mend and make do

I don’t know about you, but there is one kind of sewing I hate doing . . . repairs.  I usually put things off as long as possible, and end up with a pile of items waiting, either for buttons, a new hem, or even patching up a hole (that’s a frequent job with my husband’s jeans).  Sometimes I would rather just throw something in the bin, go out shopping, and buy new.  But then the scrooge in me says “Nope” that’s not an option.  I’ve got a sewing machine, I know how to use it, therefore, repairs are not beyond me and it’s best to save money for more fun things (like craft supplies!)

I therefore blocked a couple of hours to do some repairs.  First job – a pair of husband’s shorts (UK English, meaning short trousers he wears out and about, but mainly in the garden).  They’d seen better days, fabric had begun to wear a bit thin and one of the hems ripped off.  My initial reaction was just to rip the other hem off, and have matching legs without hems.  That’s what the younger generation do, isn’t it?  But no, my husband didn’t like that, and fraying fabric annoyed him so he refused to wear them until I did a proper repair job.

Out came some blue binding (totally unco-ordinated but who cares?) and I added binding to both legs, sewing completely under so you can’t actually see the blue.

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The reason I used binding rather than simply making another hem . . . the pockets down the sides and the very thick “jeans” seams”.  I didn’t even bother to match thread, just used what was already loaded on my machine.

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They’re for gardening/walking the dog etc, so as far as I’m concerned, they’ll do.

Next job was cushions.  I buy cheap cushion inserts with polyester stuffing. Usually paying around 4€ per insert.  Not quite sure what happened with the last batch I bought, but the covering (which feels more like paper than fabric) was ripped, meaning stuffing was prone to fall out when changing cushion covers. 

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I had four which were all like this, so I reckon it must have been a duff batch.    Anyway, I certainly wasn’t going to throw them out since they were relatively new . . . so, out came an old bed sheet and a short while later

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Four cushions, all with a nice white cotton cover.  And ready to go back into their outer, patchwork, cushion covers!

I even salvaged part of the sheet (one of my late MIL’s, so probably about 30 years old) because it had a band of a blue & white print cotton sewn along the top.

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Not a fabric I would have paid good money for, but it’s still got plenty of life in it, and I saved a long band about 8 inches x the width of sheet.

Feeling, oh so virtuous, after all of that . . . what did I do?  I went shopping on-line lol.  Heck why not?  I saved 16€ by salavaging the cushion inserts.  I gave a pair of shorts a new lease of life.  I reckon both those jobs deserve a reward!

So . . .

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I ordered this.  Not that I need a beginner’s level in cross stitch, but I was looking for a small butterfly design and rather liked this (cost 6€ including p&p).  And this

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I do need a beginner’s level embroidery kit, as I’ve never done any traditional embroidery before.  This one took my fancy because of the bee, and also because it combines embroidery with felt (cost also 6€ including p&p).

I now need to get busy and finish off my current xstitch project: “Yarn Cats” so I can begin one of these when they arrive! 

finish one a month #1 (or unbirthday gift for August).

Early August I shared some photos with you of a whole variety of unfinished projects, some going back 10 years, that are hiding away in my drawers.  And I publicly declared that I needed to give myself a kick up the backside, in order to finish off one a month.

I took an easy option for the first project which was already quilted and cut to a 17” square, destined to become a cushion cover.

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It didn’t take long at all to make the back and sew together.

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It finishes up at approx 16” which is a common size for cushion inserts.  And this has been folded up, packaged up, and posted off to a very good friend, Valérie.  Wishing her a happy un-birthday in August.  One F/O down, lots more to go!

lead us not into temptation (yeah, right!)

The other day I showed you a photo of my growing collection of crochet books.  More specifically, my growing collection of amigurumi pattern books. With promises of a peek inside and eventual drooling.

I’ve already shown you several of the patterns from book number one.

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Book which I bought before I could even crochet, and which I have already followed several times, making up

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“Roary the tiger” in May.

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“Wasabi the rabbit”.  And book which I am currently using for 2 more projects (no progress made recently) of “Johnny the monkey” and “Leila the pony”.

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Once I finish them, there’s still another pattern in this book which sorely tempts me.  And that’s “Sartù the lemur”, but I’m a bit apprehensive about crocheting his hands and feet.  He has fingers and toes!!!!

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In book 2

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The patterns I am most likely to want to make are “Otto the turtle”, from the cover and “Vladimir the fox”.  Don’t you just love those feet?

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In book 3, the patterns which call to me the loudest are

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“Rusty the red panda”

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and “Nanook the husky”.

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And, finally,  in book 6.  Another red panda “Rudy the red panda”.

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“Oswald the owl”.

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“Bo the panda”.

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And last, but by no means least, “Kimi the kitten”.

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zippy fun – how to

Way back in February, I showed you a monster zippy pouch I had made, following a pattern in a French magazine.

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I then went on to make more of the same, in different colours . . . and they were so much fun, I made some more!  Now, I don’t want to write a full-flung tutorial, since I don’t want to infringe on any copyright.  But I thought, I could at least show you some step-by-step photos, in case you were tempted to try this yourself.  I sewed by machine, but these could be sewn by hand, if you don’t have a machine.

I won’t give measurements, since it all depends on what size zip you use.  I’ll just say that I used a 5” zip and an A4 sized piece of felt for my main colour. Here is how easy it is.

First . . . you’ll need a zip, one piece of contrasting felt, a small piece of white felt cut into 2 circles (I cut mine free hand), two buttons, and (optional) a short length of ribbon.  I cut my felt in half, and then one of those halves in half again.

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Don’t forget to open the zip before sewing front to back (right sides together) so you can turn it the right way out.

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Next, you play around with your buttons.  Depending on where you place them, you can totally change the expression of your zippy monster . . . like this

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like this

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or like this

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I find these zippy pouches great fun to make.  They’re quick and inexpensive to make . . . and I think they make fun gifts.

Ducky’s home

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I wanted to share the glad tidings with everyone – Ducky is home!

He had disappeared on Sunday 6th, although a neighbour is positive he saw Ducky on the Monday afternoon.  We’d been searching and calling until we were blue in the face. Looking in all the probable and most improbable places.  I printed out flyers which I distributed in every letter box in the vicinty as well as the on-line ad and ads with the local vet. We asked all neighbours to have a good look in their homes and out-houses/barns etc.  I even went and rang on the door of the local château and asked the “Châtelaine” if she would give us permission to explore her 2 hectares of dense woodland.  Permission which was given, so husband and myself spent a couple of hours in wellie boots, with big sticks, fighting our way through the over-grown undergrowth. 

And then this morning, who should come scratching at the door?  Yep, Ducky.  Not a scratch on him, a little bit thinner and very hungry, but apart from that, he’s fine.  He obviously managed to get himself locked in somewhere and was freed or escaped this morning. 

So big sigh of relief here!  He’s been fed, had lots of cuddles, and I’m hoping he’ll now curl up somewhere indoors and sleep.  But then again, if he’s been trapped inside for the last few days & nights, he’s probably going to want to go out. 

a dog can never have too many toys!

You will remember the success of this

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The floatable toy I made for Gibbs, using an empty dairy cream bottle and crocheting in the round with some rather gawdy-coloured yarn.  You’ve already seen photos of the incredible floating toy in action, thus

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Well I decided it would be a good idea to make a few more, in case of loss or damage.  For the moment it’s holding up very well.  Okay, it’s now a bit flattened, but Gibbs’ teeth haven’t made holes in the plastic yet, nor has he ripped the crochet cover to pieces.  He’s a good boy – he knows it’s a “fetch” toy, not to be confused with a “chew” toy. 

Still, I crocheted up two more, just so we have a couple of back-up toys in the future.  And here they are, alongside the flattened first toy (on the right).  I’ve kept the idea of long chains which serve two purposes: 1) to knot together and therefore close the cover, which can be removed if the bottle is ever pierced.  2) when holding the toy by the chains, it’s easier to fling it quite far out into the lake. 

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These were made to fit around 340ml drinkable yoghurt bottles, which have something of a waist-line.  They might be a better shape for Gibbs.  The new ones look very bright compared to the first one.  This isn’t because yarn colour has faded, but rather because the colour of the second ball had less yellow than the first one (despite being the same dye number).  Gibbs won’t care.  He sat beside me while I was making them, knowing full well I was making something for him. 

And, still on the subject of crochet . . . a photo to show my growing collection of crochet books.

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There are a total of six in the series.  I started out buying the first (with the monkey) and pre-ordered number 6 which came out in May this year.    Then in June and July, I treated myself to numbers 2 and 3.  Buying one book a month is fairly reasonable, and by this autumn I will have the complete set to drool over. 

I’ll do another post in a few days time to show you a couple of the inside pages, perhaps to make you drool too. 

cat ‘n mouse

Abby mouse

Can you see the mouse?  Nope, neither can I and neither can Abby.  She did have one in her mouth, when she came into the veranda from the garden.  A live one.  Which she then dropped, and has since been searching inside shoes.  I’ve lost count of the number of live mice Abby and Ducky bring home.  I do wish they’d just stay outside with them!

Meanwhile, indoors . . . my current small cross stitch project has evolved, very slowly from this

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to this

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I could have worked on it a bit more, but I chose to keep busy last month with patchworking, mainly.

Postie brought me some surprise mail from Lilubelle

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a lovely selection of bookmarks with a nature theme.

And postie also delivered another fabric order.  I know, I know, I have drawers full of the stuff, I don’t need more but . . .

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It was so pretty, I couldn’t resist, especially the second one.  My first thoughts, when I ordered, were that it would be lovely as backing fabric for a quilt (it’s 160cm wide off the bolt) but now it’s here, I’m wondering whether I’d dare wear a summer tunic in one or the other.  What do you think?  Would it be a too much?  A bit too “Dances with Wolves”?

And back to cats . . . slightly worried here, because Ducky has been missing since Sunday.  We’ve been calling him, and I’ve already put an “alert” on a dedicated site for lost & found pets.  Fingers crossed that he comes sauntering home soon.