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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.

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WoCaR 2023 – Week 4

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


13 January

One of my favourite days of the month: the repair cafe! I’m not going to count the two bags I mended during the day (as I forgot to take pictures), but I will be writing more about my work on Colin’s more-hole-than-socks I took home with me.

During the session I used my latch hook from Ministry of Mending to mend all the ladders, then picked up all the loops onto some embroidery floss so they wouldn’t unravel again. While I picked up some mending cards from Ewe & Ply in town, I’m going to do Swiss Darning or Honeycomb Stitching over these holes and thinning areas using some sock yarn I already have. I’m really excited to practice this type of mend, my socks don’t tend to be chunky enough for me to do it.

For once I didn’t bring a specific project to work on during my down time between assignments, but I noticed some thinning areas on a canvas bag I brought with, so I reinforced the worst before it became a proper hole. You can see more that need doing towards the bottom of the picture below.

This bag is a little precious to me as I got it at the Etsy office in Brooklyn years ago, when they used to host events there. I didn’t make the design but did the printing, and managed to find an embroidery floss colour that matched the ink!

(You’ll have to take my word for it as I forgot to get a photo of the whole bag, sorry!)

Today I also worked on removing a stain from a duvet set I picked up at a charity shop. It was an expensive brand (Christy’s – can’t find these but the cheapest king size sets are nearly £100), and also very new. It looked immaculate, except for a few small blood stains on one of the pillow cases.

Would this put you off? From my (extensive) experience of charity shops, most white duvets you find are actually a bit yellowed from (for lack of a better phrase) body grease. This was pristinely white except for the little stains.

At best: hey, we’ve got a posh new duvet set! At worst: I can cut around the stain and use the fabric to line present bags I’m hoping to make.

After reading some suggestions online, step one was to soak the stain in cold water overnight.


14 January

Another lovely but knackering day at the canal. While on the phone to my parents afterwards I cut, pieced, and sewed some bits for bowl cosies. They’re gifts for friends, with the added benefit that if I use up this fat quarter set I won’t have to list it on my app! Every little helps me make some progress on that fabric stash.

I made four identical pieces like this, the other sides of the cosies will have a solid bit of one of these fabrics.

I also checked in on my stained pillow case – soaking hadn’t really shifted the stain. But hopefully it’s softened it for step 2. The website I’d read suggested using hydrogen peroxide. I didn’t have straight hydrogen peroxide, but I did have oxygen bleach. While I think that works best in warmer water, I was hoping with time it would do the job in cold (which is best for blood stains).

The pillow case was sat in a plastic washing up bowl, in cold water. I arranged the fabric so the stains were at the bottom of little dips that touched the water’s surface. I poured in a spoonful of oxygen bleach. I was hoping osmosis would do the work for me, and even if it dissolved incredibly slowly in the cold water, the highest concentration would flow through the stain. Fingers crossed!

Apologies for the lack of photos – do please comment or message me if that description doesn’t make sense.


15 January

I’d been neglecting one big thing these past few months – taxes! I told myself I’d tackle them after lunch…and gave myself a morning of attaching batting to the pieces I cut/pieced yesterday, as well as a couple more.

It turns out I’d sorted all my spreadsheets up to April (and beyond) months before, so it took me maybe an hour? Maybe less?

So I had a little more time to shape the pieces ready for assembly.

I used a light grey thread to sew on the batting, and while it was nowhere near perfectly in the ditch, it didn’t bother me nearly as much as the fabric is busier than what I’d been using for my mini-quilts.

And how did the pillow case turn out?

As an answer here’s both – my little trick worked, though one stain needed two rounds of it as it went too far below the water level and I don’t think the concentration was high enough. After putting the whole set through the washing machine, I couldn’t tell the difference between the two cases.

If you ever stay over at mine, you’ll probably get this duvet set. Much too posh for my husband and I!


16 January

I went into Shrewsbury to top up my refills, and before I left I pressed all the shaping seam allowances to one side to make it easier to feed through my machine.

I’d fully intended to do more, but got distracted when I came home, so that was it for today!

Fun fact: there were pressed to the wrong side (whoops!). I eventually corrected them after struggling getting one or two through the machine. I finished one today but didn’t get photos.


17 January

I worked a little more on the cosies, finishing another two. Just three more to go.

My husband and I are obsessed with The Traitors, and to stop me being on my phone in front of the telly I tackled the binding on a hand towel.

I’d cut out two sets of towel/hand towel/flannel to give to my husband for Christmas (he wanted massive towels and had threatened to buy microfibre ones), but only had time to finish the binding on one set before gifting them to him. I’ll work on the bath towel…sheet…tent? another day.


18 January

Bowl cosies all finished! I washed them to remove the remains of the blue chalk used to mark some of my stitching lines. Turns out I really was sick to death of them as I forgot to take pictures before I posted them off to our friends. I do hope they like them, the man behind the counter at the post office was bemused by my description of what they were.

To be honest, if I were making more of them, I think I’d adjust how they were constructed – either using one layer of batting or maybe forgoing the reversibility so the end result looked a little less rumpled on top.

I was so glad to have that all finished, and so I quilted and bound another mini-quilt.

This one I echoed the stitching lines but didn’t stitch in the ditch. Because the colours don’t join up there was a lot of starting and ending, more nesting than I’d like on the back of the quilt, and my machine didn’t handle turning corners very well in some cases. My tension must be off!

I also swapped the bobbin thread to match the top which looks a bit weird on the back. Next time I’ll try having different colours on the front and back.

I’ve done a few pinwheel type mini-quilts now and I’m curious to see how the different quilting methods look after a wash. I might try to eke a few square ones out of the remaining scraps to see how they work as well.


19 January

Another mini-quilt, quilted and bound.

I attempted one colour on top (a mid-grey), with white on the bottom…it looked terrible. I couldn’t get the tension on my machine to play ball. I ended up all the way at 9 and it looked ok, but halfway along the stitching line the bobbin thread started showing on top. Going back to 7 seemed to be better, but I didn’t like the look of the grey on the top.

So I picked it out and went with white on both, though looking at the image now I don’t think it was all that bad.

I went OTT with the quilting on this one maybe, but the squares were so small I felt wider wouldn’t make sense. And those lines aren’t straight, but somehow you don’t notice when the entire grid is there.

The binding was put on during The Traitors.

I’ll take a look at my scraps of this fabric and see if I can make more with larger squares as that would more closely replicate my quilt top. I’m hampered by the fact that I used 41 of the 42 charm squares in the quilt. I’m very happy about that (hooray less waste), but the other fabrics I bought don’t have all the grey/tan tones present in the big quilt that may impact what colour I choose.

I think I’ll go with light grey on front and back, but I’ll procrasti-test a bit more before I tackle that.

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WoCaR 2023 – Week 3

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.

Here’s a reminder of my pledge

Now onto this week’s progress:


06 January

I’m slightly stymied in my plans to continue the quilt as I’m waiting on some thread. An order I’d placed was delayed due to an item missing. Still, I had enough to do a little “victory lap” line of stitching around my quilt top as the piecing wasn’t backstitched and this would keep it from coming apart while I wait for the thread to arrive.

In the meantime I did some sorting out.

I’d heard of an app called Stash Hub from various sewing-related people I follow on social media. It sounded like something that could help me get a handle on my fabric stash, which is feeling a bit overwhelming:

I’ve marked out what areas aren’t fabric on this shelving…so it takes up a little more than half?

The idea is you put in all your fabric, patterns, notions, etc and it’ll help you keep track of what you’ve got and projects you’re working on. My problem is I enjoy making plans, but following through with them usually takes a little longer as I get distracted by other things. I also like to pick up nice discounted or thrifted fabric I see when I’m out and about…so this will hopefully also encourage me to use what I have and maybe destash a few things.

For about 10p a day I thought it was worth giving it a go for a year. In order to get the most out of it, it’s best to put as much data in as possible, so I spent a good few hours logging one tub.

I’m probably not going to post the totals on instagram, but here I might as well be completely forthright.

I’m equal parts dreading and curious about my total across all the shelving, and as this is just one of the many bins, I’m probably going to have a rude awakening.

While sorting through bins I made a pile of things to wash (always good to not have that be a barrier when wanting to start a project), and put all my Christmas fabrics to the side, as I want to make some present bags for the end of the year. More on that when I start working on it.

Oh!

I also washed the clothes I mentioned in last week’s post. Ta-da (ish)!

The mustard top is now oil-spot free…and I’ll try to remember to wear an apron when I’m cooking. Some of the lighter stains came out on the dress, but most of them are still there. I’ll try another tactic tomorrow.


07 January

More logging interspersed with laundry! I’m getting a bit muddled at the work required to get everything up there, but on the plus side I rediscovered a few things I’d forgotten I had.

I logged two bins, and managed to reorganise another to put my scraps and garments to refashion in one place. I’m not entirely sure if/how I’ll log those. Many of them are tiny pieces that are probably only good for mending.

Here are my totals after today:

Lots of duvets and longer lengths of fabric (like Ankara fabric) in this batch.

Nearly all my Christmas fabric is washed (along with a few other things), so if I’m still stymied on quilting I can make some progress on that.

I was also thinking a little more about my quilt. I like all my tests but they lack a key feature my larger top has: a band of black. I’m planning on quilting the big one with white or light grey as most of my blocks are light, but the stitching will have to pass through a darker band where it’ll definitely show up.

Oh!

And I tried an oxygen bleach paste and soak on the dress. It might have removed one more of the stains, but I’m pretty sure the others are there to stay. I’ve popped it on my mending pile to work on another day.


08 January

A very minor amount of logging, the last bit of Christmas fabric washed, and another mini-quilt top achieved.

Most of my remaining fabric is knit, with the exception of one box that are project packs I assembled but never got around to doing when we were living in rented accommodation at the end of 2022. Yes they’ve been in bags in a tub for over a year. I can’t face that at the moment, especially since a good few of them are summery clothes I wouldn’t be able to wear for months.

I needed to give myself a break so I made that other mini-quilt and a scrappy back:

I was much less accurate in this piecing – I’m not sure how more accurately to make the 9-patch blocks, but I know some of mine were a little small. I didn’t end up trimming anything on this, so it’ll probably be wavy when I come to quilt, but all that is good practice.

Also it’s not perfect, I made a few mistakes deciding the location of fabrics, but I’m happy with it.


09 January

My husband had to go to Sheffield for work, and as I’d never been, he suggested I come along. I needed a little project I could bring with me. So I assembled another little mini-quilt sandwich:

I really struggled with stitching in the ditch this go round. I’m hoping to do some on my final quilt to anchor and highlight areas, but definitely need more practice. While I originally thought I’d let the wobbles be, when I put additional stitching on they were still very visible so I unpicked and restitched those sections.

You can see the improvement (after I also machine stitched on the front of the binding):

My quilt is really high-contrast so I’ll need to get it right. I’ve been reading up on tips and suggestions, and I’ve got a few ideas of how to proceed:

  • I could use transparent thread for the ditch stitching. While it would take the pressure off it would be synthetic which I’m trying to avoid.
  • I have a stitch in the ditch foot, but it’s not one that’s compatible with my current walking foot. Buying the one where I can switch it out would cost nearly £100 – and while tempting I’d rather save that money to go towards a new sewing machine at some point in the future.
  • I could just not stitch in the ditch, and do 1/8 of an inch or whatever next to the lines to highlight different areas of colour, or do diagonal stitching lines instead. I might try some a mini-quilt with these methods to see if I like the look.
  • More practice! I was thinking of a trial by fire, making a new mini-quilt that’s mostly light colours, and doing my stitching with dark coloured thread. I could wash it to see how much the scrunching up of the quilt hides things.
  • I could also switch colours in different areas. Another idea I might try on a mini-quilt.

10 January

We left in the afternoon, and as tempting as it was I didn’t want to work on the mini-quilt binding at the house. So after volunteering at the cycle hub, I decided to sort out my scraps and square up the big pieces.

As much as I admire some of the quilts people make where they’ve saved all their lovely scraps and fussy cut to feature loads of lovely things, I don’t have the storage space. So I’m hoping to use up as many of those scraps as possible on practice pieces.

I have an idea percolating in the back of my head I might try with some, and then I might just make a randomly pieced scrappy top with the rest.

Later that evening at the hotel I hand-stitched the corners of the binding so if I brought it out with me on my wander I wouldn’t have to be worried about pins stabbing me or getting caught on things.

11 January

I did one of the sides of the binding before heading out, and as the weather was iffy I didn’t bring my project with me on the walk. Sorry for the lack of photo today!

It was a lovely wander around Sheffield, though 4 hours wasn’t really enough time.

12 January

I had canal volunteering today, but managed to finish up the hand stitching on the binding.

This weekend will be a tough one as I’ve got Repair Cafe on Saturday and another day of canal on Sunday. At worst I’ll get a little more fabric logging done, but hopefully I’ll have time to make some progress on practice pieces. I’ve been giving myself a little break but need to get back to working on my business a bit more, too.

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WoCaR 2023 – Week 2

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.

Here’s a reminder of my pledge

Now on to my progress. Apologies if I switch tenses between days or in the middle of a day, some of them I wrote same day, others I picked up a day or two later.


30th December

Having finished off last week debating quilt patterns…I was still debating quilt patterns. This is my very first quilt, and would be only my second go at patchwork (my first was a door stop – which can be found at the bottom of this post, but I’m not sure counts as it’s very rough and ready). I’d never even made a Half Square Triangle (HST), though I have an interesting book about them.

So I decided to take some of the accidental extra blocks, and pretend they were intentional extras to practice HSTs.

A little gallery of my progress – apologies for the lighting, the weather’s been awful.

As you can see they’re not perfect, but I was happy with them. They needed to be 4 1/2″, and bigger is better than too small.

For fun I decided to make them into more complicated blocks. These weren’t anything I was going to do in this quilt, but I could see how matching seams went…albeit tougher than I’ll have to face in this quilt as the seams met in the middle of the blocks as sewn the second time.

And just to make sure all that wasn’t I fluke, I made another set of them, this time with more overtly christmassy fabric.

The original idea I had was to just turn them into coasters at their current size, but I might stitch the sets of four together. It would be good practice before I sewed the rows together on the quilt. Maybe they’ll be trivets or pot holders? I do have heat resistant batting…


31st December

After yesterday’s practice I went ahead with the HSTs for the quilt. As yesterday everything was marked with Frixon pens or my trick marker for black fabric and pinned before sewing, cutting, and pressing.

I got on a bit of a roll and ended up sewing and trimming all the HSTs. I used white thread for anything with white, black thread for the tan/black HSTs and grey thread for the grey/tan HSTs.

I was keen to start piecing everything together, but also debating making EVERYTHING on the quilt into a HST to blend the colours a bit more. But then I remembered my test blocks, so I practiced sewing them together.

I really struggled to get the points to match up. My machine doesn’t play well with changing layers, and I had to redo some of the joins several times – especially the central point. I probably should’ve gone with what I had first, because the fabric around that central point is now a bit warped without the points being that much better. Maybe it’ll look better once it’s quilted and washed?

The second go was much better:

I took the tails of thread cut off from other seams, and basted where the points met to keep them more in line. It’ll be a bit annoying with so many joins on the main quilt but better than having to redo them several times and warping the fabric.

After making this it occurred to me that my vintage New Home 696 deals with changing layers of fabric better than my newer Brother machine. So I found a few more extra blocks and tested construction there. This one might be my favourite yet!

I did the rather unscientific thing and changed an additional variable, pressing as many seams as possible to opposite sides instead of open flat. I’ve heard that that helps to line things up, and it did seem to help here. But I’m not sure if it was because of my additional practice, or the use of the other machine, or even that my Brother wasn’t as happy with the first fabric combination – it did to the second one well.

As it is I think I’ll sew the patchwork on my New Home, though switch to the Brother for the quilting as my walking foot works better on that machine.


1st January

Busy day, though I’m sure real life will start creeping in soon to stop me from doing quite so much.

I started off the day cutting all the remaining blocks down to 4 1/2″ to match my HSTs. This generated a small amount of scraps that could have in theory been avoided. But leaving everything at 5″ gave me the option to swap blocks around. I’ve put them in a bag to stuff something with later.

I played around with layout options, trying to make sure I didn’t put the same fabric next to each other and the whole thing looked relatively balanced. TBH I like it better in the photo than IRL. Close up the prints are all a bit too much. I’m sure it’ll grow on me, and it’s a good lesson for future quilts.

Then I went on a walk, to take advantage of the sunny weather and give my eyes a little rest so I could look on it fresh later. It’s been so dull and rainy, as you can tell by the state of the footpath.

I then went a bit mad and labelled every single square with a bit of masking tape. I had to move them into another room to sew and was paranoid they’d get muddled. Despite this I still managed to muck one up (as I had to re-press a few seams and moved the masking tape. C5 is upside down.

Everything was sewn on my old New Home 696, which I remembered has an extension table!

I sewed 6 of the 8 rows completely (checking as I went to make sure points were matching – I didn’t go as far as to measure if they were 1/4″ from the edge though I’m honestly tempted!), and then the last two rows got sewn into pairs so I could clear the floor in the bedroom.

Everything was pinned, but where the seams joined I basted as I was worried pins would knock things out of shape.

None of the new seams were pressed, as I want to be strategic. I want to press things towards the darker fabrics, but I also make sure as many seams as possible butt up against one another (as opposed to being pressed to the same side).


2nd January

I finished up the rows, and worked out a pressing plan on Canva which I put into action.

I also started sewing the rows together, but only got halfway before it got too late and I thought it best to give it a rest. In future I’ll probably press open any seams that don’t nest when seams are pressed to the darker sides, some areas were bumpy and I had to do a lot of basting to make sure it lined up while stitching.

On the whole I was really happy working on my old machine.


3th January

Quilt top complete!

I was really nervous putting the rows together, but thankfully nothing was too badly out. And on all but a few occasions I’m happy to live with, things turned out fine on the first go or were correctable on the second try with additional basting.

Next up was sorting out the backing. In my head I had loads on extra fabric, and while that was the case, nothing was quite big enough to fit. I’d decided on a black binding and a mostly white backing, and while eventually I worked out a strategy for piecing the back I ran out of time before completing it.

I’m binding it with the black fabric with dark grey dots, which you can see next to the outer points of the tan squares/diamonds. It was very cheap at Abakhan, probably because it looks like that design was overprinted on to some kind of nativity book.

Can you see Bethlehem, Mary, and page 2 in the text above? I think it reads:

“Some how they got to Bethlehem, And it was none too soon, Though Mary knew the time had come, They could not find a room”

Thankfully not noticeable on the binding. Hopefully the quilt isn’t blasphemous and/or cursed for cutting that up. It is a Christmas themed quilt at least!


4th January

Backing finished early in the morning (I started before breakfast but my husband made me come downstairs and eat before I got hangry).

My goal was to have it balanced without any serious attempt at being centred with anything. This piece was a little longer but I trimmed it off and managed to get the seam on the right near the centre. Oh well, it left me with bigger offcuts that will be more useful on other things.

First on the list of other things is the backing pieces for my test blocks, which I was happy with.

I’m going to work from the bottom of the photo up, and hopefully try a few techniques to see which I like best.

Here’s my progress on the first (lowest) one.

I went with spray basting over pinning as I picked up some spray baste in a sale ages ago. I don’t have good safety pins for pin basting, and I also get a soreness in my thumb sometimes that might be aggravated by opening and closing a bunch of pins.

As it turned out I quite liked how the spray baste worked, though I’ll probably have to wash my tests before deciding whether to go with it on the quilt.

I sewed the binding on the front with the machine, and managed decent mitred corners.

I finished the hand stitching as well, with some episodes of Wellington Paranormal on in the background. Here’s a picture on Tilly for scale.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it (or the other ones for that matter!). I’m tempted to use thermal wadding on the next ones so I can use them as trivets, but then they won’t be a proper test of the final quilt conditions. I’ve been googling ideas and my favourite was putting command adhesive strips on clothes pegs, hanging those on the wall and using those to display the quilts.


5th January

In my head my outing to Shrewsbury today was going to be a quick in and out job. But I ended up doing a park and ride as my usual car park was flooded. That and a late start meant I got home much later than I intended.

So today I decided to tackle a shirt that I managed to spray oil all over. It was a lot of little dots of oil, splash back from some cooking a few days ago. In the gallery below, the first picture is the before, the second is in-progress.

Oil stains like this probably won’t come out in the wash, but they’re really easy to deal with: put some dish soap on, rub it in until it’s sudsy, and let it sit for a while. Then wash it out with warm/hot water, ideally letting the hot water run just through the effected layer. I’ve done this on old oil stains as well with good results, so I’m not too worried if I didn’t manage to get them all with this enthusiastic (as opposed to precise and accurate) attempt at applying the soap.

I also picked up a dress at a charity shop today that needed some treatment. When I told my husband about it, and he was frankly confused.

  • It’s not really my style – not a puffy sleeve person.
  • I’m not a huge pink fan (though I do love the print)
  • It had loads of stains on it

I’m honestly a little surprised the charity shop had it for sale given its condition, and that it was £7. But I’m not someone who haggles at charity shops. This money is going towards hospice care, I’m not going to get huffy about the price.

But I bought it…because of the stains. Bear with me here, people. If I didn’t buy it, who would? It would just end up getting pulped once the staff noticed. I love the fabric, and there’s a lot of it in this oversized dress.

It’s a prime contender for reuse: worst case scenario I can cut around the stains and use the fabric for other things. For something more complicated but my preferred option, I might just remove/rework the sleeves and use the offcuts as fodder for pattern-match patches over the stains I can’t remove.

This dress is also tricky because when hand-washing out the soap, the water got surprisingly pink. Red is a notoriously runny colour in my experience, but maybe it’s never been washed? I’d normally just let it soak overnight in a oxygen bleach mix, but I may have to try spot-treating stains before washing in the machine instead to avoid the red running everywhere.

I’ll share the results of these in next week’s post, as well as hopefully more progress on the quilt! I’ve got an evening away and a bunch of other things planned so it’ll be a test of my ability to make time to work on this project.