Hand In My Pocket

‘Cause I’ve got one hand in my pocket…

Today’s Mend and Make Do is brought to you fuelled by sherry, copious food, and red wine. That’s right folks, I’m having a night at the old folks home (commonly called My Parents House).

I have had a coat, bought from a charity shop for a fiver, for several years now. A few winters ago it developed a hole in the pocket, which I’ve since been meaning to mend. Then it ends up getting left all through the summer, until I go to wear it as the temperature drops, only to remember anew that it is semi-spiritual*.

Today, therefore was the day. This is a quickie for you then (steady!). The hole:

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A spiritual lining*

All that was needed was to turn the seam until only clear (un-pulled) lining showed, and then a set of small neat over-stitches made to pull the lining and the coat material together.

The tools necessary for this job; few but vital:

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Every good project involves a glass of wine?

I began by turning the lining and the coat material in on itself so that the frayed edges were cleanly tucked under, and my stitches would capture only ‘good’ un-frayed material.

Then it was simply a case of whacking in a bunch of overcast or whip stitches to catch the lining back on to the coat all the way along:

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A small neat over-stitch does the trick

Once I reached the end of the hole, I worked back on myself with a second set of stitching exactly the same, simply to reinforce:

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Stitching back along where I’ve been as reinforcement

After that it was a simple case of making a securing stitch or two, running the thread back into the thick seam of the coat for several centimeters, and then cutting the thread, so the end is lost in the fabric:

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Run the thread back to the lining to ‘lose’ it

Sorted. And it didn’t even take a full glass of wine.

*Holy

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40

“How long to sing this song…”

So today is the 41st birthday of one of my oldest and dearest friends, Jojo, as I tend to call her (probably to her irritation).

Without wanting to insult your intelligence dear reader, that meant that last year she turned forty, and as I’m a month older than her, I was 40 in the final month of the year previous. So I had bought a job lot of “Happy 40th Birthday” cards as many of our friends were passing by that very same milestone in the same 12-month period (mentally scratching graffiti on it as they passed too, if they are anything like me).

But, if they were anything like me, it would also mean that a year on and they still have ownership of those same cards. Now rather redundant unless prepared to wait for the next generation to pass the milestone!!

I was just mentally psyching myself to brace the high street in search of a card shop, when I remember my renewed and refocused “Make do and Mend” mantra. So I dug through my card stash (everyone who has a brain like mine really should have one) and dug out all my “Happy 40th” cards, to see what I had and what I may be able to salvage.

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Why oh why did I buy two of the same design? Was it a BOGOF?

My choice wasn’t all that inspiring, but there was one which stuck out. Luckily inspiration was with me (so I guess she won’t come visit me again for a few months, I’ll have to make do with wit and humour, but even they have their bad days), and I grabbed one of my coloured uni-ball eye pens* and simply added an “n” and an “e” to the number.

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Genius. If I may say so myself. Better start scratching my head now on how best to use the other three: For those about to turn 41… be ready!!

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Forty-one is even more gorgeous, fantastic and fabulous than forty. Honest.

*Nope, I’m still not on commission

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Second-Hand News

“I’m just second hand news…”

Anyone out there co-habit with another species? I believe the preferred term is ‘pet-owner’, but funnily enough a recent post from my old boss (Hi Phil! *waves*) sums up how I feel about animals: “People are not property; they should not be owned…” Similarly animals should not be viewed as property either because with that mindset we can easily become less sensitive to the fact that these are living creatures, to be loved and cared for; not as property, but as family.

Anyhow. I digress. You’ll get used to it. So do any of you co-habit with other species? You do? Oh good. I knew I liked you. Well then here’s a quickie for those of you who have cages/kennels/hutches to line.

My bunch of reprobates (commonly referred to as a Business of Ferrets) live indoors in a rather snazzy Ferret Nation cage*, mainly because I refuse to go outside at unsociable hours to clean up ferret poo. Oh okay then, and because I hate to think of the poor wee helpless creatures with their complete covering of body hair, and an extra undercoat, being outside when it’s less than 10 degrees Celsius.

So where many people with outside hutches may use bales of sawdust as cage lining, this makes an awful mess when used in the house. With this in mind, I popped into our local shop and asked if they had any old newspapers: some newspaper companies require retailers to return all unsold papers, but some only require the dates to be torn off and returned to them (as proof of how many newspapers remained unsold).

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Many of our local papers only require the date to be torn off and returned

It turns out several of our local newspaper companies only require the dates sent back, leaving the shop owner with piles of papers which he has to throw out for recycling (getting charged in the process as it’s business recycling). Perfect! So I get to take as many as my arms can carry and which last me a good while as cage lining, and the shop keeper gets to save on his recycling bills.

Free and recycled cage liner. What’s not to like?

*No I’m not on commission, I just really like the cages and if any other ferret families happen upon this post they may find it a useful link.

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Pack up your troubles…

“Pack up your troubles in an old kit bag…”

So today’s wee venture was to sort out my Dad’s old RAF kit bag. He was clearing a load of stuff out and asked if I wanted it to sell on eBay. I agreed, but once I’d taken a proper look at the Number 1 Dress Uniform and Great Coat, both with his Corporal insignia and the two crossed rifles to show his position as a rifleman (I got his eyesight if not his aim…), I realised I would be a fool to sell them. Call me a sentimentalist, but I believe these are the things to keep, rather than the myriad odd mugs, out-sized jumpers and invitation to a friend’s wedding from 17 years ago…

Anyhow. I gave the kit bag a good scrub up as it was a little worse for wear, and once dry, had to use WD40 sparingly on the zip to get it to ease. However, an unnoticed fault in the zip line made the zipper derail:

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One of the elements (teeth) of the zip had torn from its neighbour, tearing the canvas of the tape too

Well there was no way, a) I was throwing this baby out with the bath water or b) I was replacing the zip just yet, given the authenticity. So having watched a few YouTube videos on mending zippers (some better than others), I was ready to give it a try…

Sew (haha see what I did there?) (sorry, I’ll refrain…). So, firstly I re-attached the zipper by taking out the retaining box, and some of the teeth on the side which needed the slider to reattach. The latter was to create a little more room, as the zip had been sewn in tight to the seam on the bag:

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The retaining box and elements I took out to be able to get the slider back on

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Finally the twain met!

It was a bit of a struggle to get the slider back on and the elements to rejoin (if I’m being honest I started the job last night but had a bit of a diva strop as I couldn’t get it sorted, so decided it was best to walk away and come back to it in a better fettle). I didn’t want to tear the cotton tape nor the canvas of the bag, so after getting reinforcements in the form of blunt-ended pliers, to go literally hand-in-hand with the long-nosed pliers, I was able to prise the slider back on, but I needed to trim some of the frayed tape as it was bulking up within the slider, stopping the latter from moving further.

Once the two were reunited, I used a safety pin to stop the slider from sliding off the elements again, while the retaining box was no longer there to stop it, and focused on sorting out the dodgy element.

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Ahhh the humble safety pin! Thank you Walter Hunt (who knew he invented the Winchester Rifle forerunner too?)

I  carefully stitched reinforcing stitches on the zipper tape, before wrapping the thread around the two elements to bind them back together, each time sewing back into the tape. Then a few stitches between the two elements, to hopefully keep my thread away from the slider. Once this stage was done I made a test run carefully moving the slider up and past my work:

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Woohoo! Initial success at least.

Okay. So in theory it was working. What I  needed to do now was reinforce/protect the thread. My first thought was to use superglue (invented  during the Vietnam War to glue soldiers back together (true story!)), but then I realised superglue is too rigid, and will crack rather than bend with movement of the canvas.

So I hovered between two options: Beeswax (I use this when fettling my set of Northumbrian Small Pipes) or using a pva-based glue. I decided on the latter for a longer lasting effect. I used an old stippling brush to try and get the glue to soak into the fabric of both cotton tape and sewing thread, to bond the two into one cohesive whole again.

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Oh great, a cat with a habit…

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Right then. Let’s see if this works…

Ok then. Job done.

In the morning I will sew reinforcing thread at the end of the zip, by the retaining box, to make sure the zip can’t run off again. I will then attach the retaining box itself over my sewing (using my trusty pliers) mainly to look good, rather than to necessarily hold the two sides of tape together as it’s looking like a pretty awkward job otherwise, if I were just to rely on the reattached retaining box.

The bulk of the thread is currently causing the slider some resistance as it tries to run over it, so I may look at trying to compact that tomorrow, once the glue has dried and I have a better idea of the success or failure of my work.

Finally once I’ve got the zip functioning again (positive thought, see?!), I’m going to get an old cloth (or the paint brush  I used for the glue) and rub WD40 all over the metal parts of the zip to help clean, remove/expel the copper verdigris on the elements and hopefully create a smooth surface on which the slider can run.

I will report back.

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Arm-y Of Me

“And if you complain [about the cold ] once more,
You’ll [get] an arm-y of [mine]”

I have a new toy. Yes I know this is about make do and mend, DIY and all things self-sufficient, but sometimes you need to have outlay, and this was one of those times. I wanted one of those all-singing all-dancing sewing machines which do embroidery stitches (to be honest anything past a straight line and a zig-zag is good for me). I couldn’t really justify buying a new sewing machine of the popular sewing machine brands (Singer, Brother, Frister & Rossmann etc), and knew that most sewing repair companies will not touch the cheaper, own-brand ones such as from the likes of Aldi, Lidl or Ikea, as it is very difficult to get spare parts to repair them.

Nevertheless, these it seems were the only ones in my budget, so I bought a SilverCrest (Lidl) machine for £60. It came with a 3-year warranty, so my reasoning was that if it can save me or make me £20 every year for 3 years, then it has at least paid for itself. After 3 years I’m on my own in terms of repair though!

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My new toy

By then I hope I will have enough money to buy a better machine, and also have a better idea of what I personally want from the machine, so I can buy one with the functions and gadgets I will use. Both of my current machines are very basic and pretty old (a Singer hand-crank from 1939 and a {Frister & Rossmann foot-pedal} from 1975 with a broken zig-zag gear) so I have precious little experience of using a newer machine, and I would be very frustrated if I bought a £300 machine only to find it was badly designed or just not fit for my needs. There was a Singer machine in Lidl before Christmas selling for just over £100, but after taking a picture of the box in the store, and then researching the model online once home, it had pretty scathing reviews so I left it where it was!!

Anyhow. I digress. Again.

I wanted to start trying out all these new stitches (including a faux over-locking stitch (that’s a serging stitch for those of you across the Pond) and I wanted to start getting creative.

It can get a bit chilly in my house when I’m just sitting at my desk working during the day, but I refuse (and can’t afford) to put the heating on just for me, especially while it’s still light outside (currently only 7.5hrs of the day). And so, to make my mother proud, I generally just ‘go and put another jumper on…’. but my fingers, especially my pinkies, get very cold indeed.

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My fingers begin adopting a slightly bluish tinge at about 1030hrs

So I decided to cut the sleeves out of an old jumper which had pretty cuff detail. I used the lovely scallop stitch on my machine to add detail, and pulled the fabric taught while stitching the scallops so that the fabric would ruche as a result (it is a 100% acrylic jersey knit fabric). I stitched three lines of scalloping, near what would be the cuff of my soon-to-be arm-warmers/fingerless mittens, with the final line also acting as a locking stitch.

I then trimmed the remaining fabric as close as possible to the scalloped edge, and et voilà! I had new mittens. The length and width of the cuff on my mittens resembles the Anne Boleyn style of sleeve, reputed to be designed deliberately long to hide her sixth finger (although sadly this seems a mere myth). Not, you understand, because I have six fingers on one hand (although that would making typing even quicker) but because as I mentioned, my little fingers get exceptionally cold and achy. The wide cuff also means there is less bulk by my wrist and hands when typing, unlike other finger-less mittens, which make it difficult to type. All-in-all another win for me.

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The rest of the jumper now hangs on my clothes rail nervously awaiting its fate…

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It has noooo idea what will happen to it …

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We will find it, We will bind it…

We will find it, we will bind it, we will stick it with glue glue glue…”

Well this blog has been sitting staring empty-eyed and vacant at the world for far too long. I’ve been wanting to get it up and running but I’ve been unsure of what I really have to say, something I am passionate about. A lot of things for sure, but ones I could and would write about; share with the world and its cousin?

Then finally today I think the penny may have dropped. I’m writing this on 11th Jan 2017, but I’m going to back date it to the 1st of January as I feel I have done enough to warrant every day of the year to date. Let’s see how I get on!

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My lovely first sewing machine, a hand-crank Singer, born on 7th April 1939 in Kilbowie, Clydebank, Scotland according to ISMACS

The penny that finally clunked through the slot of my brain was helped along by THIS lovely lady’s blog. I went there today for further tips to add to my Pinterest addiction (“SinginHinn” if you want to pop over and say ‘Hi!’), but after reading some of her posts, and then wandering downstairs to make a cuppa, I found myself pondering on what she writes, with which I totally agree, and which I have been doing to a small degree all my life on and off. She spent a whole year making do and mending clothes for her whole family as a way of standing up against consumerism. I was wondering if I could do similar. Then I released I almost do already. This year I have already darned a pair of socks here, made a pair of arm warmers out of an old jumper here, and got the hacksaw to a freestanding clothes rail to make it fit neatly in the space between my desk and the wall, to hold all the clothes and material for my next sewing/ mending/ creating-new-from-old projects here.

The hacksaw to the clothes rail was one thing, but I have also been painting doors here, painting radiator covers here, hanging hooks on doors here, hanging pictures on walls here, drilling holes and hanging curtain rails here, and re drilling/fettling a dangerously-close-to-falling-out-of-the-wall curtain rail here. I am not alone or unique in doing this, as a female living on her own, but with two particular friends in mind, both of whom now live without an adult male in the house and both of whom have told me of their reservations and fears of living alone, I thought that including the more DIY aspects of my make do and mending, might serve as encouragement and a confidence boost for other women who live alone and perhaps feel their DIY skills are lacking.

I am by no means an expert (hence the term DIY) but I was lucky with my upbringing to have been given many practical skills to which others were perhaps not exposed.  This blog is to document my everyday bits and pieces that I do around the house, the crafty things I create for myself, and the crafty things I create to sell, mainly from things I’ve already had lying around the house.

Welcome to my journey.

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