Sunday, 7 May 2017

Japanese Pinwheel Patchwork Cushion

 This week I wanted to make a new cushion cover as one of them was looking a bit tired, I decided I would do a patchwork pattern that I have done before and is a favourite.  There is also the bonus that I had already worked out the square sizes for this cushion pad the last time I made it.

It is quite fabric greedy as you are folding the pieces in half and laying them over each other but it gives a really nice result.  This is also a good opportunity to use up all those old shirts as they look so much more interesting when folded together like this.

I started by cutting out my 16 bigger squares which form the backing of your block from a charity shop duvet cover.  Then I cut the first of my smaller squares out of an old shirt, fold in half and pin on.

Then I had to decide which other fabrics to use with it, this involved lots of getting bits out of bags and holding it against it.  I eventually decided on my three other fabrics and repeated the process the whole way around the square.  So it is a lot of squares for one side of a cushion.

Then you just sew them all together as you would usual patchwork squares, I kept mine all facing the same way this time, the last time I made this design I turned each square one turn to vary the pattern.

I love the colour combination this time and this cushion is my new favourite, it was worth the time mulling over the fabric to use.  It is made from the duvet fabric, two fabrics from old shirts (the red striped and the blue) green craft cotton and grey cotton from an old project.


I made a vent and put the zip on the back part the way down so as not to spoil the sharp corners of the cushion as the seams are bulky enough.  The back of the cushion is the red fabric.

Now that is one finished I want to make more but I really ought to do another style, I just need to find another pattern I like as much. We have family for dinner today so I probably won't get chance later but I can browse ideas this evening.

Up very early with the dogs this morning and read the whole book 'Think Small' by Owain Service and Rory Gallagher before my husband got up.  It was quite interesting detailing how we should all be chunking out goals into small steps as we are often put off by the enormity of what we want to achieve.  Obviously it said a lot more than that but that was the basic idea.


Friday, 21 April 2017

Decorating for Free and Odd Jobs

I've been quite busy this week without actually going very far, I decided that I wanted to repair and paint my oldest son's bedroom ceiling but then of course I had to paint the whole room.  Fortunately we always put away any odds and ends of paint in the garage so I had the white paint for the ceiling and some masking tape.  I also had the two colours left that I originally did his room in a couple of years ago, a mint green and a sunrise (opposite walls).

As I was on holiday from work I decorated over a few days, I did the ceiling one day and coving, the orange walls the next and the green walls today.  I also scrubbed down all the fitted wardrobes, the window surround was done last week.  I always try to something like this when I am off work, last holiday I rubbed down the living room and dining room floors and varnished them. This ensures I don't have to pay anyone to do jobs I am quite capable of doing myself and by breaking them down they don't feel as daunting.

Earlier in the week a neighbour also gave us  load of purple slate that he wanted he rid of because he had taken all he wanted out of the bag. This was great as we have that on our garden but it is wearing thin. (You know picking up after dogs, you always get a bit of slate with it!)  So I carried that around the back bucket by bucket as the wheel barrow won't fit through  the gate.  I'm really pleased as we were going to buy some, he wouldn't take anything for it either.  Earlier this year we gave him some vintage computer games that were my brothers a big box and a bag full and he was really pleased with those so nice gestures do flow around people.

Back to the decorating and I was going to say that when I decorated youngest son's bedroom I had some white paint left and I just bought some tester pots in a bold blue and made a really good shade of blue for his room, not free but nearly.  However people always have odd tins of paint left so if you are in need I am sure a few relatives may have odd leftovers of white left that they may be happy for you to take and if there is a colour in there why not experiment?   Paint is such a difficult thing to dispose of and not great for the environment so it is really for the best that we use every last drop once it has been manufactured.

Anyway after the DIY not a lot of sewing going on this week.  I did resize the charity shop dress that I bought...
I altered the shoulder by this much.

I have taken it in by this much at the sides but forgot to take a picture as I wore it Easter Sunday straight after I fixed it.

I made a new little coaster as my youngest dog keeps eating them as this is apparently a really fun game, quick chase me I have your coaster!
A bit of elephant fabric there for binding, remember I use every bit.


Oh and a birthday card, recycled bits of course.  Fabric from previous projects, the ribbon from inside a blouse (you know those annoying hanger tabs at the shoulder) button from an old shirt and recycled envelope and newspaper.  It has a green insert to write on.

Other things I have been up to this week; I have just finished 'Miracles' by C.S. Lewis, as  a friend of mine said he is hard going. I enjoyed it but I feel I will need to review it again, quite heavy stuff but so well written.

 I am loving listening to Switchfoot the band, I have heard them  before but lots of listening this week while decorating and now I am a huge fan, with a CD  on order. ( I know such a mum ordering a CD but I like them for the car.)

Also watching  a new series 'Department Q' BBC Four, only three of them but all feature length, Danish and very good acting.  Only watch if you are interested in crime dramas as they are quite intense in parts.  Maybe I will get more sewing done over the weekend.









Saturday, 15 April 2017

Slow Fashion

This post is about something that tends to come naturally to anyone who sews many of their own clothes and that is slow fashion.  I'm sure it is the same for knitters, those who crochet and also those who thrift a lot of items through charity shops.   If you are creative then the process is part of the charm, you know where the item was produced (but not always the fabric) and you know that you have played a small part in it.  There is also the fact that if you have spent many hours producing a garment you will be less inclined to quickly discard it as a passing fad.  You have invested your time and energy into it so it means more to you.

Unfortunately this is not the case for many items of clothing, they are in one season and out the next.  Wearing out of season clothing is viewed by some with scorn and snobbery with no thought for the impact that  all of this is having on the environment or our fellow human beings slaving away to mass produce cheap fashion.

Some people may think well it's not that cheap I buy from expensive stores, well it still is really when you think about it.  Even if you shop high end, factor in the farming of the materials, grown or animal based, the cleaning, dyeing, stitching and shipping.  Anyone who makes their own clothes knows that the labour alone amounts to hour upon hour for some garments and that is without the rest of it, so yes mainly your clothing is cheap!

Years ago people used to buy made to measure here in the UK, they visited a tailor or dressmaker occasionally and buying an outfit was a big purchase for many.  While it is wonderful that we are able to buy for ourselves without experiencing such hardship it is also a shame that we have lost that sense of respect for the labour that goes into every item we own.

I appreciate that when I buy new fabric many of these same principles apply, it is not something I buy often and I use every last bit of it, I also try to source second hand and repurpose whenever I can.

Top made from a charity shop dress.

There is an interesting article here at Not Just A Label, still a more in the theme of mass fashion production but maybe leading things the right way.  Of course there is always going to be a need for inexpensive clothing but often it is not a need that drives people to buy new but  the desire to own the latest trend,  just something to think about.



Friday, 14 April 2017

Repairing Ripped Chinos

Another day another repair, these chinos have been knocking about for a while now.  My son ripped them skateboarding and they were new, I was a bit put out because I tend to say if you are off doing that kind of activity or parkour (glad that has lost it's novelty!) then wear jogging bottoms, but no put on some new clothing first if you are a teenager.  So I just got around to this repair and this appears to be the theme this week while I am off work.

Here is the rip...
Now we have had this dilemma before as this is something that appears to be a common thing on young people's trousers.  I decided to do  what  I have in the past and that is put a fake seam across the knee.  Sounds strange but it does work and for this kind of trouser, a patch does not.

So pin across first and make sure you do it in exactly the same place on the other leg.

I taper it out at each side like you would a dart, if you are worried the trousers will be a funny shape you can do the same on the back as well.  I have found though that after a good press they are fine.   You sometimes buy chinos or jeans with this kind of detail on the front so it's not a problem.

I then turn  them the right way and topstitch close to the seam.

So now they can finally go back in the wardrobe, hopefully no more holes for a while.

I also had to take in a shirt for my husband this week and I have a top to straighten on the bottom for  my mum, it goes down to two triangles at each side and she doesn't like that (it is new).  There is also the fact that my mother in law needs her hair dyeing by me on Easter Sunday when they all come around for lunch, after that I may get to my own pile of put off jobs. 

This last few days has given me time to catch up on a few sewing blogs and to see what everyone else is up to.  I have seen some fantastic bra makes and this really is something I should get around to.  I am not keen on the idea of buying a kit though as they appear ridiculously expensive for what they are.  So if anyone has any tips on the best online shops to buy the notions at a reasonable price please let me know. 





Thursday, 13 April 2017

Shirt Sleeve Refashion and Repair

Repairing  clothes is something I seem to do a lot of, not just for my family but for friends also.   If you can repair an item it not only saves you having to replace it, it also saves that item from landfill.  I think these days people are far too quick to throw things out that can be salvaged, even if they don't know how to do it themselves there are people out there who can repair items.  Sometimes people may even see it as an ideal excuse to buy new but when did our clothing become such a throw away item?

Anyway rant over, this post relates to a shirt belonging to my husband that he split a few days ago when he put it on.  The split is on the sleeve and he did say it was too tight so no longer any use to him.  At this point the options usually are; can I make it into something for me? Shall I deconstruct it for the fabric? Is it nice enough that oldest son might want it ? Shall I take it to the charity shop?  (Charity shops also take damaged items for rag weigh in, so don't be put off.)  It is a nice shirt and my son likes it so I said I would sort the sleeve and resize it for him.

Here is the offending ripped sleeve...

My son wanted the sleeve length just above the elbow, about where they would be if you rolled them up.  So I marked where he wanted it to finish.  Then I cut the sleeve off just below so there would be enough to fold back.


Then I repaired the bit of the sleeve that was ripped and zig zagged the edge. 


The cuffs were used to cut out a small rectangle that would become the tab on the sleeve.
I edged each side then folded a small hem to make the tabs, button hole is already there.

I made a small hem on the bottom of the sleeves then folded it back and put my tab in place to get an idea of where to stich it and where the button needed to go.  (The tab in this picture is not yet hemmed I was still getting my idea together at this point.)

Here it is finished.

I also had to take the shirt in to make it fit my son, he also wanted it a bit shorter in case he wanted to wear it out of his trousers.  It looks more of a casual shirt this way so more his style but it will still be smart enough to wear to work.  Being a young man he is more into gadgets than buying clothes so I'm sure it will be appreciated that it is one less item of work wear that needs to be bought.

Once it was all finished I gave it a good iron, it is still a bit crumpled in this picture, I have to take the photos while it is on my mind so I am trying to get into the habit of doing it straight away.  

I hope this has been useful if anyone has had a similar mishap with a shirt or if you just want to change the sleeves to this  style.







Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Charity Shop Finds

At the weekend we had a walk around town, by that I mean the city centre.  It is not something we do very often as I am not one for wandering around shops but we were going for a bit of lunch so I had a look in a few charity shops. (Those shops I like.)

I am always on the lookout for inexpensive fabric and these days I tend to look at the duvet sets as I have a few good purchases in the past, I made the napkins for Christmas day from a pillow slip and pyjama bottoms from a duvet set previously.  I always look but I don't always find anything, I don't want anything too worn and of course it has to be a pattern I like. So when I saw this red duvet cover for just £3.25 it was perfect, I love the colour and the pattern.

The beauty of this is you get so much fabric for such a good price.


Here it is on the line after being washed on a hot temperature, I always do this as things are often sat around in bags in the back room in a charity shop and I like to wash all purchases on hot.   My usual wash is on a normal temperature that's better for the environment.

Then in another shop I spotted this dress...

Now this is a size 14 and I am an 8 but that's not a problem it can be easily taken in.  The fabric is lovely for the summer and will be ideal for work, I may need to take it up a little as well as it is a bit long. It was £6, the items were from 'Mind' and 'Cancer Research'.

I think I would quite like to make a dress with the red duvet fabric, although there will still probably be lots left for other projects, the duvet is 142cm wide by 200cm so if you factor in both sides that is 4 metres of fabric. It will probably be popping up in cushion covers, make up bags and patchwork for quite some time.

Some people don't like to buy used items but I really don't see problem as long as you wash things thoroughly as you don't know how they were stored but then when people buy new they don't know how things have been  stored either.  Many items come from factories over seas or in the UK where fabric may have been stacked in  a warehouse, they don't know what may have crawled on these fabric stacks and yet still they wear items unwashed because they are new.  This in my mind makes all argument for not buying used invalid, you decide on the cleanliness of your items when they come into your possession.

Today I will be repairing the sleeves on a shirt and resizing it for my son, I will take a few pictures and share tomorrow.












Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Caravan Upholstery Update

Just recently I made over the caravan seats for a colleague of my husband and I shared the images of the finished cushions.  Well things always look better in the correct location and the owner of the caravan has very kindly sent me the images to share.  I have to say looking at the cute little caravan has got me a bit nostalgic for ours that we sold.  These particular caravans are called Freedom Sunseekers and they are small and light with a pop up roof, they are so light they can be towed by smaller cars.  This was always something we looked at when we had a caravan as you don't want to be driving a large fuel guzzling car all year just so you can tow the caravan a couple of times a year.   We always looked at the weight first.  Anyway here are some images...

Here is the sleeping area at one end, I love the fairy lights over the bed.  The curtains are blackout lined.

Seating at the other side where you can eat.  My boys used to sit and play games at that end of the van when we had ours. 

It looks nice and modern inside.

There is just one side that she doesn't have foam for and I have saved one bit of the fabric for when she wants that one doing. This pattern of fabric is very wasteful for matching so while the curtains line up and match and the seat back and base it was tricky for the sides without wasting too much.  The piece saved is big enough for another box cushion and I know it was expensive so I didn't want to waste any of it.

We are hoping that in the future we will buy a motorhome, when we retire we are thinking it will be easier to travel with dogs and quicker to set up, stop off and see more places.  We are saving for that time and I know there are lots of beautiful places in the UK that we have yet to see and explore.

Thank you to the lovely owner of this sweet caravan for sharing with us.