This year I’m taking a deep dive into the world of fabric crumbs.
If you are not familiar with the term fabric crumbs are the small bits of fabrics leftover from when you cut out pieces for a project. Each person has their own definition of what size and shape a crumb is. For me it has to be at least ¾” in size. The shape can be square, rectangle or triangle. I am using a few irregular shaped pieces providing I can get sew a straight edge. General consensus is that the pieces are too small or difficult to sew with in a traditional project. Normally these pieces would get discarded, used as stuffing in projects or I used to donate them to a local pre-school for toddlers to use.
There are different ways you can sew with crumbs. You can join pieces together to form strips or blocks that you can use like regular quilt blocks. You can start with a centre piece and join pieces around each edge and work outwards creating a large piece of fabric. For the 3 projects I’m starting with this year I’m using a foundation piecing method. I have leftover scrap of denim which I’m using as a base and sewing my scraps together on top of that and flipping them over. I’m working on 6 pieces at once. I have a box of crumbs which I select from each time I’m adding a piece on. It is like a giant jigsaw puzzle except you don’t have a picture to work from. You look through the box and hold crumbs against the work until you find one that will fit that section. I’m stitching on 2 or 3 crumbs per piece before ironing all 6 pieces at once.
Generally with crumb quilting you have a slightly smaller seam allowance than the normal ¼”. In the past I’ve had issues with seams coming undone when I joined scraps with a smaller seam allowance. I’m using my seam ruler to mark the seam ¼” line on each piece then using the line to sew over. On this project I’m handing sewing all the crumbs on to the denim. Due to the piecing method I’m using I can’t chain piece the crumbs together so hand sewing uses less thread as I have very minimal thread waste knotting and tying off the thread after each piece is sewn. It is also a way to use up bobbins and spools which have small amounts of thread still on them. I love hand sewing so this project is very relaxing and fun.
So far I’m enjoying fabric crumbs. Moving forward it is going to be very hard for me to throw out any fabric crumbs as I now know that they can be used with a little planning and creative thinking.
The after Christmas sales can be very tempting but this year I didn’t buy a lot because frankly I didn’t need anything. I stocked up on some supplies which I will be using throughout the year such as bag findings and yarn (for WIRES pouches) There was one indulgent purchase which I had on my wish list if I saw it on sale.
About 5 years ago I purchased a Hot Hemmer which is gridded ruler that you can iron directly on allowing you to do accurate hems. It measures about 4” x 6” and has a section to do curved hems as well markings for mitred corners. I use it so much that I keep on the bottom drawer of my sewing table so that I can reach for it easily when I need it. 5 years on I still keep it in the plastic wrapper and packaging so that it doesn’t get dusty and the packaging also keeps it flat. The only downside to the hemmer that when you need to keep moving it along when you are doing a really long hem such as on a skirt or shirt. I wasn’t the only one thinking this so Clover developed the Hot Ruler.
The Hot Ruler is 2.5” x 10” making it 4” longer than the hot hemmer. It is narrower than the Hemmer but it would be very rare that you are turning over more than 2.5” of fabric at one time for a hem. The extra length is what is important and the most useful. There are a couple versions of the both the hot ruler and hot hemmer depending if you like imperial or metric measurements. For all things sewing related I prefer imperial. On the hot hemmer/ruler the imperial versions (blue versions) looked less cluttered than the metric (red versions)
Just before new year I made a pj top. I left the hemming of it until I got my new hot ruler so that I could try it out. The top was a cotton jersey and the ruler worked really well on the bottom hem as I only had to move 2 maybe 3 times for each of the front and back. For the sleeves which were narrower I used the hemmer as it was smaller.
I know the hot ruler will be a well used tool. I can use it for not only doing hems but also when I’m doing bag straps which require a quarter fold press (press fabric in half then press each raw edge into the centre fold) At times my pressing isn’t always accurate when doing straps but this ruler will help.
In 2020 when making my Melbourne Tote Bag I attempted to make a patch pocket but failed miserably. I just couldn’t get my head around how to enclose all the edges and turn it right side out. For that bag I ended up doing a different style pocket.
For about 18 months that failed pocket shuffled around living on my craft table, lounge chair, ironing board and craft trolley before finally going on the shelving inside my cutting table with a heap of other UFPs (unfinished projectcs) It was too good to just toss out but I didn’t know what to do with it. In February I pulled it out and finished it off.
The outside of the pocket was complete and all edges finished. It was only the inside of the pocket which had raw edges. The simplest way to finish the edges was to sew bias binding over them. I make a lot of bias binding. It is very easy to make your own continuous bias binding from just a strip of fabric. I keep all my leftover pieces as they come in very handy for all sorts of projects. In my leftover stash I found a piece that just the right size to go all the way around. I stitched the binding around the edge, folded it over then hand stitched it down.
This project was so quick to finish I don’t know why I didn’t think of the idea of using bias binding at the time. Sometimes I tend to overthink projects and that was the case with this failed pocket. I had to stop thinking of it as a patch pocket and look at as a zipper pouch.
Mr StitchNSew has claimed it as I had no use for it. It is good that it is finished and I’m no longer shuffling it about my craft areas. A long time coming but it is done and I got to use up one piece from my bias binding leftovers.
After a 3 year hiatus Sydney Frocktails finally made a comeback and I had to be part of it. If you are unfamiliar with the term Frocktails it is basically a party for people who make their own clothes to come together for an evening of hanging out and chatting about all things sewing. It is the only time that you can go up to random strangers and start feeling what they are wearing without getting arrested for it! I actually heard the phrase “It is like the Oscars, so who are you wearing?” It is a fun night, you can go up to anyone and just start chatting about patterns and fabrics.
Frocktails is a weekend for me and not just a night. It is always held in the city so Womble and I go into the city for a couple of nights as a mini holiday, I take a day off work, we go in Friday and come back Sunday. It makes it more enjoyable and at the end of the night I only have to jump in a taxi back to the hotel instead of trying to get back to western Sydney where we live. This time we stayed at a new hotel for us. It was our first time away in over 3 years so it was actually a weekend I was looking forward to from August when Frocktails was announced, and tickets went on sale.
For my outfit this time call it cheating, call it one I prepaid earlier, I wore what I originally had planned on wearing to Frocktails 2020. After I made my outfit I then decided not to go as it was close to when were about to move but Covid cancelled the event anyway. It was a Cashmerette outfit of the Cedar Dolmain top and Turner Skirt (hack of the Turner Dress) I did actually make a couple of accessories to go with my main outfit so I did do a little Frocktails sewing. I didn’t have a suitable bag so I made a Mini Day Tripper by DUMD patterns and Burda cape. Both items I have made before and will do details posts on them in the future. An hour before the event I found myself at the hotel hand sewing the ear loops of a black reusable masks I brought for the event as it was too big for me when I tried it on prior to leaving.
Normally at any event the introvert in me takes over and I have to leave after a certain time, I did have a moment where I had to step away from the main crowd as it just got too much for me. I went to a quieter area, ended up chatting to someone I know from Instagram but had never chatted to before, someone else joined us and we had a really insightful conversation about textile production and sewing. The time out just made me at ease again so that I could go back to the crowd. I did step out of my comfort zone a little mingling more than I normally do. It was really enjoyable night. The night was 5 hours and I stayed for over 4 hours which is really good for me. For the last 2 nearly 3 years as we’ve all had to stay isolated as such, you became closer to those online, as really they were your contact to the outside world. If you followed people of Instagram or were in a Facebook group together, you got to know them a bit more. At an event like Frocktails you were having real life conversations with people you have connected too online for so long, you were meeting your online friends in real life. Many people made the comment “I haven’t talked this much in 3 years”
As an adult it is fun to get a “goodie bag” as you leave a party and all attendees got the best goodie bag ever. It was filled with some many treats it was hard to photograph. Some of the items included
1m of fabric from Lush Fabrics
2 sewing patterns
Sew In labels
Each bag contained a different piece of fabric with a note saying what the fabric was. I got a black rib knit DTY. It is lovely and soft but I’m not sure what I will make with it yet. The Style Arc pattern looks interesting so I might venture out of my comfort zone and give it a try. The labels I know I won’t use so I plan on contacting an Instagram buddy to see if she would like them.
The date for Frocktails 2023 has already been announced and I have told Womble we’re away that weekend. It should be fun. Now to start planning on my outfit.
Once again I’m including face masks in with the charity bags.
I took a different approach to selecting fabrics for this years masks. I use knit fabric ties for the ear loops instead of elastic. They are more comfortable and stand up to washing really well. Last year I had some faulty grey fabric which I couldn’t sew with as it would fall apart on the fault lines but I could cut up between the faults and use as ear loops. I started with my ear loop fabric and hit my stash. Earlier this year I pulled out a grey floral fabric in my stash that I was going to use in another project but never did. I set it aside and came across it again when making the masks. It was perfect, the fabric was a thick quilting cotton which I like to use in masks. It has a purple colour running through it. After cutting out another project I had a leftover piece of lilac fabric so I decided to use that as the inside of the masks. It wasn’t the same colour as the purple on the outside but it was purple so it did look like a theme. I used lilac thread for my top stitching to match it all together.
I’m really happy with how these turned out as it was a very sustainable sewing project. I was able to use up some faulty in a practical way. I used up a leftover piece of fabric. I was able to make useful items to add in the charity bags.
Years ago I made pj pants for this first time. I upcycled a satin sheet for them. I never wore them as they were too long and hot. When a pair of winter ready to wear pj pants were no longer wearable I decided it was time to try another attempt of pj pants.
Once again I used the same pattern Simplicity 2116. It is a unisex pattern. I made the same size XL but this time I cut them to length of size S. I’m very happy with the fit. They are roomy but not too baggy. The length is good as I don’t trip over the bottom of them. Trip hazards are a no no in our house.
The flannelette fabric I used came from one of the 2 big fabric chain stores in Australia, I can’t remember which one. I don’t know much about flannelette fabrics to know about the quality of it. It is warm but has started to pill quickly. They should still last me a few years. In future I might buy fabric from an independent fabric shop. I want to make another pair so that I will have 3 pairs for winter. I have fabric in my stash but it has cats on it and I am not a cat person. I’m thinking maybe I could have the cats on the inside as there is no rule to say that I have to have the fabric the right way out. Something to ponder.
My previous store brought pj pants had a ribbon drawstring as well as elastic. These only have elastic making them so comfortable. I am living out of them this winter.
This year I am trying to make small changes to reduce single use items if I can. One area I knew I could eliminate my usage was making my coffee at work.
One of my OCD issues is that at work my coffee cup lid can’t be placed directly on the bench as I make my coffee each time. I can’t handle the lid making surface contact. At the start of each day I would grab a paper towel, fold it up and place my lid on that. I would use the same one throughout the day folding it so that the “clean” side wouldn’t have any surface contact with anything but my cup lid. Just doing some rough sums if I look at 5 days x 52 weeks – public holidays, ADO’s and annual leave I’m looking at over 200 paper towels a year! That is a lot of paper wasted not to mention added cost to my employer just because I can’t handle my lid touching the counter.
I use reusable paper towels at home so it seemed logical to make something similar to overcome this issue at work. My original plan was just to cut some simple rectangles from stash fabric and have a solid back and front. In January when I discovered Karen’s videos from Just Get It Done Quilts I got the quilting bug. Watching the different videos I found one on tips for sewing straight and ironing techniques. I decide this was the perfect project to put into practice in a practial way the different techniques mentioned plus get a quilting hit at the same time.
Last decade I attempted to make a couple of quilts by hand. I ended up getting the quilt tops finished but never actually got them quilted. Years ago I donated the tops to a charity that completed the quilts and gave them away. In my stash I had leftover 1.5″ strips from the project. I sorted them out in groups of 5 and pieced them together. I then cut 5.5″ blocks. I then played around with the quilting blocks pairing them up so I would have 2 blocks for the front of each mat. I did leave one piece as I liked the combination as it was the same print in 3 different colours.
For the backs I cut simple rectangles from precut squares in my stash (once again originally cut for quilts that never eventuated) I randomly took a pieced front and plain back, stitched them together right sides facing, turned them out and top stitched around the edge. I stitched a centre line done the front of each mat to help me fold them in half each day. The finished mats are 5″ x 9″ which is about the same size my folded paper towels were.
I store the mats in my desk drawer at work in zipper pouch that I made last year when I need one for work when I working out of 2nd offices and I wanted to store some supplies in it but now I didn’t really have a use for it. The pouch was make from offcuts from when I made my star pants last year. It is actually really good for the mats. It is just the right width and as it holds a lot I can store the mats in it with ease. There is no interfacing in the pouch so it collapses down even with all the mats inside it making it perfect to store in my office drawer. I was pleased with this pouch when I made it as using offcuts from my pants I had made a more sustainable sewing project, idle fabric offcuts had become a usable item. Now that I’m using it for the mats I love it even more. The pouch and the mats it holds incorporates sustainable sewing, the mats are helping me reduce my single use item consumption. I’m not changing or fixing the world of its waste problems but I’m starting to make small changes in my everyday world in the way I think and do. Another thing I love about this pouch is I get to hold my funky star fabric each day at work. It is the little things that make me smile.
I made 13 mats in total. Each day I bring home my used mat and toss it straight in the washing machine ready for the next time I wash. Once a week I take my clean mats in and refill my zipper pouch. I made enough mats so I had 2 weeks worth plus a few spares. Depending on what I have to eat some days I use 2 mats as sometimes I will wrap my spoon in a mat if it is on desk.
I have been using my mats all year. I love how they turned out. I can easily see which is the “clean” side as it is the pieced side. I’m reducing my single use paper consumption by a lot. I used up leftover fabric scraps so they are no longer sitting in my stash. I got a quilting hit. I had a chance to practice my sewing and ironing skills in a practical way.
I have finished sewing my charity bags for this year. If you are not familiar with my blog each year I donate 3 bags to the annual Share The Diginity “It’s In The Bag” campaign. The focus of the campaign is to gather together a bag of essential items plus a extra items if you can. The bags are distributed to woman and teens in need at Christmas. Each year I make the physical bags that I fill.
I have been doing this for a number of years now. For the last few years I have been using the same pattern to make all 3 bags which is view D of McCalls M6338. The bag is designed to be used a shopping tote but I have found it to be a really good size for the charity bags. The most important thing is that it holds a lot. It is a really easy bag to sew as it has a drawstring closure so you don’t need to worry about zippers. I batch sew the 3 bags so having a simple pattern makes the process easier.
Each year I raid my stash for fabrics. Any cotton fabrics are suitable but I always look out for fabrics which are a bit more sturdy, at least for the outside of the bag. This year I found a green décor type fabric. It feels like a heavy linen almost denim type fabric. I used it for both the inside and outside of the bag. I didn’t use interfacing in the bags this year as the green fabric has a little more structure.
For the drawstring top panel, pocket, handles and drawstrings I used quilting cottons. In my stash I had the same floral print in 2 shades of green and 2 shades of white. The prints obviously were all brought at the same time as one green was darker with a matching darker white and the other green matched the other white. I couldn’t think of any other way to use these fabrics so I decided to continue on with the green theme and use them in these bags. This year the bags only have a single patch pocket on the front, I didn’t have time to do an internal pocket this year. They are still very functional with just a single pocket. Once again I made the drawstring closure as I had fabric leftover, you can always use ribbon if you don’t want to make drawstrings.
When constructing the bags I forgot that this year I was going to join the inner and outer layers of the bag a little different to the pattern instructions. I was going to leave a turning gap at the bottom of the inner bag like I did when I made my yellow bag last year and join the bags together along the top seam turning them right sides out via the gap. I remembered this after I did the box corners and it was going to be too difficult to unpick the bottom seam. The pattern has fold under the top edge of the outer bag, place the 2 bag sections wrong sides together and join them along the folded edge. It is a bit tricky and unfortunately I got a couple of puckers but I don’t mind. The bags are functional so that is all that matters.
It was good to use up some fabrics I wouldn’t normally think of a use for. After I donate this years bags in November I will raid my stash again for next years bags. I have an idea for one fabric as a starting point but it will be a matter of seeing if I have enough to cut out all the outer bags with it.
Last year I made Mr StitchNSew a bag for his electric wheelchair. This year I made another accessory for it. For extra support he uses a cushion behind his back. For years it was just random cushion we had in the house and the cover was made from a synthetic bright blue fake fur. The cushion was ok in winter but in the hotter months sitting in a black chair with a fury cushion behind him he got very hot. Finally I thought it was time to make him a new cushion cover. His favourite t-shirt was falling apart so he suggested I could use that as the fabric.
I have upcycled t-shirts into pillows/cushions in the past. Previously I made the cover based on the size of the t-shirt and made a pillow insert based on the finished cover size. This time I made the cushion based on the existing pillow insert as there wasn’t anything wrong with that. I had to measure the insert to find the square dimensions I needed. I then cut the pillow front and backs separately so that the print on the t-shirt would be within the square dimensions. I also had to mend some small holes in the t-shirt.
There is a zipper at the bottom of the cover. I had a heap of orange zippers in my stash so instead of buying a white one I just used one of those. You can’t see it anyway so I got away with it.
Whilst making this in my head I was singing “You can sew your own way” over and over. We are both pleased on how this cushion turned out. I made this in January so it has had a couple of outings on hot days. Chair life has become more comfortable for Mr SttichNSew with this cotton t-shirt cover and it has given a worn out t-shirt a new practical life.
For the last few years I have been making yoghurt at home again using the Easiyo sachet bases. I’m not sure if you can get them in other parts of the world. The sachets are a dry powder mix you buy at the supermarket which you add water too and it makes 1kg of yoghurt. I generally buy the sachets when they are on special for around $4 -$4.50 and save about $3 compared to buying 1kg of yoghurt from the supermarket. I find I don’t like store brought yoghurt anymore the times when I have brought it for a quick snack or have gotten it for free. There is an even more frugal way by only using a couple of teaspoons of the sachet base and adding powdered milk which I used to do when I was making it years ago. I stopped making yoghurt for several years and haven’t tried the more frugal way since I started back again.
To make the yoghurt you first need to buy the Easiyo kit which consists of a baffle and the yoghurt container. You make up the yoghurt in the container, place boiling water into the base of the baffle then place the container inside the baffle and seal it up. I tend to pour extra water in so it comes up most of the sides of the container. The baffle sits on the kitchen bench for 8 – 12 hours before you remove the container and place it in the fridge to set. Recently I had a couple of batches of yoghurt come out runny instead of nice and thick. Some people like runny yoghurt but I’m not a fan of it. Sadly I had to discard a couple of batches as I just couldn’t bring myself to eat it. Yes very wasteful of me but I am being honest. Unfortunately I found this post on what to do with it if the batch turns out runny after I had already tossed it. I can’t remember which blog I read the tip on but somewhere I read a hint that the causes of runny yoghurt might be that you haven’t left it in the baffle for long enough or perhaps the baffle wasn’t warm enough. It triggered a memory that years ago when I used to make it I sometimes used to wrap a cotton jumper around the baffle when it sat overnight. Back then my plan was to one day knit a cozy for it but I never got around to it.
I decided to sew a cozy instead. I mentioned in Mindful Unpicking that I unpicked my big coat. The inner layer of the jacket was polar fleece and I used that to make the cozy. It was very easy to make I took the lid off the baffle and traced around it on trace and toile to get the circular top shape. The main section is just a rectangle I cut out by measure the height of the baffle and the circumference. To make it double thickness I cut out 2 top circles which was the hood section of the jacket. I didn’t have enough fleece to cut out 2 full rectangles so I cut one from the back section and pieced together the 2 fronts of jacket and cut the rectangle from that. It is possibly a little tall as the way I took the height was from the tip of the lid to the base as I didn’t take into consideration how tall the lid was when I traced out my circle. The excess fabric just sits near the base and doesn’t get in the way at all. It is snug but not hard to pull on and off.
The next batch of yoghurt I made I left longer in the baffle and covered it with the cozy. The yoghurt came out nice and thick. The combination of leaving it longer and keeping it warmer really worked. I take yoghurt to work in a container dishing it up the night before and adding fruit. In the past the fruit overnight sometimes would make it a bit runny. With this batch the yoghurt stayed thick in my smaller container when I added the fruit.
I’m really happy with how this turned out. It is a simple project but very practical. It was a very sustainable and frugal project as I didn’t need to purchase any fabric and will save money by not having to throw yoghurt out.