Thursday, 10 July 2014


After the little antique quilt project in my last post, I realised that one of the things I enjoyed the most was the actual unpicking of the fabric.  Discovering what was going on within the seams where the cloth was unchanged by light but still had the wear and tear of repeated washing and drying.  The old cotton had become very crisp and it was possible to even notice the different levels of wear on the warp and weft ... the warp lasts longer it seems.

I also really loved working with a finite amount of material and with someone else's stitches.  The quilt was long gone and the rest of it may well be in other projects scattered far and wide, but what I had was a little framed snapshot of the original seamstress's work.  This made me work consciously with more care and reverence than I would've done with a new fat quarter.  I followed the fabric's lead as I worked,  if it tore, I mended it and that became part of the piece.  I didn't discard worn cloth and incorporated seams and damage into my own, tiny patchwork.

I don't know why I find using up the last scrap of something so delightfully comforting, It's something I've done all my life. I hate waste but if I reuse or 'upcycle' something I've never really allowed the object's previous life to show before,  believing that it should be a miraculous transformation...something new, especially with fabric.  So I would cut around the buttonholes and discard the seams and my eyes would automatically seek out the big areas of fabric in a garment that could be recut and look like new.  Oh I'll tell people that I made a range of pincushions from a charity shop skirt because upcycling is cool right? BUT I don't want people to be able to tell that from looking, so I only pick the best bits of cloth and chuck out the worn bits so the skirt someone once made, loved and wore is now gone forever.

Maybe it's an age thing but the processes of wear and tear, mending and keeping are becoming more valuable to me the older I get. I've been unpicked and put back together more times than I can count and I absolutely did not emerge as a crisp,  fresh new me every time! (I wish! ).  I'm stuck with all my metaphorical expanded seams,  darned tears, stitch holes and fancily embroidered patches and they are actually alk Ok! 
This in mind, I'll most likely be exploring and musing on about my wrinkles,  emotional scars, stretch marks and cellulite through the metaphor of old cloth for a goodly while yet...that might well be a trigger warning for some of us but let's try and muscle past it!

This is a piece of loosely woven cotton that came from a second hand, commercially made blouse.  The blouse only had embroidery around the bottom and the actual garment got cut down into Dick Turpin's big shirt for my son last Halloween.  This left me with an eight inch band of cloth, white with a floral design couched on to it in the bottom of my sewing box.  I have actually no idea yet where the rest of the big lady's shirt will end up yet but here's what happened to it so far!  

Hem, seams and embroidery all unpicked over a fab couple of hours in the garden, darned and half tea dyed.  I love the patterns of holes left by the unpicking that all but disappeared on the piece that went into the tea bath. This may well embroider beautifully under a magnifier as a teeny sampler or pincushion. about ...

"As ye rip, So shall ye sew"?

Paula xxx

Wednesday, 2 July 2014


Recently, I have become a member of a secret underground coven of like-minded women whose main aims are to rid the world of holes, rips, worn areas, oh... and gin!  The holes are dispatched by mending and the gin in a different way!

We have taken to meeting up at undisclosed locations (each other's houses mainly!) imbibing gin and practicing the art of stitching things by hand in a million different ways.  Mending, darning, patching, embroidering and generally celebrating the happiness that ensues from making something not only whole again but more beautiful in the process. 

A while ago - quite a while actually, I bought a piece of an antique quilt at a vintage fair to make into a cushion for my daughter, for some reason I never got around to it and just left it in one of my fabric trays.  Not only has the cushion finally appeared but I've used up the extra scraps too! I've made a fabric button necklace (as I tend to do with tiny bits of fabric) , but I've also made some tiny patchwork from the torn scraps of disintegrating old cotton.  I've mended some of the hexagons while they were still separate on the papers and others once I had pieced them all together, I've done yet more mending on top once I'd appliqued the patches on to a piece of hand embroidery I did reading 'Sewing Mends the Soul'.    The whole thing has now become a pincushion in a 3" embroidery hoop which will hang rather nicely on the wall! 

You can find more joyous mending in the following places :

Happy stitching!  pxxxxx