Tag Archives: sewing

Hanging plant holders

Greetings from a very wet and windy Cape Town. I just had to nip out to the shop up the road for bread and milk, and to the sewing shop round the corner for a new pair of sewing scissors (cutting some thick fabric this morning with my old ones was too much to handle, on top of everything else happening here right now). I could have held up a bank, dressed as I was in Philip’s huge old black hooded raincoat and my black face mask.* You could only see my eyes. Maybe that’s what wearing a full burqa feels like.

We are still at Level 4 of lockdown, moving to Level 3 on 1 June. I don’t know what it’s like for you, wherever you are in the world, but here is pretty damn crazy. This post was supposed to be about the plant hangers I’ve been making (I’ll get to it, I promise) but the things happening here are just so insane that I can’t contain myself any longer. The ban on the sale of alcohol will only be lifted next week – countless people have died from drinking vrot homemade pineapple beer (seems it’s not as easy to make as one would have thought) or meths, and the ban on tobacco products is not going to be lifted for months. We are allowed to buy certain items of clothing in shops but not t-shirts with short sleeves or open-toe shoes (not sure how they define Crocs). We can attend religious gatherings of up to 50 people, but we are not allowed to enter a restaurant to pick up a take-away order (even one person at a time). Apparently the minister of social something-or-other wants to ban the provision of cooked food to the homeless and the poor, and this bill is sitting on her desk right now. Countless people have been killed as a result of overzealous police action relating to lockdown restrictions. (Yes, you read that right. Killed). It is outrageous. Sniffer dogs are now employed at many postal and courier depots to make sure that no-one is sending any prohibited items around the country. A curfew was imposed at the beginning of May – you had to be home by 20h00. Exercise time was 6h00 to 9h00 daily. You could go to the pharmacy to pick up your meds but you couldn’t buy hair colour from the shelf right next to the queue you were standing in because it was deemed “non essential”. Few things made sense.

It all started so well, and I get that authorities and governments round the world had to wing it. We were all behind The Prez at first, but he has misread the growing mood of resentment and desperation in recent weeks, and seems to have taken some bad advice. Little or no scientific basis for lockdown regulations has been provided, and yet we are expected to abide by them regardless. People want to go back to work (all of us, formal and informal traders, office workers, domestic staff, black and white, low- and middle-class), naturally taking proper safety precautions, but that’s not allowed. More people will die from the effects of this lockdown than from the virus itself. I read a lot and I know this applies to many other countries, not just South Africa. And I know I’m speaking as a middle-class white person (how could I not be, that’s what I am?) but am very aware of the hardships faced by homeless and poor people because of my work with an NGO that provides food for those who can’t afford it. Thank god for all the church groups, NGOs, community groups and generous individuals who have been providing for those less fortunate – they have been doing the work that the state is supposed to.

Now, where was I before I started ranting? – oh yes, plant holders. I wanted to come up with a unique product for the Christmas markets (optimistically hoping they will actually happen in 2020!) that combined my enjoyment of sewing with my love of plants. And so we have these:

I fiddled around with the basic design for ages before I was happy, and the new ones (which aren’t pictured here) have wooden beads instead of knots at each top corner. They look really cute. I’ve used up all my shweshwe fabric, hopefully I’ll be able to buy more when all the shops are allowed to open…. 

*It is obligatory to wear a mask now when you go out, and also preferably even when you’re driving alone in your car. Yup, true.

Mend it Monday 1

Inspired by Jan at The Snail of Happiness, this morning I spent some time mending a beloved old army bag belonging to Marc, a friend and neighbour. He brought it round three weeks ago, so I should have attended to it long before now (forgive me, Marc, procrastination is my super power).

marc 1   marc 2

The bag was made in 1942 and belonged to a Corporal RC Clarke. It’s well-used and a bit tatty round the edges, but still sturdy and useful. I couldn’t help wondering what Cpl Clarke’s experiences of WWII might have been, as I was doing the repairs, but I’m sure he never thought that an item of his military kit might still be going strong in 2020…

marc 3

marc 4

I made it clear to Marc that, however the repairs got done, the result was always going to look like an old bag with a big patch stitched onto it. No invisible mending or dainty stitches! I added two patches, one inside and one on the outside, just for extra strength (maybe this bag will survive another 80 years!) using a khaki cotton, and a bit extra in two places on the strap for reinforcement. I managed to break two needles in the execution (and this on an industrial sewing machine, not a domestic one) because it was fiddly fiddly and the original canvas is four layers thick in some places.

But it’s done! Something to tick off the list… I do believe I am now deserving of a second glass of wine ;)

slightly late scraphappy

Just as I was about to sweep up last week’s cuttings, Kate’s email reminder about ScrapHappy popped into my head. This is what the floor in the garage/workroom looks like most of the time!

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And here’s what I salvaged and stitched together:

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And here’s what it turned into:

boho 3

My favourite boho bag yet! Here are two of the others.

 

The scrappy bits take longer to sew into a bag than the ones with squares or strips, but the pleasure of creating a piece of fabric from all those chopped-off bits was enormous.

I officially had my first showroom last week – yes, Kate was right, I needed to commit to a date to make sure I carried through. And I wanted a slow start, which was precisely what I got. I’ve only notified neighbours, friends and customers from the Made in the Cape market, the idea being that only people who know and like the kind of things I make will come. So not an open house and no unknowns off the street! I had three customers, two of whom made purchases. The first step (is it always the hardest one?) is over.

still with the chair thing

After the success with this one, I moved on to the four dining chairs with drop-in seats (the two chairs that go at each end of the table are made in a different style but the seats didn’t need recovering anyway). They have/had pretty needlepoint seat covers but they’re getting shabby, plus I was still looking for things to STAPLE with the GUN.

Before:

dining Before

After:

 

dining 4

dining 3

An aside: I decided not to remove the original needlepoint covers before recovering with the patchwork, although this is obviously what a professional would have done. There may be a time when these chairs will go and live somewhere else, in which case my fabric can easily be removed. There’s no way that undeserving people will get to enjoy my pretty patchwork stripes and labour (long story,  beyond the scope of this blog post)…

I know I shouldn’t boast but I really really love how these turned out :)

ScrapHappy cushion cover

I’ve been in neutral for what feels like a long time now but am slowly getting back into gear – first gear still, but moving up to second… I’m sure eventually I’ll be back to normal, or at least whatever passes for normal with me :)

circle

I came across a round cushion I’d made ages ago from left-over bits of fabric that never really worked: the diameter was completely off, it was too small and, once stuffed, it was like a rugby ball. I still like the colours so decided to unpick the whole thing and figure out a way to make it bigger. I wanted to somehow drop it into a bigger piece of fabric but without having to applique the edges. I gave it some thought and also checked on the internet to make sure I was heading in the right direction: this tutorial by Angela Pingel helped a lot. It’ll now become a cushion about 45cm square, a goodly size. The background fabric isn’t technically a scrap but I’m sure the patchwork pie will count as “scraphappy”!

I’ve been inspired to write this by Kate, who provides links to other ScrapHappy bloggers at Tall Tales from Chiconia on the fifteenth of every month. It’s a marvellous nudge to creativity to see what other people do with their imaginations and sewing skills.