Category Archives: sewing

Boro, Darning and me

 

 

 

 

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I found all these mending threads in a charity shop. I don’t know how old they are, but maybe 40 or 50 years old. Possibly older. They’re in good condition: you’d think they were made yesterday.

Do you like to mend things? Do you gaze in awe at Boro textiles?

I mend from time to time, but I’m always admiring photos of Boro textiles. Maybe I haven’t paid too much attention to darning but I think it’s probably similar. What do you think? Anyway, I decided to see if I could combine practicality and looks with a bit of mending. I love these socks – they’re great in long boots. I think they’re known as shooting socks – maybe meant to go with Plus Fours? Not sure.

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The look of Boro?

I don’t know where I got these mending threads but they’re very pretty. Maybe I thought they were embroidery threads. They have the motto of “Ukanboil” on the label. Don’t think I’ll be boiling my socks any time soon. The label also says that they are for mending underwear…

My Pinterest board is full of beautifully mended Boro textiles and there are a few darned pieces too – like this beauty. I’ve classed it as Boro on Pinterest.

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This image was originally from long-john.nl . I love the visible mending.

My attempt at mending with the sock threads. Although the after photo makes the sock look nubbly it’s actually quite comfortable to wear.

And just today I saw this post showing a beautifully mended blanket. Please go and take a look.

Do you love Boro textiles? Do you enjoy mending?

I’d love to hear from you.

Enjoy your week.

Norma x

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Filed under boro, Clothes, mending, recycling, sewing, textiles, Thrift

Refashioned Skirt

My dyeing and painting tunic

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The original me made skirt

I wear many clothes to destruction. They’re only fit to be turned into cleaning rags or if there are good bits, maybe some bits of quilt fabric.  But I can’t find a photo of me wearing this skirt, maybe that’s because I didn’t wear it very often.

I have a “thing” about clothes that I don’t wear much. I feel sad when I see them hanging there wasted. Some such things just go straight to the charity shop: they’re too good (and  too unloved) to be used for something else.

To refashion it: I took off the top of the skirt where the darts were, made armholes and bound the edges.  I made more buttonholes so that it would cover me better.

Then I tried it on.

It needed shaping badly so I used some large black buttons to pull it in and give me some shape.

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Next came pockets –  a working tunic has to have pockets…  It was lucky that I had a few bits of the original fabric left because the bits I’d cut off the skirt just wouldn’t stretch to two pockets.

 

I don’t know why the pockets look blue on the photo – they are definitely black.

And that’s all: I’ve worn the tunic a lot and I’ve even had compliments on it. It’s a simple but successful refashion.

What do you do with your failures? Do you enjoy refashioning? I’d love to hear from you.

Have  a fun week.

Norma x

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Filed under Clothes, dressmaking, recycling, sewing, textiles, upcycling

Scrappy Post

I’m very late for Scrap Happy September but thought I’d show you these little fabric pots I’ve made.

The largest has a 2.25 inch base and is an inch high. These pots are going to a local shop but I plan to make some in silk for Christmas presents and fill them with little gifts.

I will be around soon to look at what you’ve been up to and soon I’ll be back to regular posts.

Have a lovely week

Norma x

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Filed under fabric bowls, fabric pots and bags, scraps, sewing, textiles

I made my shoes!

New espadrilles from scrap fabric and bought soles.

I used a pattern from Mollie Makes magazine. They’re a first attempt and don’t fit as well as I’d like so I’m going to alter the pattern and make another pair.

This photo shows the lining – a piece from my old kitchen curtains. 

I’d really like to make more shoes and this seemed a good way to start. 

The soles are made by Prym and I bought them online. And a word of warning – the pattern doesn’t have seam allowances and so far as I can tell, doesn’t say so.

Thanks for dropping by. 

Norma x 

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Filed under fashion, scraps, sewing, shoemaking, shoes

Scrap Skirt 

My new skirt.

Colour Block Skirt

I have a lot of linen scraps, some of them quite large – most of my summer clothes are made from linen or linen/cotton. The pale blue in the middle is the remains of a tablecloth I dyed in natural indigo a few years ago. The lavender is leftover from my first 1930s skirt. I’ve incorporated some pieces from an old skirt too.

The fastenings are buttoned pleats – they open up to make enough space to get in and out of the skirt. It’s a type of fastening I’ve been experimenting with recently. This skirt has a similar fastening. I like that I don’t have to have openings at the side.

The buttons have all been rescued from old clothes. I just can’t let a good button go to waste.

I’m joining lots of makers over at Scrap Happy June. Why not pop over and see what other people have been making?

Thanks for dropping by,

Norma x

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Filed under Clothes, patchwork, scraps, sewing, textiles

Some Dyeing and some Dresses

My Merchant & Mills Curlew dress.

The colour is more realistic in the photo taken on the stairs. It’s made of the undyed Irish linen and I’ve used Earl Grey tea to get the gold colour – I am so pleased with it!

The Facts:

Pattern Changes: I shortened the sleeves. I made the top so I didn’t make a toile.

Sewing: I sewed most of the seams by hand and the rest using my 1930s hand cranked Singer. The dress is bias cut so my wonky handsewing holds it quite well. I could have used my modern Pfaff with its zigzag stitch but I wanted to take my time over it.

Dyeing

I made the dress first

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This is the original colour.

Then I made Earl Grey tea with about fifteen used bags (store them in the freezer until you have enough), strained the tea and heated the dress with the tea. Left the dress to cool in the tea and then hung it in the shade to dry. Left it two days and then rinsed it, spun it gently and left it to dry in the shade.

I like the Earl Grey colour better than the more orangey shades of English Breakfast tea and I think I’ll try it again for something else.

I don’t usually post everything I make but I like this batik dress. it’s getting a lot of wear in the warmer weather we’ve been having.

The Merchant & Mills Bantam dress.

I’ve also made tops from this pattern. They are really good with jeans and don’t take much fabric so leftovers are used up.

The Bantam has a shirt style so the back is lower than the front. I quite like that, what do you think?

And here’s one of my attempts to cheer up every day wear.

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Just added for fun!

No pattern. This is just rectangles tucked to fit.

And for those of you waiting for the tunic

The colour doesn’t show up well on the actual tunic so I’ve included the parcel I made for leaf printing to get a better idea.

The sage leaves became blobs (pretty deep yellow blobs though!) rather than leaves when I tried to print with them. I don’t think I bundled them up tightly enough. If I had enough sage I would use it to dye a whole garment – the yellow really is beautiful.

I got interested in the marks the copper pipes from the hot water tank – so I made some more by wrapping the tunic around the pipes. I think the copper enhanced the yellow rather than made a dye themselves, although if you know about this I’d be glad to hear from you.

The tunic is in store waiting to be decorated further. I think it would benefit from fancy threads to enhance the pattern the copper pipes made.  I’m thinking about it.

So that’s it. I haven’t been keeping up with what you’ve been up to so I’ll be around to your blog to check up on your activities very soon.

Have a lovely week.

Norma x

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Filed under Clothes, dressmaking, dyeing, fashion, sewing, slow dyeing, slow fashion, solar dyeing, stashbusting, textiles

Slow Sewing and Dyeing

The start of leaf printing – I hope! Those are sage leaves taken from a plant outside the door and laid out on the tunic. It looks white here but it is a pretty, pale yellow. I have read that garden dyes are hard to photograph unless there is plenty of sun: unfortunately, it’s been dismal here this week so I’ll have to make do.

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The tunic parcelled up ready for steaming.

The tunic is very damp and sitting in the cupboard with the hot water tank. It’s not really drying so I’m thinking about opening it out and using the iron to dry it. I’m in unknown territory here so I can’t quite make up my mind. Interestingly, the copper pipes in the cupboard are leaving their mark on the fabric. I don’t know whether it’s permanent or not. I’m recording everything in detail so I can post about it afterwards.

And this is the result of painting with egg:

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The white strip (actually pale grey) shows the before colour of the linen contrasted with the dyed colour.

After two weeks sitting in a pot with dandelion heads the painted lines have absorbed most of the dye. I am thinking of adding another colour to the skirt – one that’s too pale to colour the painted lines further but will add a little something to the background. Maybe dock leaves?

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This is the dress I’ve made from the same roll of Irish linen as this top and the painted skirt. It’s the Curlew dress pattern from Merchant & Mills: a lovely bias cut pattern. I’ve made it mostly by hand but used the Singer hand crank for staystitching and also (oddly – no idea why) for the the bias binding round the neck. I’m planning a milk mordant this weekend and then it’ll probably go into the solar dye pot with bramble tips (expecting a pinkish colour but we’ll see).

It has been lovely to slow down the sewing in this way.  I’ve thought about every step so carefully and it’s limited the unpicking. Am I the only sewist to race away with my machine only to unpick later? It seemed very simple to ease the sleeve into the armhole by hand whereas it’s a stressful process for me by machine.

Well, I think that’s all to report. Please feel free to ask questions as I haven’t put lots of detail into this.

Thanks for dropping by,

Norma x

 

 

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Filed under Clothes, dresses, dressmaking, dyeing, fashion, sewing, Singer sewing machines, slow dyeing, slow fashion, solar dyeing

Scrap Happy May

An unusual challenge for me.

This is my only remaining childhood doll: Susan. I don’t think I played much with dolls and they were gradually given away.

I had to dress her for a competition (result 18/20 but not enough for a place).

I’ve never made doll clothes and had no idea how hard they were – three attempts at pants before she could sit down and I had to drape a top to get the fit.

Tiny pockets were less trouble than the shoes – ribbon tied under the sole and round the ankles because they just wouldn’t stay on. Thanks to Em for that advice.

I would say that if you think you’re a good sewer / pattern drafter give doll clothes a try – you’ll definitely hone your skills.

Anyhow, the shoes are made from out of date leather upholstery samples, the top, trousers and bag from dressmaking leftovers.

Why not take a look at the other scrap challenges – always full of inspiration.

Thanks for dropping by.

Norma x

P.S.  This was my skirt before the dye pot – painted with egg.

I’ve just taken it out of the pot and I’m very excited. I’ll post about that in detail in a day or two.

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Filed under dolls, dressmaking, scraps, sewing, textiles

More Garden Dyeing

The same tunic  – before and after. Made from an old sheet and solar dyed in daffodil heads.

The colour is actually more yellow than green – rather like these primroses:

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For those of you who would like the technical details, here goes:

10th April left in sour milk overnight and dried in the shade without rinsing.

11th April Left overnight in water and washing soda. Dried without rinsing.

12th April As 10th April.

13th April Rinsed, soaked in cider vinegar previously used to pickle eggs – not sure why but it seemed like a good idea. Added the daffodil heads and the warm water they had been heated in. I covered the pot with a sack and left it in the greenhouse. I stirred it daily until:

27th April Removed from the pot, rinsed it in warm water and hung it undercover to drip dry. The result is a very pretty pale yellow that’s hard to convey in photos.

It’s now in a drawer to mature until I’m ready for the next stage – probably leaf prints.

This is a probably the dullest skirt in the world as it is but I’m hoping it’ll soon be much more exciting. I made it from the Irish linen I had to buy so much of last year when I was making the OneYearOneOutfit top. This piece was mordanted in milk when I made the top and has been sitting in a dark place ever since. I’ve also soaked it in warm water & washing soda.

I used the brown thread for some decorative hand stitching – oddly the thread was still in good condition when I found it in an old box full of sewing stuff. It’s important to me to use these old things and I’m thinking of using some (probably 1960s / 1970s) press studs to fasten it.

Incidentally, I used my 1930s Singer to sew most of the seams. It’s hand cranked and I keep wondering whether I could find a treadle to put it in. I think it might be easier to use that way.

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The skirt is currently cooling in another pot of daffodil dye. I think next time I will solar dye as the smell of the daffodils cooking is awful and can’t possibly be doing me any good.

I will update you when I see the result.

If you would like to see more frequent but brief postings, please follow me on Instagram – find me by clicking on the photos at the side of my blog.

Thanks for dropping by,

Norma x

P.S. I have since looked up daffodil flowers and find that they are poisonous if eaten.  I wore gloves to process and covered the pot because of the smell. For future reference I think solar dyeing is the way to go for me.

 

 

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Filed under Clothes, dyeing, fashion, sewing, Singer sewing machines, slow dyeing, solar dyeing, textiles

Enjoying the Slowness

My Tumbling Blocks quilt is growing: albeit very slowly. I’m really not far from finishing the top.

The bright white tunic – previously a sheet – is sitting in a pot of daffodil heads. They were flowers that needed deadheading so I popped them in the dye pot before going to the compost heap. I’m relying on solar power to dye the top. I heated it up when the solar panels were working and the pot is now sitting in the greenhouse. It will probably be there for 10-14 days. It’s not bright white anymore and I’m hoping for a pale yellow as a base colour. We’ll see!

The silk skirt is progressing well. I took it out of the dark and dyed it with onion skins today. I’ll rinse it once it’s dried – in some dyeing traditions this is done to help the colour to take better. I can see it from the window and it’s looking a lovely dark orange now. If I like the colour when it’s rinsed I’ll put it away in the dark for a couple of weeks before wearing it.

And then there’s my dress. Remember this top?

It’s Merchant & Mills Curlew pattern and I’m going to make the dress version using some of the big roll of undyed Irish linen I bought for OneYearOneOutfit. I’ve traced the pattern and I’ve been debating how to make it – machine or hand? I bought some undyed looking cotton to use the machine but now I’m not so sure. I enjoyed last year’s slow progress and wear the top a lot. The hand stitching is holding up fine. And if I do it at speed I’ll probably then make another dress – but I don’t need one.

What do you think?

I will be dyeing it once it’s made – usual slow methods.

Well, that’s the update. Hope there was something there to interest you.

Have a good week.

Norma x

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Filed under Clothes, dyeing, patchwork, quilts, sewing, slow dyeing, solar dyeing, textiles, traditional quilts