Saturday, November 28

This Month I have been Mostly doing.... Mending, and a bit of altering

This is actually rather a long post. If you like reading about mending read on, if not, better go and do something else.....

First there were the cardigans, which was the altering bit. I bought two, the same style, one pink and one blue, in a charity shop for £1 each. This was the blue one -

Both cardigans are in very good condition. I'm definitely a wool person and if I was buying new (or knitting it myself) I'd want more wool than this, preferably 100%, but for £1...... Enough to keep me warm - ish. I would guess that it is probably 80s or 90s, judging from the label. It's certainly a long time since I saw a Littlewoods shop.

The problem with them was that the neckline was quite high, and when I wore them the top edge made my neck itch. How to remedy this? First I got a strip of old t-shirt and used it to line the inside of the ribbed section, but unfortunately I could still feel it scratching me right on the top edge. I thought about doing it again and making the jersey go slightly over the top, but I thought that might look daft. Dare I do some chopping? Well, if I wanted to wear these cardigans then that was the only answer. So I cut off the top ribbed bit, but before I did that I sewed all round, through the stitches, just below where I intended to cut, to stop (hopefully) the stitches running.

Then I did blanket stitch all round, and Bob's your uncle, one warm wearable cardigan for the winter!

(I just put that old cotton reel in for interest. It's an old make I've never heard of. I've got quite a lot of old reels of cotton - some I use for tacking and some I dare to use in the machine, despite some people saying that you shouldn't use old thread in your sewing machine.) Anyway, this is the finished cardigan. The neckline is a bit wavy but I don't think that matters.

And this is the pink one. (Husband loves this colour on me but hates the blue one!) When I was little I would never have worn pink, thinking it was too girly girly, but when I got to about 20 I decided I liked certain shades of pink and that they suited me, and now it's one of my favourite colours. 

Now on to a bit of mending for a customer. This particular one is quite a regular - I have done a lot of mending for her. The sort of person that one might describe as "well to do".  What I like about a lot of such people is that they appreciate good clothes and household linen and get it mended when it needs it. I darned her husband's wool cardigan, which I think she said he "wears round the house now". 

Here's the major hole before darning. Incidentally I use embroidery thread where a fine thread is called for, because I don't know whether VERY fine mending wool exists, e.g. suitable for merino wool garments. I have not found any. One of my other customers has a box choc a block full of really good quality mending wool, which she gives me to use for her mending, and none of it is fine enough to use for this sort of garment.

And after mending.

Another of the many holes....(It really is the same cardigan! I don't know why the colour is not accurate here) -

And after

And now on to trousers for the same lady's husband. These were a pair of chinos with some minor wear and tear type of holes. I use woven cotton iron-on interfacing for this sort of repair - I iron it onto the back of the hole/rip and then stitch over it on the right side, in this case just using a straight stitch.

Again the colour's not very accurate -

And now, my piece de resistance...... (apologies here to any French readers for the lack of accents. It might be very offensive, just as missing apostrophes are to moi! And Liz Truss. And John Humphries. I know there should be two in there but I have yet to learn how to put them in on the computer. I have the same problem with umlauts when using German words occasionally to my son in Germany) -


These jeans are at least 5 years old. This first photo shows some mends I did, ooh, maybe a couple of years ago. Recently I had begun to get worried that the jeans were getting so thin in places that if I wasn't careful I would be walking around one day unintentionally revealing what was underneath.....and given that some of the most worn bits were around the backside, well, that doesn't bare thinking about. I decided that they had had it, and were only fit for cutting up and making into something else, but then I thought about how much I liked these jeans, and surely if I did quite a LOT more patching and stitching.......

By the way I like the idea that a garment isn't finished when it's finished, if you get my meaning, but that it continues in its development after this, when someone mends it, or alters it. I think I read that on Tom of Holland's blog (if you want to see some amazing mending, go there). So I am continuing the development of my jeans, as it were.

Detail of one of those original mends.

Another detail

 This is what my jeans look like now - and I'd just like to add that the other day, in a shop, the assistant was very complimentary about them and when I said I had just finished mending them, she said she thought I'd bought them like it!

Again I used embroidery threads, usually two strands. Fortunately I have a big stash of them, some bought and some acquired from I can't remember where!

This pic shows the inside after I had ironed on lots of the aforementioned interfacing over the thin bits. My intention at this stage was to do lots of stitching over the worn bits. 

Here I have done some stitching, on top of the denim, and below on the dark blue patch, which I had machined on. This patched bit is along the lines of Japanese boro mending - if you haven't come across this type of mending then have a google. I love the look of it, especially with all the indigo fabrics they use. Oh, another thing to mention is that I undid the inside leg seams to make all this mending much easier.

In the pic below, you can see hand stitching (red, yellow etc.), under the patches. And a non-patched stitched pink rectangle. I have to admit that I had to give up on the idea of close hand stitching (for strength) all over every thin bit - it was taking ages and much as I loved doing it I wanted  to be able to wear these jeans in the not TOO distant future. So I added the patches (bits of old shirt), and then did hand stitching on top - with the patches strengthening the fabric the stitching didn't need to be quite so close together. 

Detail of pink bit.

And here is the back of the jeans. The two patches to the left I hemmed first, but the one on the right I didn't - it's got raw edges. In images on the web the boro seems to have raw edges (I would love to see some in real life). I do like raw edges and wish I'd done all the patches like this but I only thought of it halfway through. Of course it may be that the raw edges will fray too much when washed but we'll see.

And finally, blanket and running stitch round the pocket, and random darning behind it.

I really have been on a roll with the mending lately, so much so that when I finished the jeans I was looking round for something else to mend, and here it was - oven gloves! I should say that these are actually CLEAN - fresh off the washing line in fact, just stained. I do have a talent for getting stains out of things (another post perhaps!) but really I don't think stains on oven gloves matter. 

I had already mended these 4 years ago (yes 4!), using another pair - hence the hand stitching round the edge. I was going to patch them but then as I was standing at the kitchen table waiting for something to cook (it was tea time) I looked at a cone of very thick cotton thread that happened to be there amongst my sewing stuff (I do have a sewing room but I tend to do a lot in the kitchen too) and thought "Ah! some weaving perhaps!"

You can see that one might burn one's fingers......

So, weave away I did.

Both ends done.

One last pic. This is my husband's favourite jumper, which I bought him in a charity shop. It has at least 6 darns - this is the latest one. This is very visible mending; fortunately he doesn't mind. In fact I think he's quite proud of my darning......

Is that an ending to my mending? Well, just for a while.Our own mending alone (apart from what I do for other people) is never ending really, but I don't mind, because I really enjoy both the doing of it, and the satisfaction that comes of making something usable or wearable again.

And so to bed, but first a question - have you mended anything lately?? Or got something tucked away waiting to be mended??!!


Monday, November 9

Aldi cycle clothing review

I think it was Sue over at Our Quiet Life in Suffolk who recently mentioned that there is going to be a programme on channel 4 on Monday about Aldi (Dispatches, 8 pm). I'll be watching it!

In my post here Bike Ride into Cotswolds I wore a Dare2be fluorescent yellow windproof/light waterproof. It had cost £25 in Halford's back in the summer, but not long after that Cotswold ride I noticed that the seams were pulling apart in several places, basically because the seam allowance was too narrow. I needed to return it for a refund or possibly exchange, depending on what alternatives they'd got. Our nearest Halfords branches are unfortunately 18 miles away in Oxford, or 12 miles away in Swindon. Oxford is slightly easier for me to get to - a nicer pre-bus bike ride of 5 1/2 miles and then a 40 minute bus ride, and where Halfords is there is also a Hobbycraft, which I like having a snoop round occasionally, Decathlon (well worth having a look in for sports stuff if you've never been there), and various other shops.

So - off the bus in Oxford and then I remember that Aldi is close by, so in I go for a snoop round here as well, because I have learnt over the past year or so, like thousands of other people, that Aldi and Lidl are definitely worth snooping round!! Well, I had forgotten that it was Thursday (their special sale day) and that this particular Thursday was a cycle clothing event. I had a really good softshell (£20, and they had cheaper ones at about £14 if I remember rightly) that I'd bought there and it made sense to see what they had before going to Halford's. I'm glad I did!!

I bought this, to replace my £25 Dare2be one, for £20.

It is heavier than the Dare2be one, but is still lightweight, has many more features and is far better made, so I decided it would be a good replacement for my falling apart one. This one has:

     Lots more reflective strips
     A small zipped front pocket
     Zipped bits under the arms for ventilation
     Zipped pocket across the back
     Elasticated and Velcroed cuffs (the other one only had elastic)
     Soft lining to collar

It's also longer, so keeps a larger area dry.

Then I wandered round the shop to another aisle of clothing, and found this, for £10 (yes you read that right!):

This was actually a better replacement for the Dare2be one in terms of weight and size and when I'd wear it (spring/summer/autumn) and was light enough to roll up and put in a rucksack or panniers easily.  It has a rear pocket, and also the same elasticated and Velcroed cuffs that the yellow one has. Plus I like the colour.....

So I ummed and ahhed........

Buy one or the other? Which one? Both would be very useful at different times.

Buy both and pay £5 over the £25 I'd get refunded on the Dare2be one?

As you can see I bought both. Regarding size, they only had one of each coat left and they were both 12-14, which would normally be a bit big for me as in normal clothing I am 8 - 10, but in fact the fit is just right. (I have since read that this clothing does tend to come up small). Big enough to get a reasonable amount of clothing underneath without being too big and baggy. Both garments are FAR better made than the Dare2be one.

I have put them both to the test. I wore the purple one a few weeks ago on a 20 miles or so ride, when the weather was cooler than it is now, and it kept me at a nice temperature with the three layers I had on underneath. I wasn't ever cold and didn't get too warm either.

I have worn the yellow one this week in the rain, which was continuous that afternoon, plus it was quite windy too so the rain was blowing sideways onto me as well as falling down onto me! Underneath the coat I was completely dry. I did get warm (but not sweaty) but to be honest I think that you get warm in any waterproof (though I have never tested out anything that claims to be really breathable), AND - the weather was unseasonably mild.

I like the look of both jackets and for £25 for the two - well! 

You can find lots of reviews of Aldi cycle clothing (Crane is the brand name by the way) many of which are positive. I would definitely recommend signing up for the weekly newsletters from both Aldi and Lidl, because then you know what's coming up in these special sales. I think you probably need to get there early in the morning if you want something badly - I got there towards mid-day and a lot of the sizes had gone by then. Another bargain they had recently was a Garmin Edge 500 for £80 - I paid that for my Edge 200 last year. I have also seen some really good outdoor walking gear there.

Hope that's useful! And if you're interested, don't forget Dispatches, Monday at 8 pm on Channel 4.

Bye for now


Tuesday, November 3

More cot pockets

These cot pockets, with knitted bunnies and Peter Rabbit, are awaiting the occupant-to-be of this cot, due about a week before Christmas. However I suspect they will have a longer wait......I was late with all 4 of mine, the mummy-to-be in question (our number 3 offspring) being the tardiest arrival at 15 days late. 

I remember the midwife at our local hospital where she was born washing off the placenta under the tap, examining it, and telling us that there were white spots on it, which apparently is a sign of its deterioration. Daughter was fine though. The other 3 were 11 days late (no.1, boy, 8 lb 12 oz), 6 days late (no.2, girl), and 10 days late (no. 4, boy, 8 lb 15 1/2 oz) ). Number 2 would probably have been later, but they said I was "small for dates" and so wouldn't let me go any longer, and broke my waters to start me off. The doctor apologised for all the worry they had given us when she weighed in at 7 lb 4 1/4 oz. One different doctor had been correct when he said "this baby's deceptive, it's just low down".  You don't forget this sort of stuff!

Anyway, enough of that...

Daughter chose this lovely grey fabric. I actually did yellow stitching round the outside and outlined one of the stars on each pocket in the same colour. The lighting in the picture isn't very good so you can't really see the fabric at its best. I've got a bit left over and am wondering what to make with that. 

Sanderson wallpaper in the background just in case you were wondering! 

Another baby - Alice Margaret, was born to my nephew and his wife in California (don't they get about nowadays. My eldest is in Germany, another nephew is in Singapore) in September. I started off thinking that maybe I'd make more of a drawstring bag, which could be hung on the cot now and could be used as a bag by Alice when she is a bit older, but it turned out as a single cot pocket in the end.

The initial idea I had was to stitch together pieces of white and cream cotton from my collection, and then embroider the name on it in red. The picture below was taken after I had stitched together several pieces in a long line, and then cut them, turned them round, and re-stitched them together to form a square.

I think I cut and re-stitched again before I finally ended up with this piece. I then ironed woven cotton interfacing onto the back.  Incidentally the white pieces with the embroidered strip were left over from making my wedding dress in 1981. It was Swiss cotton, bought from Liberty's at about £8 a yard. I seem to remember the total cost, including buttons and zip, came to £64. I think I've still got the till receipt somewhere!

I embroidered the name onto a piece of calico. I love the combination of red on cream. I was at the Festival of Quilts a few years ago (my sister Kate Dowty is a quilter) and remember seeing some beautiful red on cream embroidery done by an Indian lady. There was a name for the style but I can't remember it.

I then did running stitch round the edge of each rectangle. The fabric where I did the red stitching was osnaburg, a favourite fabric of mine. It's a rough cotton, quite loosely woven. I got it at that same Festival of Quilts from The Cotton Patch.

For the back of the pocket I used a thickish cotton, and interlined it with some sheeting to give a bit more body, and for the lining and the binding at the sides I used calico. The pocket has a pleat at each side so there's lots of room for toys and books. The ties are made from cotton twill tape.

It is now winging its way to California.

I really enjoyed doing this patchwork quilting of sorts - this random joining up of scraps and then chopping and joining and chopping and joining again  to make something bigger, and then the hand stitching on top. I'd love to make a whole garment in this way. But for now I think I will definitely be making more of these cot pockets, and have got one or two more baby ideas up my sleeve.

[BTW, I wanted the text aligned to the left, but despite it doing so as I write and save, when I preview the post the text is centred. Annoying!]

That's all for now.