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.

2nd cat top

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

cat cushion finished front

cat cushion finished back

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!

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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green monster

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.

happy unbirthdays in July

July flew by, and with it, four more friends celebrated their happy unbirthdays!  Yes, they did, indeed!  And what little surprises did I make to send?  Well, I had such fun making zippy pouches a while back, following instructions from this French magazine

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that I went and bought some more felt and short zips, to make a few more monster pouches.

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Here they are . . . a couple with odd eyes, because I didn’t have enough small black buttons, but hey, they’re monsters after all.  Monsters are allowed to have odd eyes.

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They don’t seem to mind, and look happy enough.

Anyway . . . who were the lucky unbirthday people this month?  Well . . .

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The bright pink one winged its way to Kate, in Australia, along with a Liberty fabric card kit.  I know that Kate loves Liberty fabric, so this was a must for her.

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To Emma, also in Australia, the green zippy monster (sorry about following photos, taken at night without flash) and a small cross stitch kit.

unbirthday SusanP

To SusanP, in New Zealand, I sent the turquoise blue zippy pouch, which has cat paw prints all over the ribbon, and a different Liberty fabric card kit.

unbirhtday Flo

And to Flo, in France,(Flo doesn’t have a blog) the darker blue monster, along with some DMC skeins for embroidery projects.  I do hope ladies had as much fun opening their surprise parcels as I did making them up.

happy unbirthdays in June

fabric trays x3

Here is what was made and sent out as unbirthday gifts in June.  Three little fabric trays, each made with a central patchwork scrappy block.  One in beiges & browns, one in dusky pink and one in bright pinks.

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Fabric trays that can be used for whatever.  I have one, and find it’s very practical for my sewing bits, to stop cats from knocking things onto the floor.

Speaking of cats . . .

Abby funny

Anyway, ladies to celebrate their unbirthdays in June were La Pie Kikou, Sandrine and Yvonne.  Time to get sewing and make something for July.

Grasshopper

What a lot of excitement the other day!  Hubby and I were helping out at a summer fête, which included a car boot sale (Jumble Sale for us older bods).  During one of my breaks from holding down the Bric-a-brac stall (to raise money for my niece’s school) I had a wander and spotted this.

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Nothing to really spark interest, except to wonder what’s inside . . . and that’s when it gets exciting.

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The case starts to open out with a flap, and show a lovely grasshopper green . . . and then

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Ooooh yes!  An Elna sewing machine.  And not just any Elna sewing machine.  This is what is affectionately called “the Grasshopper”.

Now, I have to admit, I didn’t know that when I saw it.  I just knew it was old and I wanted it, regardless of whether it was in working order or not.  A little bit of haggling took place, and it was mine for 12€.

Back home, I googled, to learn more about this machine.  Made in Switzerland, between 1940 and 1952 it was Elna’s first mass produced portable sewing machine.  It was nick-named “Grasshopper” because of its green colour, and its physical appearance (more photos when you scroll down).   Was produced in 3 series with very slight changes made. My machine is dated August 1950, so is the third series.

It’s ever so nifty!  First of all, as you can see, the travel case opens out . . . and serves a purpose because

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It becomes a sewing table!

There is no foot pedal, but a knee lever which swivels out and unfolds into position to operate the machine.

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Has a light under the neck.

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This is where the lower bobbin goes, and where tension is sorted.  There’s even a thread cutter incorporated just behind the foot.

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The stitch size regulator.  The Grasshopper can only do straight stitch.  When you slide the lever away from you, the machine does a reverse stitch.

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The wheel is low down, and you can see here where bits go to wind up a bobbin.  There is also a bit sticking out for a speed regulator, but that accessory was missing from my box.

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It came with many of its original accessories including oil cans and screw driver. In the special box (missing its lid) which has a place at the back of the machine.

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The box has little feet that slot into the holes in the base.

Everything is so well thought out!

Anyway . . . husband checked out the wiring.  Grasshopper runs on 110V and came with a transformer.  And, despite being 67 years old, it works!

However the belt was rather slack

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So I have MacGyvered a new one using a rubber seal for preserve jars.  I now need to sit down, with lots of patience, and tweek tension.  Grasshopper sews, and with a lovely quiet whir . . . so if I can get tension worked out, then I plan on piecing a small patchwork project on this lovely piece of machinery.

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knitting & sewing

We’re having something of a heatwave in our corner of France.  Which makes me appear slightly mad, since I’m busily knitting my first sweater . . . as if it was sweater weather!

Here’s where I was up to last time I showed you.

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Well since then, I have a back!

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Sorry about the colour in second photo, which makes things look so grey.  True colours are like in the first photo.  Anyway, I managed my decreasing and casting off as instructed to shape the neckline on back.  I’ve now begun work on the front.

Realising however, that even if I finish this sweater soon, I won’t be wearing it until the autumn . . . and that summer clothes are more what’s needed at this time of year.

tunic mai

I pulled out one of my favourite patterns (NewLook 6086) which I have tried and tested several times.  Chose a “difficult” piece of fabric though.  No idea what it is exactly.  Suffice it to say it’s very light, floaty and slippy.  I did French seams and also made my own binding for neck and armholes.

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And voilà the result!

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A lovely simple sleeveless tunic.  Long enough to cover my bum.  The perfect match for my new trousers (couldn’t resist: bargain price at our local discount store, Noz).  I have another tunic in the making, in an equally floaty, slippy fabric . . . so stay tuned.  Gibbs approves, but I’m a little worried about his playful antics and teeth.  He does like to tug on my clothes . . . let’s hope he doesn’t tug too hard on my new tunic!