Lockdown stashbuster 3…

Whilst sorting out the blue/green strips for Stashbuster 2, I realised I had a lot of smallish rectangles (or thereabouts) in the scrap drawer. So my plan for Stashbuster 3 was to use some of those up gainfully, trying out a different technique. So this time it was foundation-pieced onto some random lightweight cotton; I took the rectangles and placed them randomly on the foundation cotton, then swapped them round until I’d a) achieved coverage of the foundation piece, and b) something vaguely pleasing to the eye, provided that eye happens to like chaotic brightness.

Hmm… there are still a lot of holes!

Then I pinned the pieces into position, rolled it up & took it through to my big computerised (secondhand) Pfaff, and zig-zagged the pieces into position. Needless to say, a fair few had fallen off by the time I got to them, and I managed to stab myself with the pins umpteen times. I wonder if a dab of PVA in the centre of each scrap would have worked better?

Scraps zig-zagged on…

If I weren’t just stashbusting, I might have used some of the Pfaff’s enormous range of stitches and some interesting thread. However, in the cause of using stuff up whilst I actually have some time available, I just went for fast & furious. After cutting & sticking on some wadding & backing (which also did duty as the binding, folded over, ironed & stitched down) with that miraculous 505 spray, I transferred operations to my REAL sewing machine, the 1909 Jones treadle.

If I could only keep one machine, it’d be this one. Never skips a stitch or sulks.

It took a lot longer to quilt this one; it’s much more closely quilted. I chose to more-or-less echo the shapes of the rectangles and their overlaps. So if quilts got names, I’d call it “Corners” as I turned an awful lot of those! But the joy of working on an old-fashioned treadle is total control; it never runs away with you. Anyway, by this morning I was very nearly there…

Hours & hours of turning corners later…

All done by lunchtime! And has been washed, dried & stashed away with Stashbusters I & 2, waiting for small owners, should those days ever arrive! Mind you, I’m not saying they have to be human owners…

The finished article.

Stashbuster 4 will be somewhat of a change of direction… but there are a couple of large alteration projects to shift first, to make more room in the “Sewing studio” aka the spare bedroom. So I’ll allow myself at least a week to get this one done & dusted.

Stashbuster 2…

Raggy cot quilt from scraps…

Stashbusting cot quilt no. 2 completed… My self-imposed challenge this time was only to use fabric from my scrap drawer for the top. Whenever I have a scrap of suitable fabric either left over from another project or come in on a job lot but much too small to sell on, I stuff it into my scrap drawer for using up another day. Well, that day is this day.

There’s a slight cheat in that one of the fabrics hadn’t quite made it into the scrap drawer (from a damaged “New Look” cotton skirt, which I hadn’t quite got round to dismantling) but that’s where it was bound. Not all the scraps go into quilt tops; there are 1001 uses for a small bit of decent fabric, like – oh, lavender sachets, bunting, test-stitching a newly refurbished sewing machine, lining a woven bag – they’re always useful.

My elderly mother got quite excited when she heard I was making cot quilts, pointedly wondering whether there was any news from the assorted offspring. It was hard to break it to her that actually I’m just making them for practice, to use stuff up & experiment with simple techniques, and because that size is so eminently do-able in short bites of time!

But I had thought that actually using up a whole cot-quilt’s-worth would clear a fair bit of space in there. Sadly, not so! I think there’s still enough for a couple of king-size quilts in there. I do have an intriguing idea for the next one, but this may go on for longer than a month…

My not-very-empty scrap drawer…

A very quick update…

I’m kind of busy just now… Sadly I’ve decided to close down the stall at Molly’s Den, and re-open one at Toad Hall here in Wimborne instead. I got into this lark as a maker/recycler, rather than a dealer, but seem to be quite good at sourcing resources that other people want to use, too. Gradually I’ve stopped making things and was spending all my time hunting up things to sell, and it wasn’t making me very happy. Not to mention the fact that it was making my home very cluttered, which wasn’t making my family very happy.

Handmade doesn’t really “work” at Molly’s Den, except for upcycled furniture, which I don’t have the space to do. So I’m going back to somewhere where it does, cutting down what I sell to what I sell best, i.e. vintage & reclaimed sewing & crafting supplies, and going back to having some fun playing with all the lovely fabrics and trimmings that I find. I’ll be spending part of the summer haunting the local car boots, offloading any stock I can’t shift in a massive sale before closing the stall at Molly’s at the end of May. So that’s my “news”- there’ll be a return to normal posting very shortly!

And another one…

fabricmuddle

…another resolution, that is.

Yesterday Dear Son no. 3 and I swapped him from one of the bigger upstair bedrooms back into the smallest one, the same one he had for a number of years before he went off to university. As he said, it made sense because he’s a minimalist and doesn’t have much “stuff” – oh, and it’s also a fair bit warmer, too!

Whereas I do have rather a lot of stuff… I’d been attempting to use that little room (9′ x 10′ but irregularly shaped) as a guest bedroom, a drying area, and a sewing studio, which had resulted in more or less complete chaos on the sewing side, although it was – just – functional. The drying rack & clean laundry could be swept up & re-deployed at a moment’s notice whenever DS1 came home for the weekend; not so the sewing bench and the vast accumulations of fabric, patterns & notions. To be fair, a large amount of these were things intended for re-sale, that had been deposited in there as a “safe” area to store them in. But they’d got hopelessly muddled up with the bits that I’m actually using or have realistically-achievable plans for…

So now the bigger, cooler room is piled high with bags of fabric, patterns, notions, lace, ribbons, paper etc. I was too tired to try to sort it out, after dismantling two beds, locating a third, and re-building two of them again as well as hauling all the stuff around so it’s still more or less as it was last night; tomorrow I will try to sort out a working area for the big Pfaff, the overlocker and the embellisher, and possibly even add a picture, if I’m brave enough. There are still several trunks full of DD2 & DS2’s belongings in there, too, as well as a “dead” wardrobe (unwanted and unduly rickety now) and the spare bedding! All of which apparently have to go somewhere

The point of mentioning all this is to say that I have resolved that this will be the year when I buy NO new craft materials or fabric; I already have more than enough, and enough to keep the stall stocked for several months, too. I’m excepting specialist materials like interfacing – although I have a whole roll of heavy sew-in interfacing, found at the Tip late last year – or 505 spray where they’re really needed to do a specific job that actually needs doing & I don’t already have something that I can make do. But no impulse buys, not even when they’re really, really good bargains…

I think this may be harder than it sounds…

Might be a bit quiet for a week or two…

… because 1) DS3 is coming home – hip-hip-hooray! – from his 9 months studying in Chile, and 2) I’m going to have some “premises” again, for a while at least. I’ve taken a small stall at Molly’s Den, a nearby vintage/retro warehouse, where I hope to have some of my less-portable wares on offer 7 days a week, without tying myself up in knots trying to run a shop, restock it and run workshops too! So I’ll be tied up with sorting, pricing & preparing the space for a bit. I’ll see how it goes, but it will cost me just £5 a month more than a storage container, with the benefit that my stuff will not just be dry & safe & out from under everybody’s feet here, but it’ll actually be on sale too, and potential customers will be able to try things out.

To celebrate, I think I might organise a bit of a giveaway, inspired by Frugal Queen’s Bank Holiday giveaway; it won’t be as big as hers, but I do have rather a lot of small, interesting bits & bobs in need of a good home that isn’t shared with 4-6 other people & 3 cats! So, watch this space…

 

Catching up…

Sometimes you just need a few quiet days to catch up with stuff… it’s amazing how much chaos can vanish, given a few hours to tackle your UFOs. A UFO, for those of you who are more organised than I can pretend to be, is an UnFinished Object. At any given time I will have several hanging around, waiting for an unbroken run of time & inspiration to get them done & off my back. One of these has now been done and another is well underway, and would have been finished last night if my treadle belt hadn’t broken just as darkness fell.

A minor UFO!

This quilt came to me in two pieces; I found it in a local charity shop (henceforth referred to as CSs) just after I’d promised a young friend a quilt for their birthday. It’s a commercially-made one, although it’s hand-pieced, probably in India, and had been cut in half & hemmed to make two small singles, probably for two small boys. The two halves were being sold for dog blankets at £2.50 each… just so happened that I was cutting up a pile of blue 99p CS shirts to make patchwork pieces, and I couldn’t resist the temptation to “cheat” and try to join it back up again; couldn’t help thinking it would be rather wasted on your average pooch. I doubt I could have done it invisibly and actually I didn’t even want to try; every quilt tells a story, as they say, and being divided & joined back up again is part of this quilt’s tale. It lies flatter than it looks on the washing line!

The other project that’s awaiting some concentration-time is the blind for DS2’s window, which is half-finished, but I hope to have done by the end of today. This time I did buy the main fabric new & complete, to fit in with his colour scheme, but everything else is reclaimed, and much of it from the same old blind that I made DS3’s one from. Leftover fabric will be made into cushions; I found two brand-new cushion pads at the Tip a couple of weeks ago, still with their price tags on.

In the meantime, I’m continuing to try to dispose of more stuff than I bring back; a large load went off with the jumble collectors yesterday, and a boot-load of genuine rubbish went off to the Tip. And I only brought one small item back; a little vintage wind-up travel alarm clock. If it doesn’t work properly, I’ll cannibalise it for steampunk-style jewellery, but so far, it does, and very well too, so I might just have to sell it on as is…

And editing to add: treadle belt changed, blind finished & hung, and one cushion completed. The other may take some time; the front will be the same, but the back will have to be painstakingly pieced out of about 8 tiny leftover scraps…

A major UFO – adding a touch of warmth to a very masculine icebox-bedroom!

How to find the happy medium?

Having now discovered the joys of decluttering, I have got to the point where once or twice recently I’ve wanted things, only to discover that I’ve given them away… It was bound to happen eventually. The thing is, I really don’t want to backslide either financially (“I’ll just go out & buy another”) or in hoarding terms (“I’ll find somewhere to keep this, it might just come in useful…”) so somehow I have to find a middle way. Easier said than done!

I know that when it comes to my stall, I want to up my game & just have stuff that’s irresistible, on a stall that looks inviting. In some ways, less is more, here; I suspect that some of the things I’ve been puzzling over as to why they haven’t sold, have simply been buried in the melee as people turn my stock over to see what else I’ve got. I need a certain amount of variety so that things don’t get stale & I’m not trotting out the same old, same old every month; it’s good to give things a “rest” from time to time and always have something new. Well, as new as “vintage” can be! But at the same time it’s easy to accrue far too much stuff, some of it not as nice…

I also need to look at the materials I keep for our own craftwork; I have an ideal opportunity for this coming up as I replace some inappropriate storage with something that will fit the space more neatly, blend in with the rest of our furniture nicely and also provide more & better storage. I think it’ll take twice as much stuff as the present “storage solution” but I shall try to make sure it doesn’t have to; I suspect that half of what’s currently buried in the old sideboard will no longer be useful to us and can be given away! And there’ll be more room for dancing too – one of my teens can be entertained indefinitely  & inexpensively with henna, kohl, fabric, chiffon, sequins, bells, Bollywood & Egyptian music and a small audience or a few “pupils” …

I still have two biggish items that haven’t sold on Ebay. One I will hang onto & try other routes for selling; it’s worth what I’m asking for it & I’m not going to part with it for less than I paid for it, just wait until the right buyer comes along, which will happen eventually. I might even take it to Boscombe Vintage Market this weekend.  The other, my much-loved Jones embroidery machine on a Singer treadle – well, I have to admit I didn’t really want to sell it anyway! Once the new storage is installed (starting this afternoon, I hope) it can come back in from the garage and be put straight back into use. There are still other biggish things, that are less useful, that can be sold to make more space, not to mention about 500 excess craft books…

And it would be useful now to make some more money, as well as space. I’ve had a breather after closing down the shop, which was longer than intended thanks to bits of Boscombe Clock Tower falling through the roof of the Royal Parade, forcing the cancellation of last month’s Market. I’ve meant to do a couple of car boot sales, but other things have taken priority; sadly those other things (my father-in-law’s terminal illness in another country, Olympic tickets and 3 birthdays) have cost us quite a lot of money and I need to cut unnecessary spending hard and top the family coffers back up next month. So hold onto your seat belts for a month of making do & mending, foraging, freezer-emptying, inexpensive home-grown fun & generally wringing every ounce of value out of each & every penny!

Long time no see…

I know it’s been a whole month since I posted, but I’m not referring to that – it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to see quite so much of our floor! I’ve been busy, very busy, decluttering like mad. It’s needed doing for a very long time, and bringing all the shop & market stock back here tipped it from something that really needed doing, to something acute – if I didn’t do it, I was going to go under mentally, or break my neck tripping over a pile of something. There are still a few piles hanging around, waiting for new homes, but I reckon I’ve reduced the rubble by something like three-quarters over the last four weeks. Some things have been sold on, although the last vintage market was cancelled, but most have been given away, either to charity or on Freecycle/Freegle, and some even dumped.

It’s interesting that now the kids are older (youngest now rising 17) the resistance to change has diminished. When they were younger, they’d complain about the mess, but often actively derail my attempts to actually do anything about it. But now, they’re helping me clear & deep-clean, and are full of ideas as to how we might redecorate & reorganise; we may not always see eye-to-eye about this, but it feels like a huge step forwards. I think I’ve been too easily discouraged in the past; there was a point about two weeks ago, when I seemed to have been working flat out for two weeks but it didn’t look any different. At that point, I nearly went under & gave up, but thanks to an inspirational thread over on MSE, and having a bit more time on my hands, I kept going this time and now it’s really beginning to look like the home that I’ve always wanted to live in.

Some of the things I’m parting with I’m very sad to see go, but I have to face the fact that one lifetime is too short to do everything I’d like to do & learn everything I’d like to learn, and one household, shared with 6 other people, isn’t big enough for 2 treadle sewing machines and 9 spinning wheels. And I was spending too much time looking after things, or indeed looking for things, to actually achieve very much at all!

But some of my attempts to reduce my hoards have been blind alleys… this morning, I emptied & cleaned the fridge. I’d decided that some of my beloved cultures had to go, too – one of my “endearing eccentricities” as DD1 calls them, is a belief that we in the West don’t eat or drink nearly enough traditionally-preserved or cultured foods, or a wide enough variety of foodstuffs, for optimum health – but I failed miserably! I’d just about brought myself to the point of pouring the milk-Kefir down the sink when DD1 announced that she loved the stuff & would take over responsibility for it. The Kefir a l’uovo smelt gorgeous, so that got refreshed too, and the ginger-beer Kefir is a household staple, much loved & drunk daily by several of us. The sourdough starter’s in regular use & I have some Kimchi virtually every day; that only left the Kombucha, where I’ve had first my old SCOBY, then a newly-bought one, die on me in short order for no apparent reason. So I’d made up my mind that I’d stop making that, but I came across a bottle at the back of the fridge, and I’d forgotten just how lovely it tastes! Oh dear, there’s no hope for me, is there?! But the small amount of work & space involved in looking after my “fridge-pets” pales into insignificance beside the complex, healthy & above all, delicious tastes they reward me with, for almost no money. However, the four half-empty jars of mayonnaise, several “stubs” of home-made jam and three bottles of tomato ketchup did get rationalised…

One positive thing that has emerged from the chaos; I’d forgotten just how nice some of the things I’d accumulated were, even if it’s no longer appropriate for me to hang onto them. Below is a pic of one little beauty that I rescued, looking very sad & with bits hanging off her, from a street market about 18 months ago. A bit of elbow-grease & know-how returned her to working order & decent appearance quite quickly & she’s on Ebay now. She’s not a practical wheel to spin on for any length of time, unless you have tiny feet & a lot of patience, and want very fine yarn, but isn’t she pretty?!