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and how dangerous could it be to clean your sewing room?

Brother Sewing Machine BOBBINS | eBay

Just bobbin’ along – but not suitable for my machine

You might recall I mentioned having made some inroads with tidying my sewing room? I’ve made no further progress with that, but I can at least get to the machine now. So I sat down to finish a spot of sewing the other day, There was white thread in the bobbin and I was working on some dark blue fabric. I always have spare bobbins. Always. I couldn’t find any for the Janome (but a dozen or so Singer bobbins precisely where they should have been; and, sadly, not¬† interchangeable). I searched high and low, looked in all the likely and unlikely places I might have put bobbins. Nothing. Well, heck.

Today I went off to buy some! And the truly dangerous thing about that? It wasn’t the having to get down on my hands and knees to read the label on the packaging, or even having to brave the industrial aircon at full revs. No. It was that bit of fabric that someone else was buying at a reduction of nearly 70%. I wouldn’t normally be tempted by it at full price. But we have a wedding coming up in a few weeks, and I would like to have something a little bit dressy and decent for the occasion (for once, there’s nothing truly suitable in my wardrobe). So a couple of metres came home with me, as well as the new bobbins.

However, I DID return the fabric I’d picked up to make myself a new summer nightie. I’d thought it was out at sale price, but that proved not to be the case. I couldn’t justify that sort of expense for something I’m going to treat like a rag, though I’ll wear it for years. Of course you’re right to suggest that, balanced out across the number of years – or even only one year – it wouldn’t be an extravagance at all. But I’m sure I can find some suitable leftovers in my stash. Perhaps the fabric won’t be as soft, but that doesn’t matter. I wouldn’t worry about making a new nightie except that the previous one I made is wearing out. I whizzed it up in a hurry five or six years ago. The seams are still neat, the neckline reinforcing is still doing a wonderful job, and the hems are holding up remarkably well. But it’s badly sweat-stained and the fabric has holes in it! It’s truly the baggiest, shaggiest nightie I’ve ever had but it’s been fantastic during hot, summer nights. We get quite a few of those in this part of the world.

So I reckon that’s me sorted for a few weeks. What have you been up to lately that’s proved more dangerous than it seemed at first blush?!

 

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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it wasn’t pretty but I did it

That would be the Bloody Long Walk. I wasn’t well and probably should have called it quits before I even started. But, as I often say, that’s why we have pharmaceuticals. Right? That’s YoungB holding me up at the finish line, though you’d swear he was simply giving me a congratulatory hug. Five minutes later I missed the edge of a chair and fell over. I could only laugh hysterically. I couldn’t get up, though I eventually managed it with YoungB’s assistance.That was about when Dr B decided we needed to go home. There was no argument at all from me, so that’s what we did. I went straight to bed the minute we got in the door ūüôā

That stripey, cooling neck bandanna that’s half-on and half-off? I didn’t need it. But I made it specially the day before, just in case. I even half-charged it at one of the checkpoints, when it looked as if there might be some warmth in the sunshine. There wasn’t, or not much.

If you’ve recently managed a 35-Km walk or extreme activity of any sort – knitting, sewing, something physically challenging – well done. I’m going back to bed ūüôā

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2016 in Health, Sewing

 

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soon it will be winter and I’ll have to knit

I can see it now. But what will I be knitting?

I can see it now. But what will I be knitting? And, no, I don’t actually have a cat.

You remember this was going to be a busy year with birthdays? It has been, and there’s another zero-ending one in the offing. Then we can breathe for a while before the usual slew of “not zero or anything particularly special” birthdays continues unabated. I think I’m off the hook for scanning photos with regard to any of the forthcoming numbers but there’s always something unexpected in store.

It’s frightening to think that it’s already March, nearly April and my creative efforts this year have so far been almost minus. When Dr B and YoungB were working in the backyard in 40-degree heat and I was concerned about their dehydrating, I fished out the sewing machine to make another of those cooling neck collars. Yeah, right. Something I don’t like about the Janome, as fabulous as it is in terms of variety of stitches and as good as it was for sailing over the loose-weave hessian, is that it’s a pig of a thing to thread. I had to re-thread it several times because apparently I was doing it wrongly. I sat there with the book in front of me, carefully following the diagrams. I redid the bobbin a few times, in case that was causing the difficulty. Nothing worked. I ended up putting it away and uttering a few impolite suggestions around behavioural change. And didn’t make the cooling neck collars. The Bs simply wore wet bandanas, instead.

It’s getting to the time of year where my fingers are itching to have knitting in them, so I’ve just revisited my Ravelry projects to see what’s awaiting completion that I could reasonably pick up in the expectation of finishing it without too much drama. There’s nothing. What isn’t finished is in the middle of serious tinking. To wrap my head around what’s necessary means being back in the knitting groove. And I’m not. So what do you reckon? is the only answer to start something new??

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2016 in Knitting, Sewing

 

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bows or bow-ties but not both

You remember last year I was in the pink team for our end-of-year organisation-wide party? This year I’m in the blue team. As far as clothing is concerned, that’s not going to be difficult (whereas the pink was a considerable effort).

However, the silliness aspect? There are eight people in the team. I offered to make bow ties or shoe bows. No, no, they’re not going to be fancy. Pinking shears on single-layer fabric, that’s all. I’m raiding my deep, deep stash to haul out some fabric that dates back to high school sports uniform days. Venerable. Blue. Sturdy. And, I hope, enough!

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2015 in Sewing

 

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almost absolutely random

A tiny part of what I've been doing, but I love the colour combination in these lavender bags :)

A tiny part of what I’ve been doing, but I love the colour combination in these lavender bags ūüôā

Hellooo, here I am again. Did you miss me?! I’ve been¬†to the cinema a couple of times and one night I made those¬†lavender bags to be¬†a raffle prize (nine bags, a bit over 2 hours of work; nobody would be prepared to pay what that would cost). I used stash fabric and some truly venerable ribbon, which came from Great Aunt’s stash and¬†is¬†possibly¬†older than I am. I¬†squashed all nine¬†into a fancy, little presentation box with a handwritten label that read, “Lavender bags: stick ’em in your drawers :)”. I hope whoever picked that particular prize thoroughly enjoys it.

Mostly, however, I’ve been sewing a lot of metres of wedding-decoration bunting: approximately 270, to be precise ūüôā Without further ado, let me deconstruct the process somewhat.

Because we weren’t sure about¬†what would work in the¬†space, we rough-calculated we’d need 15-metre strips and I made¬†18 of them, to ensure adequate coverage. Mission accomplished. There were enough leftovers to decorate one of the outdoor areas as well, plus hang a little strip across¬†the front of the bar.

Another guest asked if there’d been a pattern to the way I sewed the bunting? I responded that it had been almost absolutely random; and before the purists beat me up and insist it’s either random or it’s not, let me explain.

There were plain and striped triangles cut from the large amount of hessian that Eldest Niece provided; two different sorts of lace triangles, cut from some¬†leftover curtaining that was lurking in my stash; and a lot of¬†lace strips cut from the continuous rolls provided by Eldest Niece.¬†I cut and counted every bit of bunting, and divided each total¬†by 18. That gave me a count¬†per item,¬†per tape. Unsurprisingly, there were leftovers, so they were totted up¬†and that¬†total¬†divided by 18, then all of those put into an “add¬†a couple¬†of these to each tape” container, meaning from the outset that no two tapes were¬†likely to be the same.

Dr B helped me square up my sheeting so I could cut it¬†into tapes and¬†purchased an A0-sized self-healing cutting mat¬†for me (at my request; also¬†some new pinking shears). YoungB helped with picking piles prior to sewing¬†and accompanied Dr B to pick up the¬†cutting mat whose delivery they’d missed. They put up with my eating and running – that is, I’d get home from work, have tea with them and vanish into the sewing room till bedtime – and didn’t complain too much about my moving their cycles from the hallway so I could set up my cutting station on the only large, solid bit of floor in the house. Finding an adequate space for cutting was probably the biggest challenge, although I’ve since had some brainwaves around old doors and sawhorses; but with a¬†template made from a plastic¬†chopping¬†sheet, my¬†new metre ruler and the large¬†cutting mat, I managed to get the job done.

Once all the tapes were sewn – five three-metre x¬†2.5 cm strips joined to form a tape just under 15 metres in length – and¬†all the shapes were cut out, counted and sorted into piles, I’d pick the required number and prepare a stack for sewing. This is where the random element truly came to the fore. As I stacked the pile, I’d¬†sometimes turn it¬†pile over before adding the next piece and every now and then that meant¬†a long run of – usually, because there was much more of it – hessian and one lonely piece of lace before an alternating pattern, or a run of two hessians and one lace, but it wasn’t predictable except that I only had a certain amount of pieces to work with for each tape.

I’d then put the pile by the sewing machine and, using the needle plate as a rough measure of distance between pieces, away I’d sew on the sheeting tape. Ideally, the tape would have been folded in half along its length¬†and the pieces of bunting slipped into the resulting crease, but I quickly realised that, while that provided¬†the neatest finish, it¬†would require far more time than I had available to me. I ended up using a wide zigzag stitch and machining the pieces directly¬†onto the tape, leaving about 40 cm either end for tying purposes. Because I used both my Singer and my Janome, the¬†distance between pieces wasn’t precise¬†but it would be fair to say, I think, that the gap¬†was rarely more than 7 cm. I threw in a handful of¬†lavender bags, packed it all into one of those large, striped shopping totes¬†that would probably¬†hold a couple of small children, and Middle Niece collected it the day before the hall was to be decorated. I’m told that unpacking it was akin to a magician’s trick: the bunting just kept coming out of the bag ūüôā

So that’s where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing. And now? YoungB wants me to magic up some pockets inside his motorcycling jeans, so that he can add in extra protective armour for a forthcoming long trip. I’m scratching my head about that, because I don’t see how I can do it without unpicking a serious amount of heavy-duty seaming. Should I run now?

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2015 in Sewing

 

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making the cooling neck collars

Still holding the water after a lot of hours on the job

Still holding the water after a lot of hours on the job

You remember how I said I was going to use Great Aunt’s nurse’s uniform fabric to make the collars?Yeah, I changed my mind. It’s a very small check and would, I think, turn out an overall quite¬†dark finished product. Dark fabric absorbs more heat. Not what you want on a long, hot walk. Right? I went stash-diving. You should have seen the length of my periscope when I got to the fabric I ended up using! Its something I bought many years ago (predating YoungB) to make a nightshirt for Dr B, who promptly changed his mind about wanting one. It’s been folded and awaiting its time ever since. There is one small, faded patch. And, unlike the checked fabric, there’s a definite right and wrong side.

It’s¬†115 cm wide rather than 36 ins, which immediately gave¬†me better options with regard to cutting triangles to make bandana-style collars. I cut out four, then realised that the stripes wouldn’t be running the same way on all of them. See if you can find a toss to give, as YoungB might say, because I couldn’t. Two would have selvages, two would not. More tosses not given. The first one – which, logically and obviously, would be the test version and mine – was sewn with pink thread. Mostly, that was because there was pink already in the machine but the contrast¬†helped me to see what I was doing in order to work out what changes I needed to make for the rest. Although the fabric is pale blue with a dark-blue stripe, as you can see in the photo, the pink wasn’t so startling as to be obvious. Besides, once wet and tied around a neck, you’d have to be mighty close to notice. However, when I decided that the prototype was OK, I changed to grey thread.

There are many¬†instructions on the internet for making cooling collars of various sorts. I couldn’t find one that used the bandana-style I was after (which is not to say there isn’t one, merely that my search terms didn’t uncover it), so I drew on bits of several¬†of the others for inspiration and made up the rest. In Australia, summers are generally hot and sunny, so as well as keeping your neck cool, you often¬†want to keep it covered. (Many school hats are legionnaire-style for that reason.) I reckoned a triangular neck cooler with the tail kept long would be just the shot, so that’s what I made.

The finished product is¬†a triangle about 43 cm/17 ins base to apex with a base about of around a metre/39 ins. It varied slightly from one to the next because it wasn’t so much about precision as getting the job done and not every original triangle was precisely the same (or one might have needed more trimming than another to straighten the edge). I¬†included a divided pocket at the base – about 8 cm/3 ins folded over, then sewn along the line from base to apex – into which I put a small amount of water storage crystals. I used a shade over¬†a teaspoon for each collar. That doesn’t sound like enough, but those things swell to about 300 times their size when they’re loaded.

I pre-charged them the night before the walk. YoungB ticked me off for that because it meant they were wet and heavy. Most people, he groused, bring them dry and wet them at the event. I knew that but, as I explained, they hadn’t been used before, so I wasn’t certain how long they’d take to plump up. I’m sure the next time we use them, they won’t take anything like as long. I was refreshing mine at one comfort stop when¬†another walker congratulated me on the great idea and asked where I’d bought it. I admitted I’d made it, assured her it was easy, and pointed out that there are lots of tutorials on the internet. All of which is perfectly true. But the time to do some of those things? Ah, yes, that’s another matter entirely.

Still, as I said, I made four for our little team – the other Nieces weren’t able to join us, as they’d originally planned – and now that I’ve done those, I wouldn’t hesitate to make more. I might do some¬†things differently. For example, I might¬†subdivide the pocket into more compartments so that the collar sits closer because the bulk is spread differently, but tying the ends provided sufficient adjustment.¬†The simple design works.

So that’s what I’ve been up to. How about you?

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2015 in Health, Sewing

 

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no knitting but lots of walking

Just a few of the stairs in store for us

Just a few of the stairs in store for us

Beyond all that greenery, you can see some steps, I think. Youngest Aunt and I managed to scamper up and down – well, that was more Youngest Aunt, the scampering part; but I went up and down them, however badly – quite a lot of stairs last Saturday, clocking up 19.95 Km, according to my tracking device. We’d been aiming to do 20 Km, so that wasn’t bad. Had Youngest Uncle met us just a few metres farther along the road, we’d have romped it in. Well, we’d have made it. By that time of the day, very late afternoon,¬†there wasn’t a lot of romping.

However, I have managed to do something a bit craft related: last night, I bought some wetting beads to use when I make the cooling neck collars. Also, the fabrics for the wedding decorations are exercising my calculating abilities. I cannot reconcile the differences in area in any meaningful way! My suspicion is that I might have to get some more of one to balance the other. Headache-inducing, but in the nicest way.

May all your crafty problems be equally enjoyable ūüôā

 
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Posted by on September 1, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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