ScrapHappy September 2021

Unloved

A couple of weeks ago whilst sorting through my winter woollies, I came across a long forgotten item of clothing – a sort of woven cotton fisherman’s smock, but with a scoop neck and without the useful pockets. I remembered that I had stopped wearing it because it had a small stain on the front that I had been unable to remove and so I had put it to one side whilst I decided what to do with it.

Time, I thought, to see whether I could revive it.

I started by running it through the washing machine with a small amount of laundry liquid, a couple of teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda and some white vinegar. I dried it in strong sunshine on the washing line and was surprised to discover that I simply could not find the stain afterwards. However, I felt that the garment could be significantly improved by the addition of pockets. I wanted something with plenty of capacity… no point in tiny pockets! So I rummaged through my scraps, dismissed several fabrics because the top is an odd pinky-purple colour that seems to clash with lots of things, before settling on some pieces left over from a sewing project that Mr Snail is currently working on (well, the pieces are cut out – sewing is yet to begin).

I started by cutting a rectangle that would fit across the front of the top, but I decided that it would be too floppy on it’s own so I interfaced it and cut a second piece for lining. Then combined the layers and attached the resulting piece, stitching round the edge, folding the lower edge (left without interfacing or lining, so it wasn’t too bulky) around the bottom of the garment, and stitching up the middle of the pocket to hold it in place and ensure it didn’t gape and allow things to fall out. It looked a bit like an afterthought, so I added some binding round the cuffs. After washing it again, I decided it looked a bit unbalanced, so I also added binding round the neck too.

I think it’s now a much more useful item of clothing, plus if I get any more stains on it, I can simply do a bit of embroidery over them based on one of the motifs on the pocket. It feels like I have a brand new garment – all from the addition of some scraps.

-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 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, Edith and Jule

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 #18

OK, I know it’s not Monday, but I was really busy yesterday and didn’t have time to write, so today it’s Mend-It Monday on Tuesday. In recent months my mending has been ticking over, with objects repaired as necessary, but it’s a subject that I have been thinking about more and more. The culture of consumerism is so bad for the planet – the more we buy, the more we end up throwing away, or simply not using, and it can’t go on… our resources are not limitless. Every time any item is manufactured, it uses some sort of materials, and even if those are repurposed or recycled, there is still energy involved. And what about the hidden resources? How much water does it take to make an item? And what about the waste during manufacturing? And all this before we even start to think about the conditions of the workers, which can be abysmal, especially when it comes to the cheap goods we have come to expect to see in our shops.

Mending box

So, mending is a big step in the right direction – extend the useful life of an object and you buy new stuff less often, so there is an easing of demand for the world’s resources. But this does sound like a bit of a chore and I think that it is also important to see mending in a positive light rather than simply as something “worthy”. I particularly like mending items that I have made… this is how I have come round from my dislike of darning to loving it: because I can keep wearing all those socks that I put so many hours into making in the first place. Indeed, extending the life of something I really love wearing or using is a particular source of happiness for me. I know that eventually I will have to give up on certain much-loved garments, but it’s so good to be able to keep using them for long after “normal” people would have sent them to landfill.

A skillful invisible mend is an amazing thing and something that I do not excel at, but visible mends are great fun and also highlight to others the possibilities. Fortunately, visible mending is acceptable, and even trendy, these days. Over the years I’ve got good at darning socks and have had a bash at boro, but I’ve been looking to extend my range of skills and have, therefore recently invested in some new books and equipment. I’m particularly excited by the arrival just this morning of a “Speedweve”: a tiny loom to assist with mending all sorts of fabric, including (I hope) some of the things that I’ve struggled with in the past. I’ve also treated myself to a Japanese leather palm thimble, some sashiko needles, long darning needles and sashiko thread (which I want to compare to the embroidery thread I have been using for boro).

So, today I don’t have any completed mends to display, but hopefully I’ll soon be showing off the results of playing with my tiny loom and practising my Japanese stitching.

Inappropriate makes

We’ve been having a heatwave. Nothing compared to what you dwellers of the tropics have, but still hot for us temperate flowers here in Wales. It’s too hot to walk the dogs and too hot to do much gardening, so we must either sit still outdoors or occupy ourselves inside. Since my creativity seems to have returned, I have been doing the latter, but making a couple of things that really don’t suit the weather.

First, some sewing… I happened to have already cut out the pieces for a coatigan from a lovely boiled wool fabric. This garment is intended for chilly autumn days (or possibly chilly August days, considering the unpredictability of the weather). My favourite, long, 30+-year-old cardigan is now so disreputable that I can’t wear it in company, so this is intended as a replacement. It should do for outdoors and indoors. The pattern is the “Jessie Coatigan” from Sew Over It. I found the instructions rather difficult to follow in places, so I ignored them and did my own thing and it seems to have worked ok. Whilst the machine sewing has been fine in the heat, there’s still the hem and cuffs to hand-stitch, but it’s too warm to have it in my lap, so the finishing will have to wait until next week. If it turns out to be comfy I may make a second one with patch rather than in-seam pockets because I think these are better for hankies, crochet hooks, a Bluetooth speaker and all the other bits and bobs I find myself transporting around the house.

Then, I have to have some knitting or crochet on the go… and what better project to start on during a heatwave than a cosy blanket? I’ve had the yarn for this sitting around for years and finally decided to get started with it. It came as a kit and was supposed to be knitted, but I didn’t want to conform, so settled on a wavy crochet pattern. I’ve been at it for exactly a week and I’ve used more than half the yarn so it won’t be log before it’s finished… just in time for the weather to get cooler. As a point of interest, it’s Colinette yarn – they used to be based in Wales near Welshpool, but closed down a while back and have now re-opened in Wansford, near Peterborough.

Although not much work is happening in the garden in this gloroious weather, I have managed to harvest the shallots and they are ripening and drying in the sun, and we finally have courgettes after a very slow start to the season. There are couple of lemons that are nearly ready too, but sadly the lettuce hates this weather, so thank goodness for oriental leaves.

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.

-oOo-

* 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 April 2021

It’s a year since I made my first face masks (featured in the April 2020 ScrapHappy post), and over the months we’ve learned lots about wearing them and how they could be improved. So, we have progressed from shaped ones, to pleated ones with nose wires and finally to a combined version – pleated with a curved top and wire to assist with wearing them with glasses. They are a great ScrapHappy make since they don’t require a lot of fabric. Our latest ones co-ordinate with various garments I’ve made over recent months and the inner is some lovely soft cotton from a pillowcase that had started to disintegrate, but which still had lots of salvageable material. As always, I use iron-on interfacing to provide a third layer giving extra filtering capacity. This latest lot were supervised by Daisy and Mr Snail agree to model his co-ordinated ensemble as long as he could shamelessly show off one of the books he’s written and which just happens to match the outfit!.

-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:

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 , Nancy, 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.

Cutting my cloth

Some time last year – I forget when – I bought some wool fabric. It wasn’t your run-of-the-mill stuff, it was deadstock; this means it was left over from a textile or garment making factory. Deadstock has become big business and there are clothing brands that base their eco-credentials on using deadstock. I’m not convinced about this because if they have access to loads of this cheap fabric, the textile manufacturer must surely have factored selling it into their production run calculations so it’s not really waste. However, small quantities that are simply left over after garment runs must exist and seem like an interesting way to access new fabric. In fact, some deadstock is old and must have been hanging around in a warehouse for years. Whatever its origin, deadstock is usually marketed on the basis that you are saving it from going to landfill, but I’m not entirely convinced how “green” it really is. Anyway, that debate aside, I did buy a couple of pieces – one of which was a two metres or so and was all the company had available so it clearly was, if nothing else, a remnant.

Of course, buying a remnant means that you have to chose to make something that you have enough fabric for. I had something in mind for this particular piece of fabric, but according to the pattern, not enough. Well, not quite anyway. Not deterred, we laid it out and Mr Snail and I played around until we got it to fit, photographing it along the way so that we didn’t forget where everything went.

And that was the most difficult bit. After that, the construction and sewing was easy. It is an unlined jacket, but all the seams are bound, so that it’s very tidy inside.

In fact, this was a bit of a test piece because I’d like to make a waterproof version. I find it very difficult to get jackets to fit me. They tend to be straight up and down rather than shaped, so it they they fit my hips, they tend to be enormous across the shoulders. The joy of this particular jacket (The Hove Jacket by In The Folds) is that it has pleats at the top of the back, thus creating an ideal shape for someone like me. I plan to make version #2 (probably) in a Flax/Cotton dry oilskin, with cotton facings… I just need to work out how much fabric I need to buy, so we’ll be back to laying out pieces on the floor again because the pattern layout only takes account of using a single type of fabric, not combining two.

Ear Ear, It’s ScrapHappy March 2021

Terriers have little perky ears that stay out of the way and remain, generally, clean and dry. Spaniels, on the other had, have huge ears that get into everything – wet grass, brambles, drinking water, their dinner… you get the picture. And one of the problems with having such big ears is the large surface area leads to a lot of heat loss when they get wet and cold. Not only that, they get dirty and, if not kept clean and dry inside, can be prone to fungal infections.

Daisy loves to snuffle about in the long grass when we are out for walks, so requires very careful ear drying (as well as everything else) when we get home from a wet excursion. I have previously experimented with a spaniel hood made from the sleeve of an old waterproof jacket, but sadly, she seems to be able to get her ears out of it with ease. The answer, of course, is something elasticated. So, I present the Spaniel Snood:

It is made from a scrap of fabric from a broken umbrella, given to me a while ago by my friend Sue A. (who is a great maker from scraps). It’s just a tube with elastic at both ends to hold it in place. Her ears stay clean and fairly dry (it turned out not to be quite as waterproof as expected) and there is a lot less drying required when we return from our walkies.

-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:

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 , Nancy, Bear, Carol and Noreen

Fancy Pants

Mr Snail has always been a fan of jeans – in the past that’s what he wore pretty much all the time. However, spending lots of time in the house, his life is mostly spent in comfy “sweatpants” (although he never wears these to go out, even to walk the dogs). But as the warmer days arrive, fleecy fabric is not the thing, and he’s reluctant to return to wearing jeans 24/7. Not long ago, he spotted some fabric in my stash that he really liked and asked if it could be made into some lightweight comfy trousers. After some discussion, we settled on the Eastwood Pajamas pattern from Thread Theory – well, they call them “pajamas”, but actually there are enough options to make them into very acceptable elasticated trousers. I love the pattern – it was simple and well-drafted. The only men’s clothes I have made before are waistcoats, so I was quite pleased with the results.

We were back to the limery for this photoshoot and, as you can see, it all got a bit much towards the end…

Anyway, after a few wears, they have been deemed successful and a couple more pairs are in the pipeline for all those glorious summer days. He even says that he thinks they are good enough to wear in public. Oh, and he says he expects the offers for male modelling to come flooding in now…

Out!

We have been in our latest lockdown for over 10 weeks now. It’s less stressful than it used to be and people have got used to wearing masks when they go shopping. We certainly have a “new normal”, but it can be terribly depressing and it’s easy to feel glum and lack motivation. So, when there is an opportunity to have a change of scenery, it needs to be grabbed with both hands. And that’s why I ended up in Aberystwyth yesterday… Mr Snail had an appointment with the optician and the sun was shining, so I had a trip out. I did do a little bit of food shopping, but we also had a walk on the prom which was quite busy. It feels like quite an adventure these days.

However, one of the best bits was that I was able to get Mr Snail to take a few photos of me in my new outfit, without the backdrop being the curtain over the front door or the contents of the limery. The Southern Pines crochet sweater you have seen before on Mimi, but here it is on me, complete with my adapted version of The Brumby Skirt by Megan Nielsen. I didn’t have quite enough fabric as specified in the pattern, but with a little jiggery-pokery I managed to cut it out at the length that I wanted. There wasn’t enough to pattern-match, but I cut the front as a single panel rather than two, so this didn’t matter and I can live with it not matching at the back. One of the best things about the design is that it has lovely big pockets. Hard as I tried I couldn’t pattern-match even the small exposed part of the scooped out section of these. They are not visible on the picture to the left, but as you can see below I managed to get them looking ok. The other thing that I changed about the pattern was the back zip. The original uses an exposed chunky metal zip as a feature, but I didn’t fancy this, so I inserted an invisible zip (not quite as invisible as intended, but that’s ok), which is much more in keeping with the cotton fabric I used… the fabric design, by the way, is called “Crop Circles” – I love it. I found a rather modern-looking vintage mother of pearl button in my button box which seemed to match the general theme. I really like the result and I will certainly be using the pattern again.

I suspect that without the excursion I probably wouldn’t have got round to photographs for a while. Now I think about it, I’m sure that a lack of inspiring photographs is one of the reasons I haven’t been blogging so much recently.

Making: no waste

One of the things that irks me about making my own clothes is the fact that I often end up with lots of scraps that I can’t bear to throw away. There are sewing patterns for clothes specifically designed to use every bit of fabric, but I have not yet come across one that I’m burning to make. Knitting and crochet also leave waste yarn, although I tend to be better at using this up than I am with fabric. However, some approaches lend themselves to waste minimisation, for example working top down when you are crocheting or knitting. Starting at the bottom of a garment means that you have to be sure you have enough yarn to finish it – you can’t decide that you can stop 10 rows from the end or that it doesn’t matter if you only have one and a half sleeves. On the other hand, if you work from the top down, you can do all the fiddly bits with the neckline and armholes, plus the sleeves (to your desired length) before you get on with the body. Then, you can make the body as long as your yarn lasts. And if there isn’t enough for it to be long enough for your requirements, you can always add a band in a contrasting colour at the bottom and look like it was intended.

I’m pleased to say that the top-down approach worked perfectly with the Southern Pines jumper that I have just finished. I completed to well below the armholes first, added the sleeves and worked the neck border before finally moving on the the lower body. With some careful tension adjustment in the last round, I was able to get to the end with just a few centimetres of yarn to spare. The pattern is worked so that there are no seams, so the only finishing that is required is working in the ends… all that was left as waste was these few ends.

But my waste-free crafting didn’t end there. I have been waking up recently with a stiff neck and I think at least part of the problem is my pillows, which have got rather flattened over the years. I have read that wool-stuffed pillows are very good – lots of support and with natural anti-dust mite properties) and I have a large bag of wool stuffing. I rummaged around for some suitable fabric and came across a remnant that originated from the same place as the patterned stuff I used to make the dog bed inner a couple of months ago (which means I’ve had it since the mid-1980s). A bit of measuring and I discovered that there was exactly the right about to make two pillows, and not a centimetre of fabric left over. Actually, I’ve only made one so far, because I want to sleep on it and decide how comfortable it is, and whether it’s got the right amount of stuffing in it. I’ll make the second once I know… and there will not have been any waste.

I quite enjoy using scraps, but it really is nice to complete some projects that are scrap-free.

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