Wednesday, January 23

Never throw away your old socks.....

Just to explain.....

Ever since merino wool underwear came on the scene several years ago, I have been a fan. I'm sure that wool underwear is actually nothing new, but I always thought that wool next to the skin must be very itchy until I tried merino and discovered that it was amazingly comfortable.

I have four merino tops now, one which I bought from Vulpine (before they went bust), one is from Finisterre, one is some unknown Chinese make that Elder son gave me, and one is a heavier weight Smartwool one (also given to me by Elder Son). The problem with the Chinese one and the Finisterre one though is the length of the sleeves - they are not long enough for me. It is only in recent years that I have realized I have long arms, and it drives me nuts when a supposedly long sleeve creeps half way up my forearm underneath the other garments that I wear on top.

So, necessity is the mother of invention, and I thought - how can I lengthen these sleeves? Answer - with old socks. These particular socks are not actually that old, but annoyingly, considering they were not cheap (bamboo ones from Bam Clothing) they have worn out at the heels and would have taken ages to mend (I think a Singer stocking darner, an attachment for a sewing machine that enables you to quickly darn thinner socks, would have come in handy!). I'd hung onto them knowing they'd come in useful for something.

All I did was sew the upper part of the sock to the end of the sleeve -

It does the job perfectly! No more sleeves riding up my arms. I have done it on both the tops where the sleeves were too short. On the other top I used the main body of the sock, hemming one end.

This particular top (it's the Chinese one) was also too short in the body, and would barely stay tucked in. A long back, or just long all round (the Smartwool one is lovely and long) is particularly important when cycling. For this I used the ends of some leggings which I had already chopped off below the knee in order to be able to get them on more easily under my cycling tights, which are not warm enough in the winter without a second layer underneath.

In order to have the knitted grain direction matching that of the top, I had to cut across each leg and re-stitch them together, to make a long strip to go round the top. It's not the neatest of needlework but it does the job and it's not going to be seen anyway!

It's very satisfying doing this kind of job - making something much more wearable.

I always hang on to old socks now...... there's always a use for them!

Saturday, January 19

Doll's bedding set made for Granddaughter

Granddaughter No 1 was 3 just before Christmas. I made her this set of doll's bedding, which was a feather pillow, made from old cushions (feathers everywhere ....) a pillow case, a duvet made from a piece of wool fabric I was given, duvet cover made from calico, and duvet cover. The little doll is made from calico and stuffed with scraps of curtain interlining. 

The first thing to say is that some time ago one of my customers had given me lots of very old baby clothes which her husband (about 75) had worn. She gave them to me because none of her family wanted them and she thought I might appreciate them. I gave them all a hot wash, to see if they would stand up to it without falling apart as much as anything else, and then I wondered what to do with them.....

I know some people might consider it sacrilege to cut such things up, but I did..... The bedding below is made from one of the gowns, and I would guess is probably a cotton/wool mix. When I was doing my 'O' level needlework back in the 1970s, we were taught that the fabric known as Viyella was 80% wool/20% cotton, and that the one called Clydella was the other way round, i.e. 80% cotton/20% wool. I remember some of my school blouses being made from it. I don't know whether you can still get a fabric of this fibre content, but it is, in my opinion, such a sensible fabric - both soft and warm to the touch, ideal for winter shirts and blouses. It was lovely to sew with.

In these old baby garments there is a lot of fabric, as there was much gathering, so there was plenty in one of these gowns to make this set. The applique and embroidery is all from the original garment. I edged the pillow case with a piece of my wedding dress, the fabric for which came from Liberty's in the 1980s.

I made the little doll as I thought that Granddaughter might enjoy putting her in and out of the pocket, and also taking the nappy on and off. Maybe she will do that when her mummy is changing the nappy of little baby brother or sister who is due in the spring. I also thought that she might like trying to undo and do up the buttons on the duvet cover.

The nappy fastens with a popper.

Details of the embroidery - 

The piece of lace was also from the gown -

 Detail of applique -

Making the duvet with layers of wool (wool makes the best duvets! Yes it really does!) 

I sewed the original Harrods label back in and added my own on the back, with the date of Granddaughter's birthday.

And I also have to show you the money box that Husband made her, because it is so lovely!

Money box house
The money goes down the chimney. Husband spent hours getting it to look just right, and making a removable bottom. Now she can start saving for a real house! He also made Granddaughter No 2's present, and I made stuff to go with it - next blog post!