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Category Archives: Sewing

Mending by the Artist to Inspire

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Some art to inspire mending…


“Make Do and Mend”
Screen printed limited edition by Clare Owen

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“Mending Dress” 1904
at Old Picture of the Day

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at Dove Grey Reader

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“Girl Mending” by Edmund Tarbell circa 1910
courtesy of The Athenaeum

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“Mending” by Daniel Garber
courtesy of The American Gallery

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“Woman Mending Clothing While Sitting in a Chair”
courtesy of Clip Art Etc

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“Love is the Thread”
courtesy of


More Mending

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A follow up to my previous mending post,


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French Mending from Mrs Easton


Make Do and Mend from Coletterie


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Mending – A forgotten art!

Found some lovely instances of mending – an absolute necessity for the slow wardrobe.

Enjoy :)

by Corinne on exhibition in Mending My Ways

Wolplamuur by Heleen Klopper

Kapital by The Bandanna Almanac

Worth fighting for. Mending is for things worth fighting for, don’t give up without a struggle.

How to Mend Knits at Martha Stewart

Kleidersachen on Tumblr


Daniel Jasiak on Tumblr


mending, again. by Shibori Girl

A little bit of my own boro

I made a hideous dress. One of those no closures but still shapely – or not.

The fabric is a gauzy cotton and so, with boro in mind, I ripped it up to mend it. Here are some pieces.

Stitching with scraps of silk from a cheongsam redo

Stitching to mend the holes

Boro mending on cotton

Stitched pieces

Boro mending on cotton kimono jacket piece

Square placed to be hand sewn onto sleeve for boro kimono jacket

Mending on the inside of the jacket sleeve

Boro Kimono Jacket pattern and sleeve with stitching

Pattern for Kimono style jacket made out of cotton with boro mending

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stitching up close

Slow Wardrobe Inspiration – Boro

A little slow wardrobe inspiration.

Silk and cotton han juban with some hemp thread stitching from Sri Textilles, New York

Silk and cotton han juban with some hemp thread stitching from Sri Threads, New York

 When most people see a rip or hole in their clothing they immediately discard it, viewing the item as no longer fit to wear.

Hand Stitched Sashiko Farmer's Boro Jacket, handspun and hand-loomed cotton fabrics, early 1900s From

Hand Stitched Sashiko Farmer’s Boro Jacket, handspun and hand-loomed cotton fabrics, early 1900s

For the peasants in Japan a couple hundred years ago this was not an option. Clothing was simply too valuable to discard because of a hole.

Rag sellers would travel through rural Japan selling bits and scraps of cotton. The women of farming and fishing families would purchase these scraps and use them to mend their homespun items.

Patch over patch, stitch over stitch, generation passing on to generation.

A sleeping kimono intended for warmth - often lined and stuffed with okuso, the leftovers from the hemp yarn making process. Used like a duvet. From Sri Textiles, New York

A sleeping kimono intended for warmth – often lined and stuffed with okuso, the leftovers from the hemp yarn making process. Used like a duvet.
From Sri Threads, New York

Boro comes from the “mottainai” sensibility, or the idea that the object is too good to waste.

Boro Shimacho

Boro Shimacho – Strips of cloth stitched into an old ledger for boro inspiration.
From Sri Threads

How long will your clothing last?

Antique kimono, boro mending with sashiko stitch

Antique kimono, boro mending with sashiko stitch

For more information and examples of Boro

Stitches and Hair

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Some Stitches

Stitches on Cotton

Sorry, these pictures were taken at night so they are not the greatest. 

Stitches on Cotton Stitched

And for any of you that were interested in the Shampoo Free post – I’m still at it.

It’s been about a month now and my scalp feels fantastic. I had to fiddle with it to make it work for my hair. Some suggestions really didn’t work at all. I also had to do some more research because I found my ends really dry and I would get weird buildup at my neckline.

For my hair, all I need is a bottle of

1 tbsp of baking soda {otherwise it’s too drying}


2 cups water

I add a couple drops of Peppermint,


and Rosemary essential oils.

I pour that onto my scalp and really massage it in.

Let it sit a couple minutes, then rinse.

After that I have, premixed in a bottle,

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar


2 cups water

with the same essential oils

I pour that through the entirety of my hair and then wash it out immediately, or, I find it weighs my hair down too much.

I was using the baking soda once or twice a week but I got a weird build up at the base of my head around my neckline. My hair felt kind of sticky or waxy. I think this is because the baking soda, for whatever reason, was just staying there once I poured it through at my scalp, even though I really rinsed my hair.

Too much baking soda = not cool!

So I’ve started using herbal rinses more often then the baking soda.

My hair was super dry before at the ends but now they are manageable, and not frizzy, and I still have that awesome volume at the roots.

My every day I need it Nourishing Rinse



1 small aloe leaf peeled

  • Makes your scalp feel amazing and can help with itchiness and flaking

  • Makes your hair beautifully shiny, strong and just plain awesome

  • Helps new hair grow

  • Balances hair’s ph levels

  • Great conditioner

1 tsp basil

  • Stimulates follicles

  • Promotes growth

  • Nourishes and adds luster

1 tsp ground flax seeds

  • Great conditioner because of the mucilage

  • May help prevent hair loss

1 tsp ginger

  • Increases scalp circulation

  • Great for thinning hair

1 tsp parsley

  • Super rich in vitamins

  • Makes your hair look and feel awesome

1 tsp rosemary

  • Great for your scalp and thinning hair

1 tsp thyme

  • Ditto above

Add herbs to a bowl and pour 2 cups of boiling water over them.

Let sit over night.

So how do you use it?

It really depends on how much benefit you want.

  1. You can just pour it through your hair in the shower and let it sit while you soap up, shave and do whatever you need to do. Then rinse out at the end. This doesn’t really let it sit in your hair though so it won’t provide the most benefit.

  2. Or you can bring a bowl with you, sit it in the bath tub, pour your concoction in and then sit your whole head in it until you get dizzy :) Ok, not dizzy but for 5 or 10 minutes. This lets it really sink into your hair.

I poured about a cup into the bowl and filled the rest with warm water. Then let my hair soak in it for several minutes. I knotted it on top of my head and had my shower, then rinsed it out at the very end and let it air dry. My hair felt amazing afterwards. No dry frizzy ends like before.

So now I’m thinking I’ll baking soda wash every so often but anytime I need a shower I’ll use the rinse instead. Hopefully then no build up or over-dying of my hair. I also found this site, Minimalist Beauty, where she suggests using green or black tea for a cleansing rinse. Haven’t tried it yet but it looks interesting. 

Have you tried anything like this with your hair? I’d love to hear what’s worked for you and what hasn’t?

Botanical Stitching

Floral embroidery using vintage darning thread on crab apple eco dyed cotton. 

Floral Embroidery using vintage cotton darning thread Stitching and Dyeing 029 Stitching and Dyeing 030 Stitching and Dyeing 031

A great way to reuse my husband’s lovely white cotton shirts when the collar finally gives out. 

Red Currants

More stitching on cotton for the quilt of many pieces. 

Good memories are involved with this piece. I copied it {not perfectly} from a hand coloured print by George Brookshaw found in his Pomona Britannica.

But it’s the red currants that are tied to happy childhood memories. 

Red Currants

My sister, 3 years younger, would spend hours and hours sitting in front the currant bushes at the end of our lawn picking them off one by one. She was always little compared to me, much more delicate in build. I remember her face, with her scrunched up little nose when she smiled, as she brought her little bowl in. 

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We had white and red currants.

I don’t remember eating them.

Maybe because they were her special treat after all the time it took her to pick them. There were never enough to dry or harvest for baking. So they remained hers, the spoils of her toil. 

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I love the red of this particular thread. It looks juicy.

With -40 outside, without the windchill, it’s nice to have lovely summer memories. 

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My sister, and currants. 

Botanical Stitching

Another stitching piece I have been working on recently. This is more botanical that bird. 

Botanical Motif

 Botanical Motif Botanical Motif with Lace Botanical Motif with lace

Pinterest Yay or Nay

Just read an amazing post over at Coletterie : There Is Always Something More to Buy

You ‘ll have to read it. It addresses the Inspiration/Consumer Black Hole problem that many people struggle with when it comes to Pinterest.

Some of the comments were particularly interesting. These really made me think.

“I was just thinking last night that I need to limit my Pinterest time! (Seriously.)

First I was obsessed with certain blogs; now I’ve transferred that obsession to Pinterest. I feel like a hypocrite because while I tout that I’ve changed my attitude towards consumption (per my last blog post!) I still find myself seriously wanting stuff I don’t need. Initially Pinterest seemed very useful to me, allowing me to curate my style board with looks and “uniforms” that I loved so that I would stop filling my closet with impractical fantasy pieces and orphans that don’t go with anything. But it has evolved into something that has made me want (and “need”) items to complete said uniforms and fill those imaginary holes in my wardrobe.

A couple of questions that I try to keep in mind if I find myself wanting something:
1. The William Morris quote “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” Do I truly love this? Do I really need it?
2. “Will buying this really make me a happier person?” Oftentimes the answer is No.

The above usually helps but is not foolproof. :)”  Jen

“I totally get this. I come from a family where a bargain was best and the more I could get for my money the better. As I’ve grown I’ve come to realise that the desire for a bargain is ingrained in me BUT I think it’s about only buying what I LOVE and surrounding myself with only things that make me happy. I started doing that a while ago and it does help to say no to the bargain staring me in the face. Do I need it? No. Do I love it? No. Walk away.”  Juliette

“I find it interesting how struggles like this are understood and felt by so many people. It’s comforting to know you’re not alone and aren’t the only one. I also find it interesting that so many people do the same thing of inspiration collecting, which I do too. I tend to inspiration shop around etsy and google images as I’m still getting to know pinterest.

I never have (and still haven’t) really gotten addicted to pinterest, and am just now finally fiddling with it. Part of the reason being the fact that it IS so overwhelming, and I just didn’t want to deal with it. I can be sensitive to sensory overloads. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have my own sources of inspiration gorging, but it’s just something specific to pinterest.

My husband and I made the decision to not have cable early on in our marriage. This was in part to save money, and in part because we knew it would be easy for us to just sit in front of the TV all day. I began to notice an enormous decrease in my desire for stuff as a result of not having a constant stream of advertisements in our home. The other things I’ve noticed is that with sewing I don’t have blanket desires to just go shopping. When I finally do break down to get a new pair of jeans because my 10 yr. old pair has finally bitten the dust, I become so overwhelmed by the mall or places where ‘BUY, BUY, BUY!’ is shouted everywhere that I just want to get out as quickly as possible. It’s like being in a pressure cooker.

All of this resulted in me really taking a look at our ‘buy’ culture, and how it’s affected me over time. I went from barely getting by because I was spending all my money on stuff to now saving everything and trying to make a conscious effort to buy smart. Another rule I’ve begun to implement is that each object I make or buy needs to replace something so that that way there isn’t a constant stream of more and more stuff coming into the house, but it either stays the same or decreases. I particularly like this rule when it comes to my wardrobe. However, some things are exceptions to the rule in that I make something my wardrobe needs versus another version of something I already have 10 of…and then there’s my book collection…… :-)”  Rachel W

“This is exactly what I’ve been thinking about lately. How much more do I need anyway? I’m even planning to try to decrease my possessions with 25% by selling or giving away. Which is a lot.
Also, I want to try to make more of my own clothes. I knit a lot, so that part is covered. Slowly, my sewing abilities get better, so hopefully I’ll be able to have a completely me-made (and vintage) wardrobe in the near future!
The energy you put in making your own clothes (or other things, for that matter – I grow my own food for example) is something I value more and more. I also like the pace of making your own things. It’s completely the opposite of the fast, low quality and dishonest consumer culture we’re living in right now.”  Lieke

“Great post…I thoroughly agree with you on the overwhelming nature of Pinterest. However, I think it can go beyond overwhelming to feelings of inadequacy. That, somehow, my life is not pretty, cute, crafty, sassy, sexy, whatever enough. There is a huge disconnect between “real” life and the fantasy presented on Pinterest. You’re right, you can’t have it all. I think if you use Pinterest as inspiration for your own style/creative persuits it’s fine, but can become damaging if it is turned into a shrine of desire. We’re all OK just the way we are and how we are; the more we realize that, the more the consumerist walls come down.” Kat

“I’m not on pinterest, so take my comments with a grain of salt. But, I’m skeptical of this idea that it’s positive to be fixated on consumption via one’s imagation. In reality, when we are consumers, we have to make all kinds of decisons about the cost and utility of the things we buy. In the imaginary space of pinterest, these barriers and constraints are removed. What we’re left with is the aspirational part of consumerism. The aspirational part of consumerism is what makes it most dehumanizing, I think. We aren’t doing anything when we pin things we desire, we aren’t producing anything, we aren’t getting anything except that feeling of maybe being a better, more interesting, more talented person. It appears to me that that aspect of consumerism is magnified and isolated in most pinterest boards. I understand that lots of people do interesting things with pinterest. But for the most part, I think pinterest de-contextualizes consumption in the same way that Facebook de-contextualizes friendships. And, I see it fatiguing people in a similar way.”  Jordan

How do you feel about Pinterest? Do you find it inspirational in it’s proper place or a black hole that sucks you in for hours and leaves you frustrated and wanting things you can’t have?


Stitching Inspiration

I saw this gorgeous art quilt by Jane LaFazio on Pinterest the other day and it was instant inspiration. 

Art Quilt

Stitch Ritual by Jane LaFazio 60 x 24

In the blog about this particular quilt she spoke about her evening stitch ritual. I liked the sound of that.

I don’t know about you but every once in a while I really just want to hand stitch. Not a something either. More of an anything kind of thing.

So the idea of this super lovely quilt made me so happy. Over time she made all sorts of itty bitty quilts. Each unique to time and place and anythingness. Then later – deadline for her, intense desire to compile will be most likely for me -she puts them all together in random wonder and there you have it. A quilt.

The pointless creativity of it really appeals to me.

And don’t think pointless in a bad way. I have a habit sometimes of not “wasting” time on something if I cannot perceive it’s immediate value to me and mine or “the greater good and such”. I’m busy, as I am sure you are too, and so even if it may be enjoyable and something I like I probably should be doing the dishes/laundry/dusting/volunteer work etc instead of sitting in my creaky old chair twirling and stitching {more on the chair later or I’ll digress}. So the fact that this particular project doesn’t necessarily have to be made, is not necessarily going to be an item to sell in my right now mythical shop, that it will be made solely for fun and for absolutely no point has me squirming with glee.

While I was at my Mum and Dad’s for a relaxing weekend I started it with vintage thread from my Great Grandmother’s stash passed on to my Mum and now to me. Don’t you just love old wooden spools? I could kiss them I love them so much. Ok, maybe I did. Anyways. In keeping with last year’s ABDY it made perfectly logical sense that the first bitty bit would be a bird. I don’t know why I chose the Red-Bellied Woodpecker. I’ve only seen a Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker, which is nowhere close to the same thing. Hee hee, Yellow-Bellied. Doesn’t that make you happy?

He’s a bit fat and his head’s too small but I love him anyways. My sister says it’s looks like a pregnant bird that got shot, she didn’t realize he’s supposed to be red-bellied.

I don’t know what to call him. I once had a jade plant named Cyril that got too big for himself and fell apart and died. Maybe Cyril will work. There’s an over-large-for-their-own-good theme here. I haven’t edged him or interfaced him or anything yet so don’t laugh. And I don’t really know what I’m doing anyways.

But it is fun!

Red-bellied Woodpecker

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Slow Wardrobe

Lately I’ve been talking a lot about slow wardrobes, practical clothing in general and natural fibres.

I cleaned out my closet recently and comparatively have a minimal amount of clothes. Which is great! I know some women love a lot of choice and randomness thrown in but I really just prefer a couple comfortable, fantastic looking classics that work and that’s a wrap.

But I noticed that I seem to have some holes too. Things that I always seem to reach for that just don’t live in my closet or drawers.

Back when we were in Sturgeon we had reasonably cold winters. Not as cold as up here but cold enough. So I invested in some Icebreaker pieces. I’m wearing the baselayer and sweater right now. I wear the leggings anytime I step out of the house to -10 or worse. Awesome warmth. Though I did only get the 200’s. In retrospect, and had I known I was coming to Cochrane, I probably would have purchased the 260’s. Next time!

I also purchased this crazy cable sweater from Woolover’s in an amazing green colour that is my go to sweater from warmth. Gotta love British Wool!

Back to the wardrobe. I read a blog over at Colleterie “How to Track Your Wardrobe.” You should really check it out. She put a lot of work into it and if you like hard numbers to work with she helps you to get there.

So here’s a new project for 2013.

Wardrobe revamp.

Not spending a lot of money to fill the holes and sort everything out. Oooo and I got some new silk scarves from Dharma to try. Can’t wait to dye them up for you. They’re going to be beautiful!

And I have a stitching project started that I’m really excited about.

It’s going to be a pretty awesome year!

Hope you stick around and join all the fun!

yesterday was hectic

Hence only one project picture of portly pillows poked up precociously.

Ok, a pillow can’t be precocious…

I think.

Vintage cotton napkins, rust and botanically dyed, cut up and quilted

Moving on.

These are some of the cotton napkins dyed, deconstructed and then reconstructed.

It all started with a book.

I found it at the library.

I was never particularly interested in quilts. I don’t usually like the colour combinations or design. A little too grandma fussy for my taste sometimes.

Though I will say check out Kirsten Jane. She first got me with a post on shoes that she made. But I loved her Improve Patchwork!

Nine patch pillow, rust dyed and eco printed

Back to the book.

The title was – Around The Quilt Frame: Stories and Musings on the Quilter’s Craft by Kari A. Cornell.

A Great Quilting Truth of the Universe by Lisa Boyer made me laugh out loud, uncontrollably. It is me and my sister in quilt land.

It was funny. Though not a quilter, many of the stories touched on things that I definitely could relate too. Unfinished object takeovers. Husband’s in fabric stores. Hoarding tiny scraps, of bits of fabric, because you hate to waste any, because maybe you’ll use it, someday.

The stories about the history of the quilts was particularly fascinating. You used what you had – feed sacks, clothing, bits and scraps. Whatever you could find, or beg and barter for. Each piece meant something; it was a memory, something beautiful that only you and it knew. Pieces of the dress that made you feel incredible, your child’s first piece of clothing, a shirt of your husband’s that always had good memories attached to it . 

Rarely, if ever, could you go to the fabric store and perfectly match prints and solids in monochromatic or analogous splendor, double checking your colour dominance was just right.

This is my kind of quilting. Beauty carefully saved and treasured. Beauty purpose built from unmatched unknowns.

vintage cotton napkins, rust and eco dyed

Because that’s why I love natural dyeing so much. You start in and just enjoy as you go. Sometimes it’s what you expected, sometimes it’s better then what you expected, and sometimes you have no idea what happened but “that’s pretty ugly, what will I do with it now?” Each piece reminds you of the walk you took to gather those leaves or flowers. What you were talking about when you gathered that particular rusty bit. The scent of the dye pot. The truth in colour.  

So I thought I would try quilting with some of my recent dye batches. The Rusty 9 Patch Pillow turned out quite well, I thought. My starburst on the other hand…

But then I read an interesting post by Wendy Feldberg over at Threadborne which she appears to have taken off. She was talking about creating with her grandson and the joys of imperfection, seeing things through a child’s eyes and just being happy with something you’ve made – even if it’s not perfect. I appreciated the perspective. This definitely is an Imperfect Starburst. But I’m leaving it like that. In fact, I made it up into a lovely little tossing pillow – perfect for beaning someone in the head in a pillow fight. 

Cotton, rust and eco dyed, quilted, starburst, 9 patch, pillow

And we thoroughly enjoy it just as it is!

Quilted starburst pillow. Rust and eco dyed. Vintage cotton napkins.

Vintage Dress

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I also made this dress recently.

I needed a comfortable summer dress and this fits perfectly. I used one pattern for the top and one for the bottom because I wanted a slightly flared skirt for ease of movement.

I added some crochet lace to the top and I’m thinking of adding it to the sleeves as well. Funny enough, it’s the shell stitch from the Vintage Sweater on 2 rows of single crochet. It worked!

I also found it amazing that even though they were 2 different patterns the back darts and gores matched up perfectly. It made for a nice finished look. 


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I accidentally snipped the silk when I cut the string off that bound the bundle.

Oh, me!

What to do? What to do?

Then I remembered the lovely stitching so many of the crafty ladies have shown on their blogs like Wendy from Threadborne

So here’s my hole design, which led to other stitches…