Rubbish? Another Quilt

Sweetie quiltAnother crazy quilt.

Raw materialsThese were the main raw materials. Anyone else think plastic shiney sweet wrappers are a terrible waste but very seductive?  I collected them over Christmas and sewed them to a piece of donated fabric – not fabric I could have used for anything visible.

Close upClose up of quilting & binding.  The binding was made from strips from a pair of lace tights I tore when I put them on on New Year’s Eve. I found it quite tricky to attach the strips because of the stretchiness but at least it went around corners easily.

Sweetie paper quilt

Happy New Year to all of you! xxx

Victorian Refashioning and Making my own Moisturiser

A friend gave me bound volumes of Girls Own from 1880 and 1881 and this lovely skating party drawing comes from them.

About once a month there is an article called “Seasonal Dress and How to Make It”. It assumes the reader will be making her own clothes and will be anxious to stay in fashion.  There are descriptions of what materials to buy, how to alter last seasons clothes to suit and of course, some bossy stuff about what you actually need and what’s suitable- nothing changes does it? It’s definitely the best bit of the magazine though.

Making Shea Butter Cream moisturiser this morning.

The finished – if slightly messy – product.  This time I managed to make it without getting the grittiness I had last time.  Maybe I made more effort with the whisk?  I’m not sure. I’ve made lovely shea butter lip balm from this book.  That was successful first time.  The moisturiser takes less time to make than mixing a cake and there are no parabens in it.

I have just cut up this silk skirt.  I made it about 10 years ago and I think I’ve worn it twice.

I was going to make a patchwork skirt from silks but I think I prefer velvet. I’ve got one old velvet skirt to cut up but I’ve got to look for a few more colours before I can start.  This fabric is going to be cushion covers.

Hope you all had a lovely weekend.

More Dyeing

Cotton jumper with crochet inserts, hand dyed using Dylon’s Bahama Blue.  I love this colour!

This was the jumper before dyeing.  Nothing really wrong with it, but it didn’t get much wear.

Now it will get lots of wear!

My linen trousers were also hand dyed.

I am still concerned about the ecological damage done by dyeing, but so far I have been unable to find any better method.  Suggestions welome!

To Dye or not to Dye?

Like lots of my other clothes, this skirt was dyed by me. I think dyeing is fun.

The original linen skirt

I did a few other things to get the end result, but I thought it might be interesting to talk about a few of the problems associated with dyeing garments.

The garment may be a natural fibre but often the thread or the lace or binding isn’t.

This top stitching was very visible after dyeing because it doesn’t use natural fibre thread.

I unpicked it and sewed it in a matching thread. As the top stitching had sewed the pocket shut, this was something I needed to do anyway.  Another solution might be to dye something a slightly darker shade than it is already – the stitching doesn’t show up so much.  I liked the contrasting stitching on the waistband so I didn’t change that.

Failure! Machine dyeing a garment is a problem for me.  My lovely turquoise skirt shed colour on the sofa and I couldn’t do anything about it.  I think that’s because my washing machine is computerised and decides on water levels and length of cycle based on the weight of the fabric.  Maybe there wasn’t enough water or time in the washing machine to dye the skirt properly.  I’m pretty sure I followed the instructions….

Felting! Wool garments boiled up on the stove in the dye pot often felt.  Sometimes I want felt, but mostly I try to change the garment some other way.

Shrinkage! Yes, that happenned to me although it is unusual.  It didn’t matter really but I was glad I tried that skirt on again before I cut off six inches.

Zips never dye in my experience; they are always made of pure manmade fibres. If it will be visible and I can’t face replacing it then I don’t waste time on dyeing.

Buttons don’t usually dye either.

Paler result than expected – I’ve often tried to dye more fabric than the instructions recommended.  It often gives an attractive result.  Occasionally the fabric has an unexpected manmade element eg. polyester cotton when I thought it was pure cotton and it too comes out quite pale.  Sometimes thread and trims on a natural fibre garment are a natural and manmade mix.  This can produce lovely results.

The skirt is an odd colour – a red skirt dyed blue will be a shade of purple. I have had a few fun results with my colour combinations.

My hands got dyed! I didn’t put the rubber gloves on from the very start.  I’ve learned my lesson!

Is dyeing eco friendly?  To be honest, I suspect it is not and I worry about that.  It might be better not to dye at all or maybe just use natural dyes.  I am going to look into this so watch this space.

Linen skirt again! 

This was a beige cotton cardigan

Grey linen trousers dyed navy – they become sailor trousers and I wear them a lot

New Life for Old Jeans

Jumble sale jeans that don’t fit, shrunken (well maybe!) jeans, jeans battered beyond mending, or any sort of old jeans – I’ve had them all. I’m trying to avoid throwing my old clothes in landfill so I’m always looking for new uses.

The skirt was made from the leg fabric of two pairs of very old jeans. Some bits were too worn to use so had to be cut away.

Back view

To start: cut the tops off and then cut away the leg seams. There are four pieces of fabric from each pair of jeans.

To straighten up the fabric cut off the hems from each piece and use a rotary cutter and ruler to make oblongs following the stright grain.

Look for the lengthwise lines running down the fabric – this is the straight grain.

Take out your skirt pattern and work out what would look best for each piece – I alternated colours.

Sew your pieces together lengthwise until big enough to cut out each pattern piece. I used jeans thread to top stitch those extra seams.

Make up the pattern exactly as usual – or not if you prefer.  My pattern had a button front and I wanted a short front zip like most jeans skirts have.

Decorate! I used the back pockets from one pair of jeans to make decorative pockets for the front of the skirt.  I also top stitched lots.

The end result

I Love Vintage Sewing Machines

This is a Frister & Rossmann’s “Vibrating Shuttle” sewing machine dating from the early 1930s. It sews straight stitch both backwards and forwards.

I bought it a few years ago and have used it for various sewing tasks- including sewing in a power cut.   Even in the 1930s this was old fashioned. Most machines could have a treadle mechanism added or even an electric motor on the back.  There are still treadle machines around but I wonder how long the electric motors lasted?

I found it hard to get started. Why are there skipped stitches? How could I wind a bobbin successfully?  I had to take professional advice. Now my confidence has grown I try to keep the machine working well by myself.

Both my machines have instruction manuals.  They are well worth reading carefully even if they do miss out vital stuff such as how to sew straight with only one free hand. It’s hard!

One of the best troubleshooting tips in these booklets is to remove all visible dirt (I use clean make up brushes) and oil the machine. It’s always the first thing I try.

Sewing machine oil only!

Some of the oiling points

 The machine has visible oiling points all over and the manual mentions some others.  It “runs like a well oiled machine”!

My silliest mistake was not to have put the needle in properly. I thought I’d checked absolutely everything – correct threading, bobbin in correctly, checked the tension, but when I started to sew again the needle fell out. No wonder it wouldn’t sew properly!

Needles go into this machine with the flat side on the right and are threaded left to right.

Winding the bobbins is a bit tricky compared to modern machines but the instruction manual was really useful there and it doesn’t seem so hard anymore.

Bobbin winder

A little bit of vintage life

Refashion a Dress into a Tunic

I don’t wear dresses very often so I’m always looking for new ways to use them up.  I think this is one of the simplest ways to refashion a dress.

I started with this dress.

I used the measuring guide on my sewing machine to get a straight line of stitching. 

 I cut the dress just under the stitching.

I tried it on for length and did the same again to get the best length for me.

Next, I marked and machined the hem.

  Finished tunic.

The dress becomes useful at last.