textiles Feed


In the middle of getting ready for the wedding I got a panic phone call from my grand daughter.  "I need a costume for my English/Drama presentation for Monday."  This was Thursday night and I had to leave for the farm on Friday morning.

Panic stations!!!

So in the midst of everything else I sat up late and made a costume for her.  She had to be a convict child from 1790.  I'm not sure this is very original but I know the bonnet is the same as those issued at the time.  I didn't have her to hand to do a fitting it was just do the best you can.  I sewed on fake patches and told her to rub it in the dirt.  (I don't think she has done that.)

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Here are my two girls all dressed up for their job as ring bearers at the wedding. 

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As I have said before Monique is on the Autistic Spectrum so I knew that if I didn't have this costume finished to take to the farm she would freak out.  The moment she saw it I saw her mentally draw a line under that problem and then she was ready for the next.  "Would Aunty Laura and Uncle Shane really get married without any problems?"

Lace from Solvenia

Last week at the Guild one of our members brought in some bobbin lace work that belonged to her neighbour.  As it happens I taught both daughters of that neighbour and like most kids of migrants they never said anything about the work from their homeland.  I know the comment would have been "that's old stuff".

This "old stuff" is beautiful.

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And the lace artist is Tina Koder from Slovenia.  She has a Facebook page, not in English I'm afraid but still interesting.  The other interesting thing is that there is a whole community of these lace makers.  I notice that she has an Etsy shop as well.

Another bit of recycling

I didn't mean to make this now.  It is something I thought about years ago and I just got the urge to make it.

Remember those sandwich plates that your grandmother had?

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Every group I have ever belonged to had one in the cupboard that someone had donated.  There were doylies that were made especially for these and I have been collecting them for years.  This is part of my collection.

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And today I worked out a way to re-use them.  A needle case.    I cut a piece of batting and some patchwork fabric to fit inside the crocheted edge and then slip stitched this into position.

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Cut the leaves and machined these across the middle.

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Attached a button and loop.

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And I have a new needle book.  Some of those other pieces have more complex shapes but I will work on that.  I am pleased with this solution to the problem.  I didn't have to cut into them, which would have just cut my soul but they can be reused and loved once again..

Recycling for September

I am feeling well enough to sit at the computer for a while now.  Most of last week was spent just laying around.  My head ached so badly I just couldn't do anything much.  I think it will still take another week or so to get over my reaction to that food additive.  But I did go into the Guild and on the sale table saw this needle book that caught my attention.  It had been made out of curtain fabric with a beautiful bead used for the closing.  I have all those soft furnishing sample pieces and I thought I would see how that would make up.  I am quite pleased with the result.

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This needle book is based on a  Octagon.  Luckily I have a template that came with a book I bought years ago, but they are not hard to draw up.

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My fabric is heavier than that which was used in the original piece, so to get the finish I wanted I had to use the largest size with 3.25" edges.

I used a lighter weight patchwork fabric for the lining and some left over batting for the leaves. A bead for the closure and 3 strands of stranded cotton to make the cord.  I cut this 75" long so that there was a little extra to play with.

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I cut one main fabric and one lining and pinned these together at each of the corners.

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I then sewed these together using a .25" seam, leaving one side open to turn the piece through to the right side.  Before doing this I took a little of the fullness out by notching each point.

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After turning through I slip stitched the opening closed.  If I had used lighter weight fabric I think this could have been done when edge stitching.

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Next step was to press this really flat.  I used my water spray and a lot of steam from my iron to achieve this.

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I then edged stitched the piece using the edge of  my machine foot as a guide.

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Because the furnishing fabric is a bit lumpy I ran another line of stitching inside this to get the edge to sit flat.

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For the leave I cut a 6" circle from waste quilt wadding and marked it into 4 quarters using a water soluable pen.  I positioned this in the centre of my piece and attached this piece sewing on the marked lines.

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I started stitching at the edge of the leave, reversing at the beginning and end of each line.   Then removed the markings before ironing the piece flat.

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The next step it to fold the 2 sides into the centre and then press well with your iron.  This next step is better described in pictures rather than words.   I started with wonder clips to hold the pieces in place.

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But because of the thickness of the fabric found that clothes pegs worked better.  After this lots of steam from the iron to get it to lay flat.

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The final step was to make the cord.  I did this with 3 strands of stranded cotton using an old fashioned pencil and the door knob.  I made it long enough that one side made a loop when attached in the middle and threaded the bead on the other end. ( This is different to the original piece there they used a button and cord.)

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And it is finished.

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I intend to make these as Xmas gifts for my friends.  I like the furnshing fabric, even if it is a bit heavier.  A great way to use those swatch samples.


My first visit since lock down

I took a trip up to Toowoomba to stay with friends and 'the fridge on the ridge' lived up to it's name.  It was cold and the wind went through all the warm clothing.  But it is so nice to come in from that terrible cold.  I had to fight with the Millie to get near to the heater.

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I love staying here, the friendship, the food, the shopping, heaven.  This virus has changed how everything operates but we are adapting.  Some of us slower than others.

We started the stay with  shopping and a break for lunch.  I am still nervious when a lot of people gather together.  A funeral 'wake' arrived just as we were finishing and I was glad to move on.  That is not to say that the lunch was not delicious, but, shopping beckoned.  We started at Hanna's, a country department store where they still write dockets for their sales and offer proper service.  I have enough clothes but I needed more fabric for table clothes.  They stock a wide seersucker that can be put in the washing machine and doesn't need to be ironed.

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I also found a couple of other gems at a teriffic price.  One for patchwork and one for another apron.  Then, in a back corner in the soft furnishing department I found their sale table.  Off cuts from their curtain making department, mainly sheers this time,  "2 bags full for $2".  Also ends of rolls at $5 per metre.  I was very strong and resisted buying any of these but I will check out this area next time I am there.  What I also found was manufacturers sample swatches.  These were also $2 each.  Three for recycling.  There is too much for me here so I will share them with the Guild ladies.

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We also checked out Vinnies.

A few new doylies.  (look at that price!)

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And some bowls that I want to experiment with for the pin cushions and I do like that lavender design. 

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That lot came to $6.00.  We visited a couple of patchwork shops but I wasn't tempted this time.  I hadn't been able to find any big buttons at the op shops, so i bought a couple of cards to see me through and replenished my stock of small sharp scissors. 

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Problem was I had forgotten how sharp they are and promptly cut my finger!   I had a great weekend.

Left overs

After re-organising my sewing room I find I have bags of left over fabrics from previous classes.  Not enough to do anything major with but too much to put in the bin.  At the same time as this I was lamenting having been away from the sewing machine for a while.  So I went searching for what would use these pieces and I could sew them on the machine.

I came upon an old Quilt-along at the Fat Quarter shop that was based on small blocks and have decided to use these to make some pin cushions for the Guild sale table.  To be put on the table they must include embroidery, so I added a little.

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I reversed the fabrics for the back.

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I did find that I had lost some of my skills at the machine, that saw me tangle threads and do a bit of unpicking.  I need to travel up to town for a few days, for treatment for an infection,  so I want to get some more of these blocks sewn so that I can sit and embroider small projects whilst I am there.


I have the next simple stitching piece all framed up ready to go.

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But I am behind on my 'Stitch Club' lessons.  The death of my dog and my problem tooth has upset my whole world.  So, I decided that I wouldn't follow all the instructions that Mandy Puttello gave.  I decided that I would make this concentina book my way.  There are all these wonderful arty pieces up in the facebook page, mine isn't arty at all. 

I started with the idea that I would fill the book with images of my favourite things.  Number one being old embroidery.  I then cut a strip from one of the tablecloths that I want to use for recycling. 

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Guess what, it wasn't the size given, but I used it any way.  It just meant that I had to re-invent how the book folded.

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Then I found some old fabric that I had used in some class or other I was teaching that had prints of lots of things I like.  I cut these out and put them next to the embroidery slip stitching them into place.

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The material in the table cloth was some kind of rayon mix, a bit slippery so I decided to line it with a cotton fabric.  Now, I could have used a more arty fabric but as this little book is about some of my favourite things I choose pink fabric, my favourite colour.  Not trendy or arty at all but I like it, so in it went.

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I cut the fabric with my wavy roller cutter and machined it in place.  On the top edge I wrote " some of my favourite thing" over and over and on the bottom edge I listed all the things I had included in the little book.  Emotionally that  gave me a good feeling, just writting them down made me feel good.

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Then I had to work out how to tie the ends off as it didn't fold the way it should.  I decided to put a button and loop on one side and tie it off on the other.  I got my bag of threads that I had bought in Guatemala,  I bought them for embroidery but they are really meant for weaving.

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I selected all the pink threads and decided on the shiney one.  This was sold as silk but I'm sure it is rayon and it is untwisted.  Twisted thread is something we take for granted, winding it onto a holder was a challenge.  It acted just like flat silk, catching on my fingers and nails.  What a trial.  Crocheting the cord was also interesting.  (There has to be some kind of tool that helps you twist thread.) 

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The embroidery on the front cover is a copy of a design that I saw on a tablecloth from Sri Lanka. ( The math used for dividing up the edge is actually very complicated .)  Then I got out my button box and the butterfly yelled 'use me'.    I didn't want to add anything to the back cover, so I didn't.

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This book thing isn't really me but the exercise made me think and I did like writing down the things I like and maybe in the future some family member might look at it and say "Gee she liked some weird things!!"

A bit of dressmaking

One of the blogs I subscribe to is Tessuti Fabrics.  They have a shop in Sydney and the most wonderful exotic, expensive fabrics and they have a great blog, full of useful information. This month they included a free pattern for an apron in their post.

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  Now I am a born grub.  I always drop things all down the front of me and when I sew I get threads everywhere.  I thought this apron was just for me.  Only trouble  I don't have any linen, so I just used a fabric out of the draw.  It was the first time I have down loaded a pattern from the web and printing and assembling all 25 pages was a bit of a challenge.

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But I got there in the end.

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There was 11 pages of sewing instructions and they were clear and concise.  They said to add your favourite label so I took the logo off my letter head and printed this onto fabric.  (This might be a good apron for putting on whilst I'm teaching?)  I have to say this was a pleasure to sew.

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By lengthening the straps I found it fitted my fuller figure better but I don't think I would make it for anyone who was size 18 or bigger without re-drafting the pattern.

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I do think it would better made in linen and these would make great gifts.

At this time

Everyone around the world is a bit anxious at this time, about the virus and the economy.  The stock market is all over the place which will severely effect income and jobs. Thoughts turn to 'how will we survive?'  My mind goes back to when I was a child and my paternal grand mother came to look after my sister, my father and myself.  This was my mother's first clash with cancer and we were not sure she would come home.  Nana would have been in her late 70's early 80's at this time.  Things were a mess then and I remember all the talk of when Nana was young and how they had got through things, which most of the time we just laughed at.  She lost a good portion of her relatives to the Spanish Flu, which has been compared to this current virus, but now that takes on another meaning.

This drawing by May Gibbs of a kookaburra and a gum nut baby shows that back then people were equally concerned as they are now.

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We were drilled on how to not waste anything, how to cook cheap nutritious meals, re-use clothing even extract the cotton thread for re-use.  How to grow vegetables, look after each other and trust in God.

I made a trip to the Supermarket yesterday and was able to get most of what I wanted, but no flour.  I was the only one in there with a mask on.  I got some funny looks but when I started to cough I also saw how pleased people were that I had that mask on.  I hope that I don't have to go out again for a couple of weeks at least.  We are a lot better off than back in the early 1900's we have the internet to keep in touch, compare notes and take part in classes.

I have been looking at India Flint's web page and she has a variety of classes on offer.  Some free some for fee, non too expensive.

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I missed this course but someone I know who did it said it was great.

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I think this is the one for me.

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