with just a row of stitches to stop them fraying – no hems, no facings, no binding. Since I had bought a piece of linen with which to make this dress, and since it does fray rather a lot, I was not prepared to make a garment that I feared would simply unravel. There was a bit of a throw-away line in the pattern suggesting that you could hem or bind if you wanted to, but that was it.

Anyway, not deterred, I made a toile, prototyped some pockets (like the ones on my Beatrice aprons) and ordered some bias binding. What I had completely forgotten to do was buy some thread that matched the fabric, and with no local sewing shops open and long delays on orders from my preferred online shops, I had to bite the bullet and do some top-stitching in the same colour as the binding (which I did have thread for). Once I looked at the pattern in detail, it turned out that some piecing together was required if the dress was to be possible in my size and in the width required:

Well, I would rather have known to buy wider fabric than to have to do this. Fortunately, my toile had revealed that I wanted the dress shorter than the pattern, so I was able to avoid the joining.

I cut the fabric, stabilised the edges (single row of stitches on the curves and round the bottom and overlocking the straight back and shoulder edges) and attached the pockets before joining any of the seams. I bound the top of the pockets, carefully stitched them on with my contrasting thread, noticed that I’d attached one the wrong way out (the one in the picture), removed it and restitched it, then bound the neck. Then I took hours and hours to bind the arm holes, including several attempts that had to be taken out, because the acute angle at the bottom was so challenging. In the end I had to tack the binding in place to get it anything close to neat, and even now it’s a long way from perfect. The neck was easy to bind and the closure is simply a button and loop. The bottom I hemmed using the contrasting thread.

I’m happy enough with the final version and it’s comfortable to wear, but I feel that the pattern description was incredibly misleading. Still, I love the fabric, the shape of the dress and the drape resulting from the bias cut. If I make it again, I’ll simply add seam allowances and line the bodice part, then top-stitch, which would be a very quick make. Oh well, you live and learn.

Oh, sheet!

Over the years you will have gathered that I find it almost impossible to throw things away that “might be useful”. This means that our house is full of stuff, and that can be challenge sometimes. However, there are occasions when a particular item turns out to be exactly what I need… which is just what happened recently.

A while back, when one of our large fitted cotton sheets wore through, I laundered it and put it in my fabric stash thinking that the more robust parts would be useful for lining bags, or something. This meant that when I bought a dress pattern that I was unsure about, I had plenty of old sheet to make a toile (an early attempt at a pattern in cheap fabric) and play about with length and pocket placement before cutting into the linen I had bought for the final version.

This gave me the confidence to cut my bought fabric, knowing that the final dress would actually fit. It’s not finished yet, but I’m making progress.

Because of the size of the sheet, even once the dress was cut out, there was still lots of fabric left, which turned out to be a good job. Recently Mr Snail’s hayfever has been extremely bad, and he has been using handkerchiefs very rapidly, so I shouldn’t have been surprised this morning when he announced that there were no more clean ones in the drawer. Remembering Kate’s recent post and comments on an earlier post of mine about making handkerchiefs out of old sheets/pillowcases, I set to work. I didn’t worry too much about exact sizes, although I aimed for about 35-38 cm square. If it hadn’t been an emergency, I would have hemmed them, but for speed, I overlocked the edges. This means they are a bit scratchy, but better than nothing. And the result, in less than an hour, was 11 large hankies.

Ignoring the fact that they could do with ironing, I’m rather pleased with myself.

Play time

Scrabble and chocolate mousse

Since we can’t go out to play at the moment, I have been finding some indoor things to play with. As well as regular evening games of Scrabble and Jenga in the limery, I’ve been playing in the sewing room. I have taken the opportunity to make something that I’ve wanted to try for a while and to sew with a new material.

Both my projects resulted from not being able to go to Wonderwool this year as it was cancelled. I had a trip planned with friends and had even bought the tickets. Instead, there was an online event and the organisers invited the exhibitors to contribute links to their shops . I don’t really need any more yarn (still working my way through my stash), but I wanted to support some of the small businesses who are currently unable to trade. I found a lovely little fabric shop – Black Mountain Fabrics – that does not normally trade online and, after several messages backwards and forwards, selected two kits that interested me.

First, a Japanese knot bag. I keep seeing pictures of these and thinking that the construction is interesting. So, what better way to have a go than with a kit? I told the lovely lady who owns the shop what sort of colours I’d like and she sent me photos of fabrics to choose from. I was smitten by some with peacock feathers and we combined it with a teal lining. It was a quick and simple make and I think I’m likely to make more of these – they would be ideal for little gifts and only require the fabric – no interfacing, clasps, zips or drawstrings.

Second, a little kit that included cork fabric. I have been fascinated by the idea of cork for bag-making for a while, but wanted something simple to experiment with. This bag has a simple construction and the most wonderful octopus lining. The handle was easy to fit and it was another quick make. I was interested to discover how flexible the cork is and how beautifully it sewed (at least on my sewing machine). I would certainly consider using it for other bag-making projects.

I know that several friends have found their creativity lacking during this period of enforced confinement, whilst some people are flourishing. Have you been playing with new materials or media recently? Or have you simply wanted to crawl under the duvet and not come out?

All dressed up and nowhere to go

No mending this Monday, so I thought I’d share a make instead.

Last autumn, when we could travel and see friends in the same room, rather than only electronically, I went to London. The main purpose was lunch with an old friend, but I slotted in a bit of fabric shopping and bought a lovely piece of Japanese cotton. I chose it to go with a specific dress pattern and intended to make it almost straight away. However, the need for a cotton dress in the winter is limited and so other projects took precedence. Now, however, it’s spring and the time was right for this piece of sewing.

It’s a simple garment, with raglan sleeves and a zip at the back. The idea was to choose a fabric that would take centre stage. It turned out to be a fairly simple make, although I did have to adjust the shoulder darts a little and may revisit them, as I think the shaping could be better.

So, I give you the Raglan dress (a pattern from the Avid Seamstress):

Now, I just need to be allowed out in order to show it off.

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