Thursday, October 20, 2016

One year later...

In memory of it being almost an entire year without a post - how very slack - I am inspired to begin blogging again. Our slow internet always put me off, but now we finally are on the NBN, I think I could be bothered again.

So I have had enormous amounts of fun in the last couple of days having a go at improvisational quilts using scraps and leftovers. I borrowed a book from Crookwell Library on a whim. I haven't been into quilts lately, have made so many in the past and even several unfinished tops lying around. I've been much more into dressmaking (more on those in upcoming posts, if I do them).

I wanted to share this quilt top. The book is great (you can see it here:

The idea in this book is to cut freehand, no rulers; and to base your quilt on a 'score' (like a musical jazz score). So you set guidelines, such as only use striped fabric; only use curves; only use black and green; whatever you want, really. I followed a basic score for 'floating squares', and the guidelines I chose were to only use blue/purple fabrics, with a dash of red; and to use strips on three sides of each square.

I played around with the blocks placement with light and dark. Started off alternating lights and darks but that didn't grab me. Half an hour later I had the above. A gradient diagonally up from light to dark. If you squint at it, or take your glasses off if relevant, you can see the gradient more obviously.

I really had fun doing this. No matching, no measuring except by eye, filled in any gaps as I went and as I put the rows together. I think this has reignited my love of patchwork. 
Not sure what to do with the top. Might quilt it, might turn it into something else. Anyone of my lovely friends need a lap quilt....?

Now just for fun, here are some photos of quilts that I made over the past 10 years - all made with rulers and careful cutting, with a few minor exceptions. In contrast I really like the improv one, how the squares jump and move all around, and how the lights and darks work together. 
The above has some elements of 'improv' in that I pieced random strips for the centres, but then I cut them all equal widths.
This one is squares as well, cut precisely, but with some improv-ing in the borders with the strips. I did buy a lot of this fabric new, though, so don't really count it as upcycling.  

Above is similar squares but then cut into four and rejoined in a Courthouse steps variation. This is one of my favourite quilts made for an old friend's baby. 

Above I made this one 11 years ago, my first 'proper' quilt. Very traditional to my eyes now. It was the one and only time I stitched in the ditch!!

Have a great day everyone (that is, if I still have any readers after a year!)
Kath x

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Memory scarf for my Mum

Wow, October already. How does that happen? Seems like every year these days is faster than the one before it. Fitting then that I am posting here what I called a 'memory scarf', since I made it for my Mum last Christmas, and now it's nearly this Christmas!

I don't like buying Christmas (or birthday) presents; I'd much rather make them. To make this scarf, I searched through my fabric to find bits that I had either bought while I was with Mum, or once belonged to her, or were in some other way related to her.

The lilac raw silk (below) was a skirt of Mum's that she had made and years later given to me to wear or sat in the cupboard a few years and I realised I would likely never wear it, so it moved to my sewing cupboard. I made a few pintucks across it to add a bit of texture to the scarf. 

The mauve and blue flower silk below and the dark blue silk were pieces I bought while Mum and I were in Japan back in 2008. We went on a quilting/textiles bus tour for two weeks. The flower silk was from a stall at the Yokohama Quilt Show (one of the trip's main highlights).  

The dark blue was a secondhand piece of obi silk from a shop in Tokyo that had masses of used obi pieces for very little cost, compared to the high price of the new fabric. It seemed to me that secondhand items were not valued very highly - on the same trip I bought a beautiful kimono (that I previously made a skirt from and blogged about here

The variegated ribbon (below) was from the hairpiece that Mum made me (a silk flower) for my wedding 15 years ago (thanks Mum!). The flower had seen better days but the ribbon was still good so I unpicked it and used in the scarf. 

To make the scarf, all I did was piece the different sections together (about 6.5 inches wide) after pintucking the silk. Then I sewed it inside-out to a long piece of blue satin to back it, and turned it through. So there you have it - very simple to make, and a nice trip down memory lane while making it as a bonus. 

Ciao for now, 
Kath x 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Op shop gown to birthday dress

Is it really almost the end of July already?

Apologies for sporadic posting. I noticed I had some actual followers on Bloglovin (yay and welcome!) so I thought it might be nice to post a project for a change.

Life has been kind of getting in the way lately, as it tends to do. This afternoon I am meant to be editing a manuscript, but since I am instead watching my sick little boy lie on the couch and my brain is currently nowhere to be found, a blog post will be a nice easy way to pass the time instead.

Before: a not-too-bad dress from Yass opshop - in fact, a pretty fancy $14 one that I waited for the right week for yellow tags to be half-price, so only $7. Since as soon as I saw it I thought "ah hah! A dress for my daughter" and would be cutting it up anyway...

Ellie loves peacock feathers and prints so it was a no-brainer. She has no going-to-parties dresses to speak of, so for her 9th birthday I thought to honour the occasion with one.

Here's a closeup of the fabric. Not sure exactly but has a fairly floaty gauzey chiffony feel. The dress was lined as it is quite see-through.

After: I went for a pretty simple idea, using a bodice pattern (Simplicity 7610) and just gathering the original skirt to fit. 

Umm. Did I say simple? Everything that can possibly go wrong with gathering two layers of fabric and sewing it to a bodice, went wrong. First I sewed it to the wrong side. Then I unpicked and regathered the whole skirt with no thread in the bobbin. Then I sewed it with the inside layer on top. Oh boy, I did not have luck that day. But I finally got it together:

Using the hem offcut, I also made a scarf to drape dramatically around one's neck (though she prefers to tie it around the waist like a pirate sash).

I was very proud of my topstitching effort and the keyhole back. The button loop broke the first time she put it on, but I resewed it with more thread and it is fine now.

Here she is wearing it (with the season's fashionable accessory of a fox hat from the dressup box, naturally). It's a little big around the waist (like, about four sizes) but she does have a size 4 waist with a size 9 height so I forgive myself. Also too long, but she loves it that way.

So far the dress has seen a total of zero fancy parties. She was wearing it on the trampoline the other day. Most of the springs have parted ways with the trampoline mat, and it has morphed into a half-trampoline half-slide complete with mud pit at the bottom where they slide off the hanging edge. 

I said, "You know honey, that dress is for fancy parties."  

"Well, we don't go to any fancy parties, do we?!" came the reply. Fair cop. At least she was getting some wear out of it! 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Op shop tablecloth = new outdoor seat cushion covers

In the continuing saga of 'Things the dog ate', another victim was the ties on the outdoor bench cushion covers. (No pic though). He chewed them off more than a year ago, and for more than a year, I have been picking up the cushions off the ground when the wind blows them off or the kids chuck them off. Also, the original covers were mildewed, stained and generally festy!

So having become tired of the pick-up game and sick of sitting on feral cushions, I found an old tablecloth at the op shop for $1. It is pretty heavyweight fabric so good enough for outdoor use. Not waterproof but the table is now under the new verandah so that doesn't matter.

Faded black with a beige-ish abstract-ish floral-ish print!

All I did was measure the length of the foam after chucking the old covers out, then made a simple boxed cover using a grey/mauve remnant for the sides. I didn't bother with a zip, just sewed up the opening by hand. Will probably regret that later.

The important part: new ties to hold on the damn things. (Dog can no longer get to the verandah so they are safe from him, and safe from cushion-chucking children.)

Here's Kai showing off the completed set. Slight improvement over the mouldy old ones!!

Now, if only the verandah could be paved as easily....

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Title fight: Dog vs Bathmat

Before: A Sheridan bathmat, given to us as a wedding present 15 years ago, came off second-best in a recent scuffle with Buster the bathmat-chewing mutt. I was pretty annoyed as even though it was 15 years old, it was still our best bathmat!

Some close-ups of the sad mess on two of the corners...

After: The result of the fight was the dog banished outside for good, a trimmed-down version of the bathmat and some red satin ribbon binding. Dog 0, Bathmat 1. 

I had some fun practising my free motion quilting along the edge. I tried some leaves...

And some stars...

And a secret message for those who bothered to look closely enough.  

I actually made this several months ago, but slow internet has put me off regular posting. In those months, no-one has yet discovered my message. So it remains a secret - at least from the residents of this house!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

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Saturday, March 21, 2015

Two old skirts = linen slippers

For a while now, I've been wanting to make some nice slippers. I keep eyeing off a lovely felted pair in the Yass shoe shop, but at $70, who am I kidding. So I finally made a pair. I used this old woolen skirt from the free bin at Revolve. I know the picture is crooked. Too bad at this time of night!  

It's a black wool blend with white flecks. Nothing wrong with the skirt per se, just that it's a pencil skirt, and I don't find them comfy to wear. 

I also used a cream linen skirt from an op shop but I got it that long ago that it was well cut apart before I started photographing things first. It was basically another pencil skirt. 

The slipper pattern I used came from a lovely-looking book called Cloth. I borrowed it from the ACT library. Lots of projects specifically designed for wool, cotton, silk and linen, plus a bit of history and current uses for each type of fabric.


This is the pic of the slippers from the book:

And here is the first draft (left) and the second draft (right) of the my attempt. Can you pick the mistake?? Being one of those people with larger-than-the-average-Joe feet, the slipper patterns I see in books are always too small, so I just sized it up - but a bit TOO much the first time. 

Here they are on my dainty feet: Yep. Just a bit too big on the left there. 

The slippers were in the Linen section of the book. They are very simple to make, just a quilted sole with one layer of wadding (I put two layers in the second draft as the first was too thin). The front section is two layers sewn together along the curved back section. Then the front section and bottom of the sole are sewn inside out and the whole thing gets turned out the right way and stitched closed (supposedly with slip stitching, but hey, these are only slippers, so I slacked off and used the machine). 

Once I had the sizing better I made another left one. This one I used three layers of wadding in the sole as the other was still too thin!

In case you're wondering about the black skirt, yes, I did use it, on the bottom of the sole. You can see how nice and clean they are on the bottom after five minutes of use. Not. 

Overall they are comfy and I like them, but they are kind of annoying, because I have to shuffle around in them. If I walk normally they just fall off. So I guess they should technically be termed scuffs rather than slippers. 

I was also going to make a nice wool overnight bag out of the same book:

But the pattern sheet for the bag was  missing and I wasn't feeling clever enough to figure it out. I actually emailed the author to ask for the dimensions but never had a reply. Boo hoo. I am also tempted to make the ottoman, the pattern for which was in the book, so I have traced it and may make it one of these days: minus the cat.

I have about three bags full of tiny scraps that need to be stuffed into something - so I figure an ottoman would be a perfect thing to stuff!