Category Archives: textiles

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

Using Pinterest 

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My Throw in Progress (with basting stitches!)

If you were to take a look at my Pinterest boards (via the sidebar on my blog or here). You might be surprised at what you see, especially if you’ve known me for a while. I don’t think they’re much like what I’ve been making.

I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions, so I’ll call this an aim for 2018 and beyond. I’m going to try to bring my sewing and crafting in line with the dreaming I’m recording on Pinterest.  So what about this throw?

I’m a member of a quilt group called Welsh Heritage Quilters and every two years we hold an exhibition at the Minerva Arts Centre in Llanidloes. You can show any quilted item you’ve finished since the last exhibition or which is in progress, but there are also categories to encourage us to push ourselves.  I decided to make something for the “Welsh” category. I’ve been learning a lot about traditional Welsh quilts at the Quilt Association and wanted to have a go.

My starting point

Frame quilts are very traditional so that was what I decided to make.  I bought many of the fabrics to make a throw as a wedding gift, but lost my nerve and left them languishing untouched in the drawer. The colours seemed just right for a traditional quilt.

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Close up of Quilting in Progress

Welsh quilting patterns are very distinctive and I set about trying to copy some, but then…

I decided not to try to make a clone but something based on all the boro and kantha quilts I’ve Pinned.  I’m using variegated Sulky thread to stitch what are traditional Welsh patterns, but in a way that seems to me more like boro or kantha. Don’t know if I’ve succeeded but it’s very satisfying. I’m really enjoying the quilting process.

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The back in progress

I’m not too concerned about my stitches as I’m hoping the patterns, when finished, will draw the eye away from individual stitches.

I’ve had difficulties. The only marker I could see was yellow chalk (seen on the photos) and that rubbed off, so I marked, worked outlines and marked again. It’s not fully marked yet and none of the hearts or circles are yet fully quilted – some infill is called for.

The wadding is cotton flannel that’s been sitting in my sewing cupboard for years on end. It’s not easy to hand quilt but I’m getting used to it. Many traditional Welsh quilts would have contained carded wool and were quilted very closely to keep the wadding in place during laundry.

So, I’ve started using my Pins to influence my quilts, but I’ve got clothes boards you really wouldn’t believe if you saw them and a shoe board brimming with shoe making ideas. But those are for other times, other posts.

Do you use Pinterest? How do you use it? I’d love to know so do join the conversation. And if you put a link to your boards in the comments I’ll take a look.

Enjoy your week.

Norma x

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under patchwork, Pinterest, quilts, sewalongs, textiles, traditional quilts

Bag Fest 

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This is a tweedy (with a bit of hemp) bag made from a pattern by Michaela Smith called “Night Owl”. The pattern’s for a cushion but I like bags more. It holds lots & is good for travelling.

These bags are made from this quilt.

Landscape quilt

It had been languishing in my sewing cupboard for months, so I washed it and made the bags. The fabrics are silks & silk lookalikes.

The binding on the quilt mostly couldn’t be saved but I had some bits of the original left so I cut some more. The original is leftover from making this skirt – still worn after all these years, but now as calf length rather than full length.

I made the original quilt following a holiday on Skye – it represents the view I could see when eating my breakfast.

I’m intending to take these patchwork bags along to Quillies in Rhayader to see if they can be sold alongside my fabric pots.

 

My favourite tote bag – and believe me I love tote bags… This is a furnishing fabric remnant that I just couldn’t resist.

Gratuitous dog photos!

 

And this is my jeans bag. Linda asked me to show it ages ago & I just didn’t manage to blog. Sorry!

So you can see I’ve been busy despite my blogging silence. Looking forward to catching up with you all.

Happy New Year

Norma x

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Filed under jeans, patchwork, recycling, 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

Blackberry Dye

This is the linen Merchant & Mills Curlew dress previously tea dyed.

I’ve worn it in its previous incarnation and decided the colour is not for me as a dress.

Maybe as a top I’d like it better.

It was mordanted in sour milk originally and the tea and the wash it had after wearing should also act as mordants.

I will dry without rinsing and leave it to cure for a week or two before washing.

Apologies for the photo quality – I’m having to use my phone.

Enjoy your week.

Norma

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Filed under Clothes, dressmaking, dyeing, fashion, slow dyeing, slow fashion, textiles

Garden Dyeing Again

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Garden dyed skirt

This linen skirt has been in the dyepot several times since it was made. The link shows the original undyed colour of the linen.

The lines and dots were made by painting with egg. The final dye was made from dock leaves taken from plants that were seeding. It gives a much deeper yellow than leaves taken earlier in the season but I think the build up of the various dyes helps too.

I’m planning to stitch along the lines with variegated silk threads. It will be a long time before I finish this skirt.

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Tunic Dyed with Sage

This tunic was made from a sheet and has undergone several transformations.  I tried printing with sage leaves and loved the yellow colour but it came out in blobs rather than leaf shapes. That’s what encouraged me to dye the whole thing with sage. It’s been in the dye pot in the greenhouse for six days which is quite a short time for solar dyeing here, but the weather has been exceptionally hot.

This is it rinsed in cold water and hanging in the shade; once dry, I will put it away for a week or two before washing it (gently!). I’ve noticed that the dye stays in better if the fabric gets a good rest between each stage.

The marks on the tunic were made by the copper pipes coming out of the hot water tank. Originally accidental, I liked them, so I made some more.

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Some garden dyed samples

These pieces of cotton fabric were originally white and were solar dyed as follows:

Top left used dock leaves from seeding plants.

Top right is from dock leaves pre seeding.

Bottom left is Earl Grey tea.

Bottom right is dandelion flowers. I was suprised by this as they produced a brownish shade on the skirt and a very brown shade on the painted parts of it.

If you’re interested in mordants, some pieces of fabric have been treated with alum but most have been soaked in dilute (slightly sour) milk and washed in washing soda before dyeing. They have all been left to dry between each stage and some have been stored for several weeks.  Alum is the only “normal” mordant I use. The others worry me somewhat and I prefer milk followed by washing soda.

Pieces of old sheet have picked up the dye really well without me adding any mordant. I think that is because of the number of times the sheet has been washed before it became part of my stash. I think there’s a build up of washing soda or something similar.

If you are interested in more detail, please let me know. I will do my best to answer any questions. All these are experiments inspired by India Flint. I think it will take years before I will be able to call myself a dyer but I’m enjoying the journey.

Thanks for dropping by,

Norma x

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Filed under dyeing, fashion, India Flint, scraps, slow dyeing, slow fashion, solar dyeing, textiles

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

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