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WoCaR 2023 – Week 13

This post in a series keeping track of my Winter of Care and Repair 2023 Project. If you want to see all the posts in the series click here


16 March

I picked up some fabric for more hats! We were rushing back from Manchester to Shrewsbury and I didn’t get much time to do anything else.

I’m not sure if these will be stiff enough, I’ll make one as is but maybe see if I can find some heavy duty natural interfacing. I’m also not sure if the print is a bit too big, but I’ll just look a little more abstract. These are just practice.


17 March

Last week I’d made a bunch of Nikko tops, and while most were comfy, one that was just on the cusp of the amount of stretch required for the pattern was a little tight. I realised I’d mis-measured myself. Patterns are designed with a cup size (3″ larger than your high bust measurement in this case). Mine was the correct measurement at my bust, but was too small for my shoulders.

On the phone with my parents I cut out three more at the correct size.

I got on a bit of a roll 😂.

I also finished up nearly all of the stitching on my jacket – just a few more bits around the edges to do, which I inked in.


18 March

Marathon Nikko making!

You could definitely argue probably had other things on my to-do list with higher priority, but given that I’d been searching for this pattern all winter, I just wanted to knock more out before I completely missed the long sleeve top weather.

To slightly future-proof myself I made one with a crew neck, but I very much fudged the insertion of the neck band so a lot of the ease ended up in the front. It’ll be fine for a workout top (which is what the fabric is), but I’ll have to be more careful when I make another.

I’m also really excited to have finally used my whale fabric.

Probably intended for a swimsuit, don’t really care. I have more to make a pair of leggings.


19 March

At this week’s Mid-Week Mend I had a little downtime so I finished up my denim jacket!

I proceeded to stare at for ages just to make sure I hadn’t missed anything – sometimes those gaps are hard to find with an all-over pattern like this that I didn’t tackle at all systematically.


20 March

I ironed off the grid and stitch guide markings for my denim jacket.

The video is less impressive than I thought it would be. Here’s a before and after.

That also looks less impressive than I was hoping 😂.

Here’s the inside, which I’ve not really shown off.

I’ve got one more little task I’m debating doing – replacing the all-purpose thread that’s holding the patch on around the edges with some grey perle cotton. I just to find some that’s the right size and colour to blend in.

Oh I also want to add a hanging loop at the collar, but need to pick up some correct top-stitching thread.

Jobs for another day.


Hooray! I feel really proud of myself for working on this all winter. I’ll be doing a proper recap post soon once I’ve got a little distance and time to reflect on what I achieved. Keep an eye out for it!

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WoCaR 2023 – Week 12

This post in a series keeping track of my Winter of Care and Repair 2023 Project. If you want to see all the posts in the series click here

This was another tough week to fit things in – I was rather busy Wednesday and then we were away early Thursday to late Saturday. But it was another case of do a little bit when you can.


9 March

I did a little work on another hat pattern – cutting out pieces.

This will be the Bucket Hat from Elbe Textiles. They also produced the hat pattern I made last week – the Serpentine. As this will be part of a group presentation, and we get points taken off if one thing is too dominant from the other makes, I’m keen to give the group some options as to what I make.

It’s out of the same denim from last week.

I also picked up some grey dye to alter the colour of a length of fabric. More on that tomorrow.


10 March

I’ve had some pink sweatshirt material in my stash for a couple of years.

I bought it online because it was discounted. I did have a project in mind, but when it came through I realised it didn’t have any stretch so it wasn’t suitable. I’m not a huge fan of pink, so it’s been languishing for a while.

My husband and I play D&D on a Saturday at Nerdy. I have so much love for that venue, but downstairs where most of the sessions are can be a little chilly. In a campaign I play a druid who often turns into a dire wolf, and I thought it’d be fun if I made a wolfy cape using the Traveller Cape from Twig & Tale and potentially the animal add on.

But pink wouldn’t do, so I bought some grey and dyed it. It didn’t entirely work.

My camera is struggling to capture this colour, but it’s somewhere between these two shades. Sort of grey, but also a bit purple/pink, and mottled.

I’m still going to make the cape with this. It’s a Wild Shape wolf so it can be a weird colour.


11 March

I finished the bucket hat, and just in time as I’ve got a meeting for the group project on Tuesday (tomorrow)

I used the pattern pieces for the Bucket hat, but borrowed the instructions from the Merchant and Mills Bucket Hat. It’s a bit tricky because you bag out the hat, but it ends up with a neater finish.

I took some time to practice the top stitching.

I’ll need to get some top stitching thread and maybe baste so my seam lines line up a bit better, but I’m happier with this than last week.


12 March

Worked a little bit more on my file reorganisation project mentioned the past few weeks. No pictures but it’s not exciting.


13 March

I went along to first Mid-Week Mend put on by the Oswestry & Borders Repair Cafe. The group is full of such nice people, I always love going along.

Although I was kept very busy with hemming (so much hemming!), I did manage to do a little stitching on my jacket refashion/mend.

I’ll be there next week as well!


14 March & 15 March

We went away for a couple of days, and I brought my jacket along with me.

It’s a lovely project to travel with, and I enjoyed working on it in the hotel after we knackered ourselves out walking around.


Less than a week left until the Vernal Equinox! If I have time I’ll make a little recap of everything I worked on.

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WoCaR 2023 – Week 11

This post in a series keeping track of my Winter of Care and Repair 2023 Project. If you want to see all the posts in the series click here


2nd & 3rd March

Very busy couple of days, all I had time for was tackling those files. I finished one bin! There is a second, but I’m nearly out files so I may need to scrounge up some more.

The best part of this was I found a pattern I was worried I’d lost in the move!

I’ve been looking for this for MONTHS, and was so convinced I’d lost it I bought the PDF when it was on special offer from True Bias. I hadn’t gone as far to print it as there are about a million pages to assemble.

So pleased to have rediscovered it though inside the second bin, in an accordion file.


4th March

I had a crafternoon to go to on Tuesday, and I wanted to make a start on a project to bring with. So I worked out the interior patch for the denim jacket.

Despite everything I said I went with a full panel patch, and just basted it on so I didn’t have to deal with pins.

I gridded up the outside using frixon pens.

I decided on an interlocking circles type pattern, but need to work out a template for that. Should be easy enough to do at the event with the grid marked out.


5th March

At the crafternoon I made a template out of a bit of plastic packaging and marked out my design.

Then I started working on the stitching, making a dent in the amount I have to do.


6th March

I went to the cycle hub today, but since it was so cold I couldn’t bear working with metal tools. My hands just stop working. So instead I did a bit more stitching.

I realised an important style point a little late: that it’s best with the stitching lines don’t cross. If you look at the very centre bottom, I’ve done the vertical stitches a little too high. They should be more like the joins further up. Oh well I don’t feel like redoing it.


7th March

In addition to tackling a bunch of wallets for Team Sikel, I made a Nikko!

I’ve had this fabric in my stash for…years. I think I wanted to make some leggings out of it, but wasn’t happy with the colour when I saw it in person. It’s a heavy viscose lyrca from Tia Knight fabrics, so I’m hoping it’ll be a bit warmer.

I always struggle cutting out knits, and I think the cutting took longer than the sewing – it’s such a quick assembly being only five pieces.

Eventually I want to make some crew neck versions, but while it feels like winter will never end I’ll make some more mock turtleneck ones to see me through.


8th March

Made a few more Nikkos, the black was an especially major pain to cut out and is probably wildly off grain.

The purple (which looks brown here) was wonderful to cut and sew. I’ve got a bunch more of it (plus more in a few colourways), bought years ago to make some workout clothes but never got around to it. I finally have a top! The leggings pattern is printed off but not assembled so that will have to wait for another day.


Reflections

With things busying up I’m glad I was able to make some progress this past week. After faffing with how to tackle the jacket, once I got the patch in there it doesn’t feel like a big deal anymore.

The vernal equinox is less than two weeks away, which will be the end of WoCaR! I’ve got a really busy week next week so I need to prep some projects to work on around the other meetings and things I’ve got planned…maybe I’ll save finishing the jacket?

Next week’s post will definitely be late.

With the time that’s left I’m hoping to make some progress on the quilt, which has languished on my windowsill for quite some time. But we’ll see, it needs room made in the garage for spray-basting. That whole place in a bit of a state at the moment. The tidying option for this project didn’t really happen as much as I thought it might 😂.

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Dog Bag Evolution

I’d had the idea for the dog poo bag holder a while back: something small that I could make using scraps from other projects (one of my favourite things to do to reduce waste). I could see a lot of benefits from using tubes:

  • It would be flexible and resilient – you could accidentally sit or step on it and it wouldn’t crack like firm plastic holders
  • Inner tube doesn’t absorb water – it wouldn’t mind the rain showers you encounter walking your dog
  • Each one would be unique and feature the character from its previous life (true of all my products 😁)

You would think something like a dog poo bag holder would be relatively simple to construct. But using reclaimed materials can sometimes throw a spanner in the works.

I wanted something I was completely happy with. In the end it took 8 versions to get that.

As part of March Meet the Maker, I thought I’d share more detail on each version and why my design needed to evolve.

Version 1

The very first version was the simplest, and I was a bit gutted it didn’t work.

It used some small scraps of inner tubes left over from baskets, which were left as tubes during the washing process. I left a little tail on each side, so I could fold them over and either use a rivet or a popper to close the ends. You’d insert the roll through the popper end.

I loved it because it was just one piece of material, and relatively simple to put together.

The big issue was that it was too small – only smaller, or partly-used rolls of dog bags could fit inside. While there are wider tubes out there, I rarely use them for baskets. They get cut open for sewing things like wallets, I wouldn’t have scraps to use for this.

Version 2

Version 2 was made up of three pieces of inner tube, though I tried to replicate the design from before.

I rolled up a longer piece to make a larger space, then attached separate tabs on each end to secure the ends.

As this was three pieces of material, it wasn’t as sleek as version 1, and the ends would skew a little left and right. I was worried the roll might fall out, so I needed to make it more stable.

Version 3

This became a little simpler – just two pieces of inner tube. Using a longer strip helped secure the grommet where the bags would come out, and meant the tabs going over the ends were less likely to skew out of place.

Another problem reared its head (though TBH it was an issue with the first two, too): inner tube is grippy!

This is an issue that I face throughout my business – it’s the main reason I knackered the first sewing machine I used. Inner tube gripped the feed dogs, the needle, the foot – everything.

While I can use it to good effect on my wallets and cable tidies – helping to keep their contents in place – on the dog poo bag holder, it meant that the roll of bags didn’t pull easily. It gripped the sides and you had to hold it just so before they’d come out easily.

Not ideal.

Version 4

I needed something to break up the grippiness of the inner tubes. I didn’t want to fully line it as it would be a pain and I thought having some of the grippiness would help stop loads of bags from coming out on a single pull.

Then I remembered some webbing I had, and replaced the narrower piece of inner tube with that, except on the inside of the holder to break up the inner tube material.

Dodgy end aside it was an easier pull, but it didn’t look pretty when pulling a bag out.

I wasn’t happy with the look, so I tried tweaking it.

Version 5

I sewed a bit on the D-ring side of the webbing.

But the problem persisted. Definitely better than before but not what I wanted.

It wasn’t as bad as Version 4, it just wasn’t a good pull.

Version 6

I realised I needed the D-ring on the opposite side of the holder from the rivet where the bags came out, so I tweaked the design.

I went back to a strip of inner tube around the outside to secure the ends, and this time the webbing ran along the length of the rolled up length of tube and came out the seam for the D-ring. While this was much better, the holder still didn’t look quite right when you pulled a bag out.

Version 7

This was a simple fix though, just folding that tab over made it look a lot neater.

The pull was a lot better, too.

I very proudly showed this to my husband, who pointed out another issue that had been lurking in the background the entire time: it was a little tricky to put a new roll in.

You could load the bag in easily enough, but pulling it out through the rivet required an extra tool like a pen/pencil or key.

Due to the grippy nature of the inner tube (even broken up by the webbing strip inside), if you unrolled a bit to feed through the hole before loading in the rest of the roll, the first pull was INCREDIBLY difficult.

Version 8

A big design shift was necessary. I had another seam where I fixed together the wider rolled up bit of tube that made up the body of the holder – what if I made the opening there?

Ta da!

I’m a little annoyed with myself that it took me so long to address a fundamental requirement with the design (loading the bags), but I was distracted by other things.

I got there in the end. The real proof is in the pull.

And it’s great!

It’s much easier to load with the wide mouth, too.

Conclusion

While sometimes new products work really well from the start, it’s the nature of things that sometimes they don’t. I take a lot of care in what I do and need to make sure I’m happy with a product before it goes out there into the world.

I’m chuffed to bits with these dog bags and hope you like them, too. They’re available in my shop now.

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WoCaR 2023 – Week 10

This post in a series keeping track of my Winter of Care and Repair 2023 Project. If you want to see all the posts in the series click here


24 February

Another busy day, heading into Shrewsbury to play D&D.

I belatedly did another dose of nematodes to the house plants. Still a few flies around the house, but a lot less than there were. We’ve got enough for two more doses. Here’s hoping it keeps working!


25 February

Busy day, so I chipped away at reorganising my documents.

Yes this is the same picture from last week, did you need me to take another one of some folders in a locker?


26 February

Got to work on a project for this year’s Oswestry show group competition. It’s a hat! Specifically, the Serpentine Hat by Elbe Textiles.

It’s using some black denim I have 20 metres of and some canvas scraps. I bought that much denim from Pound Fabrics to use as loose sofa covers when we were renting before moving into our new home. At £2.50/metre, it was cheaper than buying two sofa covers, and those wouldn’t have been nearly as strong.

It was a bit of a gamble as you had no choice of colour, or whether or not it was stretch. I would’ve preferred a lighter colour, but I was happy enough given the thickness and that it’s 100% cotton.

As it turns out, Tilly was really well behaved and didn’t try to and destroy the rental sofas. So it’s all in pretty pristine condition. I really should make more things out of it.

More on this project later, this is very much a test.


27 February

Today I mended the Dread Pirate Rabbit, whose arm was falling off.

I made him over a decade ago. He’s got an eye patch because I put his eye in the wrong place at first and accidentally cut his face when removing it. He got the other embroidery tattoos as a theme.

He’s got a little hole on his neck seam which I need to sort out, too, but it’ll keep until another day.


28 February

Got a bit more work done on my hat, assembly up to the point the directions said to just top stitch the exterior outside of the hat on (the last step).

I thought it’d be a lot of pressure to go through so many layers neatly, so I decided I’d hand baste the fabric on before top stitching with the machine. But that’s work for tomorrow.


29 February

Hand-basted the hat!

It was quite thick and tough on my thumb – I definitely stabbed myself with the back end of the needle a few times – but I’m going to feel so much better to top stitch it now.

I also fixed a zip that had come off a coat pocket.

I thought it’d be a pain but it was super simple! To keep it from coming off again I did some whip stitches at the base of the zip, and ladder stitched up the fabric to cover the end a bit more neatly. Though TBH it’s in a pocket, even I’m not going to see it.


1 March

Busy and tiring day on the canal, so I didn’t have time to do much. But did that little bit of top stitching!

I’m fairly happy with the hat. I’m not sure if I should stiffen it a bit more as the brim can get floppy.

Not sure how much I should say about the project at this stage (given how my entry last year didn’t end up being out of inner tubes, and was judged not so well in the competition), so I’ll save more info on it until I know this is what I want to do.

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WoCaR 2023 – Week 9

This post in a series keeping track of my Winter of Care and Repair 2023 Project. If you want to see all the posts in the series click here

Every time I think “wow, that’s been a busy week,” another, even busier, week comes along. Phew! In addition to adding some new upcycled board game coasters to my website (which you can find here), I also went on digger training!

While incredibly fun, it was also knackering. You have to operate two joysticks: the one on your left hand controlled the slew (spinning the cab and arm around) and one part of the digger arm. The other controlled the other part of the digger arm and opening/closing the bucket.

It required so much concentration and was absolutely knackering. So apologies if this week was light duties. Part of looking after myself is stepping back a little when I need to. I did still do something every day, but it wasn’t always very much, and most of it wasn’t especially exciting.


17 February

My husband came to the rescue today, asking me to add another hole to his belt so he could keep using it. Of course he asked this when we were just about to walk out the door, and he had the belt on.

So took off my shoes, ran up to my workshop, and grabbed a leather punch.

It’s a bit wonky, but he kept blocking my light and wouldn’t let me get a ruler to mark out the centre.

But it does mean he can still use the belt.


18th February

Today I asked for advice. I’d been given a fabulous jumpsuit for my birthday a few years ago, but only after a few wears it developed an awkward hole.

Now, you know I love visible mending. I think it’s a great way to normalise and celebrate the fact that we’re extending the useful life of clothes. I’m even fine with visible crotch/rear end mends.

But this jumpsuit was obviously constructed and then dyed. It’s got lovely seamless pattern matching across the whole thing, even the thread, and I really don’t want to interrupt that more than I have to.

So I asked the lovely people on the Modern Mending Club facebook group for some advice on whether I could mend it without undoing any of the seams.

Thankfully the consensus was yes, I should be about to squeeze in a patch around the hole, but people recommended silk thread as its thinner, so until I source that I won’t be able to progress with this one.


19th February

I picked up a denim jacket at a charity shop. I’ve been wanting one for a while, and I’m pleased to have found one that fits…though it’s got two problems.

  1. It doesn’t have a hanging loop.
  2. There’s a tiny hole next to the label

I decided I wanted to do full-yoke sashiko-style stitching design within the panel – I’ve seen some online and really love them. But ideally I’d have a patch on the inside to support and reinforce the hole.

I decided to trace out the panel and reinforce the whole thing – as that area gets a lot of strain on a denim jacket.

…but it turns out the panel is wonky.

If you’re ever stressed about making your own clothes, just know this Gap denim jacket (which probably cost at least £50 new) is cut off grain in a lot of places! Meaning that it’ll stretch weirdly as its worn.

So I consulted a very trusted source and worked out I can still do the whole panel stitching, but only patch the area around the hole. I’m stilly iffy about this, as I feel a bit silly doing reinforcing stitching on an area that isn’t really being reinforced. That area is going to be under the most strain, so I would hate for it to tear somewhere else when I’ve already got stitching, you know?

I haven’t decided what stitch design to use.

I also made a start on a less-creative but necessary sorting-out project: rehoming my files.

I’ve been picking up folders and those plastic sleeves from freecycle (both WANTED and OFFERS), and I’m going to transfer everything to those, as we don’t have the space for my current storage bin system.

So I made a little progress on that and filed away a couple of drop files worth of papers.


20-23 February

These days just flew by, between digger training and getting my new sewing machine delivered Tuesday evening. When I did finally have a free day (the 22nd) all I wanted to do was get some practice on the new machine.

So all I did was chip away at relocating the files.

I’m not upset, I think doing anything more with the other projects I’ve got in progress would’ve been too much. This challenge isn’t a stick to beat myself with, it’s a gentle reminder to do make some progress this winter.

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WoCaR 2023 – Week 8

This post in a series keeping track of my Winter of Care and Repair 2023 Project. If you want to see all the posts in the series click here


10 February

Repair cafe! Colin loved his socks, which I’m glad about. It’s always nice to do a repair for someone who appreciates it.

I had been given a mouse-nibbled coat to work on during the session. Normally I don’t count these but this was definitely skill-building.

There were actually three repairs: the exterior, the lining (which was similar damage though in a different place), and the pocket. All had been nibbled.

The pocket I don’t have any pictures of, but I acted upon a lesson I’d learned at a previous repair cafe: If a pocket bag is damaged, if possible just replace the damaged portion. Don’t darn it.

  • Leave the bit that’s attached to the exterior of the item of clothes (plus some extra to use as seam allowance), and cut away the damaged section.
  • Separate the layer of the damaged section and use them as pattern pieces to cut out of new fabric.
  • Separate the seams a bit on the section still attached to the clothes
  • Sew each section of new fabric to the bit still attached to the clothes
  • Resew the seam around the pocket

Much better than trying to darn thin pocket bag material.

As for the other mends:

Thankfully the lady who brought the jacket in had brought some patching material, so I just used those to put patched over the top of the holes. I figured square patches looked better than ragged edged holes with patching material behind, though on the lining I zig zagged the edges of the hole down.

If I were doing this for myself I would’ve probably done the exterior patch a bit differently to try and keep as much waterproofness as possible, but it should be fine.

As is, she was just going to donate it to a charity shop after the mend. After chatting with my fellow fixperts, we weren’t sure even the lovely local charity shop would take a repaired item. But one of them needed a new coat like this, so she offered to take it away for a donation to the group of the lady’s choice. Win win!

When I got home I darned another not-quite-hole in a canvas bag.

Tilly, as always, is barely tolerating this distraction from fussing time.


11 February

Remember the duvet cover from last week? I did some machine stitching to reinforce the patches. I’m not sure it worked. Well it obviously worked, but I’m not sure it looks as good as it did in my head.

Now I managed to unpick the fold from the lower left corner of the first patch, and remove all the loose threads, and it looks a lot better. But I have a feeling I’d redo the zig zags at some point. It probably wouldn’t have been as bad if I’d used a light blue or grey. I’ll live with it for a few weeks though and see how it holds up.

Not everything has to be a resounding success with artistic merits. If it works that’s often good enough.


12 February

Worked on another bit of bedding, this time a fitted sheet. It had a few holes and an L-shaped tear. I’d originally put it in the pile for things to be used to patch, but I changed my mind as there really wasn’t that much damage. This was the worst of it:

You start with a herringbone stitch to hold the sides together as you darn – I’m never sure if I’m doing this right but it works well enough.

And then you darn over each section – this one ended up being a little more complicated because of the additional hole, but it wasn’t bad.

I think I’d like this better if I’d used a lighter thread for the herringbone. I’m also not sure if you can unpick it at this point. I’ll have to reread my mending books.


13 February

We’ve been in the house over a year now, and of course there’s still stuff that doesn’t have a home. One area that desperately needed some help was our board game storage. I don’t have any pictures of the before, but it’d overgrown its original cupboard and spilled over on the top of another storage unit. So we had some shelves delivered and built them today.

This shelf is MASSIVE. We’d ordered online so I wasn’t fully prepared for the size. It still fits in the space but is going to take some getting used to.

If we’d gone for a 4×4 we would’ve basically filled it with things we already have. This gives us some space for additional games in future.


14 February

A bit more work on the fitted sheet from the other day.

An uncharacteristically muted patch from me, I know, but I had a white square of fabric already serged left over from something else, and I used some of the thread from the tails to anchor everything down.

Tilly got properly grumpy with this mend, and stropped off to her cat bed soon after the photo.


15 February

A bit more work on the shelving, building the drawer inserts for the bottom. We have some glass shelves to put in but my husband and I are at odds about whether or not we need them. I agree we need something for the small games, but I think having them across one row (our original plan) takes up too much space that would be useful for other things.

We’ll have to see what we decide to do.


16 February

Another nematode application. We’ve had a good result from last week – I’m already noticing a lot fewer flies flying around, though I’m sure a lot of that is due to the sticky traps included in the set. They’re still there though, so fingers crossed the repeated applications will help reduce their numbers even further.


Let’s see what next week brings!

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WoCaR 2023 – Week 7

This post in a series keeping track of my Winter of Care and Repair 2023 Project. If you want to see all the posts in the series click here

A surprisingly busy week this week but I managed to do even a little bit every day. There are a series of photos I took on Friday as I was a bit rubbish about taking them on the day. But I promise I did to the work throughout the week.


3 February

This was an incredibly busy day for me. I spent the morning volunteering on the restoration of the Montgomery Canal, doing some hedge laying and helping neaten up the profile of a section of the canal before we start lining and blocking it (hopefully) next month. Does that count? I guess not, it’s not in my home or garden…

Then Mr Team Sikel and I headed to Shrewsbury to play more D&D at Nerdy. I’m sort of getting the hang of it, though it was a really weird one shot campaign. 80% splitting our party for some reason/faffing trying to figure out what was going on, 20% actually just fighting the things. We didn’t leave until nearly 11, and I was knackered.

So, I literally did two stitches on one of the flannels I showed the binding of last week.


4 February

Finished off the first flannel.

Here it is front and back. I’m pretty sure that loop is silly long, but I’ll see how Mr Team Sikel gets on with it before I switch anything. I’ll do the other hanging loops smaller.


5 February

Machine stitched the binding and loops on to two more flannels.

I machine stitched a narrower seam allowance on these as opposed to the one I finished yesterday, and made the hanging loop smaller too. We’ll see how they turn out!


6 February

A bit more stitching, finished another and did one side of the third.

You can see the differences between the two. I like the loop on the second but the binding on the first as there’s less of a difference between the two sides. But to be honest my husband won’t care or notice, so I’m not going to restitch the other ones until I have to replace the binding completely, however long that is from now.


7 February

Today I went to a crafty session in town. I’d been thinking of starting one with the climate emergency centre, but when doing research realised there were already several craft groups that met regularly.

Today’s was at the Oswestry Library – they meet on the first and third Wednesday there, and on the last Saturday at a cafe in a local art gallery.

They were super friendly and I finished off the third flannel, and worked on my endless canvas bag darning.


8 Februrary

The final flannel was also the first flannel, and one my husband actually got on Christmas. So today I unpicked one edge, attached the hanging loop, and stitched it back up. All four are done!

I also did a bit more work on my bag darn. I just need to weave in the ends.

This is the inside, the little loops are just in case the thread shrinks in the wash. I don’t want it warping the fabric.


9 February

I started working on mending a duvet cover that got some holes courtesy of the cat.

Holes inside

I took a piece of scrap cotton (which came from the bag a fitted sheet came in…does anyone use those bags for storage?), overlocked it, and basted it to the back of the sheet. I’m still debating whether I’ll hand or machine stitch over the top

I also finally started our battle on the minor plague of soil fungus flies we’ve had the past month or two. It’s not been a full-on infestation, but they’ve basically gotten into all the pot plants in the house. Sadly they’re not the kind of fly that goes for the apple cider vinegar traps (I’ve tried!), so we ordered some nematodes and sticky traps from the internet.

Thankfully the nematodes have a best before 8/3, so we’ve got nearly a month to use them. We got enough nematodes for 60sqm, so we’ll be applying very concentrated batches in weekly waterings. Here’s hoping it works. The backup is mites, which I’m not really feeling.


Looking forward

This week I spent a lot of time tackling the admin backlog I’d developed, so not much time for crafting. I’m hoping to get a bit more serious about things this year, and have recently emailed a business near Liverpool about a suitable industrial sewing machine! It looks like a little thing written down, but given how frustrating the last time I went searching for one was, it was a really big step for me.

Tomorrow is the repair cafe, I can’t wait to see what Colin thinks of his socks. I’m really proud of them and wish I could keep them to show off!

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WoCaR 2023 – Week 6

This post in a series keeping track of my Winter of Care and Repair 2023 Project. If you want to see all the posts in the series click here


27 January

A not entirely unexpected setback on the socks today.

I mended the heel as with the other sock, that wasn’t a problem.

But when I tried it on I noticed two things…

  • The knitted patch was too uncomfortable
  • The yarn was thinning at the ball of my foot, extending over to where the patch was stitched down

The two things taken together meant one thing: I had to take the patch off and do something else. Thankfully it was only really connected around the outside. The most fiddly bit was unweaving all the tails.

The uncomfortableness of the patch was because I hadn’t removed the layer of yarn below it, but I still wasn’t comfortable doing that. Because there was a thinning area too I decided to go with a combo swiss darn/stocking web darn, creating one seamless, odd shaped reinforcement.

I started out with the thinning area and created my thread support structure in the hole when I started working near the hole itself. Hopefully this will work!


28 January

(Spoiler alert) Success!

I finished this off while on the phone to my parents. Walking around it felt SO MUCH better. There are one or two places I got a bit muddled: I thought there was a decrease somewhere within the area that had worn away, but then when I actually got to stitching at the top there was one more column of stitches than I’d anticipated. Oh well, it’s not hurting anything.

And that means these socks are done!

So I turned my attention to the other pair.

Why am I posting this picture again? I forgot to take a before picture of the green sock. It’s there on the upper right, turned inside out. Very weirdly, one sock was perfectly fine, but this one had a massive worn/holey patch at the ball of the foot. It has a smooth, almost felted feeling outside and fluffy inside. I was curious to see how the mend would feel once finished.

Thankfully the worn area just fit on the larger of my mending discs, and I did a honeycomb darn to suit the shape of the holey/worn area.

Tilly, as always, just barely tolerating this.

Trying it on (Mr Team Sikel: “does Colin know you’re wearing on his socks?” Me: “I’m just trying them on to make sure they’re comfortable and not thinning anywhere else”), it felt really nice. I might’ve felt alright cutting out the worn area where the patch was going to go, especially as the shape had warped. But I left it in because there was still a bit of fluff there. I made sure to pick up the worn area with the blanket stitching as I went around, and all those little stitches (thankfully!) scrunched it back into place without any weird textures.

I’m really sad to be done with Colin’s socks. I think there may be one or two of mine in need of a little reinforcement, but nothing as challenging (and skill-building) as this.


29 January

I quilted, trimmed, and did the machine stitching part of the binding on the mini quilts.

I tried some new styles of quilting out, some more successfully than others. I was going full speed ahead for the vortex and got it very wrong in the middle.

Attempt 2 at that:

There will be an attempt 3!


30 January

I’d been feeling a bit overwhelmed lately – I’d given myself a couple of unrealistic deadlines and was stressing about those. Looking back it was all very silly, but obviously I wasn’t in the headspace to think about things logically. So I spent a good chunk of this day tackling one of those to dos (watching some business-related talks) while ALSO tidying up my craft room.

There are no before photos because I forgot. It looked bad and felt stressfull to be around, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought. Mostly lots of things put down the first free space I could find instead of their proper homes.

I promise you this is clean compared to what it was! Still some work to do, and some projects out and waiting, but much better.

I also worked on the hand binding of some of the mini quilts.


31 January

A little more tidying, a little more listening to things, finishing off the binding of the last mini-quit.

No closeups but you can see attempt 3 on that centre bit. I’m going to leave it there.

I also decided to wash all the miniquilts! This is the last step to see how all the different styles of quilting look after to help me decide on what to do for the main quilt. Did you forget that existed?

Adding to everything else on I started planning a project that’s been on my mind for a while: pj bottoms.

In addition to my putting things down wherever habit, I also often leave things out as a reminder of things I want to get around to. These have been out on the side for weeks, and while I did play with layouts (whether I could do sets or just bottoms) and even I pressed the lighter blue fabric, I’m going to put them away until I finish the quilt.


1 February

Before and after – I thought it better to have them in the same day next to each other for better shrinkage comparison.

They didn’t magically get whiter, the lighting is a bit yellow in the living room in the evening. A few more closeups:

I put my favourite at the end. I do like the very close lines a lot, too, but I’m trying to be realistic. These wider spaced lines will already be a lot of work on the larger top. Not entirely sure how I’m going to mark those but I’ll cross that bridge once I’ve tackled stitching in the ditch.

I also started cracking on with the last bit of Mr Team Sikel’s christmas present: flannels

One’s finished (though I have to undo part of it to add a hanging tab), and I’m hoping to have one ready for hand finishing for Saturday as that’s probably all I’ll be able to squeeze in around canal and D&D.


2 February

Eked out a little time to join up the ends of the binding

While Simon was watching rugby I machine sewed one binding and added a loop that’s probably far too big.


Reflection

I struggled a bit towards the end of this past week. After the high of the socks I’m floundering a bit with a few WIPs (work in progress), while also still planning new projects…not really the best combo. I’ll try to focus on a few outstanding projects (yes this means the larger quilt) before starting something new.

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WoCaR 2023 – Week 5

This post in a series keeping track of my Winter of Care and Repair 2023 Project. If you want to see all the posts in the series click here


20 January

Cut up scraps for more mini-quilts. With what I had left the biggest plain squares I could get a bunch of was 3″, so I based a few patterns off those.

I’m not entirely happy with the first one. The second one is based on this quilt I found on Pinterest (though I didn’t have as much gold and white to do the checkerboard. For best random effect I think I need more squares, as I really struggled to lay them out. I have another in mind like this using some fabric I bought in a destash, but more on that if/when I get around to it.

I also want to make a scrappy vortex quilt using up as many of my remaining scraps as possible, as I have no idea where I’d put them or how I’d use them otherwise. So I took some time to lay out a few pairs as well. Will this turn out alright with so few fabrics? Who knows! But at worst it’s practice.

In the shower later a new layout came to me for the top I wasn’t happy with – thankfully I had a spare white square to make it work.


21 January

Assembled a few more mini-quilt tops, using up nearly all my scraps. I used the scrappy vortex assembly as leaders and enders for the “proper” tops, until I’d finished those off.

The first two are about 8″ square, the scrappy one is 12″ square.

I also cut and assembled some binding for these quilts. Backing will probably just be the nativity dot fabric to use that up, though I’ve got a few spare black/white fat quarters I haven’t even cut into. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that, as it’ll create more scraps I’ll feel compelled to use!

That evening the power went out for a few hours due to the high winds. My husband and I were playing a board game so we just put on head torches and continued. But afterwards we sat on the comfy seats and I stitched up more of the binding on the giant towel I mentioned last week.


22 January

I’d worn a coat I hadn’t used in a while over the weekend, and remembered how bobbly certain areas of it were. No one noticed on the day, but I also remembered I’d bought a debobbler, so I gave that a go.

It definitely needs a clean, I may take it to the local dry cleaner’s this week.

I also felt compelled to try and fix the zip of a suitcase I found in a charity shop.

It’s a wonderful yellow Samsonite case, and although it’s not the most recent iteration of this bag design, still I’ve found it being sold online for £140+! So my £10 was a steal, even though it had a broken zip. It performed admirably as a wheely shopping trolley for use around town, and will act as a replacement short trip away bag (as my husband has stolen the Osprey one I bought for myself 10 years ago and still going strong).

I re-examined the teeth before attempting the repair, and still couldn’t find any damage, so I unpicked the lining around the bottom of the zip. I was VERY careful not to pick anything along the (as shown in the pictures) top side of the zip tape, as those stitches go through the piping and exterior of the bag. and I don’t want to compromise any waterproofing.

It was more awkward than I’d like, but I managed to feed the zip pull on both sides…and it just went along both sides without joining anything. Whoops! So I took it off again and examined the pull itself.

I wasn’t entirely sure, but it seemed like the gap towards the back of the pull (closer to the arrow), was wider than that towards the front – so maybe it just wasn’t compressing the teeth close enough together? I used a pair of pliers to pinch it back together a bit, and once again awkwardly fed both sides of the zip in.

And it worked, phew! I was incredibly pleased, though I did have a backup: the official samsonite repair partners are here, and even though shipping would cost more than the repair, it would still only cost about £35. I’d still be well below market value for this suitcase.

There was still a few little steps to finish off the job.

I put a little stop on the zip so the pull couldn’t fall off the end, and I (fairly messily) stitched the lining back onto the zip. I might need to fix that again at some stage, but my plan is to just try not to use that pocket much, and definitely not overload it.

I’ll report back on Instagram once I’ve actually used it.


23 January

Finished off the towel binding, with the “help” of Tilly

I still have some flannels to do, but tbh I’ve misplaced them in the chaos that is my sewing room so they’ll happen at some point!


24 January

The weather was nice so I took Tilly out in the back garden while I spray basted the mini-quilts.

I got as far as stitching in the ditch in the two smaller miniquilts, trying out a different thread in the top and bobbin again…to less than ideal effect

To be honest I don’t entirely mind, though I know if tension isn’t right the stitching isn’t as strong as it could be. My bigger quilt is a mostly white back so I’ll just choose a lightish thread – even if the top is different it won’t nearly be as high contrast as this.

In front of The Traitors I did a little bit of stocking web darning on Colin’s socks, with the help of my vintage Mend It! book and Modern Mending.

This is the first time I’d ever attempted this kind of darn, and I’ve got a few improvements to make…namely to not stretch the fabric on over the mushroom…and make my stitches tighter. I also needed to use a contrasting thread on the supporting thread structure because I lost track of it a few times.

I’ll undo it but I’m happy with the first attempt.

In the Mend It! book, the author says this kind of darn can be fiddly on all but the smallest of holes, so I might try her recommendation of picking up a row of stitching on the sock itself and basically knitting a patch on needles to fit.


25 January

I’m definitely odd.

So today I decided to try another style of mending that I’ll be using on Colin’s socks, but this time I had something of my own to practice on.

I didn’t get a before picture of the first patch.

I love honeycomb darning – it’s soo fast and really useful on areas that are thinning but not quite turned into holes. You can also use it on holes (that’s my plan on the awkward heel holes of Colin’s socks), but I might couch a thread in the blanket stitch that makes up the darn so it’s less gappy.

But back to me being odd…

I had done the first one before heading out to my belated WI Christmas lunch. It was being held in a pub that’s a half hour walk away from my house along the canal, so I decided to leave a bit early and walk. Worrying that I might be super early I decided to bring the other sock along with me in case I was just sitting around with nothing to do.

Turns out there were some other ladies who were even earlier with me so I sat and had a chat. When we actually sat down to lunch I started chatting about the fact that I’d brought a sock to darn just in case, and as one of the ladies I was with asked to see it sometime, I took it out between courses and showed it off.

Is that normal? For me, yes. For most people, no. Thankfully they were clean, though I did say it does sometimes make more sense to mend clothes before washing them.

Anyway, that night in front of The Traitors (and some other telly) I had a go at the knitted patch and another attempt at stocking web darning.

Two downsides for me an the knitted patch: I’m not the best at figuring out gauge, so I did end up bodging it a bit (it would be easier if you’d made it yourself and knew what you’d done). I also had a mare of a time stitching down the sides of the patch. It was a bit late, the edges of my knitting always curl, and this diagram from Mend It! was doing my head in. There’s a slight ridge on the left side of the patch, but I didn’t really feel it when I put the sock on and stood on the floor. But I’m hoping Colin doesn’t have sensitive feet…given the state of these socks I’m thinking not.

The stocking-web darn, however, I’m very happy with – definite improvement over yesterday:

The my stitching might be a little loose or the wool slightly too thick, but it looks infinitely better than the other one…being a smaller hole helps.

I’ll probably still re-try the stocking web on the other hole, and then leave the patch knitting method until I have some time to practice and get my head around it.


26 January

I wore my honeycomb patched socks out, as you may have seen in my instagram stories. My feet have gotten used to patches overall, but I didn’t really feel the ones on my toes.

Would you count walking around Shrewsbury looking at charity shops a proper walk? I did end up going back to the car several times. Regardless I also did some mending in front of the telly. I started by tackling one of the massive heel holes.

As there’s lots of decreasing and adding stitches around a heel, I didn’t want to attempt a stocking-web darn. Thankfully I’d practiced the honeycomb yesterday and I basically did as I had there…except as I mentioned yesterday I couched another strand of yarn within the stitches to give it bulk.

This was all done in spite of the cat, who was desperate for a fuss. Eventually she settled and I managed to finish.

I was worried I’d maybe stretched the heel too much – it did seem a bit bigger than the surrounding sock when I’d finished. But then I remembered that this kind of mend won’t really stretch so I just tried them on.

It’s REALLY hard to get a picture of the bottom of your foot!

Anyway it looked fine, not baggy or anything, but I did notice another thinning patch on the ball of my foot. Thankfully no hole, so I did a straight swiss darn/duplicate stitch over that whole area.

The first picture is before, the second shows the mend on the left.

It was so much easier than doing it with the guiding threads!

Speaking of which I unpicked the first stocking-web darn I’d done the other day and replaced it with a (still rough but) better version (which is technically in the picture on the right above as that photo was a late addition to this post.

I know my mending books say to make the hole square or oblong but at this point in time I can’t bring myself to cut threads. I know there’s a reason for it, and someday I will do this properly, but that day isn’t today.

I also took some time tidying up ends. The only thing left to do is the other heel and this pair will be finished. I do have another pair of Colin’s socks to mend, but thankfully it’s nowhere near as bad as these – just one (large) hole on one sock that I’ll honeycomb darn the same way I did the heel today.


I feel like this week was the first proper repair-heavy week in this challenge. I do have a mending pile to see to, and hopefully this will lead to more of that.

I’m really enjoying mending knits, and wish I had more to practice on. But while charity shops will put out holey jeans, I’ve never seen a holey jumper.

I’ll keep my fingers crossed for future practice attempts at the repair cafe.