Category Archives: craft

Picture Book Drawstring Backpack

A quick picture of a project I completed in 2017. In Australia little people need a library bag when they head off to school. From what I hear this isn’t a requirement in the US but I may have started a tradition by gifting it to a lovely little girl who lives in California. I hope its useful for her and her parents.

It was a fun project, using a Spotlight remnant licensed fabric for the outer layer and a fleecy cotton for the inside layer.

Library Bag

Who doesn’t love The Cat in the Hat?

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Hanten Jacket 

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Do your projects sometimes take on a life of their own? This one did for me. It was intended to be a prototype but ended up as a project. Here’s the story:

I wanted to be true to the origins of the hanten jacket, a padded garment traditionally worn by workers.

Being true meant adding batting, which added complexity and a need for quilting.

Adding batting meant adding a lining, which for me was unbleached calico from my stash.

Following tradition meant having a contrasting neck band, which I read about online.

Being thrifty meant finding a wooden barrel button at the ops shop (charity shop.)

Using a button closure meant braiding a round kumihimo eight strand braid for the button loop and button band.

Using a round kumihimo eight strand braid closure meant learning how to transition that round braid to an eight strand flat braid so I could comfortably fit it under the sewing machine presser foot to attach it to the front band.

And dos it goes….

Pattern Source: Clothing from the Hands that Weave by Anita Luvera Mayer from Kay Faulkners extensive library.

In progress. I later swapped the fabric hanging loop for a braided one. Prototype closure elements.

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Quilting template and kumihimo disk. 3/2 cotton for the braids.

The East Bay Depot for Creative Re-Use

Were you a child who treasured offcuts of wood, scraps of fabric, egg cartons and even empty toilet rolls for creative play?

I am old enough to remember when cotton reels were made of wood, giving them many more possibilities for re-use than the plastic cotton reels we have today. In fact wooden cotton reels were one of the most desirable items of ‘waste.’ My grandfather made spinning tops out of old cotton reels. I still treasure those spinning tops today.

Today I can’t help but save items that I think might be useful for children’s craft activities. I gather them until I have enough to pass on to a family or a play group where children will be able to enjoy them. I wish I had a Depot for Creative Re-Use locally, like the one at 4695 Telegraph Ave in Oakland, so I could donate these items. Their shop is a treasure trove of pre-loved art supplies, yarn, card stock, picture frames, patterns, books, magazines and many more useful items.

centre-for-creative-reuseWhen we visited the East Bay Depot for Creative Re-Use we had a wonderful time hunting for treasures we could use for our craft projects. I resisted the temptation to buy some very well priced yarn in an attractive colour because I am trying to restrict my buying to projects I will work on immediately. My beloved found back issues of Fine Woodworking magazine for his reference library and was very happy with his purchases.

If I lived locally I would be happy to donate to the depot because I love what they do – diverting useful items from the waste stream and making them available to crafters, artists and educators who will put them to good use. Most of us crafters have one or two or more items that we haven’t had time to use or that reflect an interest we have moved on from.

The depot is located in an old part of town where coffee roasters offer espressos in shops that are next door to run down old buildings. I received some light verbal abuse from a homeless person for getting between him and the checkouts at the Depot for Re-Use, an experience that seemed consistent with the neighbourhood which has all kinds of people.

If you’re in the Telegraph Ave area you might also want to check out La Calaca Loca which has a well-deserved reputation for excellent grilled and fried fish tacos. There’s a tool lending library available to Oakland Public Library members, just across the road from the taqueria, adding one more fantastic feature to the area.

I am unaware of any places in my home town that offer similar services to the East Bay Depot for Creative Re-Use. Do you have anything similar where you live? It’s a brilliant idea and I’d love to see more of them.

A Visit to Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Supplies

img_0363In the interest of research I made a trip to Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Supplies at Pacific Commons in Fremont, California. The location is quite beautiful, as you can see from this car park photo. It feels like those hills follow you wherever you go in these parts, and they are spectacular to look at, particularly when the setting sun exaggerates the contours of the land by casting deep shadows. I got to Pacific Commons by bus, itself an adventure in this state where the car, SUV and truck reign supreme.

Shelving units at Jo-Ann's

It’s a spacious store

Generally I’m finding bus travel to be convenient and easy, though sometimes you can be faced with some serious walks just to get from one place to another once you reach your destination, particularly when you are going to a new shopping centre in a suburban location. It appears the planners assumed you would be driving, rather than walking, from one shop to the next.

I had read about Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores  as a place where many sewers get their fabric. The range was large and the whole shop was huge.  Many blog posts mentioned  making purchases only with a coupon and I could see why, as prices seemed to be on the high side. Financially, you’d definitely better off buying fabric in Bangkok though no shop I have seen in Bangkok could match Jo-Ann’s for range. And then there’s the cost of the air ticket…

Bolts of unpatterned fabrics on display shelvesThe selection of upholstery fabric was really impressive and it was good to see both upholstery fabric, fashion fabric and quilting fabric all in the same shop. That doesn’t tend to happen in Australia or New Zealand.

I bought a couple of dress patterns and some crochet cotton to continue my band weaving using a finer weight yarn, in the hope it will give me a better finish.

The checkout operator generously let me use my 40% off coupon even though it hadn’t downloaded correctly to my phone. Full marks for customer service on that one.

 

Nomadic Weaving Sami Style

I’m away from my big looms right now. My temporary status as a nomadic person gives me the opportunity to try my hand at Sami style band or tape weaving. The Sami are the nomadic peoples of northern Scandinavia but the tape weaving tradition is well established  in Sweden also.

If you’re interested in getting up and running with this technique yourself, this Band Weaving site, written in Swedish, has photos that illustrate the components clearly enough that you could get by without reading the words.
Here’s my kit.

Wooden band weaving supplies, backstrap and heddle

Portable. Perfect!

Here’s my warping board. In my enthusiasm, I forgot to make a cross and I paid the price with tangles later, but it was nothing that couldn’t be fixed.

And here’s the work in progress.

Tape weaving showing heddle harness and  shuttle

Not bad for my first project

I plan to apply steam to finish the tape to try and get it smoother but first there is a lot more weaving to do. Next I will experiment with different fibres and colours. The fine holes on the Stoorstålka heddle are a bit limiting on using heavier yarn for the pattern threads it seems to me. I wonder how others have dealt with that. I can’t be the first.

Fancy Fox

One of my friends gave birth to a baby girl four months ago, providing me with the perfect excuse to make some fox blocks. I first saw the fancy fox block on a quilt made by Wombat Quilts and fell in love with it then.

 Fancy Fox  Quilt Top made up of Four Fox Blocks  in Pink and Grey  

If you want to buy the pattern, it’s available from Oh Fransson. It’s easy enough to make the blocks. Each large fox block measures 20 by 24 inches, which is a whole different scale to what I’ve worked with before. I like the amount of negative space though and the blocks come together quickly once you’ve done your cutting. They’re also a good way to use up your stash though the amount of waste involved in sewing the muzzle/background triangle does trouble me a little. 

This top will be going off to the long arm quilter due to a shortage of free time and because my Singer quilting machine has developed a timing problem, one that’s too expensive to have fixed by a professional. Tinkerer and I are planning a DIY repair session over the summer. If we can’t fix the Singer ourselves it might be useful as a boat anchor. Meanwhile I can continue piecing with my trusty Husqvarna. 

Crochet Dish Cloth

dishcloth2I took a crochet project along on my recent trip to Bangkok, wanting a project that was portable and didn’t involve any tools that might get confiscated by airport security.

You can’t do too much damage with a 2mm crochet hook and a ball of mercerised cotton. I actually don’t believe you can do too much damage with a pair of nail scissors, either, but I once had mine confiscated on my way  to board an early morning domestic flight. I see it as security theatre …but that’s another story.

This dishcloth measures 29cm x 24cm and I plan to use it as a pot holder. We’ll see. I stopped crocheting when I ran out of yarn and selected a rectangular shape so I can fold it double to protect my hands. I also added a hanger in case I decide to use it as a general wiping cloth.

I modified the pattern by starting with a chain of 75 stitches rather than 25 and took it from there. It was easy to make, though the finer yarn I used meant that progress was slower than if I’d used the kitchen cotton yarn referenced in the pattern. I can also attest to the fact that the pattern is very forgiving of errors. I made several, but I can’t find them now without looking very hard.

Cotton Dishcloth

Cotton Dish Cloth

The crochet hook came from Spotlight and was a last minute purchase on departure day. It was the worst quality of bendy lightweight aluminum. Yes, it was cheap, but it wasn’t worth any money and I won’t be using it again, except maybe to clear a blocked drain. My grandmother used stainless steel crochet hooks. I need to go and find hers.