Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Up-cycled tights tidies

There is nothing worse in the morning than fighting through a twisted knot of tights in a drawer that barely closes, trying to find the brother of a sock that might or might not be squirrelled away in the dark depths. It is like starting the day by fighting a gorgon, and it makes me as grumpy as I am when making a bed.

Well those days are at an end. I now have 'tights tidies':
Tights tidies 

The idea came from this peg bag I made a few years ago which is still going strong. I decided to use thinner lighter hangers for the tights bags to save room. You can just about see that I have actually sewed the bags onto the hangers, unlike the peg bag.

Handmade quilted peg bag
Another irksome thing about mornings is locating what seems to be a pair of plain tights only to discover on putting them on that they are actually 'fun' or novelty tights, which just won't do for work. So at first glance 4 tights tidies may seem extravagant, but in the interests of segregation it makes good sense.

So here we have the nude tights bag (all bags are lined with organza left over from the mandala quilt). The skirt is a remnant from a cushion and the purple is left-over backing from my first quilt made in about 2004)...
nude tights tidy
...and then there is the plain dark tights bag. The skirt is a cutting from the car seat-covers I patched in 2009 which had seen better days, the legs are from the mandala quilt and the pale blue is backing from my mum's 60th birthday quilt...
dark tights tidy
...and then there is the woolly tights bag. The backing is of course the same as the peg bag and the legs I am so happy about because they are leftovers from the last post so in the end very little of the marathon cape knitting disaster went to waste...
woolly tights tidy
...and last but not least there is the fancy or novelty fun tights bag. More up-cycled car seat patch covers for the skirt and old quilt backing strips for the legs. Even the buttons are orphan buttons from my button box.
novelty tights bags

Oh and if this seems a little o-c, a quick internet search reassures me there are always others who take it that one step further. Some people have really thought this through- see wear at work tights storage, odd socks and pretty frocks storage, kitty cat stevens - how I organise my tights, lana red tight tights.

So the problem I have now is finding storage space for the tights storage. Life is a series of challenges. 

Sunday, 5 October 2014

up-cycled cushions and other things

upcycled cushions
I look back with fond memories on the Year of the Cape 2012 - it was a quietly celebrated. There were complications of the technical kind. However I think we need to put those times behind us now.

From their quiet unassuming attitude one might never suspect these lovely cushions started life as this:

capes should be left to superheroes and consulting detectives 
I much prefer to benefit from those hours of knitting by enjoying these cushions instead of the slightly ashamed slightly frustrated feeling I had every time I didn't wear the Pilar cape. And to keep them company I made these lovely soft faux-tweed fleecy grey cushion covers, replacing the white Ikea ones I made 5y ago to match the Ikea couch I upholstered (yes I know the white ones never really worked but they did the job) :

In with the new

Out with the old
Other things: My sewing table pincushion foam circles were inadvertently hoovered up so I used the opportunity to make some new ones using a baby bath sponge and...

1. A cut off from a cowl I knitted in the round which was slightly too big:
pincushion made from old cushion covers and off-cut knitting
 2. Patchwork car seat covers I made 5 years ago which had seen better days:
pincushion made from old patchwork seat cover

sewing desk replacements: better than the original foam circles
On the subject of pincushions this beautiful cross-stitched pincushion was made for me by my mum and is the pride and joy of my small collection:
cross stitched handmade pincushion by mum

Friday, 26 September 2014

dyeing on a summers day

Tie dyed T-shirt
The first time I ever tie-dyed was in primary school the 1980s - I made a pink tote bag. I was a bit embarrassed about it because tie-dyeing wasn't very cool in 1985.

A few years later tie-dyeing made a resurgence and it was OK again, along with the bucket hats that we had been laughed at for wearing only a few years earlier. Suddenly the beautiful youth were showing their tans in sleeveless floaty tie-dyed hippy dresses with friendship bracelets adorning wrists and ankles. Then my favourite T-shirt was a green tie-dyed shirt from Cape Town and someone actually offered to buy it from me. For the briefest moment I was 'in fashion'. I will always now associate tie-dyeing with summer and beaches and being 19.

For years our American family have had an annual tie-dyed T-shirt competition. Every year we get a technicolour group portrait destined one day for awkwardfamilyphotos.com. I have no idea whether tie-dyeing is currently in style, ironically in style in a hipsteresque way or uncool. The world seems more complicated now.

Last year I needed to salvage a favourite t-shirt which had been ruined by high factor sunscreen - I had tried bleaching it out but some strange chemical reaction between titanium dioxide and bleach had produced a pinkish yellow colour :
neckline of t-shirt: after bleaching 
I almost threw it away but at the last minute decided to try dyeing it. Suspecting a straight dye would produce the same patchy discolouration at the neck, tie-dyeing was the obvious solution. The techniques we used in school were a bit time consuming (tying bits of string round marbles) so I decided to try this instead:

It was surprisingly as easy as it looks in the video:

...and as you can see the end result is predictable. Happily I think I might get another 14 years wear out of this t-shirt. I think tie-dyeing as a fashion will never die.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

analogue custom made camera bag

Analogue photography is a lot of fun but you either need a lot of pockets, a team of sherpas or a good (waterproof) bag for all the gear. In these throwaway days it is easy to find a cheapo waterproof bag but why take the easy path?

Now where would you find a suitable bag with a tripod carrier in an attractive world map waterproof fabric?

 A bellows style postage stamp pocket for filter?

An internal world map pocket for self timer or lens tissues?

2 roomy compartments for camera, light meter and film?

An elasticated loop to hold a custom designed roll of tape useful for when the sticky fails on the film roll (it does happen...)?

OK well you might possibly find a bag with some of those approximate features but I absolutely guarantee no bag anywhere in the world has one of the following. For people like me with too many hobbies it has been known for the film to stay in the camera for a few months so by the time I pick it up again I can't remember whether it is colour or black and white and the film speed is anyone's guess (I am still learning about that sort of thing).

So here we have a cunningly simple design solution: A rectangle of fabric with a coloured camera fabric design on one side and a black and white design on the other and 2 button holes with an embroidered arrow in the middle. Simply choose the right fabric and  point the arrow to the appropriate speed. I can't take credit for the idea but the sewing is all my own work.

Now all I have to do is learn how to use the camera. It is tricky with apertures and film speeds and light meters and distances but every so often it works...

Tour of Britain: analogue shot
Tour of Britain: digital shot

Sunday, 20 July 2014

blue sun prints

What a happy day.

This was supposed to be a post about a new camera case I stitched up yesterday but in the (warm) light of day I am so underwhelmed by my sloppy stitching that I have renamed it the prototype.

Today I have discovered the thrill of cyanotypes and it is my new best hobby.

Last summer my best birthday present was a day learning the basics of darkroom photography. Well I don't remember any of the theory but the bit where the picture appeared was magic. I have no idea why developing photographs is so exciting but it is.

The second best presents were the sun printing kits (cyanotype and salt printing).

Being a pessimist and English I promptly put them away in a suitcase for a year as I suspected we would have no sunny days for a good while. I don't really want to jinx things by passing comment on our summer so far this year but safe to say my freckles have joined up.  

Today conditions were perfect for sun printing and we had a go at cyanotypes. It was so much fun and I am amazed by the results. The kit only came with 5 OHP sheets for the negatives and 5 pieces of cotton paper for the prints but I am already researching replacement kit.

The pictures I used were all taken with a digital camera...

 ...but I would like to at some point and with the help of a friend do the whole thing in an almost completely analogue fashion - using a film camera to take film photographs and develop the negatives in the house. I will need a lot of help. 

And I am very excited about the idea of cyanotype onto fabric. Oh the possibilities.

cyanotype sun printing 
after washing and fixing and washing again

the prototype camera bag: C minus

Sunday, 8 June 2014

merit badges

For the best holidays I am in the habit of making a memento, usually in the American scrapbook style. Unless done quickly I tend to go off the boil and get distracted (hence the 'Skye Trail' scrapbook has been on pause for a year).

We have just finished a 6 day backpacking camping trip in our backyard, the Lakes. It was a made-up route with no eponymous title but it was brilliant and deserved a memento. This year instead of scrapbooks it is the year of the merit badge.
Girl guides new self esteem badge
What got me thinking about merit badges was that the Girl Guides have recently launched a 'Free being me' corporately sponsored self-esteem body image badge. Who'd have thunk it. Back in the day, I was of course a cub (guides were sissies) and I really enjoyed collecting merit badges. I can't remember all the ones I had but vaguely recall a badge with a dustpan and brush on, another with entertainers masks and a third with an artist's palette. I also remember making a scrapbook of the royal family but can't remember which that counted for.
Thimble on the left with Bad Hair Day Lady on right - merit badge sleeve pretty empty
6 days of hiking gives a person quite a bit of thinking time. Clearly we needed an overall commemorative merit badge for the trip, but there were a number of opportunities for earning achievement merit badges along the way.

Some badges I would find quite easy to achieve:

  • The water fetching badge
  • The suncream vigilance badge
  • The first aid badge.
  • These badges could have a green edge.

Other intermediate badges (orange edge) might include:

  • The rucksack badge (more complex than it sounds)
  • The cook a meal without help from a friend badge (I might be too lazy for this one or possibly too busy with the water fetching badge)

Difficult (red edged) badges are:

  • Putting the tent up (includes choosing a good camp site with level ground out of the wind away from midges).
  • Map and compass badge

To get us started here we have the bush toilet craft or shitting outdoors badge. Anyone familiar with long distance hiking will understand this one. Burning the toilet paper should be considered only if the risk of setting fire to the countryside is deemed negligible. I recommend laxatives before the trip to ensure minimal defecation urge. In fact this first badge was rightly awarded to my travelling companion who has much more skill and experience in bush toilet craft techniques.

In case you are wondering the symbol if of a pile of steaming remains with burning toilet paper:
Small embroidery hoop for making merit badges
Bush toilet craft merit badge

Moving swiftly on, the commemorative trip badge depicts key features of the trip: date and distance travelled; the red fox and green lizard spotted en route (red fox too fast to photograph); lakes and campsites with elevations...and an ambiguous boot which I am told looks like a monkey:
May '14 Lakes backpacking trip commemorative badge

The green lizard
thinking about merit badges