Sewing? Me?

Okay, so I woke up this morning, on the first of a few days off.  I’ve been looking forward to catching up on all the things I’ve been talking about getting around to.  But this morning, when I woke up, I had an unprecedented urge to sew something.  Me!  Sewing machines scare the life out of me, & I’ve not sewn anything since a badly appliqued sewing case when I was 9!  Oh, and I attempted to sew up a hole in a jumper on request of an ex-boyfriend who didn’t understand the difference between sewing and embroidery.

Well, I have been being seduced lately by the fantastic books of cuteness by Aranzi Aronzo, the fabulous ‘Stray Sock Sewing’, and the weirdly cool ‘Plush-o-Rama’.  Every time I look at these pattern books, I think, ‘That looks easy; surely I could do that’; so I guess my inner self decided it was time I put myself to the test.

I was up very early, very twitchy to do something.  But I decided that I needed felt, and dried beans to fill whatever I made, so I dashed out to the shops, and got there before they were even open.  In the end I got some moong beans, but had a flash of ‘insight’ that suggested I already had some felt at home.  Turned out I was wrong.  Well, I was itching to get on with something.  I’m not a fabric addict (threads & yarns, that’s another story) so I didn’t have any interesting oddments to use up.  What I do have, however, is LOTS of old clothes, many of which are either too big or too small.  One quick rummage later, and I was finally ready to begin.

I cut 2 very rough squares of fabric, approx. 4″ square.  I used 1 plain t-shirt, and 1 patterned.  I pinned them together around the edges, with the right side facing inwards.  Oh, before I pinned them, I sewed 2 buttons and stitched a nose/mouth (randomly positioned) onto the right side of the plain fabric.

Mis-shapen front (top) and back (bottom)

This was just a trial for me, so I didn’t want to copy a pattern from a book or online.  And I certainly didn’t want to bother with fiddly things like tracing, and cutting paper patterns!  I decided just to (running) stitch a fairly random outline, within the pinned border of the fabric.  It turned out slightly more random than anticipated, but I was fine with that.  I remembered not to sew it closed, and turned it inside out (after trimming off the excess fabric to 0.5cm outside my stitches).  I then poured as many moong beans onto the kitchen counter as I did inside the ‘thing’.  I slip-stitched the hole closed, et voila – my very first hand-sewn Mis-shape (‘It’s a mis-shape with ears’, as my husband said when he saw it).

I think he’s very cute.  More will have to follow.   I can’t believe that suddenly I want to sew…

(N.B. I promise that the beautifully centred pattern on the back is purely accidental!)

Recycle your Christmas cards!

Okay, the 12th day after Christmas has been and gone, the tree and decorations are down, and everything is ready to be thrown out or stored for next (sorry, this…) year.  But wait!  What are you going to do with all those Christmas cards?  Well, you could cut them up into gift tags for the next round of xmas presents.  You could also turn them (or at least some of them)  into a handy D.I.Y. weaving loom!

Find 2 cards that are the same size (or cut a second down to the same size as the first).  Glue them together, using a solid glue stick (eg Pritt Stick) face to face, back to back, or face to back – it doesn’t matter!  Glue down any open edge so that you have a single rectangle of fairly sturdy (and festive!) card.

Now all you need to do is mark & cut notches, and you’re ready to weave!  Follow instructions in FREE How to Weave on Anything PDF, using Christmas cards as your loom!

A couple of cool websites

Just stumbled across a couple of cool websites I thought I would share – please visit, support, contribute, because they are very cool!

At The Sampler you can make a monthly subscription to receive a goody bag of, well, goodies from a wide range of indie crafters, zines etc.

Craft Leftovers is a place after my own heart, specialising in, well, crafts from leftovers…  You can subscribe to receive a monthly craft zine, a kit for a previous project, as well as lots of cool re-claimed stash to craft with!  There’s also a raft of free projects & instructions on the site, so go explore!

Weaving with plastic bags

For the ultimate recycling/re-purposing craft project, make your own yarn from strips of plastic carrier bags!  Click here for instructions.  So now on the days you’ve forgotten or already filled your stash of eco-cotton bags, you no longer need to feel guilty for accepting plastic bags.  Weave, knit, crochet – the possibilities are endless!  (Colours may be somewhat limited, but that is your penance and challenge!)

Illoomination

Despite my recent posts about tapestry looms, and although I have been weaving a lot lately, it turns out that, actually, my recent weaving experiments haven’t been woven on any of my looms at all.  Instead, I’ve come to the realisation that (for me) weaving on cardboard is just as effective, and far more practical.  Admittedly, this is primarily because I like to work on a small-scale, and would not work so well for larger pieces.

I’ve been preparing for a craft fair that is coming up at  the end of November (www.thisisbazaar.co.uk – check it out!).  I’ve woven a couple of small ‘pictures’, amongst other things.  But instead of struggling with how to finish and frame them neatly once the piece is removed from the loom (or if not struggling, at least spending time on finishing that I would rather spend weaving) I have worked from the beginning of each piece with a piece of firm card cut to the size of the aperture of the intended frame or box mount.  I guess a level of foresight is necessary here, as this does (up to a point) commit me to using that particular frame for the finished piece, rather than deciding on the best way to mount the finished piece once it is complete…

But I haven’t used anything special.  The card is just ordinary card, cut from discarded packaging materials, notched with scissors.  I even discovered that a hairclip makes a brilliant weaving needle, with the yarn gripped firmly in place, and a curve to the clip easing the over-under motion (a needle of some descrption is probably still best for finer work).  This set me to thinking about how weaving as a craft is so simple to execute, with great results, and really doesn’t need any expensive equipment at all.  In fact, if you have a small stash of yarn (or maybe a woolly jumper to unravel!) you can weave with virtually no outlay at all.  It’s actually a brilliant example of the recycling-through-re-purposing ethic.

I had some friends round to my house yesterday.  There was lots of crafty stuff lying about, because we were planning to play while we chatted, so I put out a box with some oddments of wool, a couple of miniature looms I had putPlay Your Cards Right Loom together out of re-purposed playing cards, and a part-worked example I had been working on.  I didn’t make a big thing about it, but two of the girls picked up looms and started weaving straight away.  I had pre-warped them, so there was nothing fiddly to start off with.  One of the girls started using the hairclip; the other was using her fingers until I showed how it worked: both agreed the hairclip worked really well.

Trish's Pouch
Trish
Bernice's Pouch
Bernice

Both made cute litte pouches, and I was so impressed with the way they turned out.  The girls couldn’t have chosen more different yarns and colours from each other, so they were brilliant examples of what could be done, with a little imagination.

So when it comes to the craft fair, I’m now decided that as well as finished pieces, I will also  have beginners kits, made up of re-purposed looms.  I liked the idea before, but seeing the results of my girly day yesterday, proved the results could be really worthwhile even using such basic materials.   Selling a kit may not seem quite in line with the re-purposed ethic, but anyone can go online and find out how to make a cardboard loom, if they want to.  The simple truth is that despite our current DIY culture, many people still prefer to have everything presented to them, ready to begin.  But once they have tried it out, seen what the kits consist of and how easy it is, perhaps they will be encouraged to make their own next time.  Well, maybe…

I got quite twitchy at the last craft fair I did, because there was quite a lot of time spent just sitting around when I felt as though I ought to be doing something.  I hadn’t been organised enough to take anything with me, and  sitting around doing nothing is NOT something I generally do a lot of! This time I will definitely be weaving as I sit, and I will have some sample looms to hand for anyone passing by to try out, if they show an interest.  Yesterday’s experiment has made me feel very positive about the whole thing. 🙂