In between lockdowns my family decided that we would like more on the road adventures and we purchased a semi-converted Sprinter Van. We upgraded most of the cosmetic items ourselves such repainting the interior walls, putting cupboard doors on open storage and adding some extra furniture.
One of the biggest things I researched was blinds for the windows, I wanted to reuse an old windscreen cover that was in the van but never fitted properly and this is what I decided to do with it.
I had tried making magnet blinds with some left over Reflectix but I didn’t like how after little use they started to wear out a bit as the foil is quite thin. Luckily the size of the windscreen cover is huge and I managed to get the blind for the kitchen window and the one for the sliding door window out of the whole thing. Both are held in place with magnet hooks – I love the one on the sliding door as I can slide the door back without it catching or falling off. Also, I can turn the blinds around to reflect heat out or keep heat in.
After I cut the cover in half and took off the side bits I made the shape more rectangular and bound the edges using my lovely old hand wheel sewing machine. I use my hand turner much more than my electric because she pretty much has no complaints about anything you put under the needle.
One of my favourite things about sewing and textiles is that it is such a huge worldwide field and there are always so many new things to learn. There is such history wrapped up in cloth and sewing, it really is the tale of humans and culture with the added emotions of birth, death, migration, persecution, memories of clothing worn, comfort and so much more.
One of the skills I picked up was based on the traditional Japanese technique of Boro, this as with lots of cultural trends that come and go is steeped in history. A way of patching and repairing clothing to pass down to family members, these items of clothing or household textiles would have been repaired to last and essentially contained the story of the family through the textiles used.
Unlike now, where as a trend there is no history or emotion and items are sought after as a sign of expensive luxury. I still cannot understand the trend of buying jeans with identikit factory made rips in them already, any wear patches or mending should be a sign of how the clothing was worn.
Anyway, here are a few pics of the skills I picked up during the session, we were encouraged to be really creative and add other stitches and embroidery over the top. Since the session I have made several more of the squares and added other bits and pieces to them such as buttons and, I am really pleased to be able to say that all the fabrics are scraps I had already.
The largest photo is the stitching I did on the original session and the last one here at the bottom is the current piece I am stitching, it is based on a day trip that I took to Clevedon, near Bristol. I have decided that I would like to use the techniques to recall events and trips that I have taken, particularly in the natural landscape. It is instilling my emotions and memories into cloth and creating a visual diary for myself that is not on a hard drive.
When you want to be on trend, wear quality clothing and stick to a budget – get out the sewing machine and turn to a bit of DIY.
I found this fab men’s shirt in my local Sue Ryder charity shop, the cost was £4. It took me a number of visits to find the right thing, I was looking for a shallow yoke on the back as I knew I wanted to turn the shirt round and no pocket on the front as I didn’t want to unpick and be left with stitch marks
I drew a couple of rough sketches of what I planned to do with the shirt. I knew that I want to straighten the bottom, cut off the collar and cut the sleeves to about 3/4 so I could turn them up.
I started by cutting a small neckline around the collar section and pinned the button stand closed so it didn’t move when I cut across the thickest part. Remember when you have drawn on your collar line to add seam allowance, I added 1.5cm to create a small rolled seam and hide the raw edge.
I cut the sleeves slightly longer then I wanted so I could have the turn up and put 4 cm on for a 2cm hem with turn under. I cut the hem straight across but I wanted to keep the detail used to strengthen the shirt at the top of the curve. One of the key factors was turning the buttons to the back, which fully changed the look of the shirt into a top.
As part of the refashion I felt that I didn’t want to hide the history of the shirt and decided to unpick the labels from the inside and put them on the outside.
I took it to one of my workshop classes and because of the quality of the fabric no one could quite believe the changes, even though actually they are quite small.
Most people thought that I had bought the top in its current form, before I showed them the photos and they all felt with a bit of practise and a few tips on how to draw a good curve they would be happy to have a go themselves.
I have kept the collar and cuffs and stashed them away, maybe to add a fake shirt look to a thin sweater for winter!
This blog post is a really exciting post for me, I have spent the past several months running workshops sharing my skills with both adults and children.
I have been highly motivated to share my knowledge with other people for two reasons, the first is that I was passed a lot of skills down from my mum and her relatives and I want to share them, the second is that I really enjoy how satisfied both adults and children are when they feel they have achieved something in a fun and relaxed way.
Here are some pics of what I have recently been teaching people.
Sharing timeless skills
My local scrapstore has a huge box of scrap leather so I have delved into it for some great colours to teach people how to make keyrings, we also used fake leather and other fabrics, seen here on the top left. This lovely pic was taken by Meg from the Create cafe mentioned below.
On the right I spent an afternoon with some ladies at a great community cafe called Create on the Square, where we made denim bags from upcycled jeans, everyone’s zip sewing skills were great as a few of them had not done zip inserting before.
Lastly, on the left is a pic of a workshop at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival, we were in the family tent teaching kids how to make musical instruments from scrap materials such as paper cups and plates, plastic lids and other bits, this one was great fun and we had over 100 people in two hours! Play is so important for children, they were all really happy, relaxed and could make a mess with no one worrying about the carpet.
Coming up I am going to be doing another key ring tassel workshop, alongside friendship bracelets, fabric brooches, a fun pom pom session and felt pencil cases towards the end of summer with a back to school theme.
I was luckily enough to come across a large piece of this beautiful upholstery fabric by A.Sanderson. Upholstery fabrics are a great find as they are thicker and stronger then your average fabric.
After a bit of research it is a print from the 1980’s and was available in several colour ways. The print is incredible with swirling flowers and for me the subdued colour stops the fabric from being too chintzy. As well as the name down the side, the edge states made in the United Kingdom – which maybe something we won’t have in the future so I think that makes the it special.
I guess being from the 80’s makes it vintage and that gives it a story, on my instagram account you can find a bag I made from a Suva fabric table cover, another piece of re-purposed fabric that nearly went to textile waste!
After much deliberation I decided to make a lovely shopper with a piece of the fabric and mix it with some re-purposed denim from old jeans.
I used denim for the lining and I decided to take one of the pockets off of the back of the jeans and put it on the front of the bag for a bit of contrast, I cut the piece of selvedge off that had made in the u.k printed on it and stitched in the bag – just for future nostalgia!
The bag has been one of my favourite makes, I made the handles using the “Time Was” fabric and added strength to them with 4 lines of stitching, take a look at the pic, no twin needles used here!
Here is the finished item, I have used it every time I go into town for shopping and the amount of items I have carried back it, definitely make it a bag for life!
Last year we had our first ever market stand at our local farmers market.
My husband and I love eating and growing Chillies so, we decided to diversify his garden business and grow to sell. We grew all our Chillies from seed, it all started in January with a heated propagator and crossed fingers as we hadn’t grown on a large-scale before!
Anyway this year we are back for more, we will be planting again in a couple of weeks and I decided this year I wanted some bunting for our stand.
I went on the hunt for some fabric and bias binding and made my own Chilli template, I cut it out in two parts one piece for the body and stem and another piece for just the stem to be stitched on top of the main piece.
I machine stitched the bunting down to attach and after I folded the binding over, I slip stitched it down by hand to get a nice finish.
I found this fab yellow fabric in Hobbycraft and bought the rest in our local haberdashery, it was great to get such a good match on the binding as the red felt on the Chillies is a very deep shade of red.
Due to the weather being incredibly dull again I have really enjoyed sewing with these bright colours, though as usual the light makes a decent photograph difficult to take.
This photo is my favourite, I have a peel off New York decal on my kitchen wall – I love the decal/bunting combo so much – I think I am going to make some smaller flag bunting and keep up it there! Most of my friends expect a good chilli/curry from us when they come round for dinner (apart from my best friend who has an undying hatred of spicy food) so they would love it.
I had all but given up blogging for a while as the dull short days and artificial light make awful conditions for photographing projects. So here is a little round up of what I have been making recently;
This was my favourite make, I saw the fabric in Hobbycraft and decided straight away I would turn it into a shirt. Buying new fabric unless it is to improve a refashion, is not something I do often but it is a special print and I already have ideas for the left over scraps!
I had drafted the pattern previously and used it to make a printed corduroy shirt. I am in love with the cowboy style yoke on shirts and I have a few with this design feature.
The Infinity Scarf
I love a good scarf and wear ones of varying weights all year round.
This one was made from remnants I had left over after making a lining for a sleeveless wrap jacket, featured in this post
I really enjoyed the simplicity of the make and it’s pretty cosy as well!
I have had a great year, tutoring workshops with a local social enterprise company that run projects to encourage more arts and crafts for children and adults using materials from our local scrap store.
This year I plan to expand my involvement in helping people to learn new craft skills and realise how fulfilling creating something yourself is.