Scrap Happy January

I mentioned in my previous post that a number of patchwork cushion covers were disintegrating and I wanted to replace them. When I thought about it I realised that I had made them when we were living in North Devon so that must have been the early 80’s. Most of the fabric I used was part of a large bale I bought when my daughter was a baby (she will be 45 in a couple of months!) which was ends, offcuts, pieces that had torn or been roughly joined during processing and printed peieces which had got folded going through the printing rollers so had white streaks down them. It was all very cheap because only someone happy to cut out and use the good bits would be able to make use of it. In those days patchwork was unfashionable and I had never heard of a fat quarter so I think the firm was just happy to get rid of it all.

Having done quite a bit of knitting recently I decided to have a change and do some patchwork instead and since it was for the evenings in front of the fire I opted for hand stitched hexagons. Looking for my templates which proved to be hidden in plain sight (memo to self – tidy the studio and stop wasting time hunting for things) I found this collection of hexies already cut and basted. The yellow broiderie anglais one bottom right is an offcut from the dresses my bridesmaids wore when I got married in 1971! The plaid is from an old work shirt and the plains were pieces of sheeting I picked up as remnants aeons ago.

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In the same basket I found this piece which used to be on a cushion cover. Presumably the backing got stained or damaged and I salvaged the applique.

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I have started to stitch some of the pieces together. The central printed blue is from that original bale – only a few small bits remain but it has done me proud. I never thought when I bought it that it would last me this long!

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For some reason copying and pasting the links to the other happy scrappers isn’t working but you can find them all by going to Kate’s post They are all well worth a visit!

Scrap Happy November

I spent a lovely few days with my Daughter earlier this month. She works in a school as a Learning Support Assistant supporting children with complex needs one-to-one so that they can access mainstream school. This year she is working in the reception class with a little boy who is 4 years old but has the developmental age of less than 1 year – still in nappies, unable to use language and with a very short attention span. I am so proud of her and the progress she is helping him make! At the same time she has started on an Open University course to complete the degree she started on locally part time, but never finished because the last modules were aimed at wannabe teachers and that is not where she wants her career to go. She needed somewhere to study and to make her bedroom a more pleasant space. It was furnished with the things no-one else wanted, had an old single bed which was not very comfortable and was full of stuff from her days as a childminder which she had kept ‘just in case’.

So at the start of half-term I went over to help her turn her room into a place where she could study, read, write and where she would want to be rather than feeling banished! We had a good clear-out first and shared the spoils around several charity shops! Some of the furniture went to a friend of hers who has an up-cycling business and within 48 hours an old coffee table had been repaired, painted and was in her on-line shop (no that is not my scrap-happy, just my delight that a scruffy piece that was of no use to my daughter found a bit of TLC and will go to a new home).

We decided not to repaint the walls but she used tester pots of paint to create a mural in one corner – you can just see the end of it in the picture below. My son suggested that an ottoman bed would be somewhere to store all the toys she felt she wanted to keep (she uses a lot in her job since often the school budget will not stretch to buying special items). With new curtains and bedding, a second hand bureau from the charity shop the room was taking shape nicely.

What it needed were some cushions to make the bed more inviting. We had seen lots of ‘OK-ish’ ones when we were hunting bedding but decided it was time to get creative. Two old jumpers, one grey and one mustardy yellow made 2 square covers for which we did have to buy new pads (all the old cushions were polyester filled and had gone very flat). But what was needed was more texture and a cover for a rectangular pad that was fine. Then a rummage in the deep cupboard over the stairs to make room to store the old single duvet brought a muffled cry of ‘Eureka!’ And out came an old bathmat. A splash of bleach had given it a few white strands which were hardly noticeable. But of course my daughter knew they were there and so every time she used it that is what she saw – and started kicking herself again for being careless. Folded in half it was just the right size and the white threads could be at the back out of sight. So whilst she made supper I hand stitched the cover together (it was too thick and tightly woven for the machine) and voila! One very textural cushion in just the right shade!

Here are the links for everyone who joins ScrapHappy from time to time (they may not post every time, but their blogs are still worth looking at). If you’ve copied this list from previous posts, please use the one below as it’s the most up to date 🙂

Kate (me!), Gun, Titti, Heléne, Eva, Sue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, Sandra, Linda, Chris, Nancy, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean,
Joanne, Jon, Hayley, Dawn, Gwen, Connie, Bekki, Pauline and Sue L.

Scrap Happy October

Last winter I knitted quite a few pairs of socks and for each I bought a ball of yarn. But each pair uses less than a ball so I had a basket full of 4 ply yarn in various colours. It sat there looking at me reproachfully! But what to do with them?

The first chilly morning of the autumn came a week or two ago and when I put on my coat to walk the dogs after breakfast I decided it was time to get my gloves out. One pair was in holes and when we got back home the other was soaking wet because it had started to rain. I really need two pairs each winter so that I always have a dry pair. Inspiration!

The pattern I used last time was for DK yarn but looking through my books I found this one I bought second hand at a craft fair a few years ago.

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And in it a pattern for gloves in 4 ply with a fair isle pattern. It is such an old book the pictures are all in black and white!

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Unfortunately for me the pattern said to buy one ball of the background colour and one each of the pattern shades. Clearly it did not takes several balls of yarn to make one pair of gloves! But there I was with an unknown quantity of yarn in each left over ball and an unknown quantity required for the gloves. Hmmm!

Putting different balls side by side I decided to use some plain purple for the unpatterned parts and some self striping blue for the area where the fair isle should go. I rather like the result.

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I still had yarn left over on each ball and would probably have had enough of just one but I think the contrast works rather well. Now I just have to decide whether to make more gloves or find another use for the rest of the yarn. Mrs Snail’s granny squares look nice so maybe….

Scrap Happy June: Introducing Ada Phitt

Some time ago I came across an idea for a home-made dressmakers dummy. Where I saw it I cannot remember and it was quite some time before I decided to have a go. There were two reasons it caught my eye. Firstly it would be exactly my size and shape – much more accurate than a shop bought one even if theoretically adjustable. Secondly I could make it all from things I had in stock and mostly from scrap. So please welcome (drum roll please) the lovely Ada Phitt

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OK so she is no beauty, but then neither am I, and she has not been improved by a spell in the attic whilst I used the studio as an extra bedroom. She does her job well though.

If you fancy making one of your very own it is easy as long as you have an assistant you are happy to allow to see you in old underwear. I asked my daughter to help. You will need 2 old T-shirts, some rolls of duct tape (I think we used 2 but err on the side of caution – you cannot ash out to the local DIY store in the middle of this!), a pair of scissors, some old cushions, pillows or other stuffing material, a broom handle and a base for a garden parasol (mine was one of the plastic ones you fill with water or sand).

Put on the tattiest of the old T-shirts and invite your assistant to wrap you in duct tape. Over the shoulders, round the tops of the arms, then round and round the torso to the largest part of the hips. The tape should be snug but not so tight you can’t breathe. And wrinkles or large overlaps are to be avoided. Needless to say, at this point we were both laughing so much we nearly wet ourselves!

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Once the shell is complete your assistant needs to release you by cutting right up the back. This is why I wore old underwear – it would be so easy to cut through a bra strap or nick your knickers!

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Rejoin the cut edges with more tape, then stuff the shell with the old cushions. I found it best to put the first cushion under the neck opening to stop the pole going right through, then put some more stuffing in without filling her completely. Then I pushed the broom handle up her spine before arranging more stuffing to wedge it in place. Finally put the pole into the stand and cover her with another old T-shirt so you have something to pin to. If the stuffing migrates a bit over time, as Ada’s seems to have done, it is easy tidy it up when you want to use her.

You can, of course take the pole out of the body and the stand and store them all separately if space is limited.

Then enjoy making clothes that fit YOU perfectly.

Scrap Happy is curated by Kate who blogs as ‘Tall tales from Chiconia’. You can find her and links to all the other happy scrappers here

Scrappy Storage of Possible Scrap

A month or so ago I wrote a post about making things. (read it here if you missed it) and my good friend Mrs Snail suggested I join a group of crafty bloggers who post monthly about things made from scraps. It is all curated by Kate who blogs as Tall Tales from Chiconia. You can find her blog (here ) with links to all the other happy scrappers. So this is my first post specifically on using up rubbish creatively.

Every few years I get this strange urge to have a good clear-out, a massive de-clutter; and I withdraw from groups I no longer feel such a bond to making more time in my life. Then of course I acquire more stuff, get involved in new things until the next time! After a couple of limbering up exercises with my daughter helping me to purge the loft and the collection of slides my husband had taken (if I don’t recognise the person or place why keep them?) I started on the house.

Three walls of the sitting room were lined floor to ceiling with shelves of books and more overflowed into the spare room. An old parish chest had been full of them for ten years or so. I took down all the ones I thought I would never read again. There weren’t many left! Which made me lose my nerve. What if I was being too ruthless? Many were old and out of print so if I changed my mind they would not be easy to replace. I started to carry them up to the loft – filling up all the space we had cleared. But the piles started to wobble, putting them in boxes just gave me tottering piles of boxes instead!

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Then I had a brainwave. My friend Jeni and I had bought compost for our gardens in a large enough quantity for it to be delivered – on two pallets, which were still in the carport waiting for a use to be found for them. A quick check proved that a pallet was exactly the right size to fit into an alcove in my studio – perfect. Lurking in a shed was a stack of terracotta cylinders. They are made to stack as the inside of a chimney when a house is built. Why we bought them is lost in the mists of time but they have come in handy for a number of projects. Even so there were 8 left. 4 pairs lifted the pallet to just the point where the sloping ceiling meets the wall. Non-fiction went underneath with the stacks holding each other up, fiction and theology went on top (the juxtaposition was entirely subconscious I promise!)

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Problem solved! If they are still there in a couple of years time I will start taking them to the charity shops. Then I can either use the shelf for storing something else (the clutter will be building again by then I know) or dismantle it and use the pieces for something else entirely.